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13 Vintage Kitchen Ideas That Prove Modern Isn't Always Better

vintage kitchen

 Erin Williamson

We'll be the first to admit that it's easy to get sucked into the "newer is better" mindset—especially when home trends move a mile a minute. But there's something about a well-styled vintage kitchen that never fails to hit the spot. Sure, the floors might not always meet the walls at right angles, and the cabinet doors might creak a little—but there's really no replacement for the character that comes with age.

Of course, that doesn't mean that vintage kitchens are always the easiest to actually, y'know, *cook* in. Before the days of six-seater islands and palatial ranges, kitchens were a little more...compact. But a few clever space-saving tricks, reconfigurations and redesigns can make even the most humble galley kitchen into a glamorous place to eat and entertain—without sacrificing the retro personality and peculiarities that made it compelling in the first place.

Click through to see the vintage-style kitchens that are feeding our inspiration frenzy right now.

01 of 13

Bring in Maximalism

vintage kitchen

 Rikki Snyder

Maximalism + retro style = an obsession-worthy kitchen we can't quit staring at. From the warm wood tones to the classic rock wall to the mint-green appliances, there's so much to love about this cozy and personality-packed space.

02 of 13

Stick to Midcentury Modern

vintage kitchen

Erin Williamson


This 1950s A-frame stays true to its retro roots, showing off old-school tile, midcentury-inspired cabinet pulls, and of course, a stunning throwback-style fridge. We'd consider this to be the perfect marriage of vintage and modern.

03 of 13

Try an Art Deco Color Palette

vintage kitchen

 Design: Brady Tolbert for EHD, Photo: Tessa Neustadt

Cramped galley kitchens can be tough to makeover, but designer Brady Tolbert's kitchen transformation is nothing short of stunning. Peel-and-stick floor tiles, swapped-out hardware, and a few thoughtful investment pieces (hello, SMEG) make the space as glamorous as it is functional—a tall order for such a limited area.

04 of 13

Refresh a Dated Rental

vintage kitchen

 Black and Blooms

Rental kitchens can feel like a curse (we've all been there). But even a multitude of outdated kitchen sins can be covered up with clever styling, as this space from Black and Blooms shows. Her favorite styling trick? Plants—and plenty of them. By the kitchen sink, overflowing from the fridge, and in any spare space, greenery helps give the dated features a freshened-up look. Warm wood tones, like this prep surface, harmonize with those all-too-common orange-y wood cabinets seen in many an early-aughts home, giving the entire space a more intentional feel.

05 of 13

Try Monochrome

vintage kitchens

 Dazey Den

Ah, the transformative power of a fresh coat of paint. This Dazey Den kitchen feels on-trend and fun, but retains some vintage flair in the form of floor tiles. Even standard-issue cabinetry gets a new lease on life when it's hung against an unexpected wall color. We've said it before and we'll say it again: paint is the best transformational tool in your decorating arsenal.

06 of 13

Think European Chic

vintage kitchen

Dreamy Whites Atelier

We'll admit it—we pretty much want to live inside Dreamy Whites Atelier's Insta feed. The mix of French influence, perfectly-imperfect architectural details, and of course, the titular dreamy whites of every possible shade make it irresistible. We'll be incorporating some of this essentially vintage flair into our next kitchen reno, for sure.

07 of 13

Freshen Up With a White Palette

vintage kitchen

 Emily Everyday

Another rental kitchen renovation with style to spare, this space by Emily Everyday feels so light and sunkissed. A coat of bright white paint, some new knobs and sink hardware, and (of course) an Instagram-iconic rug breathe new life into this standard-issue space.

08 of 13

Save Unique Assets

vintage kitchen

Amy Bartlam

We've never seen two-tone cabinetry look so chic. An oversized retro stained glass piece breathes new life into this stark white space (and ups its vintage-y cred, to boot). Next time we spot one of these stained glass pieces at the thrift store or flea market, we're scooping it up.

09 of 13

Embrace Wood Accents

vintage kitchen

 Royal Roulotte

A masterclass in how to achieve tons of character in a small space, this minuscule kitchen delivers functionality and a lot of flair. The breakfast bar's unique mix of reclaimed wood grounds the space in the past, but the unexpected addition of this cool DIY-esque plywood shelving makes it feel contemporary—and, if we're honest, a little rebellious, in the best way.

10 of 13

Mix Retro With Modern

vintage kitchens

 Reena Sotropa

Would you believe that this home is brand new? We would've expected to find a setup like this in a sprawling French chateau, but it's actually a new build designed to look vintage (talk about a trompe l'oeil). The stunning range and grey-washed cabinetry are swoon-worthy, and we like the contrast created by the sleek brass light fixtures.

11 of 13

Go Two-Tone

vintage kitchen

Rikki Snyder

Color us obsessed with this charming two-tone kitchen. A simple coat of paint—black on the lowers; white on the uppers—inserts a graphic element into an otherwise unassuming space, while white beadboard and an eclectic mix of black storage pieces dial up the contrast. We also love how this space showcases a smart way to make small kitchens more functional.

Adding a few purposeful furniture pieces can really round things out when prep surfaces are in short supply, as is often the case with older kitchens.

12 of 13

Mix Materials

vintage kitchen

 Studio McGee

Landing a house with its own brick oven has to be one of the greatest feelings of all time. (Imagine the incredible pizzas you could make.) This stunning kitchen designed by The Fox Group provides a gorgeous backdrop for McGee & Co's internationally sourced artisan line, which makes perfect sense considering the space itself is a deft mix of materials from different sources.

13 of 13

Think Simply

vintage kitchen

 Jersey Ice Cream Co

Don't overthink it—this simple cottage kitchen has everything it needs, and it's a minimalist's dream with a decidedly vintage vibe. The colorblocked walls add a modern touch that unites the space but also adds a lot of visual interest (there's wall paint being an MVP again). Warm butcher-block countertops and a hardy standalone sink lend a rustic feeling that's cozy and inviting. We can just imagine whipping up a batch of pancakes on a snowy morning here.