Creating a retro kitchen that takes you back to the 1950s may not be everybody’s idea of home improvement, but when done right it can cause gasps of awe and wonder from first time visitors. The 1950s kitchen was dominated by metal, Formica, linoleum and offbeat colors. For some reason that anthropologists have yet to figure out, one of the most popular combination of colors in the kitchens of 1950s America was vivid raspberry red with a more muted olive or pistachio green. It may sound horrific, but it actually worked quite well when combined with the standard checkerboard linoleum floor.
That raspberry red today could actually be transmitted to the checkerboard of the floor. Rather than relying on the standard black and white checkerboard, imagine having a kitchen with squares of white contrasting with squares of red. Then imagine having your kitchen countertops in the same red. That muted pistachio green can then be used to paint your walls and cabinets. Believe it or not, but this effect will take you back to the 1950s.
Chrome is an absolutely necessity in the retro 1950s kitchen design. Chrome was everywhere in American during the 1950s. You could find chrome in great amounts on the big honking cars of the decade, on Schwinn bikes and it was also a necessity among the kitchens of the period. Today you can find a refrigerator and oven done in retro style chrome at stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. A really cool way to make the chrome come alive is to replace the handles on your cabinet doors with chrome handles. Keep it shiny and this look will really grow on you. Maybe not such a good idea for families with kids.
The floor has to be linoleum even if you decide to eschew the checkerboard pattern. Kitchen floors across America did have the checkerboard pattern and some even managed to have the raspberry red or pistachio green color in place of black. But if you just cannot handle the checkerboard for some reason-it can play havoc with your eyes-then opt for a plain linoleum floor. Linoleum floors were to the 1950s kitchen what organic meat is the 21st century kitchen. You can thank many people for the miracle of linoleum, but special kudos and a big shout-out must go to a British gent named Frederick Walton and a Yank named Thomas Armstrong for taking away much of the pain and misery that women experienced before the invention linoleum. The 1950s was really the decade that began the progress toward getting women out of the kitchen. In the 1950s linoleum helped them to clean up spills in less than a quarter of the time that it would have taken before. Today, of course, we have microwaves and pre-cut veggies.
Formica was another great leap forward and you have to have Formica countertops to create a retro 1950s kitchen. You should try to get in one of those crazy colors like raspberry red, but other colors from the 1950s that were popular-like heliotrope-will do quite nicely, Mrs. Cleaver.