15 Essential Design Elements for a Perfectly Retro Kitchen

A well done retro kitchen can turn any modern home into a cozy and welcoming space, where family and visitors will always feel welcome to join you for a cup of coffee or a home-cooked meal. There are many things to love about the American diners of the 1940’s and 50’s, with the bright colors, inviting bar stools, and nostalgic memorabilia providing to be an exciting experience every time. Retro kitchens maintain a playful personality that can’t be mistaken or replicated, utilizing vintage pieces and aesthetics for a unique and colorful feel.

Looking for ways to bring old-school Americana into your kitchen without breaking your piggy bank and spending thousands on renovations? Here are 15 Essential Design Elements for a Perfectly Retro Kitchen. Now all that’s missing is the comfort food.

1.) Retro Appliances

Retro Appliances

There is nothing that will complete your retro kitchen more than the addition of an old-school appliance. If you are looking for a kitchen that possesses vintage appeal, you could ditch modern furniture in favor of classic furniture. The addition of a vintage table or desk will add decorative charm and a welcome pop of color to your kitchen, easily changing the personality of your space.

Our Big Chill appliances offers you the best of both worlds: that classic vintage and retro style with all the modern technology.

2.) Breakfast Counter or Booth

Breakfast Counter

Breakfast countertop bars and cozy vinyl booths evoke the personality and style that we love about American diners. These days, it’s easy to recreate that feel in your very own kitchen. Adding the addition of a cozy breakfast counter or booth will give you the opportunity to add your own unique touches, creating a special place to host guests and share memories.

3.) Padded Bar Stools or Diner Style Chairs


If you’re aiming for classic retro kitchen decor, you’ll want to steer away from steel or wooden bench seats as those will provide a decor that is more modern and traditional. You’ll want to look for stools or low diner style chairs with padding in the color scheme or pattern you desire.

4.) Checkered Floors


If creating a true retro kitchen, a checkered tile floor is an absolute must. A classic and timeless option would be to stick with a black and white color scheme, but you can find checkered tile floors in almost any bold hue you’re searching for.

5.) Vintage Patterns like Gingham & Polka Dots

Gingham & Polka Dots

Retro kitchens draw their personality from a funky feel, with bold patterns and colors that splash neatly across curtains and dish towels. Polka dots will add a bit of femininity to your space, while classic gingham linens will provide a cute touch to your kitchen windows and cabinets.

6.) Cherry Red

Cherry red

A cherry red hue will surely evoke the playful nature of a retro diner, providing an accent color much like that cherry on top of your ice cream sundae. Use cherry red as a main or accent color for a striking contrast to everyday neutrals.

7.) Mint Green

Mint Green

When exploring retro kitchen style, mint green is another go-to color that will accent your vintage kitchen style flawlessly. This minty color works well as both a foundation and an accent color, so don’t be shy about displaying it on your appliances, backsplashes, or cabinets.

8.) Turquoise


When transforming a kitchen into a retro wonderland, one of the most sought-after color schemes is turquoise. Known for it’s joyful and refreshing qualities, it pairs well with the essence of every vintage piece you add to your space.

9.) Black and White

Black & White

Fact: You can’t go wrong with black and white. If you aren’t a huge fan of color but still want to maintain a vintage kitchen aesthetic, a black and white color scheme will never do you wrong. Use classic neutrals as the foundation to your special space, adding a pop of color or two later if you ever change your mind.

10.) Pastel Cabinetry

Pastel Cabinets

Cabinets are an extremely important part of creating a retro kitchen, so you’ll really want to give it some extra thought when designing your dream space. If you really want to commit to the boldness of a retro kitchen, don’t be afraid to decide on pastel colored cabinets and take your vintage vision full-throttle.

11.) Vintage hardware

Vintage Hardware

The little details matter, so it might be worth it to take the extra time to customize your knobs and drawer pulls. Switching out these little pieces of hardware to something that matches your vintage era and style will help complete your transformation of the space.

12.) Vintage Kitchen Accessories

Vintage Accessories

When it comes to vintage kitchens, appliances that would normally be stashed out of sight in a modern kitchen are displayed with pride and gusto. Leave out your classic mixers and old-school bread-boxes to use as countertop decorations. And don’t forget your collection of vintage coffee mugs for that early morning first cup of joe.

13.) Vintage Clocks & Timers

Vintage Clock

Have you ever taken a look around a diner and noticed they have the coolest clocks? Diners have mastered the art of telling time, from clocks with neon lights or clocks with whimsical phrases. Add a retro clock to your wall and an antique timer to your stove if you’re looking to step back in time.

14.) Vintage Advertisements

Vintage Advertisements

Adding accent artwork to your funky retro kitchen is a must, and decorating the walls makes for a simple way to reinvent your kitchen. To add to the funky personality and vintage appeal of the time, display vintage advertising posters, license plates, road signs, or framed vinyl albums. Soda drinker? You can’t deny the permanent spot Coca-Cola has earned in American culture. Your retro kitchen can’t go wrong with anything vintage Coca-Cola.

15.) Vintage Music

Vintage Music

It’s hard to come across a diner that doesn’t display memorabilia of 1950’s icons like Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe. Add a small framed photo to your growing wall art collection, or turn your kitchen into a 24/7 sock-hop with the introduction of a jukebox. Who else remembers searching for their favorite song on the diner jukebox every Friday night? To avoid shelling out an arm and a leg for a vintage jukebox, companies have designed modern electronic options that will give your kitchen that hoppin’ diner feel without the full-size hassle and cost.

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15 Essential Design Elements for a Perfectly Retro Kitchen