1940s Kitchen Decor

Explore ideas for 1940s kitchen decor, and prepare to add classic and lively touches to your kitchen design.
White Gourmet Kitchen

White Gourmet Kitchen

This gourmet kitchen with an oversized kitchen island is perfect for cooking a large meal and entertaining friends.

By: Sean McEvoy

1940s kitchen decor often reflected a transitional interior design style, as families began to move from traditional furniture, fixtures and decor to more modern materials and designs.

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Many of the decor elements popular in 1940s kitchens can be found in kitchens to this day, especially among homeowners with a desire to reflect a classic, vintage style in their kitchen design.

While cooking accessories and implements may not immediately come to mind when you imagine kitchen decor, in fact they can be a key element of the overall design. For 1940s-style kitchens, there are a number of great options for decor pieces that can do double duty as fully functional kitchen accessories. Simple and straightforward and often low-profile pots and pans in stainless steel were a staple of 1940s kitchens, especially during WWII, when steel and other metals were in short supply. During the late 1940s post-war period, these items began to transform from simple, functional items into sleeker, more modern pieces, as modern kitchen design become more popular.

Color schemes were, and remain, an important feature of any 1940s kitchen decor. Most 1940s kitchens kept wall colors neutral, or, if they used color, relied on muted shades of orange, yellow, blue or green. Flooring, countertops, tabletops, curtains and storage accessories were often used to add pops of color, featuring bolder reds, blues, greens and oranges.

Building on the transitional theme, many 1940s kitchens retained aspects of traditional or country kitchens. Although their occupants might have been a generation or more removed from the rustic and pastoral traditions that those styles reference, items like toile, floral or plaid curtains, seat and bench cushions were still hugely popular, often adding color and light to the design. Wallpaper was popular as well, also often depicting rustic or pastoral scenes or featuring flora and fauna liberally.

Storage in 1940s kitchens was not commonly expansive, so many homeowners would store kitchen supplies in mason jars or other large glass or porcelain containers. These can still be an important part of a 1940s-style kitchen, offering an opportunity to display attractive vintage containers on countertops or shelving, and providing a functional storage option at the same time.

Artwork can be an integral part of 1940s kitchen decor. As is the case with curtains, seat cushions and pillows, artwork may at times reference pastoral traditions, featuring subjects like farmscapes, animals or taxonomical plant sketches.

Hardware accessories can also add great visual interest to a 1940s-style kitchen, with items like crystal or glass pulls for drawers or doorknobs for storage pantries a potentially great touch.

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