Create a 1940s or early 1950s design kitchen — my second mood board

1940s vintage kitchenThere are many ways to retro [<- I just love it when I used that as a verb], including 1940s style. Lots of readers seem to be totally nuts over 1940s kitchen style, so here’s my second mood board including resources to create a 1940s or early 1950s style homey comfy sweetheart kitchen.

1940s vintage kitchen

Note, I call this 1940s style — but 1940s style endured until roughly 1953. That’s when, design-wise, we saw a switch to a new generation of kitchen designs — less deco, more atomic.

 Resources to create this 1940s kitchen look:

  1. Birch cabinetry — These birch cabinets were built new — to look old — by Watersong Furniture. I had a lovely conversation with the owner of Watersong. He can build and ship anywhere.
  2. Antiqued pot metal colonial cabinet pulls —
  3. Vintage wallpaper — A hallmark of 1940s and early 1950s kitchens: They need sweetheart wallpaper — like this design from Hannah’s Treasures.
  4. Kit Kat clock – here.
  5. Countertop, backsplash and if you like, wall tile — I know that readers are gaga for jadeite. Put tile like this on your countertop — available from Clay Square [made by B&W} — use black tile for countertop edging and bullnose. If you want, you can take this tile all around the wall.
  6. See above — Put tile like this on your countertop — available from Clay Square [made by B&W} — use black tile for countertop edging and bullnose. If you want, you can take this tile all around the wall.
  7. Reproduction drainboard sink from NBI Drainboards.
  8. Accessorize with a secondary or tertiary color from the wallpaper. Red Kitchenaid makes these mixers in a veritable rainbow of colors
  9. I like this studio-sized refrigerator from Big Chill. The fridges back in the 40s and 50s were smaller.
  10. Dishwasher — also from Big Chill. (Or, you can just buy the dishwasher panel… or custom make one in wood to match your birch cabinets.)
  11. 36″ retro range from Big Chill.  
  12. Dinette designs varied. The vintage dinette shown here, which was uploaded by Uncle Atom, has deco lines, very historically appropriate for the pre-war period.
  13. For the floor, choose linoleum. The color we chose: Parchment beige from Armstrong. Note how the wallpaper pulls together up all the colors of the kitchen, including this flooring.

Other stories to look for 1940s kitchen ideas:

See all of our 1940s kitchen design boards here



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  1. Mary Elizabeth says

    Great colors and echos of the 1940s. And thanks for providing links to the 2010 article about Dave and Frances’ kitchen. She even has a great early 20th century name to go with her outfit and hair style.

  2. Rene says

    Pam, I don’t know how many times I’ve looked your posts featuring the reader’s kitchens mentioned above. For many years, we owned a dear little mid-30’s bungalow that desperately needed some kitchen love. And then we had to move to another province, and now we’re in a lovely 1945 minimal traditional that, again, needs some help in the kitchen department. I’m slowly gearing up for a retro refit – my budget is microscopic, so I’m taking things verrrry slowly as I find what I need second hand. Actually, today I’m picking up a gorgeous 40″ McClary stove I purchased for $200 from a Kijiji ad. I’m very excited!

    Anyway, all this to say – thank you so much for Retro Renovation. It’s cheered me up through some very difficult and stressful times, and the posts you’ve featured of reader’s kitchens (from the 1930s -1940s especially) are like old friends.

    • pam kueber says

      ahhhhh, thank you! And I neeeeeed to see that stove once you have it in your hot little retro hands. I have never heard of McClary before — a whole new/old world to explore in Canadian mid-century brands! xoxo

  3. Debbie says

    I really want linoleum, but I’ve heard that it doesn’t hold up well under pet accidents (a major consideration for someone who owns both cats AND dogs). Any opinions from people who’ve installed that? I can’t find the “swirly” marble-look in anything else, but I had a bad experience with Marmoleum Click in my bathroom and am leery of installing it in a kitchen.

    • pam kueber says

      Take a look at all our flooring research — in Kitchen Help/Flooring. There are some great designs of 12″ x 12″ VCT and LVT tiles, as well as sheet flooring, available today, if you prefer that over linoleum.

      • Debbie says

        Oh, I’ve been all over that category—and all of your other kitchen categories, too, because your research is so thorough that you’ve done all the hard work for me. 🙂 I think I am just paralyzed by indecision.

  4. Judy H. says

    I think I like board #2 the best. I like the darker cabinets, (they are identical to mine) and I really like the fridge on board #2 as well.

  5. LORRAINE says

    Love this Pam. My sister bought me that red mixer to go with my red chambers stove. The red vent a hood just arrived today. The tiles are up and the hood will be ready to install tomorrow. Love this look but I went with a more country look. White cabinets, soapstone counters and mosaic tiles. I did consider linoleum too but didn’t think it would be good in the middle of the woods with dogs. Maybe not completely 1940s authentic but I think the vibe works. I’ve been trolling local antique/salvage stores to find pieces that work. I found my front door, entry light and hall wall sconces that way. Pam I promise as soon as the hood is installed I’ll send you photos of everything.

  6. Jerry says

    I find it interesting that out of all the decades that Retrorenovation covers, the 1940s seems to gather the most fans, especially regarding kitchen decor.

    Does anybody have any idea why?

  7. Morgan says

    Do you have a recommendation for a book that has examples, drawings and/or photos of kitchen and bath tile and cabinetry design through the different periods and styles of the 20th century in the US?


  8. lee says

    Don’t know if you’ve done a feature on them but anyone considering the KA mixer or 40s/50s kitchen styles needs to check out the excellent line of pastel-coloured small appliances that Italy’s Smeg sells – they have from 5 to 8 color choices depending on item, all looking like vintage Bakelite. They have a line of ’50s-style refrigerators too.

  9. says

    I’m redoing my 1939 kitchen which is red, white, and black. I have the Wedgewood stove, ordered my boomerang tabletop and chairs, have replaced my subway tiles BUT, I’m one red tile strip short for completion of my backsplash!! I need to know who in the world sells red tile strips that are flat? Any help from anyone would be appreciated, all I can find are rounded strips or the wrong red color. I’m willing to do a lot for this one piece of tile! Thanks so much! I wish I could post a photo, but it’s pretty straight forward.

    • pam kueber says

      See our Bathroom Help/Tile category/subcategory for resources. Start with all the companies that sell 4×4 wall tile.

      If not there, I don’t know where to send you. Ebay … etsy …

  10. says

    I’m looking for a company that makes true red tile flat strips for my 1939 kitchen restoration project, I need one more piece!! I can’t find flat true red anywhere, can anyone help?

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