Painting ideas — Kitchen paint colors to showcase a vintage pink and gray dinette

Pink Retro kitchenReader Laurie waited more than two years to close on the house of her dreams — which was stuck in what seemed like endless foreclosure. Now that it’s a done deal, Laurie is trying to spiff up the house before moving in and unpacking all her long-collected retro goodies. Amidst all her excitement, Laurie emailed us for help with her Retro Design Dilemma: Choosing the wall color for her mostly original retro kitchen is making her lose sleep. Read on for her story, and our kitchen color ideas…

Lauries Kitchen design dilemmaLaurie decided to keep the original laminate counter tops (#5 on Pam’s Most Endangered List.) She also told us would be keeping the original red-and-beige checkerboard resilient floors.***See Pam’s boxed comment at the end of this article about making sure you know what materials are in your old floors.

So here’s what Laurie had to say about her Design Dilemma:

I guess my biggest question is, if I have a pink topped table with flecks of grey (chrome legs) with pink and grey chairs, and the counters are like a beige or tan color WHAT DO I PAINT MY WALLS ? My valances are going to be pretty busy, the aqua and pink ‘Whats cookin’ fabric…. We purchased white appliances from Sears. The shiny white not the ones with a texture. These are the questions I am losing sleep over! ANY advice/help is MUCH needed and appreciated. Thank you. 🙂

Laurie's Kitchen design dilemma

Kate responds to Laurie’s Design Dilemma:

kateFear not Laurie! The answer to your retro design dilemma is as easy as doodling… atomic doodling that is. Upon seeing Laurie’s kitchen, Pam immediately suggested this wallpaper from Bradbury & Bradbury called Atomic Doodle.

Bradbury & Bradbury Atomic Doodle wallpaper

The colors in this wallpaper coordinate perfectly with Laurie’s kitchen. The metallic copper on the wallpaper (which reads almost as a yellow) echos the original, warm wood cabinets and tan laminate counter tops. And, the pink blends with her checkerboard floor and dinette set (which incidently was featured on Retro Renovation before — in the story about reupholstering retro dinette chairs affordably).

While Atomic Doodle does fit the color scheme of Laurie’s kitchen, I fear covering all the walls with it might be overkill — initially Laurie had worried about having too much going on in her kitchen — so instead I took a color cue from the wallpaper itself and “painted” Laurie’s kitchen with the magic of Photoshop:

Vintage pink kitchen

chrome canisterI also “moved in” Laurie’s pink and chrome dinette set so that she could get a sense of how everything would come together. I picked the light pink and the golden yellow right off of the wallpaper pattern. To add some interest, Laurie could order one roll of Atomic Doodle wallpaper and use it sparingly in small areas in her kitchen — namely as a backdrop for her small rounded shelves on either side of the window (which would be great to display vintage glassware, small dishes or even a retro salt and pepper shaker collection). Laurie mentioned having a set of chrome canisters, possibly similar to these, which will work nicely in her space.

Laurie's kitchen color

Chrome ClockKeep in mind that Laurie has purchased white appliances — which will help to break up all the color and pattern that is going on in the room. Adding a new or vintage chrome rimmed clock on one of the soffits would echo all of the chrome accents in her table, counter edging and cabinet pulls.

As far as window treatments go, I’m a big fan of cafe curtains. If Laurie opts to add the little bits of Atomic Doodle wallpaper near the window, I’d keep the curtains a solid color — probably white or a coordinating yellow. Cafe curtains are relatively easy to make and install with little to no sewing involved. Heck, I made the cafe curtains for my kitchen windows without sewing at all! Pam has covered cafe curtains before — in her post 15 cafe curtain designs and ideas — which is both full of ideas and information on how to make your own cafe curtains.

So there you have it Laurie, hopefully you can rest easy — well once all your moving and unpacking is done!

Do you have a room that causes you to lose sleep?
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design dilemma

Renovate Safe

Pam takes over for Kate here: In our email exchanges, I reminded Laurie that her that vintage floors may contain nastiness such as asbestos, and that she should consult with properly licensed professionals to determine what is in her floors and how to handle. I do not give this kind of advice on the blog… and I edit out any reader comments suggesting what others should do. Again, homeowners: Consult with properly licensed pros to determine what’s in the original materials in your particular old house and how to handle safely.

  1. Al says:

    I’m in the thinking stage of what to do with my kitchen. It’s almost exactly like Laurie’s. One thing that I’ve been unable to find is a source for the counter edging. Has anyone found a source for this type of edging?

  2. linoleummy says:

    What a cliffhanger! Please, please, please tell us how this came out. With lots of pictures. Although I loved Kate’s pink and atomic doodle scheme the best, especially with that cute dining set and floor, it would be great to see it in the robin’s egg blue too. There are so many delicious things about this kitchen and only one minus –
    did you resolve the dishwasher/ fridge area, Lauren?

  3. Kim Dronet says:

    My vote is for pink appliances… I know I know.. she already bought white ones… That table and chairs are just begging for pink appliances though.

  4. Marjie says:

    I would encourage you to get some rest & wait on painting until you have actually cooked a few meals and lived w/ that kitchen.Light plays a real factor when it comes to color on walls in these small homes. Do the sink window and the side door let in a nice amount of light? Is the kitchen on the north side of the house where it would not get as much light as a kitchen on the south or east side might .You might really need to get a feel for how much light is in that room when you actually in there cooking and cleaning…just so you won’t have to paint twice or more before getting it right. I didn;t catch in which state the house is located(sunny CA or cloudy northwest – how much sun makes a difference).I live in MN w/ a north facing 1958 kitchen and very little natural light so I’ve used gloss white in it to compensate and used colorful utensils or small appliances for the punch of color..My mother-in-law’s ’40’s house in Olympia , WA seemed to have a beautiful soft petal pink on the walls, but in fact was beige w/ a mere touch of rose in it.I just wonder how beige w/ a slight pink cast would pick up the reflection of the rose on your floor tiles and dinette while at the same time blend w/ the existing counter for a subtle backdrop for your what’s cookin’ fabric and a your crisp white appliances.

  5. Jeff says:

    Pink would be a good complement to the maple cabinets and dining set….a lovely period kitchen you should be so happy to have! I do love the paper suggestion as well, a good choice. The horizontal window bands are marvelous, and mirrored in the door as well, it looks like. A superb floor as well, the total package! Congrats!

  6. Lynne says:

    My mom’s kitchen was pink and pale yellow. It was a sunny cheery kitchen on the gloomiest of winter days. Try yellow if you’re not keen on too much of the pink.

  7. Martha says:

    I haven’t read all the comments, but I think instead of the wallpaper behind the shelves (where as one of the commenters I did read said that anything you put on the shelves would be lost in the wallpaper pattern), I would put the wallpaper between the backsplash and the bottom of the cabinets and the pain behind the shelves. I do like the wallpaper, but not behind the shelves.

  8. RetroSandie says:

    However Laurie ends up doing her kitchen, I think her kitchen is wonderful!!! Window and cute shelves at the sink, the rounded counter also with shelving, the lovely cabinets and pulls, the back door window….I love it all. Oh, heck why not cover the dishwasher with either the wallpaper or a painted panel? The pink/grey dining set is beautiful, and I’m sure it will look spectacular in the finished kitchen! Please, Laurie, be sure to show us photos of the finished kitchen – and the rest of your new home!!! 🙂

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