Retro TV Kitchen – Leave it to Beaver
For many people of a certain generation, the ultimate homemaker has always been June Cleaver.
Indeed, the term “June Cleaver” itself has come into colloquial meaning as a woman who is always perfectly put together, always has lunch packed and ready for the kids, and ALWAYS cooks and vacuums in high heels! Today, most people find this idealized vision of a stay-at-home-mom quite laughable. For many, it’s difficult to imagine anyone in any decade living up to such a cartoonish standard. Why then, were these seemingly impossible picture-perfect homemakers so prevalent in 1950’s television? The answer comes to us simply by applying the old adage of “follow the money.” These squeaky-clean moms (and indeed entire families) were ususally demanded by the companies sponsoring the shows. Quite often, these actually included cleaning products, which makes one wonder if this was an attempt at creating a subliminal connection between the “cleanliness” of the show and the sponsoring brand.
The first kitchen in the house on Mapleton Drive was fairly small; more reminiscent of the type of unsophisticated kitchens depicted on earlier television shows. The kitchen on Pine Street, however, was a different affair entirely! Much more spacious, featuring a large window, lots of storage space, and *gasp* even a kitchen island with cooktop!!
CliqStudios’ very own self-proclaimed “cabinet geek” and pop culture aficionado Dan Jones makes the following observations about the Cleaver’s kitchen:
“While early 1950’d TV kitchens were quite spartan and utilitarian, things turned around pretty quickly. June commands a kitchen with curtains, glass-door cabinets, tile countertops, and workspace lighting. Television commercials were the real perpetrators of change, driving the 1950s homemaker to demand new amenities and fresh decor. Americans were no longer simply keeping up with the Joneses, but also now the Cleavers and a whole host of other TV families.”
Unlike our previous “Retro TV Kitchen” blog post featuring the Brady Bunch kitchen with lots of photos, we were only able to find a handful of images of the Leave it to Beaver kitchen. Pictures of the “south” wall do not seem to exist. Looking at the photos that we did find, it would appear that this was the “fourth wall,” from which the cameras filmed most of the time. Even with this limited amount of information, our talentend kitchen designers were able to extrapolate a layout of the room! This exclusive floor plan of the Cleaver Family kitchen at 211 Pine Street in Mayfield is something that you’ll only see here!
Download a PDF file of the Cleaver kitchen here.
Looking at photo stills from the show, one has to admire the set designers’ attention to detail. June has a collection of fine china, which is displayed in a upper cabinets with glass doors on the “east” wall. Looking closely, you can also spot a toaster sitting on the counter below. Additional collector plates and knick-knacks are being displayed above the kitchen table. A stand mixer sits on the small counter between the exterior door on the “west” wall and the refrigerator.
Editor’s note: The cardinal coordinates we have added to the floor plan are only for reference, and are likely incorrect. In several photos we see sunlight streaming through the large window next to the kitchen table. This would never happen in a north-facing window. This likely means the wall we have labeled “north” actually faces south or west.