Whether you are painstakingly recreating an 18th century French Provincial kitchen of Provence or simply want a simple shaker style kitchen with granite countertops, achieving a vintage look is simpler than ever before. Capturing the vintage look you want is not about turning your kitchen into a museum. There are few people that want to trade the conveniences of a modern kitchen for the labor intensive grinding, chopping, mixing and preserving that was part of everyday home life in the last century.
The Vintage Kitchen Look – From Glaze to Glass to Granite Countertops
A vintage look aims to reproduce the feelings associated with the regional cooking traditions, local ingredients and culture of a particular time and place. To create a modern kitchen with a vintage feel, focus on color, materials, design and details.
Here are the key ingredients to putting together four of today’s most popular vintage styles.
The French Provincial style kitchen is warm and comfortable with a hint of elegance in the details.
Hand painted cabinetry or cabinet doors that are glazed to look like hand painted are characteristic of the French Provincial style.
Muted colors like antique white and baby blue are all favorites. The cabinet color scheme is rarely monochromatic and often combines painted and stained wood finishes.
Modern interpretations of French Provincial style typically substitute granite counter surfaces for marble. Wooden countertops are sometimes used, particularly for the island. Ornate tile backsplashes with hand painted or relief tile feature panels above the range are characteristic features of this style.
Eat in kitchen islands are a key design element in most French Provincial kitchens that give them a homey family friendly feel. Carved stone range hoods are found in many French Provincial kitchens and the range is often set under a hearth where the tile backsplash acts as the focal point of the kitchen. Chandeliers add an old world touch to the kitchen lighting system.
French Provincial style incorporates ornate flutes, corbels, pilasters, dentil cornices and other decorative details. Handles, drawer pulls, hinges and other hardware are typically wrought iron. Pewter look hardware is also popular. Some cabinets typically have leaded glass fronts or are left open to display period style dinnerware, pottery and cookware.
Also called Early American or Colonial Style, this style of kitchen is defined by simple lines, warm colors and natural materials.
American Colonial style uses many of the same off-whites that can be found in other styles from the 1800s and early 1900s. Natural finish and stained hardwoods like cherry and maple are used extensively for cabinets and tables. Dark gray or black countertops contrasted with off-white cabinets are a popular combination with this style.
A range of common American hardwoods such as oak or maple or reclaimed wood is often used for flooring. Manufactured hardwood flooring in similar finishes is often used in modern versions. Colonial era floors sometimes mixed species and board widths in the same floor. Wrought iron chandeliers and kitchen hardware are also indicative of this style. Honed absolute black marble or soapstone contrasting with off white cabinets and wood floors is a popular combination for American Colonial kitchens.
Open cupboards, hanging pot racks and butcher-block island countertops are all popular elements of American Colonial style. Contrasted with French Provincial, this style has few embellishments and uses simple lines and solid construction.
Cabinets are simple while still demonstrating quality craftsmanship. Raised panel doors and drawer fronts may be painted or stained. As well as open cupboards, plate racks and other easily accessible storage is common. Some cabinets typically have glass fronts. Glass can be plain, leaded or include mullions.
Shaker style gives a modern kitchen just a hint of vintage character.
Shaker style has a minimalist aesthetic most commonly associated with the solid and clean looking shaker style framed cabinet doors.
The simple and clean Shaker style lends itself to highlighting high quality finishes and materials. Natural wood finishes, gleaming whites and earthy pastels all work well with the muted sensibility of Shaker style.
From polished granite countertops and stainless steel appliances to natural stone feature walls and glass tile backsplashes, many types of materials can be successfully highlighted in a Shaker style kitchen. The subdued simple lines provide the perfect backdrop for creating bold focal points using high quality materials.
Shaker style is perfect for blending the utility of a professional quality kitchen with the warmth of a family gathering place. Larger kitchens are often eat-in with an antique or Shaker style dining table and spindle back chairs. Modern interpretations will often opt for a kitchen island with a breakfast bar.
Simple painted wood door knobs reproduce the authentic Shaker style although ceramic or stainless steel hardware will also work well with Shaker style cabinets. Brushed nickel or antique copper cup style drawer pulls and cabinet knobs are often used for a durable modern twist with a vintage look.
The 1950s and 60s saw the introduction of colors and materials into the kitchen that had never been seen before.
The kitchen of tomorrow was a futuristic vision of the kitchen as the ultimate in convenience and modern style. Now often referred to as “retro” or “mod”, Midcentury Modern style opens the door to vibrant color palettes, bold patterns and a cool collection of vintage small appliances.
If you are a fan of color then Midcentury Modern may be the way to go. Harvest gold, avocado green, seafoam blue and flamingo pink all represent the colorful aesthetic of the era. Bold graphic elements, either painted or on wallpaper, are also classic features of this style.
The post-war years saw a shortage of traditional materials while new technologies, materials and construction techniques came rushing in to fill the demand for housing. Plywood, fiberglass, vinyl and Plexiglas all became common materials in the kitchen. There were also many new applications for metal and glass. Cabinets were often painted or stained plywood or plywood finished with walnut veneer. Laminate counters became nearly universal in original Midcentury Modern kitchens although modern versions typically opt for polished granite or manufactured quartz.
Midcentury Modern design rejected embellishment and detail in favor of simple lines and organic curves. The 50s and 60s saw a trend toward indoor/outdoor living spaces, open beam ceilings and combined living and dining areas. Kitchen designs featured plenty of natural light and although true open plan design was still a few years away, the kitchen pass-through became a common feature.
Cabinets above the pass-through were sometimes hung from steel rods, further blurring the divide between kitchen and living areas. While maintaining the retro style many Midcentury Modern kitchen remodeling projects open up the pass-through by removing the upper cabinets, replacing them with open hanging shelves or replacing the counter with an island.
Flat panel cabinet doors and drawer fronts define the Midcentury Modern style. Many cabinets use touch latches with concealed hinges to maintain a smooth uninterrupted surface. Where cabinet doors and drawers have visible hardware, chevron shaped and art deco style handles, dish pulls and minimalist bar pulls in chrome finish are all authentic elements.
If you want to remain true to the era with laminate counters then be sure to include an aluminum edge strip. Accessorize the look with a teak starburst wall clock and a set of reproduction Eames fiberglass chairs set around a tulip table.
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