Reviving Retro: Remodel a Retro Kitchen, but Keep the Charm

Remodeling a kitchen using simple color palettes that are appealing to a variety of homeowners can be a smart and safe way to go when considering the finished product. Neutral tones such as whites, creams, soft grays, and warm beiges are appealing to most people from a design standpoint. They provide a versatile backdrop should you decide to sell your home in the future. 

But if you plan to stay in your home for the long haul, details, textures, and colors in your kitchen should coincide with your unique design taste. After all, you’ll be interacting with this space daily. It should reflect who you are and how you want the kitchen to make you feel. 

All things considered, infusing character into your kitchen can often mean reintroducing or preserving retro elements. These touches add charm to the space, while also creating a bridge between past and present. Keep reading to learn more about how you can incorporate this nostalgic trend into your space, whether your kitchen is new and transitional, or dated and looking for a remodel. 


Vintage Appliances kitchen-appliance

Just because you like the look of a retro refrigerator doesn’t mean you have to go hunting on Facebook Marketplace to find one in OK condition in some stranger’s garage, hoping it works properly. Many companies have taken to creating brand new refrigerators that look retro and straight out of a 70s kitchen. But, if you’re lucky enough to find an original old-school fridge that still functions properly and that notion works for you, take advantage of the durability and quality that comes with it after all these years!  

You can also look for retro stainless-steel toasters and coffee pots to use functionally or decoratively throughout the space. Another option is to purchase new appliances that were made to look like period pieces. Many companies sell sets that appear vintage, including tea kettles, microwave ovens, blenders, toasters, and more. 


Statement Lighting kitchen-lighting-pendants

Pendant lights and chandeliers are striking and can be used as statement pieces in your kitchen. Think ‘mid-century’ or industrial to create visual interest in the space. Again, you don’t need to scour garage sales and flea markets, unless that’s your thing! A helpful place to start would be to create a mood board on Pinterest using photos of retro kitchens and then hunting down light fixtures that are new but have a similar look to the ones you saw and liked. Give Google a search to find retro light fixtures, and shop for exactly what you want! 


Groovy Backsplashes Autumn Trail Glass Backsplash

Color is all the rage when it comes to achieving the retro aesthetic. The backsplash is an easy and affordable place to really make a statement. If you have neutral colors throughout your kitchen, this is where the space can shine. Every element in your kitchen doesn’t have to be retro. Formica has come a long way over the years and looks nothing like what it did back then!). Using small details to achieve a nostalgic vibe might make more sense in a modern kitchen. Choose a funky pattern and vibrant color for your backsplash to make the space POP without changing a bunch of other aspects of your kitchen. 



People’s eyes don’t exactly light up when they hear the word ‘wallpaper’. It’s not the easiest to install, and it can get pricey. But with advancements in technology over the years, it has become more affordable and MUCH more stylish than the orange or blue flower patterns we used to see in our grandparents’ houses. If installing a loud backsplash is a little too permanent, retro wallpaper on one wall in your kitchen can make a statement. Instead of painting that wall a different color, choose a fun wallpaper to accentuate part of your kitchen. If you hate it down the road, just uninstall it and paint the wall. No one has to know! 


Furniture and Décor 

We can’t forget the details that tie the room together. A vintage dining set or red diner-style barstools can add even more character to your kitchen’s seating area. This is where we absolutely recommend scouring yard sales. Look for antique kitchenware, like enamelware and classic glass jars to fill open shelves or glass-front cabinets. Make your décor functional by putting your spices and seasonings in glass Ball jars. Finding old metal signage, like Coca Cola, lends to the nostalgia of the era you are recreating.  


A Few More Tips for the PERFECT Retro Kitchen  

While there are many things you can do to achieve a retro look, there a few main ideas to keep in mind: 

  • Think 24-hour “diner” 
  • Checkers, stripes, polka dots, OH MY! 
  • Red, red, red! And black and white, of course. 
  • Pastel cabinets and appliances 
  • Open shelving 

While what we consider to be the retro style has specific elements, it was the era of expression. Meals were shared in a vibrant space with functional items spread about. Choose items and design styles that are still a representation of your personality, as well as functional for activities that take place in your kitchen. 

Strike the Perfect Balance 

There’s no need to completely remodel your kitchen to scratch the itch of a nostalgic feeling in your space. Small details can create an opportunity to align your vision with what you create on your Pinterest mood board, even if you’re starting with a more current kitchen design. While universally pleasing color palettes have their merits, don’t shy away from putting your personality into your kitchen design and its accessories.  It is possible to achieve a space that is both inviting to guests and authentically yours. 

By integrating retro elements into your kitchen in a thoughtful way, you can infuse your kitchen with a sense of nostalgia and creativity that transcends what’s trending in the kitchen design world. Your kitchen is your canvas to tell a story, and every detail contributes to your own narrative. Embrace the bridge between what is appealing to others with what resonates most with you, and watch your kitchen transform into a timelessly captivating space. Want more kitchen design advice? Subscribe to The Kitchen Table and never miss a beat!


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