Put together these vintage and retro kitchen décor ideas for a cookspace straight out of the past, in the best ways.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated February 15, 2019
Vintage and retro kitchen decor ideas - kitchen with retro blue cabinets
Johner Images/Getty Images
| Credit: Johner Images/Getty Images

If thoughts of vintage kitchen décor inspire mental images of linoleum, plastic-looking surfaces, and sweet candy-colored pastels, you’re right. If thoughts of vintage kitchen décor inspire visions of white crockery, vintage pyrex, sculpted wood hutches, plate racks, and beadboard paneling, you’re also right. Vintage kitchen décor can refer to a good many different kitchen décor ideas, though they all inspire the same feelings of nostalgia and can be mixed and matched to create the perfect vintage (and functional) kitchen.

Just like the so-called ingredients of farmhouse kitchen décor can be broken down and traded out for more functional or affordable pieces, the essential elements of a vintage kitchen can be adjusted and adapted to suit individual budgets, preferences, and spaces.

Obviously, not everything in the space can be truly vintage, in the sense of being antique or heirloom. Those kinds of items can be incredibly pricy and difficult to find, plus their functionality may not be able to keep up with modern cooking requirements. But mimicking the vintage or retro look, possibly with a few truly vintage pieces sprinkled around as decoration, is totally possible—it just takes some careful design choices in everything from the kitchen backsplash to cabinet paint colors.

Vintage and retro kitchen decor ideas - kitchen with retro blue cabinets
Credit: Johner Images/Getty Images

With these vintage and retro kitchen décor ideas, crafting a kitchen reminiscent of a bygone era can be as simple as a new paint job or some new appliances. A total overhaul will take much more work, but incorporating some smaller vintage elements into a preexisting kitchen can do a lot to create that retro look and feel.

Take a look at these ideas and picture them in your space—if they strike that just-right retro note, without veering into kitschiness, you might have found the right vintage kitchen décor idea for you. (Of course, if you want to go full-kitsch, give it a try—your kitchen, your rules.)

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Vintage kitchen appliances

An easy—if expensive—way to give your kitchen a vintage look is to bring in some vintage appliances. Smeg rules the roost in this area, with retro, pastel refrigerators, blenders, toasters, and more available for purchase. These appliances, large and small, don’t come cheap, but they do combine a 50s-inspired aesthetic with contemporary cooking power.

Plenty of pastels

Pastels and muted primary colors—red, yellow, and blue—lend any space a playful, vintage feel. Bolds and neutrals are popular now, but these primary picks land somewhere in the middle, offering plenty of color and personality without roaming into bright territory. A candy-hued blue, pink, yellow, or green can establish the vintage look handily. For kitchen cabinets, paint the doors a color and the cabinets themselves a soft white or gray for a truly old-school two-toned look.

Old-school tiling

Penny tile holds a lot of retro power for such a small package. Try it on the floor or walls, or put it into action as a backsplash idea. (Bonus points if the tiles are white with a playful black-tiled pattern.)

Beadboard paneling

A little beadboard paneling can turn any space into one that feels a little more vintage. The paneling is often installed in wood or otherwise dark shades, but these narrow panels can get an easy modern boost if painted white. Try beadboard as a backsplash or full-wall covering for a classically retro look that doesn’t overwhelm.

Busy wallpaper

Current wallpaper trends favor the geometric, but a busier print can evoke that vintage feel with minimal effort and cost. Pick a wallpaper with a floral or leaf print and a color scheme that suits the rest of the kitchen, and prepare to be amazed by what a simple wall covering can do.

Pastel tiles + light woods

Trends in wood cabinets come and go, but lighter woods tend to lean toward the vintage and nostalgic, while darker woods look more mid-2000s. The near-vintage look of light wood cabinetry can be enhanced with pastel backsplash tiles, especially if those tiles take a square (rather than the contemporary rectangle) shape.

A hutch and visible crockery

Hutches walk the line between rustic and vintage, but when they’re filled with vintage pyrex, old-school cooking tools, and floral-print china, they’re easily on the vintage side of things. Hang a wooden hutch or plate rack on a wall or replace stainless steel shelving with a standing wooden hutch to get the look and finally give that vintage dish collection a place to shine.