Most of us would agree that a great kitchen occupies the top of our wish list when it comes to our dwelling place. I’ve seen a ton of the “chef’s kitchens” all over home improvement shows and real estate listings, but there is another way to go with a kitchen redo. An amazing vintage-style kitchen has a decidedly cozier vibe than the stainless steel and granite look that is so prevalent. Especially if you want to stay in character with your home’s architecture and build date, a vintage kitchen might be just what you’re looking for.
The kitchen really is the heart of the home, the place where you make your morning tea or coffee, where all those aromas of Christmas cookies, homemade soups, and weekend breakfasts originate, and where you sit around the kitchen table and catch up with the family after a day’s work.
I have fond memories from my childhood of hanging out in my family’s kitchen, laughing the night away with my sisters and mom, playing a game of yahtzee, or getting out my big box of crayons and doing an art project. I absolutely love the feel of a comfortable nostaligic kitchen.
If you’re looking to add some vintage charm to your kitchen, there are a ton of great ideas and products out there to help you achieve the perfect retro kitchen.
Ideas for a vintage style kitchen
With any interior space, color really sets the tone. This is especially true in a vintage restoration. Bright, cheerful colors dominated design choices in the forties, fifties, and sixties. Our first home, a brick ranch duplex built in the 1950’s, featured yellow formica countertops in the kitchen and aqua and black ceramic tile in the bathroom! Pink was a huge trend in the 1950s as a result of Mamie Eisenhower’s fondness for the color. In fact, like many midcentury homes, the 1950s home I grew up in had a pink-tiled bathroom. For color ideas for your kitchen, consider these great options:
Way before millenials discovered this fabulous color, pink was all the rage for decor in the 1950s. Once the shade was popularized by the first lady, everything was in the pink until the early sixties.
Black and white
Stark black and white are bold accents in a vintage kitchen. Often, black tile was used against a bright or pastel. Checkerboard and octagon and dot patterns in black and white are perfect.
Bright cherry red is an excellent choice, especially combined with chrome for a diner feel.
Turquoise blue provides a cheerful hue in a vintage kitchen. Lighter tones are gorgeous on cabinetry or appliances, and bold tones combine well with red.
In the 1940s and 1950s, jadeite glassware become popular, along with other lines of green dishware. Mamie Eisenhower also employed quite a bit of green along with her pink. Green is a terrific option for a vintage kitchen with shades ranging from spring green to muted jade.
The first two homes my husband and I lived in were both circa 1950s. They both had windows over the sink with small shelves and a decorative valence as seen in the top photo of this post. They both had really tall cabinets.
If you are lucky enough to live in an older home you want to restore, I would say try to keep the cabinets, or at least some of them. Cabinets can be painted, updated with storage features, or partially salvaged to add to the authenticity of your home. Sometimes you don’t need a whole new kitchen.
For new cabinets and cupboards, you can think about ways to make sure they are in keeping with your overall design. Consider going extra tall with your cabinets. On a plain door design, adding nostalgic glass knobs and drawer pulls provides a beautiful look and an accent of color. Cabinet manufacturers do carry pastel colors, or choose white and add color in accessories, walls, and flooring. Consider adding some glass-front doors as well.
Add some free-standing painted furniture cabinet pieces to continue the vintage charm.
Tile flooring is ideal for a kitchen restoration. If you really want to be authentic, genuine linoleum tile might be a good option and it’s also colorful and durable.
Ceramic tile offers limitless choices. I love the bold graphic tiles with a bit of black or an octagon and dot mosaic look.
Wallpaper featuring vintage patterns that brings together your color scheme is an awesome choice for your retro style kitchen. Solid painted walls can look great as well, especially with some amazing vintage artwork or advertising.
There are some truly remarkable vintage-style appliances out there that combine modern functioning with all the charm of a nostalgic kitchen. If you’re commited to the restoration of a period home, it’s definitely worth looking into these great appliance options.
Can you imagine looking at these every time you walk into your kitchen? It’s like being in that cool diner that serves great eggs all the time.
Small details make a huge difference, like choosing your dishes to complement the design of your kitchen. Consider pink glassware, jadeite, atomic designs, nostalgic florals, whatever suits your style best.
Display some dishes in a glass-fronted cabinet if possible.
Patterned dish towels and tablecloths that are genuine vintage or vintage-inspired will add tremendously to your decor. Aprons, oven mitts, and kitchen curtains are all elements to consider.
8. Lighting fixtures
Authentic lighting fixtures can really make all the difference in design. Consider what the overall theme is in your room. In a bold red kitchen, chrome may be a great choice. Schoolhouse lights are really great in any 1950s kitchen. Atomic fixtures can be awesome too if that goes with the rest of the decor. There are so many great reproduction lighting options out there to choose from.
A vintage kitchen is definitely an eat-in kitchen, so make sure to take a look at vintage-style kitchen tables. A cozy booth like your favorite diner or a built-in banquette would be amazing. Bar stools in a snazzy vintage design are also perfect.
This is the really fun part if you ask me. The possibilities for retro accessories are almost endless. Wall clocks, radios, old school fans, menu boards, lighted signs, rotary phones, it’s just all too much fun!
I think the time is right for designs drawing from the past. Young people are nostalgic these days, and many of us would just like to return to a simpler time, even if it’s just in our home. We’re craving peace, stability, and some comfort food. Yeah comfort food, that’s it. How about a nice meatloaf sandwich with a side of mashed potatoes? 🙂
Have a beautiful day, and add something fun to your life. 🙂