We’ve pulled together some midcentury kitchen ideas to help you get started on your next design project. In your search for mid century design ideas, you’ve likely come across several major retailers selling similarly-shaped furniture. You’ve likely seen chairs with big, curvy seats and thin little legs. It all looks very Jetsons — simultaneously retro and futuristic. But why is that? Knowing some of the history of this design style can help give you a “why” for your new kitchen design.
Midcentury design began in the 1940s and endured through the 1970s. This modern style is characterized by a juxtaposition of organic shapes and clean lines. This design style has a rich history that evolved from various other design styles, including Bauhaus and Danish modernism. In that way, it is very classically American – a true melting pot of ideas and influences. And in 2020, mid century design has made a huge comeback.
A big tenet of mid century modern design is the equal prioritization of beauty and function. If you ever took a design course in college, you likely encountered a professor who was obsessed with Charles and Ray Eames. Their marriage of form and function in furniture design spawned one of the most iconic furniture pieces in history—the Eames chair. Still today, many kitchen designs include Eames-inspired kitchen chairs and bar stools.
Incorporating the tenets of classic mid century design can help you execute a successful modern interpretation of the style in your kitchen. Think about how these mid century modern kitchen examples embrace simplicity. Look at how they choose furniture that prioritizes both form and function. Notice how bold choices of color bring energy into the room. As you scroll through these mid century modern kitchen ideas, think about which elements you’d like to incorporate into your own kitchen.
1. Black, white, and retro all over
This kitchen is a prime example of how you take Aunt Connie’s retro kitchen and bring it into 2020. Some classic mid century modern furniture pieces, including the wall clock and those Eames-inspired bar stools, pair nicely with the modern appliances in this kitchen. Black kitchen cabinets look sharp next to wood floors and white walls. A simple black and white color palette can be just as effective as more pigmented mid century modern kitchens.
2. In mint condition
An ode to the past can be made through color choice, which is exactly what’s happening here. By choosing these mint green/light teal cabinets, this mid century modern kitchen delivers a wave of nostalgia.
3. A seat for everyone at the kitchen table
Mid century modern kitchens often incorporate a variety of textures like this. Stainless steel contrasts with a large white tile backsplash. These midcentury bucket chairs at the kitchen table are a style you’ll see across several major retailers. And there’s a reason this design style is so popular — it hits that right balance between aesthetically interesting and functional.
4. Lime time
This bold accent wall and equally bold kitchen island is not for the faint of heart. But there’s a reason color works so well with mid century kitchen design. Mid Century modern furniture is designed with simplicity in mind, so it doesn’t compete with the boldness of the color choice here. Instead, simple pieces like the light wood kitchen cabinets and metal countertops enhance the impact of the bright colors.
5. A modern perspective
This modern kitchen design incorporates minimal mid century design elements in a sleek, simple layout. Large, stained wood cabinets sit above and beside sharp stainless steel appliances. This kitchen design also uses a more modern style light fixture (as opposed to the stylized midcentury light fixtures you’ll see in several other inspiration images).
6. Green and redGreen and red
This mid century modern color scheme feels like it shouldn’t work together. Green and red almost always denote Christmas, but there’s no winter vibe happening here. Pale green cabinets and red accessories seem to be ready to cook up a 1950s style diner breakfast. If your midcentury modern design taste is rooted in the vintage aesthetic, incorporating bold swatches of color throughout your cabinetry like this could be a great move.
7. Hexagon tiles
This hexagon tile backsplash is a super unique feature of this midcentury modern kitchen design. But wait — what if I told you it was peel-and-stick wallpaper? Using a fun, patterned wallpaper in your kitchen design can help save room in the budget for heavier expenses, like industrial appliances or these lovely leather Eames barstools. This color palette is also worth consideration. A dark, forest green on upper cabinets and a kitchen island looks sharp with the white wallpaper.
8. Slate grey and clean lines
This mid century modern kitchen displays a marriage of a few design style inspirations. You may not immediately think to pair a tuscan-looking tile backsplash with hanging edison bulb pendant lights, but this kitchen makes it work. Large, slate-grey cabinets span the length of the kitchen, and the color is even brought through on a section of the back wall. And, of course, some very midcentury bar stools sit at the edge of the kitchen.
9. It’s all about the geometry
Do you remember those little geometric wood blocks teachers would hand out in math class and ask you to construct patterns with? These custom cabinets are a masterclass in pattern matching. Hexagonal cabinets with yellow features read a bit like honeycomb, which feels appropriate for a charming little breakfast nook. Yellow, green, and turquoise accents add some vibrant contrast to white cabinetry and countertops. You could become a real breakfast influencer in this midcentury modern kitchen.
10. Blue and white
A simple but bold color scheme can really elevate midcentury modern kitchen designs. This deep, bold blue color sits prominently on cabinets and wraps around the wall behind. The use of white windowed upper cabinets allows a display of proudly collected kitchen items. Green metal framing on this kitchen chair stands out as a deliberate choice to break away from the chosen blue and white color scheme. If you love the impact of bold color choices, some orange or yellow pieces could amp up the vibrancy in a kitchen like this.
11. Light blue and white
Love color but want to incorporate it in a more subtle way? This set of light blue cabinets with a slate grey countertop embraces the tenant of simplicity in midcentury modern kitchen design. Red bucket chairs at the kitchen add another splash of color without overwhelming the overall aesthetic. In a space with lots of natural lighting, dark wood looks really elegant.
12. A minimalist approach
Here’s another example of the beauty of dark wood highlighted by lots of natural lighting in a mid century modern kitchen. Large white cabinets and open shelving allows for plenty of storage space. By using such a minimal color palette, this kitchen design highlights mid century light fixtures and metal barstools.
13. A maximalist approach
In a complete 180 from the previous mid century modern kitchen design example, this design embraces color to its fullest extent. Teal dominates this design. Even the radiator is painted teal. Because teal is the dominant color choice, orange cabinets stand out as the focal point. When choosing bold, complementary colors like this, it’s important to decide which color you want to be the focus, and which color you’d like to use as an accent.
14. Something in between minimalist and maximalist
If you love color, but don’t necessarily want bright orange cabinets in your mid century modern kitchen, here’s a design that finds a nice middle ground between design ideas #12 and #13. This kitchen primarily uses white and dark wood design elements, adding in orange and teal accents sparingly. Large white upper cabinets and countertops contrast with large wooden drawers. It’s clear that both beauty and function are a top priority. Early mid century designers would be proud.
Which of these midcentury modern kitchen ideas inspired you the most? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to help you achieve the mid century modern kitchen of your dreams.