How to Take Inspiration from the 50s and 60s For Your New Kitchen

If you’re looking for inspiration for your dream kitchen, you don’t have to look far. Whether it’s a favorite restaurant or a dinner plate with the perfect color palette, there are endless sources of inspiration to draw from. If you’re a fan of clean lines and streamlined cabinetry, taking inspiration from mid-century modern kitchen design could be the perfect solution for your next renovation or cook space makeover.

Mid-century modern design is all about form and functionality, with a touch of flare thrown in. This design era, spanning much of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, was favored for its eye-catching architectural appeal, focus on flow and entertaining, and a more modern way of living. In the kitchen, mid-century decor often featured a functional layout, wood details, and a nature-inspired palette of mustard, green, rust, blue, and more. In 2024, mid-century modern design is just as beloved as it was in its heyday, allowing homeowners to pay homage to the past while living in a space that still works hard for a modern household. Below, we’ve rounded up 14 mid-century modern kitchen design ideas you can steal right now to help you toast to the past – and dream of a stylish future.

Find Era-Specific Accessories

To reinforce the vibe of your design, consider incorporating era-specific accessories into your space. Just like the retro vases, era-specific light fixtures, and classic ball clock, small details can tie the whole design together. Use the following table to guide you in selecting era-specific accessories for your space:

Art DecoGeometric patterns, mirrored surfaces, chrome accents, sunburst motifs
Mid-Century ModernAtomic shapes, tapered legs, teak wood, brass accents
IndustrialExposed pipes, metal accents, distressed finishes, Edison bulbs
BohemianTextured fabrics, mixed prints, macrame, global-inspired decor

Remember, the key is to choose accessories that complement your overall design and enhance the desired vibe.

Tie In Your Color Palette

To achieve a mid-century modern design, incorporate a punchy palette of rust, mustard, pink, green, and blue. These colors tie into the colorful flecks in the terrazzo countertops, creating a cohesive look. Experiment with different color combinations to create a unique and personalized design that nods to a specific era. Use tables or bullet points to keep track of your favorite color combinations for easy reference.

Add Some Height

To enhance the mid-century modern style of your kitchen, consider adding some height to the space. This can be achieved by installing high shelves or cabinets, or by incorporating tall potted plants. By drawing the eye upward, you can create a sense of spaciousness and airiness in the room. Additionally, using natural wood finishes can further enhance the serene and inviting atmosphere of your kitchen.

The Right Hardware Will Make a Difference

When it comes to designing a mid-century modern kitchen, even the smallest details can make a big impact. Choosing the right hardware, such as half-moon brass pulls, can add a touch of retro style and reinforce your desired vibe. Mix and match different hardware styles to create a unique and personalized look for your kitchen cabinets. Consider incorporating bold colors or unique shapes to make a statement.

Choose Simple Cabinetry

If you want to achieve a mid-century modern design in your kitchen, consider choosing cabinetry with clean lines and simplistic silhouettes. Opt for slab-front wood cabinetry to create a back-to-basics look. Pair it with a streamlined layout and standout stone for a timeless kitchen design that is both functional and stylish.

Embrace the Quirky

If your home boasts mid-century modern architecture, you’re probably familiar with the presence of unusual angles and graphic lines. Rather than trying to hide these elements, embrace them to add credibility to your kitchen design. Don’t shy away from quirky angles – use them to your advantage.

Mix In Other Styles

When renovating your kitchen, it’s easy to get carried away with a specific design era. However, incorporating elements from other styles can create a unique and personalized vibe. Mixing and matching different design elements can prevent your kitchen from feeling too one-note and allow for a more personalized and eclectic feel. Consider incorporating elements from different eras or styles to create a kitchen that’s all your own.

It’s All About Texture

To create a visually engaging space, incorporating texture into your design is key. Consider adding textured elements such as a woven rug, a chunky knit throw, or a patterned backsplash to your own space. These elements add depth and interest, making your design feel more dynamic and inviting.

Try a Stone Alternative

If you’re looking for a unique and eye-catching option for your kitchen, consider terrazzo as an alternative to natural stone. This engineered material is made from colorful chips of marble, granite, quartz, or glass, all bound in a base material of cement or epoxy resin. A white countertop flecked with shades of black and green can add a funky touch to your space. Terrazzo is durable, easy to maintain, and can be customized to fit any style or color scheme.

Retro Appliances Will Set It All Off

Personalize your kitchen by incorporating retro appliances into your design scheme. Look for gadgets that boast era-specific designs, like a retro color or bold knobs, for a mid-century modern spin. Consider adding other retro appliances, such as a vintage-inspired refrigerator or dishwasher, to complete the look. These appliances can add character and charm to your kitchen while still providing modern functionality.

Consider Some Playful Touches

To fully embrace the playful energy of mid-century modern design, consider adding some joyful color pairings or fun accessories to your kitchen. For instance, you could try a cheeky pink and green color scheme or incorporate quirky details like a pair of ceramic birds perched on open shelves. Adding playful touches like these can help lend personality to your space and create a more enjoyable atmosphere.

Consider the following ideas to incorporate playful touches into your kitchen:

  • Use bright and bold colors for accent pieces such as dishware or small appliances.
  • Hang playful artwork or prints on the walls.
  • Add unique and whimsical decor, such as a vintage jukebox or a retro clock.
  • Incorporate unexpected elements, such as a patterned backsplash or a statement light fixture.

By incorporating playful touches into your kitchen, you can create a space that is both functional and enjoyable to be in.

Consider Alternative Storage

To maximize your kitchen’s square footage and achieve a mid-century modern look, incorporating an era-specific storage solution is a must. Consider incorporating similar storage solutions into your kitchen design to achieve a cohesive and stylish look.

Drama is Good

To add a touch of drama to your mid-century modern design, consider incorporating inky black cabinets to contrast with lighter MCM elements. For instance, you can pair them with a reeded wood oven hood and terrazzo countertops. This will create a moody space that is both modern and timeless. Don’t be afraid to stray from tradition and experiment with different hues to make your iteration of the era unique.

Open Plan Layout Could Enhance the Space

If you’re looking to renovate your kitchen with a mid-century modern style, embracing an open layout can help maximize light and flow throughout your home. Open floorplans became popular in the ’50s, ’60s, and early ’70s when homeowners were focused on entertaining. To achieve this design, consider opening up the room wherever possible and creating an intimate feel with a peninsula island. An open layout can create a welcoming and inviting environment for you and your guests.