Retro kitchen ideas

Looking for retro kitchen ideas? Be inspired by vintage kitchens that will never date

From the slightest touch to an explosion of style, adding retro chic to your home is a great way to pay homage to your favourite era and have fun at the same time. Whether it is through colour palette or iconic furniture choice, explore retro chic through some of our great retro kitchen ideas. From vintage kitchen ideas to incorporating evocative colour into your scheme, you can create a retro look even in a small kitchen.

There are certain design ingredients that make up the ideal retro-chic recipe. A palette of colours that are so of their moment, plastic furniture once ground-breakingly space-aged, spiky plants and a hint of iconic imagery. It may sound like the potential for design disaster, but it all comes together so beautifully in these retro kitchens.

When it comes to kitchen storage ideas, standalone units are now being embraced in modern open-plan spaces where the kitchen literally takes centre stage. But they were once the bread and butter of a retro kitchen. Paint your freestanding furniture in a contrasting palette of primary colours for a true retro look.

Take a look at these retro kitchen ideas to give your contemporary or traditional kitchen a nod to the past with nostalgic, olde worlde touches.

1/10 Retro kitchen with signage

retro kitchen with signage

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

If you have a large retro art collection to show off, you can't do better than crisp white walls. Make the most of the space you have by hanging some pieces and propping others. Propping is also a great option for awkward or heavy items that would be tricky to hang. For a coherent look, use your artwork as the basis of your colour scheme and stick to a limited palette of two or three key colours. A primary palette is a great choice for a retro scheme.

Andy Warhol 'Campbell's Soup' poster
World Gallery
Vintage road signs
English Salvage

2/10 Retro kitchen with gingham tablecloth

retro kitchen with gingham tablecloth

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Do you fancy yourself as a bit of a domestic goddess? Invite a fabulous Fifties diner feel into your kitchen. Team punchy colours and nostalgic accessories to create a fun, laid-back kitchen-diner. Use simple shelving to keep your favourite nostalgic cooking and baking buys out on display. Stick to a white, unfussy decor, then add splashes of bright colours and Fifties-style accessories to evoke an informal feel. A casual checked cloth will complete the look.

Gingham tablecloth
Marks & Spencer


3/10 Retro kitchen with tiled splashback and brown cabinetry

retro kitchen with tiled splashback and brown cabinetry

(Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung)

Kitchen tiles can transform a wall. This modern kitchen seems as if it's stepping back in time with the addition of geometric patterned tiles that create an eye-catching look. As you can see, practical and attractive wall tiles can do so much more than just sit in the backgroud. They really work to set the tone and dynamic of a kitchen scheme. A 1970s-inspired mustard yellow and chocolate brown scheme brings richness of colour and warmth to the kitchen area. The boldness in this space is cleverly tempered with the addition of white cupboards and a white worktop, bringing the space up to date.


4/10 Retro kitchen with breakfast bar peninsula

retro kitchen with breakfast bar peninsula

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

The smart breakfast bar peninsula in this kitchen-diner has been cleverly raised to keep the kitchen worktops and sink out of view from the dining room. A sweeping neutral paint shade on the wall is warmed up by various earthy shades of brown thanks to grainy wood flooring, a smart mid-century style sideboard and two sleek, brown leather bar stools. Well chosen accessories in red inject colour and add to the 1950s American-diner vibe. 

Bar stools

5/10 Retro kitchen with banquette seating and light fixture

retro kitchen with banquette seating and light fixture

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

A banquette leather seat lends a retro diner look to this kitchen-diner. The exposed brick walls, wooden flooring and Tolix-style chairs are perfect to create the look of a vintage diner. A decorative sign and lighting will delight guests when you have friends over for dinner and adds a quirky touch to this dining room theme.

Similar chairs
Similar decorative lighting
Rockett St George

6/10 Retro kitchen with mid-century furniture

retro kitchen with mid century furniture

(Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung)

This modern extended kitchen has been kept simple and elegant with a neutral colour palette. Marble countertops and beautiful sliding glass-door wall cabinets add a sleek, updated finish. The impressive mid century-style wood dining table and chairs become a focal point thanks to the stylish low-slung pendant light

Bespoke units
Tim Moss
Dining table
De La Espada

7/10 Retro kitchen with painted units

retro kitchen with painted units

(Image credit: Future PLC/Bridget Pierson)

For a relaxed retro look, consider a freestanding kitchen, or add freestanding pieces into your existing scheme. Combine vintage and retro pieces for a characterful, laid-back look. They don't have to be kitchen units as such - look for oversized buffet tables, consoles and generous butcher's blocks at antiques fairs. Feel free to mix eras and styles then paint them all in contrasting colours to create an authentic retro look. Here, a freestanding blue dresser and vintage red larder give this kitchen an unfussy, informal feel. The roomy butler sink is both stylish and practical and oozes vintage style.

Similar larder
Betty Twyford

8/10 Retro kitchen with vinyl floor and turquoise cabinetry

retro kitchen with vinyl floor and turquoise cabinetry

(Image credit: Future PLC/Oliver Gordon)

Fall for retro curves and ice-cream shades. An original 1960s Californian Wrighton kitchen - complete with turquoise cupboards and curvy worktops is a retro staple if you can get hold of one. This particular kitchen was purchased from secondhand shop. A mix of primaries and pastels adds bright pops of colour and there's no denying that the flooring makes a fabulous statement underfoot. Wall tiles in cute candy shades bring a fresh, sunshine feel that sums up the retro vibe perfectly. This kitchen proves that kitsch is always cool.

Vinyl floor
Neisha Crosland at Harvey Maria

9/10 Retro kitchen with Fifties bunting and melamine tableware

retro kitchen with Fifties bunting and melamine tableware

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jon Day)

Channel feelings of yesteryear with bunting, melamine and oilcloths. There's no easier and more affordable way to add a jovial touch to your room than by pinning up colourful bunting. A bunting renaissance in interior design has seen bunting being used in all sorts of quirky and imaginative ways. Create the perfect village fete-style table with plenty of cute cakes on charming stands, mini sandwiches, bottles of lemonade and, most importantly, bunting festooning the wall. Decorate with bright, festival colour for a truly authentic Fifties garden party vibe.

Newmarket stools
Lloyd Loom of Spalding
Oilcloth tablecloth
Betty Boyns

10/10 Retro kitchen with printed wallpaper

retro kitchen with printed wallpaper

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jon Day)

Fabric and wallpaper are an important part of any decorating scheme, yet they're often an afterthought in a modern kitchen. However, they were all the rage in the Fifties, and still look good today when done right. Wallpaper can add personality and character to what has been a purely functional space. It is also very helpful in creating different zones and moods in an open-plan room. This relaxed country kitchen's mix of foliage and teatime patterns provides a fun backdrop for colourful accessories and painted furniture.

Kitchen bin

Thea Babington-Stitt
Managing Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Managing Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for around 10 years.

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.