Retro kitchen paint colors from 50s to early 60s Geneva, Republic, St. Charles and Youngstown steel kitchen cabinets


“Vintage_Kitchen” recently wrote
to ask about repainting her 60s white steel kitchen cabinets and I also promised this post with suggestions on paint colors for your mid century kitchen.

Note: Click on photos to enlarge for better color scrutiny!

From all the advertising material that I own, it appears that kitchen cabinetry was mostly white into the early 50s. Until then, ‘white’ still communicated “sanitary” – which was very important. But… we made it through that phase of kitchen concerns, and in the mid-50s, “exuberance” kicked in big time — giving us flamboyantly colored cars — and kitchen cabinets, too. The trend continued well into the 60s, when wood including natural finishes conquered. But that’s another story for another day. I promise.

I’m posting several photos of beautifully colored 50s to early 60s kitchens. A couple of things to note:

  • Notice how it’s not the just the colors that are unique — but also the way they are combined. For example, in the blue kitchen above, we get a green-yellow (chartreuse even) sink.
  • In addition to the colors I show here, also pick up the print version of the Sherwin-Williams Suburban Modern palette for interiors (also shown thumbnail above). For cabinets I love the: Pinky Beige, Appleblossom, Sunbeam Yellow, Holiday Turquoise and Chartreuse. If you want to repaint your white cabinets — and for trim — use the Porcelain. This is a palette that never stops pleasing and must be a key part of your mid century renovation arsenal! I recommend getting it in print, because my scanner and all our computers can only do so much re: actual color resolution.
  • Finally, remember that there are plenty of examples of mix-and-match color schemes. That is, one color on the base cabinets, another usually but not always ‘lighter’ color on the wall cabinets. This was particularly true the later you go, and really, you can see the idea in many kitchens of the period if you count the countertop as a major color element …. lots of contrast … and embrace of color!geneva-kitchen-pink.jpgyellow-kitchen-gray-trim-late-50s.jpgdark-coral-kitchen029.jpg1963-teal-dark-green-kitchen.jpgSeeAllOurVintageCatalogsSMALL

  1. Larry Poplin says:

    Where can I get a epoxy based Butter Yellow so I can Repair my shower from the 1970’s and refinish it? Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes. Help I have been looking and all I can find is those .4oz small bottles of touch up can they are costly.

  2. Kay says:

    Hi I need help too!! I have just bought all new retro things for my kithchen. I have the blue fridge freezer and dishwasher, orange microwave and the olive green looking bin. I am stuck what colour to paint my walls!!. I have blue/turquoise tiles. I have tried yellow on the walls but cannot seem to get the right one. Any suggestions??

  3. Connie says:

    What paint would you use to paint a gas stove the retro blue color..im having trouble finding the colors.

  4. Steve Plander says:

    I am helping an elderly neighbor with a stove replacement in his Kitchen.
    He has General Electric metal cabinets, counter, stove top etc in “Avocado Green” or a teal green. since I have one of the cabinets off he would like it repainted if possible.
    Is there a color code number for these cabinets where I can have paint mixed or do you know of a source for this color of paint?

  5. Carol Klaassen says:

    I need help! We purchased original St. Charles cabinets that are in dire need of restoration. They are architectural salvage from the home of the grandson of Herbert Hoover, and they have not graced a kitchen for a long time! For the last few years, they have been stored outside, under a tarp in Los Angeles. I would love to have them powder coated, but cannot afford it. Has anyone had any luck with spray paint? The Sherwin Williams Suburban Modern Pinky Beige is a dead ringer for the original color. I agonize over these cabinets, and I HATE my current kitchen!

  6. Mary Bailey says:

    Hey Pam! Any Suggestions for that 50’s Mint Green? – Want to paint my wood kitchen cabinets.



  7. Debbie Bradley says:

    I love the retro look and am trying to give my boring 1980’s 2 story a retro look., The ideas here are fabulous. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Pingback:Retro Renovation » A Colonial-meets-Modern 1960s kitchen to make you very, very happy

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