If you’re interested in preserving or (re)creating a retro kitchen, you’re pretty tuned into the latest trends. In the past few years, vintage interior design has become more popular, with kitchens being one of the most exciting rooms to infuse with a touch of years gone by.
Before you begin renovating your space, you’ll want to consider exactly what you mean by “retro.” When we use that term, we’re often referring to mid-century modern design, or in other cases, Hollywood Regency. You’ll want to nail down exactly what time period you’re trying to channel, because you could very easily end up with too many uncoordinated pieces that create everything but the look you really want.
Next, you’ll want to come up with a color palette and mood board. Coordinating colors and tones is very important in retro design — in fact, some specific colors can signal a time period more effectively than even an authentic appliance or light fixture.
Remember that you don’t necessarily have to go thrifting or try to restore out-of-date items for the sake of creating a certain aesthetic. Thanks to some innovative design advances, you’ll be able to select products that have all the quality and utility of current technology, while still maintaining your favorite retro appearance.
Style Definition Of Retro
Retro generally refers to a style of the recent past. Where on-trend refers to what’s current and up-and-coming, and mid-century modern refers to the period that roughly spans the 50s and 60s, retro can have a variety of interpretations but really is best defined as an eclectic mix of the most popular pieces and styles from the past few decades.
Right now, retro would be defined as using boldly colored, geometric wallpapers and designs; statement colors; synthetic chairs or tile; old-fashioned appliances; sleek but curved lines and rounded edges (think of the legs on a table or chairs) ;and statement lighting fixtures especially in star-like or asymmetric shapes. Many people who go for retro looks in their homes also use old-fashioned brands such as Coca-Cola as an accent decoration, while others utilize color tones from a specific era (such as subdued earth tones like burnt orange from the 70s).
While there’s certainly room to experiment and coordinate what you think looks best, there are certain elements that are most characteristic of retro design, and they are typically as follows:
Bold statement colors
Uniform color palette
Asymmetric decorations & light fixtures
Slightly modernistic or Bauhaus-inspired pieces
If you’re in the process of creating your own Retro space, you might want to consider using some of the more popular elements that define the style, such as checkered floors, black-and-white color palettes with pops of red, funky hardware, old-fashioned appliances, use of synthetic materials and polished woods, integration of clocks, scales, and other old-fashioned kitchen staples.
Retro Kitchen InspirationIf you’re still not sure where to begin, take this kitchen for example.
While this space certainly adheres to the most important style markers — dull navy, classic red acrylic kitchenware for a pop of color, mixed pattern tiles with more subtle tones and mid-century inspired lighting fixtures — it also brings in a sense of modernity with the small drink refrigerator, fresh faucet, and overall newness of the space.
Here are some products similar to the above inspiration to help recreate this:
Creating Your Own Retro Kitchen
If you’re ready to get started creating the Retro kitchen of your dreams, you can begin with some of our top picks for Retro pieces.
Our Favorite Retro Kitchen Lighting
In a Retro space, the lighting is going to be centralized (no recess lights) and bold. Using asymmetrical designs, star-like shapes, unique colors, and embossing, light fixtures are essential to signaling a Retro space, and the wrong selection can offset an otherwise great tone.
Our Favorite Retro Kitchen Faucets
When it comes to Retro faucets, hardware is everything. Modern features can offset the look of a space, so it’s important to get it just right. In this case, you’ll need to choose between a more stylish Retro piece (what would have been considered Modern at the time) and a classic Retro piece (what would have still been considered classic at the time).
Our Favorite Retro Kitchen Accessories
When it comes to a Retro space, accessories are everything. Retro homes were almost always well accessorized, often with matching or coordinating pieces. This is your opportunity to let your old-time tastes shine and to incorporate Vintage brands, colors. and materials.
Ultimately, creating the Retro kitchen of your dreams is all about consistency, style, and placement. Remember that it’s okay to put your own spin on a Retro kitchen, especially if you want to use statement colors that are anything but red. No matter what, it’s about utilizing a uniformed color palette, having vintage-looking appliances and features, utilizing materials that are inorganic (such as plastics and polyesters) and choosing items that have curved designs, and geometric patterns. Though Retro can often reference a very specific looking space, remember that what matters in the end is that you’re able to create a home in which you feel most at ease and comfortable. If that means having funky wallpaper and an acrylic teapot? Then so be it.