Retro style kitchen: the charm of the past in a modern apartment

Retro-style kitchens are more than just a trend; they are a celebration of history, nostalgia, and timeless elegance. They refer to eras that have shaped kitchen design and culture, particularly between the 1950s and 1980s. This kitchen combines old-fashioned aesthetics with modern comfort, creating a unique atmosphere full of warmth and individuality.

In terms of design, the fifties and sixties were lively and fun. This has also been reflected in kitchens throughout the decades: edges are rounded, pastel colours are coming in, and pops of colour add cheerful accents. Longing for this era also puts us in a retro mood when furnishing.

Retro design options

When designing a retro kitchen, it is important to understand that retro is not limited to just one style. This can include the cheerful colours and patterns of the 1960s, the functional simplicity of the 1950s, or even the eclectic style of the 1970s. Each decade brings with it specific elements, such as B. certain colours, materials, and types of kitchen equipment that can give your kitchen a distinctive character. It’s about choosing elements that best express your style while complementing the overall character of your home.


Retro or vintage – that’s the difference.

Antique furniture and retro-style decor are popular with almost all interior experts – but what’s the difference? Vintage refers to anything that is truly old. Generally, anything older than the 80s. Signs of wear and peeling paint give this piece of furniture a unique charm and tell the past story. Retro furniture, conversely, consists of new production items that appear reminiscent of distant decades. These are primarily designs from the 50s, 60s, and early 70s. They create a nostalgic atmosphere but can be easily integrated into modern interiors. Bauhaus-style, mid-century, industrial-style and candy cotton furniture was popular between the 1950s and 1970s.

Material and color

Wood is an essential element of retro kitchens, and it can take many forms, from natural looks to modern finishes. Porcelain and chrome-plated details, such as cross-handle fixtures or cupboard handles, give the kitchen an authentic retro touch. The colour palette ranges from soft pastels to solid reds and blues. Together, these materials and colours create a harmonious yet distinctive visual impression characteristic of retro style.

Retro style thrives on exciting colours and wild patterns. Orange, red, yellow, and brown create a warm atmosphere. But shades of green and blue also bring elegant comfort. And the good thing is you don’t have to choose a colour. Colour combinations are a must with retro style! Different-coloured shell chairs around the dining room table or colourful corduroy sofa cushions immediately recall the popular Bauhaus style.

Or how about a bright cotton candy-style kitchen? The black and white tiled floor creates a 1950s restaurant atmosphere. Perfect with this: round bar stools with ice blue cushions, and the icing on the cake is a pink neon sign with writing. If you don’t like being flashy, you can design your interior decoration with pastel colours and choose soft yellow, light green, light blue or purple. Black, white and natural colours are suitable as primary colours for all retro furniture.

A modern device with a retro look

Manufacturers today offer a wide range of devices that combine modern features with retro designs. This could be a refrigerator, dishwasher or stove that looks like something from the past but is equipped with the latest technology. This way, you can incorporate modern comfort into your kitchen without losing its retro charm. Ceramic sinks can be another stylish yet practical element in your kitchen, but granite sinks are also great and come in various colours. Complete your sink with a retro faucet with a cross handle.

Decorations and accessories

Paying attention to the details is essential to get the complete retro look. Choose decorations that reflect the era you want to represent in your kitchen – an antique clock, a retro advertising sign or a ceramic vase. Textile accessories such as patterned curtains or tea towels bring colour and structure, while practical details such as retro kitchen appliances can enhance the overall impression. Remember details such as ceramic mugs, woven baskets or decorative boxes that combine to give the appearance of a complete and lively kitchen.

Retro kitchens are not just about aesthetics but about spaces where past and present, tradition and modernity, come together. They are places where kitchen appliances tell a story of their own, and every element, from the tap to the ceramic sink, contributes to the overall ambience. Retro style offers a unique opportunity to create a kitchen that is functional, comfortable, and full of character and distinctive charm.

Wall decoration for a retro look

Wall color and tile patterns significantly influence a room’s atmosphere. For example, you can make it look welcoming, big and bright, or luxurious and comfortable. Depending on the furnishings, light and dark wall colours work well with the vintage style.

In the spirit of the Swinging Sixties, bright colours and fresh pastel tones ranging from mint green to dark pink are the choices. Surfaces made from natural materials, such as wooden worktops, and earth-toned accessories, such as tea towels and ceramic biscuit tins, create a relaxed balance.

If the wall design in a vintage kitchen is more industrial, darker colours are the ideal choice. Elegant grey to anthracite colours serve as a neutral backdrop against which to showcase individual, unusual pieces. Copper pots and pans and copper fixtures complete the vintage look.

Patterned vintage-style tiles and a printed splashback add stimulating accents. The nostalgic style of furnishings is detailed and a bit shabby, so metal signs with a used look and rustic wooden photo frames with personal memories or dried herbs also fit into the room design.

Tip: Don’t hide cups and glasses in the kitchen cupboard; hang them in the kitchen as additional decoration.

These colours and materials are retro.

In the 1950s through 1970s, polka dots, floral wallpaper, and shiny glass furniture with gold accents were popular. This trend also carried over into retro style.

That’s why the palette ranges from soft pastels to fresh candy colours to dark natural colours like rust brown, grey, and forest green. Metal details also find their place between the two. Using two to three primary colours in the kitchen design is best for a harmonious overall impression.

Retro-look kitchen furniture

There are retro refrigerators with pastel colours such as ice blue, mint and old pink. They look great with dark wall paint or foil that looks like brick.

In large kitchens, the dining table is often the focal point. A solid wood table that can accommodate the whole family can be decorated with decorations such as a milk jug or ceramic vase. Like the country house style, natural materials also set the kitchen mood between fresh colours and sparkling accessories in vintage style. The cupboard’s surface is deliberately matted, and the appearance is based on the shabby chic style.

50s to 70s style decoration and tableware

Geometric patterns such as stripes or dots and floral ornaments also decorate tableware in vintage kitchens, which revive the eras of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Gold-rimmed glasses and plates complete the look.

Potted plants and fresh herbs work well on a windowsill or in a macrame hanging basket.

Tip: Whether it’s a full kitchen or a kitchen island, match the colours of the decor and glassware with the retro refrigerator to create a complete overall picture.

These ten successful retro look ideas show how you can implement the style in your kitchen.

1. Bring colour to the kitchen

Looking back, the 50s and 60s look like they were wrapped in candy wrappers: all the furniture and home accessories were bathed in cheerful colours. Most importantly, soft pastel colours such as light blue, soft yellow, pink, mint and cream are an integral part of this time of year, as are solid and bright colours used as accents. If you design your kitchen in this soft marshmallow colour, you will automatically give it a retro look. A sky-blue kitchen proves how effective this first trick is. The combination of the light blue front with the PH 50 chandelier by Louis Poulsen in a fiery chilli red instantly transports the viewer to the Middle Ages.

2. The kitchen front is coloured, and the carcass is white

You have two options if you grab some paint and a paint roller and want to redesign your complete kitchen in retro style. On the one hand, you can bathe the entire kitchen unit in one colour. This means that a full kitchen with rounded edges will quickly gain the charm of an American diner. Instead, you can only paint the doors and drawers. The resulting image in the form of a white grid with pastel-coloured filling areas is the key to a European retro-style kitchen

3. Install a retro kitchen

Apart from the typical colours of the 50s and 60s, the shape of the kitchen furniture must also be considered. Highly rounded edges are typical of fitted kitchens of that time. However, sliding doors and sloping upper cabinets that were visually tilted forward were also everywhere. However, the number of kitchen manufacturers specializing in mid-century fitted kitchens is minimal. Often, the only option is to have a carpenter make the piece to order. While you should expect higher costs than a ready-made kitchen, the investment is worth it. You get kitchen cabinets tailored to your room and needs – and you can embrace the retro look with lots of curves, sliding doors and wall cabinets that taper down as desired.

4. or get a sideboard from decades-old

To avoid investing in custom-built and faux retro kitchens, you should look for second-hand furniture from that era. Finding a complete and original kitchen from the 50s or 60s would be luck. However, kitchen buffets from this decade are more often offered for sale.

5. Use chrome-look handles

To add retro charm to kitchen cabinets, it’s best to use simple chrome handles or knobs. Simple bow handles or practical half-shell handles, also called shell handles, create a retro atmosphere.

6. Choosing a round dining table

Anyone who sees a kidney table in their mind immediately knows what characterized the furniture of the 50s and 60s: round and organic shapes. That’s why no table fits better in a retro kitchen than a round table. The perfect choice would be the Tulip dining table, which Fouremptywalls also used in this black and white retro Stockholm kitchen. Eero Aarnio designed it in 1956 to end table leg confusion. The result is impressive, with only one leg below the table top and an elegant and beautiful appearance.

7. And combine the chair with the round chair shell

The Tulip chair from the same series is one of many that can be perfectly combined with a round table. All chairs with upholstery shells have a slightly retro feel because of their round shape. If that’s not enough for you, you can do what these Berlin kitchen dwellers did: give away your chairs even more—in the fifties style- by spicing up your chair and table legs with a layer of lacquer.

8. Replace kitchen equipment with retro versions

From chunky, vintage-style refrigerators to elegant KitchenAid mixers, electrical manufacturers pamper us with kitchen appliances that either approximate the classic look of their day—or never say goodbye to it. Such appliances give even modern kitchens a touch of a retro atmosphere.

9. Decorate with retro home accessories

An inexpensive alternative to large or small retro kitchen appliances is the 50s and 60s-style plates and kitchen utensils. From home accessories providers, you will find many items to suit the desired look – for example, in pastel or bright colours presented. Choose – like the founders of Mini Modern here in their train cars – preferably thick-walled enamels and ceramics. It is a characteristic of an era that we now associate mainly with retro style.

A visit to a flea market promises unique finds that can give your kitchen a retro look for little money. Look for unusual food, cosmetic, or cleaning product packaging and cans with bright colors and large lettering. Andy Warhol has celebrated the simple, striking design of the tin product, so you can pay homage to the ’60s while at the same time having a practical storage box.

10. Lay the tiles in a retro look

The tile floor’s checkered look is reminiscent of the 50s, but as a statement, it requires boldness. If you prefer something less flashy but still want to create a retro feel on your tile floor or backsplash, you’ll opt for glossy square tiles in pastels, subtle whites, or unusual colours like this moss green.