Flashback kitchen design: This 50s Youngstown kitchen earns its stripes


This 1957 Youngstown kitchen has such a California look to me…the sky blue, the wall of windows. To be sure, the California design aesthetic took on new importance in postwar America. It was not until then — when incredible growth occurred on the west coast due to ramping up for the Pacific theater conflict — that California really came on the map as a U.S. economic center. Here are some tips from this sunny naval nautical kitchen:

  1. The wall of windows looks out to a patio. In reference to this fact and to play up the view, the designer painted this wall all white. Kind of “blanked it out” so what you see and feel is ‘window.’
  2. The accent color in this kitchen is kind of a warm coral-tinged brown. Warms up the cool blue of the cabinets.
  3. The vertical Venetian blinds mirror the stripes of the wallpaper and also play up the view. Over the last few decades we have been so focused on horizontal blinds in our U.S. decorating. Maybe it’s time to go back to giving well executed verticals consideration.
  4. The windows above the cabinets make a huge difference. Again, though, I acknowledge this is a very modern, west coast look — and not so good for cold climes where we need to stay warm.
  5. The countertop appears to be pretty neutral. Moreover — notice how the backsplash extension of the countertop appears to be a shiny chrome. This was done.
  6. Clearly the vertically striped wallpaper is a huge statement. Appears to be a dark navy rather than black – part of a progression from the light blue of the cabinets… to the medium dark blue of the floor.
  7. Putting wood on the top of the soffit here was a Great Touch that, along with the accessories, keeps your eye dancing around the room.
  8. They used stainless steel appliances and a white sink, looks great. Note, though, that the dishwasher is blue – maintaining an unbroken line of blue along the base cabinets, and ensuring a ‘grounded’ feel; I really prefer this to introducing white or SS and did it this way in my kitchen.
  9. The lighting fixture above the table has vertical black line detailing in the globe – mimicking the wallpaper and blinds. It’s little touches like these that truly take a kitchen over the top in terms of design success.
  10. Wood table. Great. Warms up the kitchen.
  11. Floor – a medium dark blue, again grounding the kitchen and providing the right level of counterpoint/balance to the strong wallpaper.

I realize – these are ‘advertising’ kitchens. But I find them chock-full of great tips anyway, as designers thought so carefully through each and every detail. Redone your kitchen lately? I certainly found that when I did, weighing the details quickly became an obsession — so much so, that it led to this blog! Great to have designers help us through potential landmines.


  1. amysue says:

    I love your annotated posts. Your insightful analysis of each and every detail make them a pleasure to read. They must take forever for you to do, but my goodness they are worth it! Thank you!

  2. Amy says:

    I really like this one! It looks very spacious and has lots of cupboard storage. I dream about having a kitchen like this and wouldn’t mind the blue.

  3. Sumac Sue says:

    The more I look at this kitchen, the more I like it. This seems like a very fresh room, not dated. It was fun to look back at these other kitchens, too.

  4. Jason says:

    I love the blue–not quite as much as the aquamarine, but it’s still great. You don’t see many light blue kitchens.

    I didn’t realize that they even HAD dishwashers in 1957. We didn’t have one until the early ’90s. I prefer their (and your) look with the dishwasher being the same color as the cabinets because it doesn’t chop the kitchen up visually.

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