If your dream is a vintage kitchen, you can easily achieve it with a few key finds and a smattering of playfulness. You don’t need to adhere to a specific design formula; instead, using your own imagination and the tips provided here will create the timeless look you long to have.
1. White Walls Make Bold Statements
White walls may seem like nothing more than a trend, but this look has prevailed throughout history. Long ago, a naked canvas was warmed with handmade textiles and artwork that showcased a variety of colors; white, therefore, allowed artistry to speak for itself.
The same essential concept applies today. Clean, simple walls provide a muted background so your vintage accents do all the talking. From cottage dishware to pastel appliances, these pieces stand front and center when supported by white.
A lack of background color also allows you to mix and match in ways that are clever rather than loud. Any color whether bold or muted will play well against that simple white background.
Bare walls enable you to change your aesthetic at any time. This is not to say you’ll want to deter from your vintage motif, but that you might get sick of a particular rug, piece of art, or flooring pattern. Without having to worry about matching your walls, you can pull inspiration from any number of sources to pursue your vintage ideal.
2. The Room Should Evoke a Sense of Nostalgia
Vintage kitchens all have one thing in common: they evoke nostalgia – a moment to reflect on simpler and more wholesome times. The easiest way to accomplish this is with the display. Showcase your mismatched dishes, dented tins, rustic crates, and antique utensils; they give your kitchen its unique personality.
What’s the best way to display these heirloom items? With open shelves – especially those made of salvaged old-growth wood – that keep your collectibles within easy reach. Glass-fronted cabinets should also be used, but don’t line these wall-to-wall. Remember, vintage is more about style than precision. And hooks allow you to hang pots, pans, and utensils in a pleasing manner.
3. Form Follows Function
When filling your kitchen with beloved items, it’s easy to forget this room also needs a high level of functionality. You must therefore find ways to blend usability with appearance. One of the best ways to do this is with oversized containers that contain bold lettering to identify their purposes, such as for holding flour, sugar, coffee, or cookies.
These containers were popular years ago, and incorporating them into your kitchen today plays into the nostalgia effect we mentioned moments ago. They can also help you stay organized, a key component of any kitchen.
4. Forget About Perfection
Trying to create perfection in a vintage-style kitchen will undo your whole look. Instead, opt for furniture that shows a little wear, such as an old dresser that can display dishes or mismatched chairs to complement your farmhouse table. Pick up a vintage Hoosier cabinet at an antique store rather thank just another bank of built in cabinets.
In short, you shouldn’t dismiss a quality piece because it has a flaw. A chip or several visible layers of paint suggest character. They also prove every item has a story to tell, and celebrating that in your home will only add to your kitchen’s charm.
Ensure Items Are in Working Condition
When buying vintage, however, you need to ensure pieces are durable. This brings us back to the point that you must be able to function in your kitchen, with tools that can properly tenderize, mash, chop, and scrub on a daily basis.
For items made of wood, check the joints so you know they’re still stable. Also, check that the wood is intact throughout. Grab cast iron and hardwood items when you can; both materials are innately durable and will therefore withstand the rigors of kitchen life.
If you’re looking for vintage appliances check out places like Elmira Stove Works for new appliances in the antique and retro style since an ultra modern fridge may not fit with your vintage kitchen.
5. Safety Comes First
Working in a vintage kitchen is not all about beauty. It can also mean acquainting yourself with lead paint or old, faulty wiring.
Any way you spin it, old wiring isn’t trusty. That 1940s working stove you find likely needs to be professionally rewired. Antique-esque appliances make for better and safer options. As a bonus, newer also means more energy efficient.
A vintage-style kitchen should be full of character with cherished items displayed to full effect. Feel free to add personal touches because it’s your room, but also keep functionality in mind. All of your pieces, including furniture and appliances, need to be in sound working order to keep you and your family safe
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.