When you think about a retro kitchen from the 1950’s, there’s a good chance you envision home chefs that look like Mrs. Cleaver, outdated appliances, and, admittedly, decor to match. But, just because you want to pay homage to yesteryear doesn’t mean your kitchen has to be archaic.
Need proof? Keep scrolling for 15 retro kitchen ideas that strike a balance between old and new. The list below boasts an array of design details, from old-school light fixtures to fun pops of color, but one thing’s for sure: they offer a welcomed trip down memory lane.
Have Fun With Your Light Fixtures
Looking for a subtle way to add an old-school flair to your kitchen? Double down on your light fixtures, as seen in this space from interior designer Lauren Brophy. Decked out with oversized bulbs and angular hardware, this pendant is reminiscent of Louis Poulsen's PH 5 Mini Pendant — with a chic, contemporary twist.
Go for the Bold
Sure, the kitchens from your favorite, old-fashioned television shows might be reimagined on your screen in black and white. But, in reality? These retro spaces are bursting with color. Lean into the times by coating your home in fun, vibrant hues like tomato red and bright teal. We love how PMQ for Two's Ariel Garneau broke up the power pigments with floral wallpaper, making this kitchen feel delightfully eclectic, not outdated.
Offset a Sleek Silhouette With a Colorful Palette
For the perfect mix between mid-century and modernity, look to Reidy Creative, a Baltimore-based design firm that offset this modern kitchen's sleek construction with 1950s-approved pops of color.
"This modern mission kitchen was heavily inspired by a Fireclay Tile pattern that the owner fell in love with," shares designer Tiffani Reidy. " We wanted to keep the kitchen feeling bright and whimsical while integrating the mission style through wood finishes and clean lines."
Make Room for Mint
If bright, primary colors aren't your thing, give mint a try. This dainty pastel was all the rage in the 1950s — and still holds up nicely in modern times. We love how Ursula Carmona of Homemade by Carmona paid tribute to this old-school shade with a mint ceiling fan and cookware.
Experiment With Mid-Century Patterns
Ready to make a statement? Consider adding a retro backsplash to your setup, as seen in this kitchen from Oak Story Design. The Houston-based firm updated this kitchen from the 1980s with a concrete backsplash, decked out in a cool geometric pattern that harkens back to the space age. The result? A slightly retro kitchen that can withstand the test of time.
"Concrete tile backsplash can be intimidating, but if installed and sealed properly, it can last for decades and add so much character, texture, and interest," explains lead designer Stacie Kopczynski.
Embrace the Breakfast Nook
Before guests would huddle around a kitchen island, breakfast nooks used to be all the rage. But, just because you want to pay tribute to this 1950s kitchen trend doesn't mean your space should feel archaic. New York-based firm Arditi Design updated this space with cool, oval light pendants and fun pops of color.
Update Your Kitchen Island With Old-School Details
Working with a kitchen island? Juxtapose this modern feature with retro touches — just as designer Chad Esslinger did here.
"The homeowner had two requests: design the kitchen around her beloved red fridge, and she didn't want white cabinets," he explains. "Shiplap on the ceiling, three different pendant lights, concrete-style quartz, classic square white backsplash tile, and red retro stools to match the fridge add tons of unique personality to the space."
The turquoise cabinets and dramatic black trim completes this room in style.
Masquerade the Modernity
We don't know who needs to hear this, but a 1950s-inspired kitchen does not have to be devoid of modern touches. Just take this space, designed by digital creator Cissi Åhlén.
"When designing it, we were inspired by Scandinavian midcentury kitchens, mainly because of our house being from 1957," she explains. "The exterior is retro but the interior is modern, and was custom-made by a small woodwork company in the north of Sweden."
Rounding out the space is a sunny refrigerator from Big Chill, striking that perfect balance between old and new.
For a 1950s kitchen that has floor-to-ceiling appeal, pair your bold color palette with an eye-catching floor.
"Here, [we got that] retro feel by using bright, primary colors, creating a bold stripe across the room, and the very graphic floor and graphic elements like the glossy Smeg fridge," shares Imogen Pritchard, British Standard's United States design director. "Adding found pieces of furniture can add a personal retro feel, too."
Double Down on Your Decor
As the saying goes, the devil lies in the details. If you want to give your modern kitchen a slightly retro edge, add furniture that was manufactured in the 1950s. For example, this kitchen from Arbor & Co. features two plastic molded chairs that were made popular by Charles and Ray Eames.
Get Creative with Your Ceiling
As this 1950s. kitchen from KP Spaces proves, the only way to go is up. In fact, Seattle-based designer Keri Petersen shares that she drew inspiration from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
"We were completely enchanted by the show’s fabulous retro fashion and whimsical interiors," she adds.
Petersen paired the floral ceiling with spring green Marmoleum floors, a pencil border around the subway tiles, and a Rohl wall-mounted faucet.
Rethink Your Subway
If you want to lean into the midcentury of the matter, opt for timeless, angular details. Subway tiles are a mainstay of any stylish kitchen, but when blogger Hannah Tyler flips hers 90 degrees, they suddenly feel like Don Draper-worthy feature.
Spring for Simplicity
Another way to bring those midcentury vibes front and center is by forgoing superfluous ornamentation. In case you didn't get the memo, the design trend is all about simplicity. That said, simple doesn't have to be boring. We love how Dazey Den dressed up her pared-back, slab cabinets with a bold coat of paint.
Fancify Your Floors
When it comes to floors for your 1950s kitchen, it doesn't get more classic than a checkered tile floor. While designer Kelly Shannon stuck with a classic color combination in this tropical space, we give you our full permission to experiment with color. Red and white? Blue and yellow? Great style knows no bounds.
Add Some Old-School Appliances
Ready to give your kitchen a subtle, timeless touch? Add some retro-inspired appliances. The off-white Smeg refrigerator Velinda Hellen added here bridges the gap between form and function.