Old is new again – that’s the whole idea behind the retro and vintage design movements. If you want a kitchen that blends the warm, nostalgic feel of decades past with the cutting edge technology of today, then going retro may just be the thing for you. Here are a few things to remember when putting together your own retro kitchen.
Retro vs. Vintage
The terms retro and vintage are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences between the two in the context of design.
Perhaps the biggest difference is in their respective time periods. Retro refers to more recent decades, most notably the 1950s and the 1960s. It is characterized as bold, whimsical, and just a tiny bit campy. Vintage, on the other hand, goes further back to the 1930s and 1940s.
Antique, another term that can loosely mean the same, is used for things much, much older; these are most often rustic heirloom pieces.
Retro Color Palettes
It was in the ‘50s when paint became available in virtually any possible hue. Pastel colors were big at the time along with clean, bright modern colors. Pink, turquoise, mint green, pale yellow, and blue were particularly popular pastel color choices. On the more modern side of things, popular colors included vibrant yellow, electric blue, orange, red, black, and white.
An easy way to add a retro look to your kitchen is to go with a two-tone color scheme for the kitchen cabinets. The common recommendation is to use the lighter tone on the upper kitchen cabinets for a more airy and open feel – especially when the wall is also painted in a light shade. The darker color should be used on the lower cabinets to anchor the design.
Another tip straight from the ‘50s is to base your kitchen’s principal color scheme based on which direction the room faced. South- and west-facing kitchens get a lot of sunlight, so choose cool colors (those in the blue spectrum) to keep it from getting too hot. North-facing kitchens tend to get less sunlight, so hot colors like red can help warm things up. East-facing rooms tend to be the most flexible in terms of color palettes.
As for the floors, there are basically two options. Go with a light-colored floor to bring more light into the space or a darker hue for a cozier ambience.
You can top off your kitchen’s principal color scheme with brighter and bolder colored accents.
Retro Appliances and Accessories
Appliances are a huge focal point in retro design. You’ll want at least one big retro appliance in your kitchen to set the tone and look.
There are companies that specifically cater to the retro market with retro-styled appliances. These appliances may look like a blast from the past on the outside, but under the hood they’re often as modern as you can get. A range that looks like it was taken straight from a 1950s kitchen, for example, can come with modern features like a self-cleaning function and a dual-fuel mode.
These appliances are perfect for creating a kitchen that looks vintage yet is filled with modern conveniences, but they can put quite a big dent in your budget. Fortunately, refurbished old appliances from the ’60s and ’70s can be a more affordable yet still viable alternative. They may not be as cutting-edge, but they add a layer of authenticity to your kitchen.
To tie the whole space together, you can match rta kitchen cabinet handles with those on your appliances. Old kitchen accessories like rolling pins, chopping boards, oven mitts, potholders, and tea towels can also further add to the space’s retro vibe and cultivate a warm, nostalgic feel.
Chrome and vinyl are top choices for retro furniture along with colorful plastics. Formica countertops were also quite popular during the time period.
Linoleum also got new life breathed into it during the ‘50s when it became available in more colorful and dynamic styles. Linoleum tiles placed in alternating checkered color patterns were a popular choice for kitchen floors, although hardwood still remained an equally popular flooring material.