Expert design tips to create a retro kitchen in 2023

While certain design elements have remained “classics” for decades, there are also retro kitchen style trends that regularly reoccur. The retro vibes of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s may have drifted out of style a few decades ago, but they’re now making a comeback in a big way. 

From high-end fashion to caravans and interior design, we’re seeing a resurgence of retro kitchen design trends everywhere, often accompanied by a modern twist. This is fantastic news for those who want to let their bright and bold personalities shine through, with retro providing plenty of opportunities for you to put a unique twist on your kitchen design

These vintage kitchen design ideas, from colourful splashbacks to melamine accents, will inspire you – and check out our full guide for modern retro kitchen additional kitchen ideas and practical guidance on bringing your dream looks to reality.

Got modern retro kitchen style questions?

How to make a modern kitchen look vintage? Here are our top 12 Retro kitchen style tips in 2023

modern kitchen with retro touch

To help you get inspired, we’ve put together some expert design tips to achieve a modern retro kitchen design for your home.

1. Use Timber

Timber cabinetry was a popular choice back in the day, but it became less common as other materials became more cost-effective and durable. Fortunately, it is now easy and cost-effective to incorporate timber elements into a kitchen thanks to products like Polytec’s Woodmatt laminates range. The timber-look laminate range from Polytec is low maintenance, stain/scratch-resistant and easy to hygienically clean. 

2. Retro Style Kitchen Cabinets

Selecting vintage kitchen cabinets is an excellent way to add a retro feel to your kitchen design. Retro kitchen cabinets often feature bold, vibrant colours like sunny yellows, aqua blues, avocado greens, or warm oranges. These colours can be used as the primary colour for the cabinets or as accent colours on select cabinet doors or drawer fronts. Look for cabinet designs with curved edges and smooth lines, characteristic of 60s style kitchen cabinets aesthetics. Cabinets with rounded corners, scalloped edges, or flared legs can help create a vintage vibe. Retro-style cabinets often feature unique and nostalgic hardware options. Look for vintage-inspired knobs, handles, or pulls made from materials like chrome, brass, or coloured acrylic to complement the overall retro theme.

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3. Incorporate Pastels

If you love the retro stylings of the 1950s, then pastels are the way to go. Think lemony yellows, baby blues, mint greens or lavenders. Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to use all these pastels together! Choose your favourite pastel shades and add them to a few key design elements, such as the end panels on your bench or the overhead kitchen cabinetry. 

4. Bring Back Patterns

Patterns played an integral role in the original retro home design, so if you want to achieve a retro look, bring back patterns! A modern twist on the classic geometric pattern is the concept of a re-worked pattern – where a single pattern reappears in different mediums throughout the kitchen design. For example, you could have a diamond pattern in your splashback tiles and on the lampshades you choose for your pendant lights. 

5. Retro Colours

If you’re aiming for more of a 1970s feel, then it’s hard to go past the burnt orange and vivid greens synonymous with this era. The key here is to use these colours sparingly (as a splashback, a feature wall or a statement cabinet) rather than going overboard with a kitchen that is 80% orange. Couple retro colours with more neutral tones to create a balanced and appealing modern retro kitchen.  

6. Pop Culture Art

If you don’t want to commit to a long-term vintage design, then there are still ways to add a retro feel to a modern kitchen. And one of the easiest ways to do this is by installing some oversized artworks, preferably with a pop culture reference. Think bright colours, bold patterns or classic postcard-style prints – whatever appeals to your personal tastes. 

7. Vintage Appliances

Consider incorporating vintage-style appliances to add an authentic retro touch. Look for appliances with rounded edges, chrome finishes, and retro-inspired colours like pastels or bold hues. By selecting these appliances, you can effortlessly evoke a nostalgic atmosphere while still enjoying the modern functionality and convenience they offer. Whether it’s a retro-inspired refrigerator, stove, or dishwasher, these appliances will serve as focal points, adding an unmistakable vintage charm to your retro kitchen design.

8. Retro Lighting Fixtures

To enhance the retro ambiance in your kitchen, pay attention to the lighting fixtures you choose. Opt for retro-inspired options like pendant lights with a mid-century modern design or vintage-style chandeliers. These lighting fixtures can serve as both functional and decorative elements, adding a touch of nostalgia and elegance to the space. Look for fixtures with sleek lines, geometric shapes, and materials like brushed brass or polished chrome to capture the essence of retro design. The right lighting fixtures will not only provide adequate illumination but also contribute to the overall retro aesthetic, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere in your kitchen.

9. Display Vintage Kitchenware

Decorate open shelves or glass-front cabinets with vintage kitchenware like colourful Pyrex dishes, retro coffee mugs, or vintage canisters. Embrace the eclectic nature of vintage kitchenware by mixing different styles, patterns, and colours. Don’t be afraid to experiment and combine various pieces to create an eye-catching display. The mix of colours, textures, and shapes will contribute to the overall retro vibe of the kitchen. Group items of similar colours or themes together and intersperse them with other elements like cookbooks, plants, or decorative objects.

10. Retro Accessories

Incorporate practical retro accessories that not only add charm but also serve a functional purpose. Consider adding vintage radios that still work, allowing you to enjoy music while cooking. Hang an old-school clock on the wall and include retro-style kitchen scales that can be used for measuring ingredients or as decorative pieces on the countertop. Display colourful vintage dishware, such as retro-patterned plates, bowls, and mugs. These practical retro accessories bring a sense of nostalgia and personality to your kitchen.

11. Retro Bar Stools

Install retro bar stools with chrome accents and vinyl upholstery at your kitchen island or counter. These bar stools instantly evoke a sense of the past with their sleek and iconic design. Select for bar stools with shiny chrome frames, distinctive curves, and cushioned seats upholstered in vibrant vinyl colours like red, turquoise, or black. Install them at your kitchen island or counter to provide seating that not only adds a retro aesthetic but also offers a comfortable spot for dining or casual conversations. The retro bar stools will be a focal point in your kitchen, contributing to the overall nostalgic ambiance and creating a welcoming space reminiscent of a classic diner.

12. Retro Window Treatments

Lastly, take a hard look on your windows and see if you can give them a retro window treatment. If yes, consider installing colourful café curtains with playful patterns, such as polka dots or stripes, to create a cheerful and inviting atmosphere. Alternatively, opt for retro-style fabric valances in bold colours or with vintage motifs like atomic prints or floral designs. These window treatments not only add privacy and control the amount of natural light but also serve as decorative elements that contribute to the retro vibe. By carefully selecting the right window treatments, you can tie together the entire retro theme of your kitchen and create a visually cohesive space.

Transform your food prep space into a retro kitchen with a modern twist with McColl Cabinet makers!

couple joyful dancing in the kitchen

Ready to convert your kitchen into a captivating retro kitchen with a modern twist? You can partner up with us at McColl Cabinetmakers. Our expertise in creating exceptional kitchen designs, coupled with our passion for blending timeless aesthetics with contemporary functionality, ensures a kitchen that is both nostalgic and practical. 

Discover the possibilities at our kitchen showroom, conveniently located at 3 Monique Court, Raceview QLD 4305. Let us guide you through a world of retro-inspired cabinetry, vintage accents, and innovative solutions, turning your dream retro kitchen into a reality. Experience the charm of the past with the convenience of the present!

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