vintage kitchen
image: designbuildinhabit

Instead of modernizing your kitchen, why not vintage-ize it? Returning a kitchen to its retro roots doesn’t mean it has to emulate your grandmother’s old-fashioned style. With a few decorating additions, your kitchen can look kitschy-cute, not outdated.

Through reusing items from the past and tweeking what you already own, these five budget-friendly tips will get your kitchen on its way to flaunting some seriously cute vintage style (without a remodel). Find out how.

1. Display with open storage

vintage shelf
image: Maia C

If your kitchen already boasts glass front cabinets or if you already have open shelving in your kitchen, use it to your vintage-advantage. Artfully display any vintage kitchen items you already own (think a set of Pyrex bowls or glass salt and pepper sets) for a touch of history. Or, simply display the cups, plates, bowls, cake stands, teapots or mason jars that you already own in interesting ways. If the current items in your kitchen look better behind closed doors (that collection of free plastic cups), then simply collect vintage housewares that catch your eye at thrift stores, garage sales, auctions and antique malls. They’re cheap and easy to find.

No open storage in your kitchen? No problem. Mount a few shelves on an area with open wall space. Then display your heart away—just don’t go too over the top. If you clutter your shelves, all you’ll notice is the clutter, instead of your cute items.

2. Use cheery colors

vintage display
image: by golly molly

Eye-catching color combos can instantly transform your kitchen. Need some vintage inspiration? Head to your local thrift store and sift through the vintage sheets, towels and tablecloths for color scheme ideas. Classic combinations include bright reds and blues or you could go for bakery-esque light pinks, yellows or other pastels.

Add easy pops of color to your kitchen using towels, vintage tins, a row of similar-patterned cookbooks or, of course, with dishes. The bright colors will add warmth to your kitchen.

3. Change your hardware

vintage cabinet
image: qmnonic

Replace the knobs or pulls on your cabinets to easily make over your kitchen. No remodeling required—just a screwdriver. Classic glass knobs are a good option to get a vintage look. Or, try tarnished silver or gold cup pulls for a dash of ’50s style. 

4. Don’t stress, distress

vintage table
image: j.lee43

In a vintage kitchen, a bit of wear doesn’t matter. In fact aged items look darn good! Proudly display your slightly beaten up vintage tins and utensils. Or, distress new items to give them some character. Rough up that wooden table or your kitchen cabinets with sand paper for a shabby chic look. A vintage kitchen doesn’t need to look perfect. That’s part of the charm.

5. In with the old… appliances

kitchen tools
image: H is for Home

No, no need to put in an antique gas stove or a farmhouse sink to get the retro look (unless you want to, of course). You can reproduce the style by adding vintage mixers (think old KitchenAids), tools and utensils to your kitchen. Plus, tying together modern with vintage makes the style your own. Think stainless steel appliances and rough-around-the-edges wooden cabinets or an antique kitchen table paired with modern chairs.

Follow Kirsten on Twitter @kirsten_hudson