Decorating Your Kitchen in Retro '50s Rockabilly Style Décor
Spice Up Your Boring Conventional Kitchen, '50s Style!
Are you tired of your boring, plain-jane modern kitchen? Does it lack the bang and luster that you feel every kitchen should have? Are you a fan of retro style or décor? Well, what about redesigning your kitchen in retro 1950s style? You could have a rockin' red and aqua atomic kitchen...or perhaps even a mid-century yellow & black kitchen? You can make your vintage style kitchen dreams come true...with a little bit of patience and effort.
Fortunately for the rockabillies and the fans of 1950s retro style and vintage décor, there are many different looks that can be emulated and recreated. If you love the vintage 50's look, you should be able to find inspiration all over the internet. Retrorenovation.com is one of my favorite websites to find vintage inspiration for redecorating...or just for contemplating redecorating. There are many other sites out there that provide a wealth of vintage 50's magazine clippings of kitchens, to act as your muse in the retro re-fabbing (yes, I just made up a word) of your kitchen. It does not even matter how much redecorating you plan to do, whether totally refurbishing or just finding detailed touches...you will discover that there are many avenues to take to achieve that magnifique and uniquely you, vintage 50's kitchen.
In this hub, I have gratefully snagged two copies of 50's vintage magazine pictures from retrorenovation.com to act as our inspirational pieces and to demonstrate various ways to achieve that rockin' retro kitchen that you are indeed now fantasizing about.
A 1950s Yellow Kitchen
Many of the kitchens in the 1950s were bright and cheery colors like sunshine yellow! I would recommend this look if you want to go for a more eccentric, eye-grabbing vintage look. Although many of our kitchens' cabinets and countertops are laid out differently than the kitchen above, you can achieve the yellow cabinet look simply by applying a couple fresh coats of paint to those boring brown ones that you may have hanging in your kitchen now. To properly paint your kitchen cabinets, you will need to know what type of wood they are made of. According to the Josh Garskof's Pro Secrets of Painting on thisoldhouse.com, slow-drying oil based primers work well on maple or cherry or manmade materials, but you will want to use a pudding-thick oil based coating before painting our cabinets if they are made of oak, ash, mahogany, or hickory. Josh also gives you a checklist for all materials you may need, which I have posted to the Resources' links section at the end of this hub.
Once you have educated yourself on the best techniques of painting cabinets, you can find that perfect shade of yellow by simply going to a Home Depot or a Lowe's...or even a Walmart. I found a very close match on Homedepot.com with the Sunflower shade of yellow, pictured to the right. Of course you can go with a darker, more-mustard shade of yellow but that all depends on your taste. Another tip to acquiring that 50's look - replace your kitchen's hardware! It is easy and cheaper than you might imagine. I found a set of six chrome door pulls on ebay for only $9.99 (also pictured to the right). Slap these babies on your freshly-painted yellow cabinets in place of those old blasé wooden knobs...and people will think you have a whole new kitchen set.
If you absolutely cannot stand to look at those old kitchen cabinets any longer and you have the moola to do it, get a new set of cabinets completely! You can scour estate sales, ebay, and even some larger thrift stores to find a vintage set of cabinets, like the set pictured above found on ebay for an affordable $1450! Of course you will want to do some measuring to ensure that the vintage cabinet set you choose will fit properly into your kitchen's space. And if you are unable to find properly sized vintage cabinets, there's always Ikea. Yes, I said it...Ikea. Their kitchen cabinets are absolutely breathtaking and will not totally break your checking account! You can find a very mod-50's style set and slap some yellow paint on them to make a yellow retro look yours for the taking.
Now, how about those sassy vintage accessories? This is the funnest part of redecorating a kitchen! There is a whole plethora of websites in which to find vintage and retro-style décor...including vintage handtowels, vintage clocks, vintage cookie jars, vintage dishes, and the list could go on and on and on...but for now, let us start with that fabulous large 50's wall clock. Okay, so it is not actually authentic vintage, but it is cheap and gives off that old-school look...check out the wall clock at Bed Bath and Beyond pictured above...for a mere $29.99! It resembles the 50's clock in the Armstrong Kitchen, but has a sort of more modern approach...I like it! Of course you can scour etsy.com and ebay to find a genuinely vintage wall clock but do not forget that many modern day stores carry items that appear to be vintage...and sometimes at a better price than their vintage predecessors.
Ohh, how about that fabulous shiny, brass tea kettle and what about that hip retro wall phone? These are easy key pieces to find, as well. It's as simple as typing www.etsy.com into your URL bar and then doing a search for these pieces within the Vintage section of this website. I found the brass tea kettle by doing a search on "vintage tea kettle" and I discovered the black wall phone by searching for "vintage black phone". There are many other options to choose from to emulate the accessories that adorn our 50s Armstrong Kitchen look.
Vintage canisters are all the rage in kitchens all across America, and lucky for us that they are! There seems to be more of a supply that is meeting the demands of avid vintage kitchen collectors...so take a look on etsy or ebay...or go to Target and pick up a new set of canisters that boast a refreshing yet retro appeal. My kitchen happens to have a set of red porcelain canisters that I found at Target for less than forty dollars! They are newly manufactured, but they have a very mid-century, atomic vibe...with chrome details and matching chrome scoops.
To tie the Yellow 1950s Kitchen look together, snatch up some atomic vintage hand towels. Etsy has a whole cornucopia of vintage kitchen towels, an example is the cute and eccentric cat towel pictured above. Usually you can even find sets of kitchen towels that are deadstock vintage...which means that they were made back in a different decade but they are still in the original packaging. You can also search for vintage aprons to match your vintage kitchen towels...hang them on hooks or drape them over your stove handle...very cute and retro.
The Sky Blue 1950s Kitchen
To own a kitchen in a shade of sky or aqua blue in the 1950s was an enormous trend in the line of interior décor. Today, there are simple and fun ways to get this nostalgic trend in your own modern kitchen. And why not make it even more fun by adding some soda fountain pieces to it? If you are refurbishing your entire kitchen, a great online tool in which to aid in your design is Lowe's Virtual Room Designer. I have posted the link in the Resources for Redecorating at the end of this hub. I played around with it for a little while and found it to be quite useful and entertaining at the same time. It is literally like you are a room designer, putting together a new kitchen...with cabinets and appliances, all online!
I discovered that there is a large variety of shades of sky blue, but my favorite is the Valspar Sky Blue, conveniently posted above. This retro-reminiscient shade was also found at Lowe's. In relation to the Home Depot, Lowe's offers the paint testers as a cheaper method for a redecorator/interior designer to sample how a shade will look on his or her cabinets. Just be sure to follow the pro painting tips, before going at your cabinets full force! Of course, another option would be to just hire a professional to give your cabinets a face lift...but that all depends on how much dough you are wanting to spend on this project. If you are willing to learn and take risks, yet save money at the same time, I say go for it and paint those cabinets yourself!
Usually I am not a huge fan of the color brown in a kitchen, but as a secondary shade and paired with sky blue, brown can be a trendy and upbeat color in anyone's kitchen. Vintage 1950s panel curtains are a cute and whimsical choice to add to your sky blue kitchen. These type of vintage curtains can be found easily on etsy. And if they are not the proper size for your kitchen, why not do some handy work on tailor them to fit your needs? Or, employ a friend who might be handle with a pair of scissors and a sewing machine to properly fit them to the window above your sink.
In many kitchens from the 1950s, a particular wall in the kitchen was dedicated to décor or even photos of family members. This is very easy design aspect to follow...you really have the opportunity to let your personality show here. You can hang pictures of your family, or maybe frame some vintage magazine ads (such as the vintage Coca-Cola ads), or if you are an avid photographer you could hang some of your artwork on the kitchen walls. Ensure that the frames are all the same size and color, and this will be a wonderfully retro and conversation-starting design for your kitchen.
Another awesome touch to any vintage kitchen is to add a small shelf above the kitchen sink, and adorn it with brightly-colored flower pots and vintage dishes. If you have a hubby, put it on his honey-do list...that is, if he is, in fact, somewhat of a handyman. If not, you can attempt the work yourself or hire a professional (once again, this all depends on the money you are willing to spend). Do a google search on methods of installing shelves in the kitchen, or youtube it!
Pick up a set of yellow vintage dishes on ebay...and you will never want to leave your kitchen! If you like to do the yard-sale thing, scour yard sales or thrift stores for sets of vintage dishes...vintage glassware and casserole bowls seem to really last forever. They are durable and cute enough to display on a countertop or behind a glass-covered cabinet.
More Mid-Century Vintage Inspirations
© 2011 Nicole Canfield