3 Ways to Pull Off a Retro Kitchen Design

kitchen cabinets in a retro style

If you want to make your kitchen stand out from the rest in your neighborhood, consider using a retro kitchen design. Retro designs are coming back in style. These classic themes can help you make the most of the retro architecture in your house or pay homage to your grandmother's kitchen.

Retro Kitchen Options

There are many different eras that you can draw inspiration from when designing your retro kitchen. Typically, retro refers to any period that is older that the one you're currently living in. However, there are certain retro eras that are more popular for kitchen design. After all, no one really wants to try to cook in a kitchen inspired by the 1880s. The 1930s, 1940s and 1950s are all popular eras to draw inspiration from. By using a retro color palette, adding period pieces and displaying artwork from the era, you can give your kitchen a makeover with just a little bit of time and effort.

The 1930s Kitchen

The depression era had a style based on Art Deco and functionality. Smooth corners, muted colors and chrome all worked together to make the 1930s kitchen look stylish yet usable. To turn your kitchen into a retro '30s design, you can use muted blues, yellows and reds with touches of black and white. The biggest design trend of the decade was colored glass pieces. Depression glass is highly collectible and can be quite expensive. You can get the Depression era feel without paying the price by looking for translucent, colored pieces to display in your kitchen. Plates, butter dishes, cups and saucers are all good pieces to showcase in your 1930s kitchen.

The 1940s Kitchen

Compared to 1930s kitchen, 1940s retro kitchen design is bright and cheery. Color is the name of the game when you are decorating in this style. Start off with Kelly green, air force blue or cherry red. Once you pick one of those colors, add some black and white for accents and you're on your way to a stylish World War II era kitchen. You can carry on the color theme with enamel appliances and canisters in the bright, bold colors of the era. Stainless steel appliances from the previous decade were also popular in 1940s design. You can also find vintage towels in bright, bold patterns to use in your kitchen or as decorations on the wall.

The 1950s Kitchen

The 1950s are often called "the decade of the housewife" and that definitely shows when it comes to kitchen designs from that era. Kitchens were designed to be functional, but also stylish and modern. The fifties showed bold color choices, more uses of chrome and new automatic kitchen appliances. If you need inspiration for your 1950s kitchen, you don't need to look further than a retro diner in your area. Red and white with black accents was a common color scheme in the 1950s home. Shades of gold and yellow, turquoise and mint green were also popular. If you don't want to commit to decking your kitchen out in these pastel hues, you can use them as accent colors with white or cream as your main color. You can find 1950s fabric patterns, like the popular boomerang pattern, and use them in your design to complete the look.

Finding Retro Kitchen Design Inspiration

Before you give your kitchen a makeover, you need to do some research to find all the different elements of design used in the era you're interested in. Although you could try to create a kitchen that is faithful to the era, most people like to use just a few key touches. Search online for catalogs, design books and blog posts about the era and its design. Check out flickr or another photo site to see what other fans of the era have uploaded. Make a note of which elements you like. You can use color, cabinetry and accessories together or you can use just one element and combine it with design trends from other decades.

Finding Retro Kitchen Design Pieces

Once you've decided how you want to proceed with your retro design, make a list of what you'll need to accomplish the look. Paint and fabrics can easily be bought locally. For dishes, towels and art from the era, you'll need to look online. eBay can be a great source of supplies for your retro design. Just keep in mind that some design elements, like Depression glass, are very collectible and can be expensive. You may want to look for reproduction pieces that have the same character and charm without the big price tag.

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3 Ways to Pull Off a Retro Kitchen Design