Retro kitchen designs to try at home

Retro kitchen designs to try at home

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Different interior styles always seem to find their way back into our homes, coming back into fashion after a period - after all, good design doesn’t date! So, it’s little surprise that retro styles from the mid to late 20th century have seen a resurgence in popularity. From the futuristic kitchens of the 1950s to the brightly coloured kitchens of the 1970s to, people are looking to the past for inspiration for their current homes.

We’ll explore all the different retro-style kitchens that are trending, as well as retro kitchen ideas and décor you could work into your home to bring a little style and nostalgia into your kitchen. We’ll also dig a little deeper into what is considered ‘retro’ today, and how you can make retro style your own.

What is retro style?

Retro style is a lot harder to pin down a definition to than more specific styles like mid-century modern or art deco, so most stylists use it as a cover-all term for something that comes from a past culture or style that has recently come back into style. As of 2023, this style leans towards furniture and interior décor that was popular in the decades from the 1950s to the 80s.

Retro style also blends across different cultures, especially since these eras were heavily influenced by style from the USA – the UK had its own style moments, particularly in the 80s, that can play into the retro style too.

H3 – What is retro kitchen design?

So, when it comes to kitchens, what do we consider to be retro style? Here are some features you might come across in a retro-inspired kitchen:

  • Chrome barstools
  • Checkerboard flooring
  • Bright/pastel colours
  • Vintage-inspired appliances (think Smeg fridges and matching pink toasters and kettles)
  • Vintage décor
  • Open shelving

How to create your own retro-style kitchen

Bringing retro style into your home can be as simple as bringing in some vintage décor, or you can go as big as creating your own diner-inspired kitchen – the options are endless depending on the style that you love! Whether it’s the 50s or the 70s that you want to introduce into your space, here are some of the different areas you can do it.

Retro-inspired kitchen surfaces

Starting with your base, it can be easy to add retro touches to your walls and flooring to bring some nostalgia into your kitchen. For flooring, vinyl and luxury vinyl are going to be your best friends for creating a retro look, especially if you want a fun pattern or bright colour. Vinyl is the upgraded younger sister of linoleum, which was hugely popular in the 20th century and used in kitchens across the UK.

We’d recommend upgrading to a lovely plush vinyl for your kitchen for so many reasons – it’s cushioned under your feet, it works well with underfloor heating, it can come in water-resistant styles and its very stylish too - our guide on vinyl vs lino can fill you in on all the specifics.

For your walls, there are so many different ideas you could try:

  • Classic white subway tiles can make for a great backdrop for brightly coloured appliances or furniture.
  • Go bold with a pop of colour if you’re working with white cupboards and counters – try aqua blue or mint green for some 50s-inspired retro style.
  • Wood panelling is a classic pick for a 70s-inspired space, and pairs well with wooden cabinets.
  • Patterned wallpaper can bring some 50s interest to your kitchen, especially when paired with a complimentary backsplash.

Retro-inspired kitchen appliances

Kitchen appliances have varied greatly over the last few decades as technology has advanced, but if you hate the idea of buying a big chrome fridge-freezer, then you may love a retro-style kitchen appliance instead. Smeg has a cult following thanks to their retro style appliances, with their curved shapes, pastel colours and 50s-inspired handles and knobs. And if your budget doesn’t stretch to Smeg, there are plenty of affordable fridges in pastel shades too.

Buying matching appliances is also a solid choice for a retro-inspired kitchen, especially if they happen to come in beautiful bright colours. Your appliances can also be the stand-alone retro pieces in your kitchen, as these appliances will work well even if with plain white counters and cupboards – the secret truly lies in the decorative elements you bring in too.

Retro kitchen décor

Your décor and furniture are the centrepiece for any retro-style kitchen. Décor from the 50s and 60s was very futuristic in its style, while 70s décor featured a lot of earth tones and mono-colour schemes. Take inspiration from Dakota Johnson’s kitchen, which went viral after a video tour with Architectural Digest – she opted for a 70s-inspired design, with green cabinets and cupboards and green décor such as plates, bowls, ad lots of plants to match. Her cabinets were also glass fronted to showcase her favourite retro accessories and décor, such as ribbed glass cups and floral-patterned crockery.

Here are some retro kitchen décor ideas to influence your style choices:

  • Don’t be afraid to work with colour – bring in brightly coloured crockery, utensils, and smaller appliances. Just make sure they match or complement each other, or you may feel like there’s too much going on.
  • Buy second-hand – there are so many retro design pieces to be found on Facebook Marketplace or eBay that could become centrepieces for your retro-style kitchen.
  • Open shelving is your friend – the perfect place to stack your favourite colourful pots and pans or to hang your favourite mugs.
  • Lighting is also important – go 60s style with low-hanging pendant lights or go full-diner inspired with a neon sign above a dresser or bench.
  • Vintage signs and artwork are a great statement for your walls and can bring that retro flare in subtly.

If you’re feeling inspired to create your own retro-style kitchen, why not start with the basics and pop into your local Tapi store, and speak to one of our friendly floorologists about the different flooring options you could try? Or even better yet, we can come to you! Book a free home visit for a member of our knowledgeable team to come to your home and get a real feel for what flooring would work best in your space.


Published: 29-08-2023