Skip to main content

21OAK may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to design a vintage-inspired kitchen

Everything old is new when it comes to interior design, so it should be no surprise that vintage-inspired kitchens are one of the hottest trends of the year. One of the best things about a retro kitchen, is that unlike other trends, they never really go out of style. The other great thing? You likely won’t have to gut your space and invest in all new appliances and finishes. “When you want a more vintage inspired kitchen, there are some easy additions that will help inspire nostalgia,” Michelle Harrison-McAllister, founder of boutique design firm, Michelle Harrison Design, tells 21Oak.

We asked some of the top interior design experts in the country for their best tips on how to design a gorgeous vintage-inspired kitchen, and they did not disappoint.

Related Videos
Thomas Bethge/Shutterstock

Add some vintage ceramics

Tiffany Leigh of Tiffany Leigh Design loves vintage crocks and pottery. “In kitchens, try a section of open shelving to display a few of these decorative vintage items, mixed in with more practical items like cookbooks, mixing bowls, and pretty salt and pepper shakers,” she suggests.

Hang an oil painting

Hanging an original work of art in your kitchen can go a long way in achieving a vintage feel. “It adds instant warmth, personality, and a vintage charm,” says Leigh.

Add wallpaper

Stefani Stein, interior designer, suggests dressing up your kitchen walls in a favorite recently revived design trend. “Today, wallpaper can feel a bit impractical in a hard-working room such as a kitchen. However, it is a great accent to provide a little variation and break up the hard surfaces when incorporated into a breakfast room,” she points out.

Opt for vintage-inspired lighting

A vintage-inspired lighting fixture is a great opportunity to transform your space. “We love large vintage carriage lanterns hung over the island,” says Leigh. “Vintage lighting is always a great idea, as well. Just be sure to have it rewired so it isn’t a fire hazard,” adds Stein. Harrison-McAllister suggests looking for something with a frosted white globe and brushed brass, “for a style that is reminiscent of the past.”

Consider finishes and accessories

Stein points out that some key elements and characteristics that define vintage-inspired kitchens are handmade tile, colored cabinetry, rich wooden paneling, pendants & sconces, and cafe curtains. “For retro/vintage kitchen decor pieces,  I love Nickey Kehoe and Heath Ceramics for kitchen accents with a vintage feel,” she suggests. “If that isn’t in your budget, Anthropologie is a good option. Additionally, if you really know what you’re looking for and want to get creative, there are tons of great pieces on Etsy and Chairish as well.”

vintage inspired kitchen
Stefani Stein

Do your research

One of the best ways to get some design inspiration for a vintage kitchen is studying them, says Alison Giese of Alison Giese Interiors. “I love looking up images of actual kitchens from the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s,” she reveals. “Vintage advertisements or magazine features are a great way to get a glimpse of what materials were used.”

Mix old and authentic with new and fresh elements

A great way to give “gravitas” to a vintage-inspired kitchen is to actually use vintage pieces, points out Giese.  “I love scouring auction sites for one-of-a-kind lighting or hardware that will instantly add character to a space.”

Use your imagination

There are no rules when it comes to designing a vintage-inspired kitchen, Giese reminds. “A vintage-inspired kitchen is just that — inspired.  You needn’t create a time capsule in order to capture the essence of a classic, vintage space!”

Add some small vintage-inspired appliances

OK, so maybe you don’t want an oven from the 1950s. However, a pop of vintage in the form of a small appliance can go a long way suggests Harrison-McAllister. “For example, adding a turquoise vintage-inspired toaster oven will surely bring back memories of warm cinnamon toast,” she explains. “Plus, this color is a fun vibrant pop for your kitchen counter.”

Flashback floor treatments

Don’t forget the kitchen floor, Harrison-McAllister says. “Place an old school vintage-inspired floor cloth in a neutral pattern that will complement any kitchen decor style,” she suggests. “They are durable, flexible, and easy to clean and look great under the kitchen sink or oven for some comfort and nostalgia.”

Editors' Recommendations

5 tips for renovating your space from an HGTV star
Here's what the experts say you need to consider when starting a DIY home remodel
Happy couple looks at bedroom renovation plans

Recently, homeowners flocked to the annual Indianapolis Home Show featuring designers, brands, contractors, and more. During its final weekend, HGTV’s Good Bones star Mina Starsiak spoke to locals about her TV show, upcoming projects, and tips for renovating a property. For homeowners looking to take on a fixer-upper or DIY home remodel, Starsiak has a few pro tips.

Itemize your renovation with your contractor
One of the most important tips Starsiak and her team stressed to homeowners undergoing a renovation is to itemize the project with your contractor. Starsiak emphasized, "When speaking to a contractor, itemize the project and have them list everything with the price." She said that homeowners can avoid miscommunication with their contractors by listing project specifics.

Read more
Survey: These are the biggest kitchen trends
Cabinets, appliances, lighting and more for 2023
Kitchen remodel plans

Most people spend a ton of time in their kitchen. No matter the primary use for your kitchen, it's likely the gathering place for your family as well. For this reason, many homeowners look to the kitchen when it’s time to update their home’s decor. A kitchen update can improve your home’s functionality and style and raise the resale value. If you’re thinking about a kitchen remodel, check out the hottest kitchen trends for 2023 below.

A recent study by Houzz surveyed 2,380 U.S. homeowners to find the significant kitchen trends for 2023. From cabinetry trends to sustainability and electrical updates to lighting, check out the highlights of the Houzz study below. 

Read more
These dark color palette ideas deliver all the mood
The depth of these dark colors will transform any space in your home
Bedroom with dark wall behind king bed

Dark rooms can sometimes get a bad rap. When designers talk about paint colors that bring light in, make rooms appear larger, or add color to make a room feel "fresh," lighter colors often rule the day. But they don't have to. In fact, bringing in a dark, rich color to a bedroom, living room, office, or bathroom can actually give the space added personality and depth that light colors cannot.

You can also decorate around the dark colors with furniture, lighter cabinets, and wall decor to break up the monotony of a dark color. Here are a few dark color palette ideas to inspire you to bring dark paint hues to any room.

Read more