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Are retro kitchens making a comeback?


How to Make Your Kitchen Retro
Here's a fully fitted retro kitchen, complete with stove, washing machine, double sink unit and electric mixer.
Here's a fully fitted retro kitchen, complete with stove, washing machine, double sink unit and electric mixer.
Chaloner Woods/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

If it's time to redesign your kitchen, and you're ready to ditch the latest fad in favor of a classic retro look, you have a myriad of options. One of the most important choices is color. Choose something cheery and bright to capture the enthusiasm and optimism of the midcentury. Pam Kueber, who created RetroRenovation.com, uses her Web site to help homeowners living in postwar ranch, colonial and bungalow-style homes to redesign them with their original style.

Kueber argues that modest and traditional d├ęcor adds "whimsy" and is actually more affordable [source: Kueber]. Think cutesy wallpaper and knotty-pine paneling. If you really want to stay affordable and are willing to sacrifice performance for affordability and retro style, ditch the granite countertops for butcher-block or laminate countertops. Keep in mind, though, that wood is porous, so a butcher-block countertop will require regular, thorough cleaning.

Nothing says postwar era better than steel cabinets. Kueber researched these extensively and found that after steel production exploded during the war, the industry pushed the material into American homes in the form of cars and even kitchen cabinets.

For authentic vintage appliances, cabinets and countertops, you can always explore estate sales, or try your luck on eBay or Craigslist. To increase your chances of finding what you want on Internet searches, try using vague descriptions or possible misspellings, and check the sites often to snatch up deals as soon as they go up.

If finding authentic pieces proves too challenging -- or you perish the thought of sacrificing modern convenience -- consider purchasing modern appliances that have a distinctly retro look. KitchenAid stand mixers, for instance, are known for having a classic look, and because of that the company produces them in several retro colors. Some companies specialize in creating appliances that look retro. The Big Chill is a good example of a company that sells new refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers with a completely retro look, and some ware even comes in retro colors like turquoise and buttercup yellow.

For lots more information on kitchen style, see the links on the next page.


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