Retro kitchen paint color schemes from 1953

50s paint colors

Following up on yesterday’s post about Nancy’s (popular!) kitchen project… and on our Monday blue Television Kitchen… here are kitchen cabinet paint colors straight out of 1953, from a Kitchen Maid cabinets brochure in my collection. Lots of good mix-and-match ideas.

I do want to point out that with two-tone kitchen cabinet combinations, you want your darker color on the bottom to ground or anchor the design. It’s interesting to study the color combo’s below – for their use of harmony … and contrast. Honestly, study these things – and over time your design-eye will sharpen! I do think there’s some innate ‘talent’ in design – but like most other pursuits, it’s 99% perspiration! Work hard, study hard, and your ‘instinct’ (and ‘luck’) will get better, ha.

Floors can be light or dark – one guide might be whether you want to bring sunshine (light) into the kitchen, or coziness (medium/dark).

One of the tips you also see written about a lot in the 50s – as everyone was learning to decorate, together — was to choose your principal color scheme based on the direction the room faced. That is, south- and western-facing kitchens will get a lot of sunlight — they will be “hot” — so to counter that, choose ‘cool’ colors… colors in the blue/cool spectrum. North-facing kitchens tend to feel “cold” because of the quality of the sunlight — so use red/hot colors there, to warm things up. Eastern-facing: flexible, ahhh… that morning sunshine! I’ll look for some info on this issue and feature more, in the future.

50s kitchen colors

  1. Zane Barlow Coleman says:

    So we have 50s ranch with a galley kitchen, the floor is turquoise, and the counters yellow laminate… the cabinets were originally aqua/turquioise but then were refaced with what looks like plyboard… but its rather nice wood grain/color at least on the top cabinets… sunny… but the bottom cabinets aren’t as nice… more worn and less grain, not as golden… I’ve though about painting the cabinets, but the top ones are really nice or at least I like them… would it be weird to just paint the bottom ones? Kitchen also has faux brick backsplash all the way around…. ideas welcome….

    1. m in minnesota says:

      I also have a 50’s galley/corridor kitchen w/ a north facing window….nothing was well maintained by the previous owners….so I did paint the kitchen cabinets ….but later… my friend who’s builds and designs for a living always recommends wood for the most practical finish in a kitchen….I do have to periodically repaint but I probably won’t cough up $30000 to gut this kitchen either…..I have also painted the faux ceramic tile paneling in the house – I used that Zinsser “1-2-3” high adhesion primer w/ good results … If you painted the bottom cupboards a darker color and put a flat or satin urethane on them the ugly parts that are bugging you might blend away into the band of color and the urethane would hold up better than just painting like I first did – it’s kind of a ‘bistro’ look and some Nantucket kitchens have two colors for cabinets- Then keep the top ones like they are and re-varnish them when they need it…..

  2. kristinirene says:

    Ours is closest to the next to the last one as we left the original cabinets as is; I cannot bring myself to paint them. They removed the original countertop (grrrr), but it is still that color in that example above. It is that CRAPPY faux wood formica. UGH. Which might be tolerable if I could put that metal around the edges to just fake the look.

  3. nancyb says:

    Thanks for posting this Pam… It is a great illustration of “acceptable” 1950’s options for kichen cabinet colors – including natural wood, mixed with color.

  4. nancy says:

    Pam- You have answered a question that we have had. Our kitchen colors are beautiful (we think)- tone on tone aquamarine with the darker color on some of the bottom cabinets. Having the little deeper color really makes the kitchen much more interesting. Adding the splash of red that we have done w/ fridge & dishwasher really sets everything off. Down the road we will have to decide how to go w/ new floor & cabinet top.


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