When creating a beautiful cooking space, some decorating trends have real staying power. Case in point: The midcentury modern-inspired kitchen. From colorful orange, yellow, and green on appliances and accessories to patterned countertops and flat front cabinetry to retro accessories, classic elements like these add warmth and personality to contemporary homes.
The best part is adding a little midcentury whimsy to your cooking space doesn't have to feel kitschy—unless that is your thing. The following ideas share how to add enduring midcentury style to your kitchen.
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Bold Color Combinations Make a Striking Impression
Bold color combinations are a hallmark of the classic midcentury kitchen. In this modern cooking space featured on Harvey Maria, chartreuse green and turquoise pop against the pale cabinetry and retro, white dining set. The black and white checkerboard floor is another striking midcentury-inspired feature that enlivens the room with a playful pattern.Continue to 2 of 19 below.
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Bring a Casual Breakfast Nook to the Next Level
Beautifully crafted midcentury furniture is an investment in enduring style. In this gorgeous kitchen by Modtage Design in San Francisco, California, a vintage teak dining table and chairs set elevates a casual breakfast nook to elegant eating space. The floor made of contemporary cork tiles features a midcentury-inspired tile pattern.Continue to 3 of 19 below.
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Apple Green Kitchen Cabinets
Apple green is another favorite midcentury kitchen color, as shown in this fantastic example by Adam Milton out of Chicago, Illinois. The white quartz countertop is a modern feature that feels retro, thanks to its speckled pattern. Vintage-inspired warehouse lighting adds to the overall midcentury vibe. The kitchen range by Big Chill adds a little retro flair with modern conveniences. The black and white diamond floor tile is a classic pattern that dates back to the 1940s. The studio-sized refrigerator (also by Big Chill) has a stamped metal body and convenient pivoting handle similar to fridges made more than 70 years ago.Continue to 4 of 19 below.
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How to Create a White Midcentury Inspired Kitchen
If you are not a fan of bold color, you should know that crisp, white midcentury-inspired kitchens are also a thing. Here is a simple and stylish example by Oregon-based interior design firm Sarah Phipps Design. The small space features clean lines and smooth surfaces, both characteristics of midcentury modern style.
The apartment-sized refrigerator by SMEG has a distinctive retro vibe. The flat front cabinetry is topped off with polished chrome hardware that is also in step with midcentury modern's minimalist aesthetic. The marble hexagon tile backsplash is a classic choice that brings a splash of interesting pattern. The white quartz countertop includes a drainboard sink, a chief feature in many authentic midcentury modern kitchens.Continue to 5 of 19 below.
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Midcentury Modern Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tile was a popular choice for countertops and backsplashes in kitchens and bathrooms in authentic midcentury homes. The trick to getting it right is pairing white or colorful tile with a black tile border, as shown in this sizable retro kitchen by Jackson Design and Remodeling out of San Diego, California.
Here a sunshine yellow tile countertop and backsplash are punctuated with jet black tile. The straight lines of the Shaker-style cabinetry enhance the kitchen's vintage charm. A midcentury-inspired range adds both function and style. While checkerboard floors like this one were made of sheets of ultrathin linoleum in the 1950s, which wore out quickly, this one is made of durable and modular Marmoleum tiles, a type of natural linoleum flooring free of volatile organic compounds.Continue to 6 of 19 below.
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Laminate Countertops Add Style and Function
Laminate countertops were super popular throughout the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and beyond. They provided home chefs with a durable work surface available in a broad range of colors and patterns. When Seattle, Washington-based construction firm Hammer and Hand renovated this kitchen, they selected a laminate countertop by Pionite in a particular style called Formal Mahogany. The countertop has a smooth aluminum edge, which helps to protect the laminate from scratches and dings.
The midcentury-inspired checkerboard floor is made of vinyl tiles by Armstrong Flooring in contrasting shades of Maraschino and Buttercream Yellow.Continue to 7 of 19 below.
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Must-Have Appliances in Bright, Bold Colors
In our humble opinion, no midcentury modern kitchen is complete without a few must-have appliances in bright or pastel colors. Atlanta, Georgia-based interior design firm Kandrac and Kole added midcentury charm to this traditional cooking space by pairing a retro red range by Big Chill with a cherry red electric mixer and bowl set by KitchenAid.Continue to 8 of 19 below.
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Vintage Countertop Accessories and a Retro Inspired Backsplash
Take your contemporary cooking space back in time with kitschy countertop accessories and a glass backsplash in retro pastel shades. This midcentury modern refresh by Susan Jablon Mosaics out of Binghamton, New York, does just that. The backsplash features a mosaic layout that alternates mini subway tile with colorful square tile. The set of vintage canisters is a prized flea market find.Continue to 9 of 19 below.
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Flat Front Cabinetry and Porcelain Drainboard Sinks
The flat front cabinetry, which is original to the home, got a lick of new color in a retro shade of minty green. The retro cabinet knobs in polished chrome are from Rejuvenation. The Formica countertop, a midcentury staple, has a sturdy aluminum edge that prevents chipping and scratching. The vintage white base cabinets are powder-coated metal. Our favorite piece in this cooking space is the classic farmhouse drainboard sinks made of porcelain. Above is vintage task light.Continue to 10 of 19 below.
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Laminate Countertop in a Funky Midcentury Modern Pattern
Meghan Meyer, the occasional blogger behind Metaphors Mixed, calls her white and blue cooking space the boomerang kitchen. The room features a funky laminate countertop in a retro midcentury modern pattern called Glacier Boomerang by Wilsonart.Continue to 11 of 19 below.
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Modern Kitchen Tricked Out With Midcentury Pieces
Pam Kueber, the midcentury modest décor enthusiast behind Retro Renovation, created this pitch-perfect midcentury modern kitchen when renovating her 1951 colonial ranch house located in Lenox, Massachusetts. Many of the items in the kitchen are authentic to the period, from the round Saarinen "tulip" dining table set to the metal turquoise cabinetry. The latter took years to find. The set finally popped up on eBay. Another eBay find in this kitchen is the pull-down light over the table. It is a piece from 1959 called the Imperialite by Emerson-Imperial. How much did it cost? A mere $12.Continue to 12 of 19 below.
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Wood Grain Wonderful
Shaker handiwork had a major influence on midcentury modern design. Woodgrains were incorporated as a design element; some grain lines give a room or its focal point movement. Popular woods used to craft furniture during the midcentury modern era included teak and American black walnut. Wood paneling was a big, beautiful exclamation point for many midcentury homes, and incorporating wood grain is an homage to that familiar throwback.Continue to 13 of 19 below.
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Space Race Reminiscence
The space race and moon landing significantly influenced the hearts, minds, and design aesthetic of midcentury modern homemakers. Sputnik-inspired chandeliers, starburst clocks, and globe-looking hanging pendant lights are design motifs woven into the modern midcentury look, still translating nicely in kitchens today.Continue to 14 of 19 below.
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Loud, Patterned Wallpaper
Patterns with bright colors and large shapes on the wallpaper are a common staple of midcentury modern kitchens. Search out big monotone floral images or shapes like chevrons and herringbone to draw out the personality in any room. To keep these design elements from overpowering the room, use subdued neutrals or a monotone color palette.Continue to 15 of 19 below.
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Earthy, Rustic Color Choices
Earthy, moody tones are a must when bringing a natural twist to your kitchen. Think of colors like slate blue, avocado green, and chocolate brown. The three do wonders together; other colors that play well include orange, quartz or woodblock countertops, and tropical plants.Continue to 16 of 19 below.
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Style Mixing: Art Deco Meets Midcentury Modern
The refined metallics, polish, black leather, and sharp angles of art deco dominated the designs of the 1920s and 30s. Midcentury modern became more popular at the end of the 1940s, with lines developing curves and more patterns and contrasting colors dropping into designs. Brassy and goldish tones turned into colors used on floors, counters, and upholstery. Leather crossed over both styles, remaining a popular material for furniture.Continue to 17 of 19 below.
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Open Concept Kitchen With Modern Twist
The most significant difference between kitchens from the middle of the 20th century and today is that open concept design was not en vogue. Back then, guests were seated in the sitting room while the hosts prepared the meal behind closed doors. The irony now is guests are invited to sit at the kitchen island and watch as the kitchen magic occurs before their eyes. Bucket seats at a well-placed kitchen island allow hosts to entertain guests comfortably as the meal prepares.Continue to 18 of 19 below.
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Wooden Beams Make a Statement
Woods are king in midcentury modern design, and wooden ceiling beams draw your eye upward and carry it to the next thing you point it to. Tie in exposed natural wooden joists or rafters in your kitchen to give you the much-loved wooden look in a midcentury-inspired kitchen.Continue to 19 of 19 below.
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Kitchen Homage to Frank Lloyd Wright
Many homes designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright look like they were meant to be in a natural setting. Homes designed in that fashion are very decidedly midcentury modern by today's standards. He made use of textile concrete blocks, one of his hallmarks. Rock, stone, and unadorned wood were some of his favorite building materials. Natural, stacked stone in a horizontal pattern were another signature look of his.