Just Like Grandma’s Kitchen: Design Tips From Bygone Days

Tuscan kitchen design
Tuscan kitchen design. Photo courtesy of Suwalls.com

When looking for a way to freshen up your kitchen design, it can be tempting to try to find modern, cutting-edge elements to make your kitchen seem super trendy. But looking toward the future isn’t the only way to enliven your kitchen. Take a peek into the past and get design tips from your grandma’s kitchen for a unique look.

Specifically, let’s look at the kitchens of the 60s and 70s.

Don’t be afraid of color

You might associate interior design of the 70s with avocado bathtubs and bright orange infused into every little detail of the kitchen. It’s probably best if those stay in the past, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with color.

The trend these days is to have kitchen cabinets in traditional colors, with appliances in just one of a handful of colors. Be bold and experiment with some colors, like a strong red or soothing pastels. Incorporate color into your cabinets, décor, backsplash and more.

Use matching kitchenware

Your kitchen cabinets are probably full of a hodge-podge of kitchenware. You buy pots, pans, bowls and cups as you need them. But your grandma’s cabinets looked much different. She most likely had a huge set of kitchenware and everything matched. What’s more, it all had colorful and fun designs, making meal time seem more like a joyous occasion than a formal event.

Yes, it can be expensive to replace all of your kitchenware—unless you happen to be getting married soon, in which case you should definitely put the whole kit and caboodle on your registry and hope for the best. But you can start small by identifying a collection that you love and purchasing things like salt and pepper shakers or flour and sugar jars first, since they are typically displayed out in the open and can enhance the overall look of your kitchen right away.

Display things in a hutch

Some things are too pretty to use, in which case you should show them off in a hutch. These cabinets come in all shapes and sizes, from a basic design to large and grandiose. Most often there is a central cabinet with glass doors where you can display things that are pretty yet valuable, like an old tea set or vintage tumblers. Display whatever is meaningful to you.

At the same time, you can strategically place decorations, like little statuettes, framed photos or even a fake bouquet of flowers, in the hutch as well, which will help tie everything together in your overall scheme.

Find vintage appliances

It’s still possible to find vintage appliances that have a very unique look compared to the modern behemoths in our kitchens. They typically have a rounder or softer outline, come in a variety of colors, and have very unique configurations. For example, many vintage ovens have smaller interiors, or have interiors that are split into two compartments for better multi-tasking cooking. They may even have storage drawers along the side and bottom.

If you want a kitchen like no other, find vintage appliances or newer appliances that mimic the old designs. Take things a step further by placing your appliances in different areas than they are “meant” to go. If you are going to be demolishing your old kitchen anyway, design the cabinets and fixtures in a way that makes it easy to switch things up. Many older stoves are much larger and make great standalone pieces, for example.

Add metal rims

Metal rims could be found everywhere in older kitchens. They would most typically be around the counters, but this design element was also commonly incorporated into the table and chairs, the appliances and the cabinets. If you want to really go all-out in creating a vintage kitchen, metal rims are the way to go.

By invoking the style of kitchen your grandparents had in their home, you can instantly make your own kitchen feel cozy and nostalgic, with subtle reminders of your family’s love and your idyllic childhood days enjoying grandma’s cooking.

Cathy Habas is a professional freelance writer based in Louisville, KY. As a contributor to Dirtwirx.com, land clearing, landscape design, interior design and home improvement are her main areas of focus.

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