Get The Look: Your modern vintage kitchen

Let’s face it, when people say they’re looking to design a ‘vintage kitchen’, they don’t usually mean vintage appliances, or doing without intelligent stoves, dishwashers or the microwave. All of us want a kitchen that combines modern gadgetry with a style suited to the house we live in and our own personality, which often means finding a way for old and new to work together in harmony.

Recycle and re-purpose

When done well, combining the modern with the vintage instantly suggests a space that is sophisticated and different, warm and welcoming, yet functional and efficient. If done badly, however, it just looks like you couldn’t bear to sell granny’s old furniture when you cleared out her house!

Sometimes an old piece that’s been with your family for centuries, or that you just had to have when you saw it at the flea market last month, just doesn’t look right in your kitchen. It doesn’t have to spell calamity however: You can repaint it, re-upholster it, or re-purpose it in a new way from its original use.

re purposed kitchensource

Remember too that pairing two pieces that are totally different, such as an antique dark wood dresser with a stainless steel island, works more successfully than mixing items that are slightly different.

Soften up the modern look

The vintage look has been a trend for a while now, and while the most faithful followers purchase original vintage pieces, many opt for modern pieces in retro styles, shapes, and colours, etc. For many, this is down to our unwillingness to compromise on modern functionality: And why should we? In particular, vintage models are simply not energy-efficient enough to suit present-day standards.

Modern appliances and pieces tend to be angular and sleek, while the vintage look is curvy and warm in tone: Soften up the look with warm, bright colors and rounded edges. Personally I crave a Kitchen Aid and am hoping one year Santa brings me one!


Integrated appliances are a good solution if you want them to blend into the overall look of the kitchen, as they sit flush with the cabinets. Another option is to mask modern appliances with retro pieces, for example using a piece of vintage fabric to hide a washing machine. If you can afford it, modern Aga stoves look great with a nostalgic feel but use contemporary technology.

vintage kitchen curtains

photo courtesy of Simon Whitmore for FW Media: Style Your Modern Vintage Home

The sustainable kitchen

The vintage/modern kitchen is nothing if not sustainable and eco-friendly. Typically, it contains an eclectic mix of found pieces: try trawling online shops or vintage fairs, or look for items being thrown out in your local community.

Use sustainable materials that look great together in combination, such as wood and aluminum, either salvaged or purchased new. Make a kitchen even more sustainable with stainless steel, which is made up of 60 percent recycled content and is highly durable.

stainless steel retro kitchen

photo courtesy of Simon Whitmore for FW Media: Style Your Modern Vintage Home

This modern material may not exactly scream ‘retro’, but is extremely versatile and looks great with most designs. Use it for countertops, islands, appliances, and backsplashes. How to measure your stainless steel backsplash depends on whether you want it to cover the entire wall or behind the space around the stove only. Once you’ve determined placement, measure at the two outer points on both the length and height.

stainless steel vintage kitchen 2source

Uncovering the old behind the new

Old houses fully restored to a modern standard make the perfect setting for the vintage/modern combo. Remain faithful to the past and consider restoring original architectural features, such as adding new brickwork to an original hearth feature, but using modern gas burners or an electric stove.

vintage kitchen

photo courtesy of Simon Whitmore for FW Media: Style Your Modern Vintage Home

Do you have a modern vintage kitchen? it would be great to see some photos so we can feature them on the blog x

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  1. Bea
    24 January 2014 / 12:19 pm

    LOVE this!!!! Really love the stainless steel and those wooden drawers are amazing. Bea x

  2. 27 January 2014 / 12:18 am

    Great post! Here’s some shots of my flat listed on Airbnb. I think the 1950’s Kandya table and 1960’s Ercol chairs work really well with the new kitchen.

    • Your vintage life
      27 January 2014 / 10:38 am

      Hi do you rent it out then? Agree I love the mix

      • 27 January 2014 / 10:51 am

        I live here full time but on average I rent it out for a week or so every month. Had some great guests come stay from all over the world and I get to go away with the funds 🙂

        • Your vintage life
          27 January 2014 / 10:57 am

          We could maybe feature it on the blog if you like!!

          • 27 January 2014 / 8:24 pm

            That would be fantastic, thank you!

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