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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 [link now broken, no longer sure of the status of this company 3/1/2019], 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:

  1. Randa says:

    Hello! I have an odd type of paneling in my kitchen and I can’t find any reference to it online, mostly because I don’t know what it is. It is not painted, it is an engineered product of some kind and a glossy peach with stainless steel strips joining it in the corners. It is neither porcelain-like nor metallic. More like some kind of plastic but not plastic either. Any clue what it might be? Thank you

    1. Ann m fascinella says:

      I also have this in my kitchen and the bathroom. Would like to paint?
      But not sure how?

      1. Pam Kueber says:

        Hi Ann and belatedly, Randa,

        There were so many different types of products produced and I am not an expert. I do remind readers: There can be vintage hazards in old products, materials and their layers so get with properly licensed professionals to assess what you have so that you can make informed decisions. For more info see Be Safe/Renovate page here >> https://retrorenovation.com/renovate-safe/

  2. Bruce Greene says:

    I am attempting to update the kitchen (\”sculpted.\” ) in your photo gallery. I don’t know what this style was called (other than the name you have indicated. I am not wishing to discard these cabinets, rather paint them. I will be adding a drawer set in place of an old appliance. Therefore wish to find, at least, the shapes of the raised drawer panels in order to duplicate them to the new drawer set, router bit selection, etc.
    So far, “no luck”. Perhaps one of your readers can shed some path way further on this subject.
    Best regards,
    (Glad to have discovered your site today).

    1. pam kueber says:

      I don’t know what to call it except what it was called in the book – sculpted. This style shows up now and again vintage — I think “my” Habitat for Humanity ReStore (in Pittsfield, Ma.) may have a set right now. Other than that… you sound like you know your way around woodworking — could you not replicate the shape using the set you have?? Good luck!

    2. Jen says:

      I, too, have the “sculpted” cabinets, which we are also getting ready to paint. Would love to know how Bruce’s came out.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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?

  6. 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! 🙂

    1. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. Stacey 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.

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