The Timeless Charm of Mid Century Kitchens

The History of Mid Century Kitchens

Mid century kitchens were the epitome of style and functionality during the post-World War II era. The design of these kitchens was not only practical but also reflected a new lifestyle that was emerging at that time. The modern home was a sign of progress and mid century kitchens were a testament to this new age of convenience and comfort.

The history of mid century kitchens dates back to the early 1900s, when advancements in technology made it possible for homemakers to spend less time in the kitchen. The industrial revolution brought about new machines that could perform time-consuming tasks such as dishwashing, vacuuming, and laundry. These machines revolutionized the way people ran their homes, allowing them to spend more time on leisure activities.

The 1950s was the golden age of the mid century kitchen. It was a time when the nuclear family was firmly established, and the kitchen became the center of family life. It was seen as a place where the family gathered to eat, socialize and bond. The kitchen became the heart of the home, and the design reflected that.

The mid century kitchen was all about functionality and practicality. Appliances were built into cabinets and counter surfaces to save space and make cooking and cleaning easier. The most popular appliance of this era was the refrigerator. It was a sign of social status and was one of the biggest appliances in the kitchen. It came in a variety of colors like pink, turquoise, and yellow, and had a sleek and shiny finish.

Stoves were also an important feature of the mid century kitchen. They combined both an oven and a range into one unit, making cooking much easier. They were often designed with a raised back panel that ran the length of the stove, which had a clock, timer, and temperature gauge. This feature made it easier to time and monitor cooking processes.

The sink was also a significant fixture in the mid century kitchen. It was usually made of stainless steel and was designed to be deep and wide enough to accommodate large pots and pans. The counter surfaces were made of materials like Formica, which was durable and easy to clean.

The cabinets in mid century kitchens were also designed with functionality in mind. They were made of wood, usually birch or maple, and had a natural finish. The doors and drawers were often fitted with hardware that was either chrome or brass, which complemented the sleek and modern design.

Color was also a significant feature of mid century kitchens. The cabinets and appliances came in a variety of colors, including pink, turquoise, and yellow. This was a departure from the traditional white and beige that had been used in the past. The use of color in mid century kitchens was a reflection of the optimism and sense of fun that was prevalent during the era.

In conclusion, mid century kitchens were a reflection of the changing times. They were designed with functionality in mind but also reflected a new sense of style and optimism. They were a sign of progress and innovation and have left a lasting impact on modern kitchen design.

Iconic Mid Century Kitchen Design Elements

The mid century era was a time of great innovation in the field of interior design. The kitchen is one such area that saw a great deal of experimentation and innovation during this period. The mid century kitchen design is characterized by a clean and uncluttered look, a focus on functionality and a preference for modern materials.

If you’re looking to create a mid century inspired kitchen, there are certain iconic design elements that are worth considering. These include:

1. Minimalist Cabinetry

The mid century kitchen design prioritizes functionality above all else. This is reflected in the minimalist cabinets that are a hallmark of mid century design. Cabinets of this era were typically made of wood, but often featured sleek, clean lines, simple hardware and a lack of ornate flourishes. Their understated aesthetic helped keep the space uncluttered and visually appealing.

2. Bold Colors

A splash of color was a must-have element in the mid century kitchen. Popular color choices included bright red, turquoise, yellow, and orange. Although muted colors like olive were occasionally used, it was the bright and bold hues that really set mid century kitchens apart.

In particular, cabinets and appliances would be painted in contrasting colors, creating a striking visual impact. The use of bold color choices also mirrored the optimistic and forward-looking spirit of the post-war era, where color was seen as a symbol of hope and progress.

3. Modern Materials

The mid century period saw a focus on contemporary materials such as plastic, chrome, and vinyl. These materials offered the promise of easy maintenance and durability, making them well-suited to the demands of the modern kitchen. Stainless steel was also embraced for its sleek and hygienic appearance.

The use of these materials was often combined with natural materials such as wood and stone, creating a striking contrast between the organic and man-made elements.

4. Open Concept Layout

The mid century kitchen was typically designed with an open plan layout that allowed for easy flow between the kitchen, living room, and dining area. This layout was ideal for hosting social gatherings and entertaining, which was an essential part of mid century culture.

An open layout kitchen also helped to maximize natural light and provided ample space for the large appliances that were becoming increasingly common at the time.

5. Sleek Appliances

Sleek and futuristic appliances were an integral part of the mid century kitchen design. This included refrigerators, dishwashers, and stovetops that were often made of stainless steel, chrome, or enamel. Innovative new products such as the Smeg toaster and the KitchenAid stand mixer became iconic symbols of the mid century kitchen.

Their sleek designs, combined with their impressive performance, made them must-haves for any modern home.


The mid century kitchen is an iconic design that continues to inspire designers and homeowners alike. With its emphasis on functionality, efficiency, and eye-catching aesthetics, it’s no wonder that this design has stood the test of time. Whether you’re looking to create a completely authentic mid century kitchen or simply want to incorporate some of its key elements, it’s worth exploring this iconic design movement.

Color Palettes for Mid Century Kitchens

The mid century era of the 1940s to the 1960s was all about bright colors, bold patterns, and a playful approach to design. When it comes to designing a mid century kitchen, the color palette plays a crucial role in creating a retro vibe. Here are the top three color palettes for mid century kitchens:

1. Pop Art Palette

The Pop Art Palette is all about bright, bold colors and geometric shapes. This palette is inspired by the Pop Art movement that emerged in the 1950s, and includes colors such as bright yellow, vibrant red, electric blue, and lime green. To create a Pop Art inspired kitchen, start with a neutral base such as white or gray, and add pops of color through bold accessories and statement pieces. Consider adding a bright red or yellow refrigerator, or painting one wall in a bold color like electric blue.

For the cabinets, consider using a mix of bright and neutral colors. You can have upper cabinets in a neutral tone like white or gray, and lower cabinets in a bright shade like yellow or red. For the countertops, consider a white marble or quartz with bold black veins to add a touch of drama.

2. Pastel Palette

The pastel palette is another popular choice for mid century kitchens. Inspired by the soft colors of the era, this palette includes shades like baby blue, mint green, pale pink, and buttery yellow. To create a pastel kitchen, use soft, muted colors on the walls, and add pops of pastel through the accessories and fabrics.

For the cabinets, consider using a soft blue or mint green for upper cabinets, and a paler shade like butter yellow for lower cabinets. For the countertops, consider a white or light gray quartz or granite to keep the space feeling light and airy. Add pops of color through retro appliances like a mint green refrigerator or a pale pink toaster.

3. Black and White Palette

If you’re looking for a more modern and sophisticated mid century look, the black and white palette is the way to go. This palette is all about high-contrast and geometric patterns, which were popular in mid century design. Use black and white tiles on the floor, and consider a black and white patterned backsplash for added drama.

For the cabinets, consider using white upper cabinets and black lower cabinets, or vice versa. You can also add pops of color through retro-inspired appliances in shades like cherry red or bright blue. To keep the space feeling modern, opt for a sleek black or white countertop made of materials like quartz, granite, or laminate.

Whichever color palette you choose, remember that mid century design is all about having fun and playing with color and pattern. Don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns and colors, and add retro touches like a vintage bar cart or colorful pendant lights. With a little creativity and some bold color choices, you can create a mid century kitchen that’s both timeless and playful.

Vintage Appliances and Accessories for Mid Century Kitchens

The mid century era was an exciting time for the kitchen with new innovations in appliances and accessories. These items added a touch of luxury and practicality to the kitchen. In this article, we will explore some of the vintage appliances and accessories that will make your mid century kitchen sparkle.

1. Retro Refrigerators

No mid century kitchen is complete without a retro refrigerator. Selecting a refrigerator that features a vintage design is an excellent way to achieve a cohesive mid century kitchen decor, and it also serves to keep your fruits, vegetables, and other perishables fresh. These refrigerators are available in an extensive range of colors, including pastels and bright hues like pink, blue, orange, and red. The classic fridge is known for its rounded corners, iconic logo, and the levered handle and locking mechanism, all of which combine to form a quintessential mid century piece.

2. Vintage Toasters

These toasters capture the essence of the mid century era, with their unique design and vibrant colors. These vintage toasters showcase sleek lines, polished chrome, and bold colors. The toasters feature two wide slots that are perfect for any bread width, and they are fitted with self-centering guides that help guide your bread to the perfect position for browning. Some of the best vintage toasters are marked with the word “Toastmaster,” and they boast of unbeatable performance and durability.

3. Mid Century Coffee Makers

The mid century kitchen invented gourmet coffee and is a testament to the rich coffee culture that has evolved in the United States. To keep the coffee tradition of the era alive, invest in a mid century coffee maker, like the Coleman Chrome Coffee Maker. These coffee makers feature a chrome finish, striking lines, and bold colors that make them stand out on any countertop. Some coffee machines have exciting features like a permanency filter, allowing the flavor of the beans to shine through. Others, such as the Sunbeam Coffeemaster, brews a delicious cup of coffee with minimalist style.

4. Rare Appliances and Accessories

Add flair to your mid century kitchen with rare and unusual accessories and appliances. These silent servants were a must-have in the mid century kitchen, and the best models were marked with names such as Roper, Kelvinator, and GE. For instance, the GE Monitor Top refrigerator looks like a solid block of ice on the outside, but on the inside, it kept things cool with a unique cooling system. Another rare appliance is the GE wall-mounted electric refrigerator. These compact models were common in apartments and small kitchens, and they were designed to fit between the wall studs in the kitchen area.

In addition to appliances, there are countless rare accessories that can add a much-needed touch of glamour to your mid century kitchen. One such accessory is the manual spice rack, which features striking colors and a sleek design. The sleek cruet set is another rare accessory that speaks of mid century style, it is available in a variety of artistic shapes and sizes, and is a brilliant way to store and present your oil and vinegar collection.


In conclusion, the mid century kitchen era was a glorious time of kitchen innovation and rivalry among brands. Vintage appliances and accessories add a touch of glamour and practicality to any kitchen design. You can choose from a variety of retro refrigerators, vintage toasters, mid century coffee makers, and rare appliances and accessories to complete your kitchen. These items not only evoke the nostalgia of the era but also serve to keep your kitchen functional and practical.

How to Modernize a Mid Century Kitchen

Mid century kitchens are characterized by simple lines, bold colors, and modern materials. Compared to today’s kitchen design, they can seem outdated and impractical. However, with a few updates and tweaks, you can easily bring your mid-century kitchen into the 21st century without sacrificing its retro charm. Here are five tips to modernize your mid century kitchen:

1. Update Your Cabinets with New Hardware

Cabinets are one of the most dominant features in your kitchen. Depending on their state, they can quickly age a mid-century kitchen. By replacing the existing knobs and handles on your cabinets with new, modern ones, you can give them a fresh look and feel. Brass and stainless steel hardware are popular choices that add an extra shine to your kitchen. You may also want to repaint or refinish your cabinets, especially if they show signs of wear or are made from outdated materials like Formica.

2. Add Soothing Colors to Your Backsplash

Mid-century kitchen designs are known for their bold and bright colors. While colors like mustard yellow and avocado green may have been popular decades ago, they can now be grating to the modern eye. To tone down your kitchen’s colors, consider installing a soothing color palette backsplash. Neutral colors like white, grey, and light blue can give your kitchen a relaxing tone, which is perfect for cooking and eating. You can also add hints of color through accessories like kitchen towels, vases, and dishes.

3. Upgrade Your Countertops

Your countertops are one of the most used elements of your kitchen. Outdated countertops can create an unappealing appearance and make cleaning up difficult. By upgrading your countertops to a modern material, you not only improve their aesthetics but increase their durability and longevity. Quartz countertops are an excellent choice for mid-century kitchens as they are durable, come in an assortment of colors, and are easy to maintain. Other popular options include granite, concrete, or marble.

4. Let the Light In

Natural lighting can make your mid-century kitchen space feel more open, bright, and lively. To let the light in, consider removing heavy curtains or drapes that may block the sun’s rays throughout the day. Instead, opt for light filtering or sheer curtains that can provide privacy while allowing light to pass through. Install pendant or recessed lighting to provide focused light on specific areas of your kitchen, such as your island or countertops. You may also want to consider adding under-cabinet lighting for additional task lighting to illuminate your workspace.

5. Incorporate Modern Appliances

While a retro-styled fridge may look charming, it can also be inefficient and weak in the cooling department. To modernize your mid-century kitchen, consider upgrading your large appliances with an energy-efficient, state-of-the-art model. Modern appliances come with innovative features that save energy, enhance functionality, and provide a sleek and modern look to your kitchen. Stainless steel is a trendy finish for modern appliances that go well with most mid-century designs. Other materials like matte black or white may also work well, depending on your kitchen’s color scheme.

By following these tips, you can modernize your mid-century kitchen and transform it into a bright, contemporary space that you will enjoy spending time in. Remember, the key to updating a mid-century kitchen is to maintain the nostalgia and charm while incorporating modern elements that improve functionality and aesthetics.