Travel Back in Time, Nail the 1950s Kitchen Look With These Tips!


The 1950s kitchen look is a part of the ‘American dream’ fitted with bright Formica worktops, shiny chrome appliances, colourful plastics and checked lino flooring. Read this blog to gain a deeper insight into this look and get 1950s kitchen ideas for your next kitchen remodel…

History of 1950s Kitchen Design

Sometimes, it feels like colours were invented in the 1950s because everything around this time focused so much on the use of colours, shifting away from black and white. The homes were dull during World War II, but it was also a time of great advances in technology and design. When all the brainpower and new materials were not needed for the war efforts, they were diverted towards the commercial world.

The 1950s kitchen started in the USA, but the look became popular across the Atlantic after it was featured in Doris Day movies.

Recreating 1950s Kitchen Style with the following Top Ten Essentials

01. Rounded Streamlined Steel and Chrome for 1950s Kitchen Appliances

The advent of the jet plane and the excitement surrounding space rocket missions inspired the streamlined style. The sleek chrome striping used to make the stationary kitchen appliances made them look as though they were speeding! Everything from fridges to food mixers had this look, and some of the best designs are still in production today. The below image shows streamlined 1950s kitchen appliances.

Streamlined 1950s Kitchen Appliances

Look out for reconditioned fridges and retro toasters, chrome bins, kettles, blenders, kitchen clocks and radios. Since they are still a popular style, they shouldn’t be hard to find. Moreover, 1950s kitchen cabinet style is also streamlined, with rounded edges and not to forget, sparkling chrome handles.

02. Chequerboard Vinyl Floor for 1950s Kitchen Look

Some of the least expensive floor tiles on the market are slightly marbleised, self-adhesive, and plain-coloured vinyl. The 1950s kitchen ideas consider the look of authentic 1950s lino, but at a fraction of the cost. Go for a big colour contrast–red-and-white or yellow-and-black chequerboard floors may not appeal to the faint-hearted, but when you see them reflected in the chrome work, you might be pleasantly surprised and may just let out a – wow!

Red and white chequerboard for 1950s kitchen Look

However, we also have a step-by-step guide for checkerboard floor painting, if that is an option then do check out the following link:

03. Chequered Borders for 1950s Kitchen Design

Small black-and-white chequered borders seen on the sides of New York taxi-cabs often feature in 1950s-style diners. There are two ways to get the same effect without re-tiling the kitchen: one is to apply the chequerboard pattern on a self-adhesive tape strip; and the other is to print the border with a rubber roller stamp, bought from a specialist crafts’ supplier.

Chequered borders for 1950s Kitchen design

04. Walls Painted in Contrasting Colours

Colour in the 1950s was all about contrasts. Pale colours like eau de nil (a light green) or primrose yellow and sky blue were typically used with black. And you can’t fail with red, whether it’s just the plastic handles of cupboards and drawers or a whole wall painted in red gloss; it just goes with every 1950s kitchen décor idea. Different-coloured walls or blocks of strong colour on a part of a pale wall are the looks to go for.

Contrasting colours in 1950s kitchen cabinet styles and walls

05. Patterns – Polka Dots and Stars

The 1950s kitchen décor ideas include one of the most popular patterns for wallpaper, which is small white stars or spots on a coloured background. This pattern could go on just one wall. Tablecloths and curtains were made from polka-dot fabric reversed out, where the pattern colour swapped over with the background colour.

Use of patterns in recreating 1950s kitchen

06. Use Formica to give 1950s Kitchen Look

Formica is the plastic laminate that revolutionised kitchen worktops. It is one of the key elements in any 1950s-style kitchen. Choose bright yellow, cherry red, or sky blue for a big impact and take it up the wall behind the worktop as a splashback.

Bright yellow coloured 1950s kitchen

07. Tubular Steel Furniture

If you ever see a set of old chrome steel kitchen chairs, buy them, regardless of the state of the upholstery. Re-cover the seats with soft vinyl stapled in place, edged with a row of chrome upholstery studs. These retro-style kitchen tables and chairs are back in fashion and are pricey, so cheat if you possibly can.

Tubular steel chairs in 1950s-style kitchen

08. Kitsch with a Better Perspective

Recreating 1950s kitchen ideas is incomplete without kitsch. Kitsch is the German word for bad taste, but sometimes bad taste can prove to be good taste, especially when it is entirely deliberate! Think of Elvis in ‘Blue Hawaii’ with plastic fruit and flowers, sunsets, neon signs, flying ducks, laminated calendars, and anything plastic in the shape of a poodle!

Kitsch to give 1950s kitchen look

09. Colourful Modern Ceramics

Organic shapes, Picasso-inspired patterns, and bright contrasting colours give 1950s ceramics a highly distinctive look. These things are within everyone’s budget, so you just need to get out there and start looking. To incorporate 1950s kitchen design, try inexpensive car boot sales and junk shops, but if you can’t spare the time to trawl, find a market trader who specializes in the 1950s ware.

Colourful ceramic for recreating 1950s kitchen style

10. Packaging and Plastics

Quite a lot of cheap plasticware manufactured in the Far East fits in well with this look. American mustard in a bright yellow squeezy bottle or a large plastic tomato filled with ketchup helps set the scene for your 1950s kitchen design. You do have to be selective, but that is the fun of putting a themed look together.

Ketchup bottles for 1950s kitchen decor ideas

Things to Remember

  • Formica worktops are a key element of any 1950s-style kitchen, along with contrasting colours such as primrose yellow used with black. Streamlined, rocket-shaped bins and other appliances complete the look.
  • Chequerboard vinyl floors are available as self-adhesive tiles at a fraction of the cost of authentic 1950s lino. The greater the contrast in colour the better.

Have we got you all geared up to do up your kitchen with a classic 1950s kitchen look?

Also check out the below article for your dream kitchen.

7 Steps Towards Planning and Designing Your Dream Kitchen.

Author Bio

Huta Raval – An English Literature and Journalism Topper, Huta Raval has graduated from the L D Arts College, Ahmedabad. Post serving for 23 years in the NBFC and Public Library Sectors her desire for ‘writing the unwritten’ brought her to the creative field of content writing. Her clientele comprises of NGOs, Blogging Platforms, Newspapers, Academic Institutions, et al.

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