1940s kitchenI am in the mode: Cranking out a new 1940s style kitchen design board each week until I get them all done. I think there will be five in total. Here is #3: A retro kitchen inspired by a vintage American Kitchen ad. It’s dominated by the color red — via the ruby red mother of pearl laminate countertop — and anchored by a green linoleum that I’d describe as, yes, drab. But also, restful, which allows your eye to rest on the sharp colors elsewhere in the room. Remember: Every element of a design doesn’t need to “scream.” I hesitate to say “shouldn’t” scream but there, I said it anyway.

Elements to create a happy red 1940s kitchen:

1940s kitchen

  1. Fabric: Look for a drapery fabric that includes all the main colors in your kitchen. I prefer vintage — yes, it can be found in sufficient yardage if you are patient and tenacious — like these 3 yards available on ebay.
  2. Sewing Pattern: Whip the fabric into curtains — you can do it! Use a vintage pattern — lookie how these scallop at the header (or whatever you call it) — nice!
  3. Sink: Elkay Lustertone 54″ stainless steel kitchen sink (affiliate link)
  4. Countertop: Mother of pearl (aka crackle ice laminate) from Heffron’s. We;ve had numerous readers find less expensive (not special order) red proxies — research our Kitchen Help/Countertops category to see those stories.
  5. Countertop edging: For this design board, I showed aluminum edging from RetroTrims.com
  6. Kitchen cabinets: Steel kitchen cabinets were available in the 1940s, too. I showed these vintage Whiteheads (a rare brand) so that you could see how the metal sink looked with a steel cabinet. If you want to hunt for vintage read this story only kinda in reverse.
  7. Vintage percolator: Vintage percolator on etsy.
  8. Linoleum flooring: Linoleum sheet flooring — in “Evening Moss” — from Armstrong
  9. Countertop depth French door refrigerator: I found another countertop-depth refrigerator that seem to have possibly not-supersized proportions.
  10. Vintage stove: Vintage 1948 Cromwell electric range from AntiqueAppliances.com.

Other stories to look for 1940s kitchen ideas:

See all of our 1940s kitchen design boards here


  1. Sarah says:

    There are new percolator coffee makers available made by Presto or Cuisanart. I bought the Presto one on Amazon several years ago to replace a vintage one whose plastic parts eventually cracked. The Cuisinart one has the clear glass knob to see the coffee swirling inside and I saw it at JCPenney the other day. Percolator coffee is so much flavorful than drip, IMHO. And takes up minimal counter space.

  2. Elroy says:

    Thanks, Pam. This is one of my favorite kitchens.
    What are your thoughts on using Wilsonart’s “Betty” laminate counter top with a red, cracked ice, linoleum floor?

  3. Lynn says:

    Were white appliances the norm in the 1940’s? When did the use of
    Colors in appliances become popular? When I look at vintage ads and home decor books I see colors used earlier than what seems to have been in “real life”. any info on this would be helpful!

  4. katy says:

    GE Artisty (not Café or Pro series) the fridgerator mimics an older fridge. But way to go if you have old IH!

    1. pam kueber says:

      Yes, I have written about it. I like it well enough, but for these stories, I have been trying to identify countertop depth fridges…

  5. LuAnn says:

    I just love this 1940s look. I’m thinking of going more that direction in my kitchen even though I have a 1950s ranch. The cabinets are already painted white and they have the scrollwork all along the uppers. They’re not getting unpainted, so I don’t think that they look particularly 50s anymore. Is that weird to have a kitchen look a decade younger than the age of the house?

    1. pam kueber says:

      I would say this style was pretty common well into the 50s. I define “the ’40s look” as 1940-1953. After that, design got more atomic/pastel. But the 40s look still continued, I am sure.

  6. René says:

    Also – Pam, I notice that the trim you’ve featured in this design board has ridges. Was that common for the 40’s? I’ve only ever seen the smooth trim in period illustrations for that decade, but goodness knows I have lots to learn.

    I like the ridges. 🙂

  7. René says:

    I’m collecting red laminate samples for my own ’40s kitchen right now. Sadly, I don’t think I can afford mother of pearl/cracked ice – partly because of the laminate price, but maybe even more because of the cost of shipping, taxes, and duty to Canada.

    Of the “regular” laminates, Arborite’s Red Xabia is obviously a very solid choice, but I’m also quite taken with Nevamar’s Red Hot Allusion (ALR003T) and Sienna Essence (ES2003T), and Pionite’s Burgundy Crepe (AR311). They are all darker and less intensely red than Red Xabia, with Burgundy Crepe being a lovely deep brownish red. They all have a mottled finish that is reminiscent of some linoleums.

    One thing I can’t figure out is which finish of laminate to use. The glossy laminates are my favourite, but I’m afraid they’ll scratch too easily. If anyone has advice on that, I’m all ears.

    1. pam kueber says:

      I am pro satin finish laminates because of the scratchability issues you note

      and yes, my research indicates that in the 1940s and 50s linoleum countertops tended to be more drab than brite. Linoleum did not take bright colors very well. So, a more red-brown would be even more appropriate.

  8. Bob Connor says:

    Pam do you think you might use the Amana stove I showed earlier in another 1940s kitchen (might be able to “get away” with it)

      1. Bob Connor says:

        What I meant is that do you think the Amana range looks “rounded” or “1940s enough” to use in one of your 1940s designs. Sorry I didn’t make myself more clear.

            1. pam kueber says:

              Yes, I think it would be fine, because it’s pretty neutral. Note, there are also 40″ versions of stoves like this http://www.bestbuy.com/site/frigidaire-40-self-cleaning-freestanding-double-oven-electric-range-white/1661223.p?id=1218277381424&skuId=1661223&ref=06&loc=01&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=1661223&extensionType=pla:g&s_kwcid=PTC!pla!!!79699258359!g!!46528469679&kpid=1661223&k_clickid=0f8ce03e-a833-480e-9056-9e8742295d26&kpid=1661223&lsft=ref:212,loc:1&ksid=0f8ce03e-a833-480e-9056-9e8742295d26&ksprof_id=13&ksaffcode=pg3368&ksdevice=c

              and also 36″ http://www.summitappliance.com/catalog/110

              I need to do more research, though, to look for the best alternatives for a lower-cost stove like this.

                1. pam kueber says:

                  Yes, that’s another great one that I think would be just fine for a 40s/50s style kitchen… Honestly, as long as it’s white, and pretty simple — it will likely work. But yes, the Artistry has some nice retro touches — planned in!

Comments are closed.