19 Classic Midcentury Modern Kitchen Accents

Design, Color, and Decor Themes to Know

mint green midcentury inspired kitchen

Sarah Phipps Design

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.

  • 01 of 19

    Bold Color Combinations Make a Striking Impression

    Retro kitchen tile
    Harvey Maria

    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.

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  • 02 of 19

    Bring a Casual Breakfast Nook to the Next Level

    vintage-midcentury-table-chair-set
    Modtage Design

    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.

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  • 03 of 19

    Apple Green Kitchen Cabinets

    retro minty green kitchen
    Adam Milton

    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.

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  • 04 of 19

    How to Create a White Midcentury Inspired Kitchen

    white retro kitchen with SMEG fridge
    Sarah Phipps Design

    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.

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  • 05 of 19

    Midcentury Modern Ceramic Tile

    yellow retro kitchen
    Jackson Design and Remodeling

    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.

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  • 06 of 19

    Laminate Countertops Add Style and Function

    retro kitchen with red laminate countertop
    Hammer and Hand

    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. 

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  • 07 of 19

    Must-Have Appliances in Bright, Bold Colors

    retro black kitchen
    Kandrac and Kole

    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.

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  • 08 of 19

    Vintage Countertop Accessories and a Retro Inspired Backsplash

    customized retro kitchen tiles
    Susan Jablon Mosaics

    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.

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  • 09 of 19

    Flat Front Cabinetry and Porcelain Drainboard Sinks

    mint green midcentury inspired kitchen
    Sarah Phipps Design

    Sarah Phipps Design, based in Oregon, gave this midcentury kitchen new life thanks to a good scrubbing, fresh paint, and a spanking new subway tile backsplash.

    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.

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  • 10 of 19

    Laminate Countertop in a Funky Midcentury Modern Pattern

    Retro inspired laminate
    Metaphors Mixed

    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.

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  • 11 of 19

    Modern Kitchen Tricked Out With Midcentury Pieces

    metal kitchen cabinets in midcentury kitchen
    Retro Renovation

    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.

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  • 12 of 19

    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.

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  • 13 of 19

    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.

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  • 14 of 19

    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.

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  • 15 of 19

    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.

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  • 16 of 19

    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.

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  • 17 of 19

    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.

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  • 18 of 19

    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.

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  • 19 of 19

    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.