Decorating a 1960s kitchen — 21 photos with even more ideas from 1962 kitchens

design ideas from 21 1962 kitchensThe best way to get ideas to decorate or remodel your mid century kitchens is to — go back the experts who designed them back in the day. My reference library continues to grow weekly — and today, I’ve pulled 21 kitchens — with 21 photos from 1962 — to examine for ideas and inspiration –>

mid century modern kitchen from 1962I’m also reading the text more carefully these days, so that I can start to re-introduce the original terms used to describe different products and features. The first and most fabulous one we’ve ever discovered has to be: Hudee rings. But in this 1962 brochure, I’ve learned that we should be calling electric range tops “tabletop ranges.” And, in this brochure, cabinets with raised panels were called “sculpted.”

And you know I always must call out some of the macro-trends images like these illustrate and reflect. Some thoughts:

  • Cabinets are mostly wood. The brochure calls these kitchens “warm and colorful.” Steel, especially white steel, ain’t so warm… Also, by 1962, I think the transition from steel-to-wood was well under way because, more than ever, kitchens were being opened to adjacent family rooms, causing kitchen cabinets to be treated more like furniture.
  • I’m seeing lots of tile in these photos… and lots of brick and stone on the walls. Incorporating these organic materials into the interior of the home comes from ranch-home movement, which included the idea of merging the indoors with the outdoors.
  • Lots of fun with laminate. Notice several thick countertops and breakfast bars — the move away from metal countertop edging to laminate edging meant that designers and homeowners were no longer hostage to 1.5″ thick countertops.
  • 1962 kitchen wacky but interestingAll this said, these are mostly studio shots — they are marketer-interior-designer fantasies, and include some silliness to be sure. This brochure was produced by the National Plan Service, Inc. — a company that was all about selling house plans. As far as I know, the National Plan Service was not in the business of selling kitchens per se. This booklet was likely produced to help homemakers building a new house to decide on their kitchen plans. I am not sure what Interestingly, A.A. Laun Furniture Co. continues in business today, making furniture in Kiel, Wisconsin. The company is 110 years old. In the 1950s, it had a Modern Collection of more than 50 furniture pieces. I am guessing that in the 1960s they also facilitated new-home construction in some way, and that is why their name is on the front of the booklet.

I have made notes on each photo in the slide show. To launch, click on the first image, and it will enlarge; move forward or back with the arrows at the bottom; you can start or stop anywhere in the show:

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Comments

  1. Marc says

    The fridge unit in several of the photos is a Revco Bilt-In. These units slid into the framing of the cabinets as individual refrigerator and freezer compartments. They also made a free-standing model. Initially available in stainless and several colors, the company later added the ability to match the panels to the cabinets, similar to a Sub-Zero. The company was based in the Detroit area and went out of business sometime in the 1980s. They were very popular in high-end custom kitchens.

  2. Elaine says

    OK, #10, the U-shaped kitchen, is just about what I have in my 1963 colonial. The refrigerator and ovens are on the back wall out of the picture, and the counter on the left is a peninsula with breakfast nook on the other side. I thought this kitchen was huge when we bought this house 20+ years ago, but living with it has proven otherwise. It is a one person kitchen – Everybody, outta my way!

  3. JamieAbe says

    Loved looking at the pictures! I actually thin that the blue dots is wallpaper and not laminate. And I do believe that 13 and 16 are the same kitchen just from different angles and 13’s not getting the natural lighting that 16 is so it looks much darker.

  4. BlueJay says

    I love that some of the dishwashers pictured are finished the same as the cabinetry. I like that look a lot. Interesting read as well. It would also appear that the majority of these kitchens are of more of a contemporary flair, as opposed to strictly traditional.

  5. JamieAbe says

    I loved looking at all the picts! I am kind of thinking the blue dots might be wallpaper instead on laminate. And I do believe that 13 and 16 are the same kitchen. Just different angles, and no natural light in 13. Thanks Pam for another fun post.

  6. Dulcie says

    I live only about 30 miles from Kiel, WI. Now I’m tempted to wander by A A Launs and see if they’ve got a treasure basement ala World of Tile

  7. Denise Cross says

    I’d like to thank Sears for continuing the ONLY (that I know of) narrow width double gas ovens (pops right in) and the ‘table top’ narrow depth (18″) stove tops!!! Without them, we’d be forced to gut and start over! These are fun Pam! Thank YOU!

  8. Jeanne says

    #5 are the cabinets in my 1952 home, of which the kitchen was remodeled in 1960ish. I have the white laminate counter with the gold speckles (with a Nutone Food Center). The lady of the house must have been so excited to get her stylish, remodeled, oh-so-current kitchen!

    I just spent my last week at home on my stay-cation scrubbing wallpaper paste off of my bathroom walls and CEILING (don’t worry, I will be re-wallpapering three of the walls). When I took down the 6′ mirror which spans the sink/counter top there were surprises awaiting me! One of them was the owner had written “1964” and all the family member’s names and birth year on the wood behind where the old medicine cabinet was. So my bathroom was remodeled/wallpapered in 1964! I love it!!!

  9. Ranger Smith says

    Regarding #9 – Yes Pam, Early American was the theme for my Grandma’s & mom’s homes in the mid 50’s through the 60’s. This was in So. Calif. Lots of maple wood, braided rugs, milk glass light fixtures, copper accessories and doilies under anything on a table. Perhaps this was typical of those with more “conservative” or “traditional” tastes.

  10. Jason says

    What great inspiration! As I’ve commented before if I do any more work to my kitchen I will lean even more retro perhaps, but I think what I’ve done so far is still period appropriate with modern versions of the period materials, i.e. vinyl sheet flooring and laminate countertops.

    I’m not sure about taking the wall down between the dining room and kitchen, many said to do it and I didn’t want to do it because the house wasn’t built that way and I wanted a true dining room, but it would make entertaining maybe better, or maybe just different, I’m not sure.

    ANYWAY, on this topic I just wanted to say that I watched an episode on Antenna TV this weekend of Hazel where she and Mrs. B. are convincing Mr. B they need a kitchen renovation and then in the end we get to see the updated kitchen and appliances. It was retro renovation via retro tv!! Watching those shows is awesome and then to see the interiors is even better. Screen Gems seems to have paid a lot of attention to their sets and the house facades at the Columbia Ranch, especially with continuity. My personal favorite of course is Samantha Stevens Frigidaire Flair stove in her kitchen, just like Mommom used to have.

    • Jeanne says

      Jason – My house was built in 1952 and the kitchen was renovated around 1960 (I found the copyright on the brochure for my Philco gas range that I still use).

      They tore the wall down between the kitchen and dining room and hung upper and lower cabinets with the pass-thru open to the dining room. It really opens up the two rooms and allows for more cabinet space in the kitchen. When we bought the house from the two sons who grew up there, they told us the neighbors “envied” the newly remodeled space and how much nicer it was than the other identical bungalows on the block.

      So I say go for it! People remodeled back then just like they do today. Our home was only eight years old when the original owners remodeled the kitchen.

      • Jason says

        That is a great idea and a good point. I think further along in time they did what your previous owners did as standard in newer houses for an open but not completely open feel, and now we see people taking those upper cabinets down and leaving just a peninsula area when they renovate.

        I have a very wide opening into my living room, but I am also tempted to take out that 3 feet of wall one one side of the opening and 1 foot on the other and open those two rooms and maybe just place the china cabinet against the wall where the doorway intercepts now to sort of tie the two together. But, all I did at the time was have that opening and the doorway into the kitchen trimmed out to match the doorways and openings off the foyer instead of just a drywall.

    • Elisha says

      We just took out the wall between our very skinny galley style kitchen and dining room/living room and it makes the BIGGEST improvement EVER in our home. Absolutely the best thing we could have done! Now it’s not a barely-one-person-at-a-time-kitchen and it allows whomever is in the kitchen to be a part of the rest of the family. LOVE it. Totally recommend it! Looks great, still feels true to the architecture of the home and much more airy!

  11. Meridith says

    Pam…Impecable timing! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    We started demo this week to bring our kitchen and living rooms out of the 1980s and back into 1963. It won’t exactly be a time capsule when we are finished, but your post today was exactly the inspiration I needed to finalize my tile and wallpaper selections so we can keep with the charm and style this home deserves.

    When we are finished, our home will (fingers crossed) be a great blend of the best of the 60’s built around what our growing family needs!

  12. Jay says

    Pam, thanks for the picture gallery with your comments. A real fantasy land of retro design. What’s just as neat are all the acessories – kitchen implements, decor that can be spotted in the pictures. I think in the same kitchen with the Franciscan ware is a Pyrex carafe on the tabletop stove that I am looking for that goes with the elec. warming plate I found in an antique mall.

  13. JKaye says

    The furniture in #10 is the type that my parents purchased in the very early 60s, and my mom still uses it today. She has an open front hutch almost identical to that one, except hers has brass hardware rather than wooden knobs as shown. She also has a couple of those chairs, which she calls captain’s chairs. She and my dad sat in the captain’s chairs, and the rest of us sat in similar chairs that just had backs, but not the armrests. We had a round table rather than a rectangular one. We had a huge woven rug in the dining room, much bigger than the one in that photo, and our wallpaper was a similar pattern with medallions, but it had a very light, maybe white background, and the colors in the medallions were a coral or cantaloupe color, along with a pale blue or turquoise. All of the wood trim was painted white, and there were white ruffled curtains at the windows. The house was not new, however; it probably had been built in the 40s. It had wonderful paned windows that were nine over nine or nine over six. Oh, and we had some lamps with that white glass, that my mom called milkglass. If you want an authentic early 60s colonial look, that photo is dead on.

  14. nina462 says

    Image #14 chairs are from Brunswick (the bowling company) I suspect. Our church had those chairs for years before we got pews … and they were donated by a guy who worked for Brunswick. Who knew they made chairs?

  15. says

    Those kitchens are so gorgeous. Classic design never goes out of style. Most of them looks like what you’d see today! I love the first pic with the wall oven that is tiled in. Even that one with the wallpapered soffit with the matching curtains and the top freezer refrig I dig, I can see it done today with maybe a more updated print in black and white or something!

  16. nina462 says

    Pam thanks for sharing. It’s nice to see what my knotty pine would look like with white appliances. It currently has black appliances – but I’ve always wondered what white would look like.

  17. Lenea says

    Great photos and write ups to go with pics, but they were hard to navigate-the lead poisoning video blocked the upper right portion of every photo so I wasn’t able to click to the next photo or see any imagery in that part of the frame.

  18. Robert says

    Love all the photos and they are giving me great ideas for the 1953 home I’m closing escrow on! My grandparents’ kitchen is nearly identical to photo 18 with the indoor bbq. I remember my grandfather grilling chicken on that bbq and my grandmother would be ironing our church clothes on a mangler iron in the laundry area off of the kitchen. When microwaves became mainstream they ended up putting countertop slab over the bbg and placing the microwave on top of it and thats how it stayed for about 20 years until they both died. I always thought that was a neat feature and had never seen a kitchen since with a bbq.

  19. says

    I love these posts of yours: lots of pics and commentary, too. I’m looking for ideas for a backsplash in my 70’s kitchen, and I’m the type of person that needs to see something to decide. I had thought about going with small tile, but now that I see small tile in some of these pics, I know I would get tired of the busy-ness. But I see Elaine’s comment, and sometimes I say “yippee!” about small glass tile, too. I don’t know what to do!!! But thanks for the pics; I luv ‘em.

  20. says

    I love you! My husband and I are about to close escrow on a mid-century home (1958) that has been the same family for over 50 years. We’re looking forward to bringing it back to life and plan on staying close to its original cool mod design. Your website is our inspiration! We’re so glad we have you to help us through our journey. Cheers to retro renovation!!!!

    P.S. Love the kitchen shots!

  21. Elisha says

    What great timing! Our 1961 kitchen is looking for new flooring since we just pulled out the 80’s carpet The original flooring underneath is a linoleum that has a solid cream background with big (about 3″) snowflakes that are green printed all over). I love the kitchen inspiration pictures…we have an appliance center, indoor grill, tabletop range and wood cabinets that are in great condition. Thanks for your great site! LOVE learning the proper vocabulary! :)

    • pam kueber says

      Welcome, Elisha! Sounds like you have a great house. Please be aware that old flooring may contain vintage nasties like asbestos — be sure to consult with a professional to get informed about how to handle.

  22. Jan says

    My husband & I bought a 50’s home a year ago with plans to gut & redo the kitchen & bathrooms. Well, after moving in & living there awhile, we fell in love with the retro style. We replaced the laminate “wood look” kitchen floor with black & white porcelain tile. We replaced the countertops with red boomerang laminate from Bars & Booths. We put a white subway tile backsplash up with a red liner running through it. We bought a bright red 1951 Chambers gas stove that had belonged to an elderly lady who still had the original “Cooking With the Gas Off” Chambers cookbook that came with the stove. We left up the white steel cabinets. Can’t find a manufacturers name anywhere on them but they’re very high quality. Now I need help: the upper cabinets don’t need repainted but the lower ones do. I would like to paint the lower ones a different color. Should I go with red or black? Remember: floor is black & white; countertop white background with red boomerangs; red stove; oh, and the walls are pale aquamarine. Any suggestions?

  23. Shirley says

    So fun to see your photo (#15 in the above photos) showing an indoor grill just like we have in our home. Our home was built in 1961 and is an amazing Mid-Century Modern style home…….lots of wood, lots of cabinets on tiny little legs, lots of tile and lots of windows (but only on one side of the home). Thanks for posting the pics!

  24. says

    Great selection of photos! And, from my favorite year. I once owned a house with white steel kitchen cabinets and you’re right, they “…ain’t so warm…” The house was built in 1956, so you may also be right about the transition from steel-to-wood being well under way by 1962. My cabinets were from GE, which I thought strange until I realized they might sell complete kitchens including their appliances.

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