Vintage Kitchen Decorating Ideas

Browse options for vintage kitchen decorating ideas, and get ready to reference a bygone era in fun and interesting ways in your kitchen design.


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Vintage kitchen decorating ideas can help anyone who's open to a classic, playful, throwback look when it comes to their kitchen design.

10 Tips For Making Open Storage Work in the Kitchen

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At Your Fingertips

Open shelving just above the cooking space is a great way to keep the most-used items within reach. Reserve the lower shelves for frequently used dishes, cookware, spices and more, and store special occasion dishware on the higher shelves.

All-White Alternative

As a relaxed and stylish alternative from the popular all-white kitchen, designer Nomita Joshi Gupta gave this previously dated kitchen a brand new look, complete with gorgeous wooden shelving that creates a feeling of warmth and nature in the space.

From: Nomita Joshi Gupta

Why So Serious?

While it is important to keep open shelving clutter free, a couple of personal effects can add tons of charm to your cooking space. Use a favorite toy or memento to lend personality and whimsy to any space.

Perfect Display

Do you love art? Open shelving is the perfect place to display your favorite artwork and still make the most of storage in your kitchen. This stunning shelving by designer Judy O'Neil Labins stores plenty of dishes while making a big statement.

Bold + Basic

Since this sparkling kitchen features a beautiful glam backsplash, the dishes are kept basic white in order to not compete with the bold backsplash.

Photo By: Chris Amaral

Small Stacks

Be sure never to overload your shelves with too many dishes. A good rule of thumb for open shelving is to keep stacks of dishes small in order to keep your space looking clutter free.

Make It Yours

While simple white dishes seem to be the most popular look on open shelving, warm wooden dishware against a zesty orange wall adds a cozy look to this fun space that is anything but basic.

From: Barry Dixon

Photo By: Photo Credit: Edward Addeo © Gibbs Smith, Barry Dixon Interiors, Brian D Coleman, Edward Addeo (photographer)

Add Storage Anywhere

For kitchens that lack shelving altogether, open shelving is a great way to store extra dishware while also adding a major dose of style. Designers Dan Faires and Brian Patrick Flynn put this striking shelf together using pine planks and plumbing supplies for less than $250!

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Dish Decor

With a beautiful white beadboard backsplash, colorful dishes make a bold statement in this sweet cottage kitchen. Shelf hooks are a great addition to open shelving for extra storage without taking up a lot of space.

From: Kathryn Ireland

Photo By: Photo Credit: Edward Addeo © Gibbs Smith, Farrow and Ball, Brian D Coleman, Edward Addeo (photographer)

Color-Coded Creation

And if you love color in the kitchen, color-coded dishes can be a fun way to showcase color on open shelving. Whether you use just a few hues or incorporate all the colors in the rainbow, color-coded shelves are sure to garner attention.

Photo By: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn ©Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn 2013

Whether you're considering a full-on vintage style that strongly references a bygone era, or just looking to spruce up your overall design with some vintage flourishes, you'll have plenty of options from which to choose.

When referencing vintage design or decorating, it can be helpful to first outline the distinctions between antique, vintage and retro styles — all of which are commonly cited by homeowners and designers when planning remodels or kitchen installs. In general, "antique" refers to items that are over 100 years old. "Vintage" refers to an item that is both strongly representative of an era of design, and usually well-over 20 years old. Finally, "retro" is almost always used to refer to an item or a design that references a fairly recent fashion or design trend — a good example would be acid-washed jeans — they're worn as much for style as for the opportunity to playfully pay homage to a recent era of fashion and design.

In today's design lingo, "vintage" generally refers to styles that originated between the 1930s and 1950s. In particular, the playful, optimistic and "retro futurist" designs of the post World War II era are popular vintage styles. Decorating a vintage kitchen with these referential styles can take many forms, from artwork to cooking accessories, all of them able to be paired with specifically vintage designs, or incorporated into different design styles.

One of the simplest ways to decorate a kitchen with vintage designs is with cookware and accessories. Mixers, coffee makers, toasters and other small appliances are all available in vintage styles, often featuring the space-age designs of the 1950s and 1960s in an array of bright and bold colors like yellow, green, orange and red.

Artwork can also be a great way to add a vintage appeal to your kitchen design. From impressionistic modern paintings and prints from the 1950s to vintage advertising or political posters from the World War II era, artwork can add great visual interest to any vintage kitchen design.

Another option for decorating vintage kitchens is wallpaper. Playful colors and designs are often incorporated, sometimes covering entire walls, and other times used as a flourish on a backsplash or as a lining for the back of a vintage cabinet. Polka dots and other popular wallpaper patterns from the postwar era can be a great addition to a vintage kitchen design.

Kitchen Storage with Style

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