Busy is the new calm: the retro kitchen revolution

Colour ideas

Minimalism has been the watchword in kitchen design for the best part of two decades, but recently there has been a marked rise in the popularity of an altogether busier aesthetic.

Styles popularised in the 1970s, such as boldly patterned wallpaper, floral tiles, and warm, rich colour schemes are right back in vogue, and they have opened up a whole world of potential for creativity in the kitchen.

In this guide we'll take a look at some of the most exciting retro kitchen ideas that might inspire you to start working on a throwback look all of your very own.

Golden brown

Golden brown

The classic 1970s kitchen was awash with deep, warming colours like yellow, ochre, olive green, mustard, caramel and chocolate brown, and you'll notice these are the tones making a marked return to designer outlets and interior showrooms.

Ever since spiced Honey was named the Dulux Colour of the Year 2019, warm tones and rich colour palettes have been in demand, and shades of gold and brown are flourishing as a result.

These colours have a long decorative history, with the use of ochre dating back to ancient civilisations that dug it out of the ground as a natural pigment. Nowadays ochre is used to add warmth and light to kitchens, or as an accent colour that brings an enlivening touch to any space.

Retro kitchen appliances and accessories in sage green or grey green compliment gold and yellow shades beautifully, and even darker colours will offset ochre walls really well.

Patterns please

Patterns please

Statement wallpaper and patterned tiles are being used to stunning effect in modern kitchens that have a distinctly retro feel about them.

From botanical patterns, to serene floral designs, to lavish neoclassical prints and bold stripes, there has been a 'no holds barred' approach from designers who have been bringing wallpaper back into the kitchen in recent years.

Graphic printing has come a long way since wallpaper's heyday, and you can find some wonderfully effective natural prints out there, as well as some striking monochrome and multi-coloured patterns that will make a feature out of any wall.

You might want to choose a visual theme to your wallpaper that matches your kitchen accessories, or simply opt for a colour scheme that matches your units and cupboards. You can even use wallpaper for a kitchen splashback as long as you cover it with glass or acrylic, and there are some impressive murals and brick wall effect designs out there to choose from.

Pros and cons of kitchen wallpaper

Wallpaper is rarely the first thing that comes to mind when contemplating a kitchen refurbishment these days, but if you're interested in vintage kitchens or 1960s kitchen design then there are plenty of reasons to reach for your paste and brushes.

If your kitchen tends to be a busy hive of activity with appliances, crockery and cooking equipment on show, a feature wall of patterned wallpaper can help to draw focus away from the worktops. Wallpaper can also really help to soften a room, so if you're striving for a gentler, less clinical kitchen design then an elegant print might work.

The downside of wallpaper in a kitchen is the potential for it to get wet, and if you're wallpapering near your sink or cooker it is advisable to add a layer of glass or acrylic to protect it. It is important to ensure your kitchen has good extraction to prevent your wallpaper from coming loose when you're cooking.

Pros and cons of kitchen wallpaper

Tiles of style

If you'd rather opt for a more durable wall covering for your retro kitchen, patterned tiles can contribute to an authentic 70s look. Widely available in natural stone, ceramic or porcelain, patterned tiles in warm yellows, mustards, browns and sage greens can make wonderfully effective feature walls, mosaics, splashbacks and kitchen floors.

The golden rule with retro kitchens is: be bold! The kitchen is a busy place, so don't be afraid to choose patterns that reflect that activity, and allow your imagination room to explore.