Superlative Mid Century Kitchen Styles For Contemporary Homes

A mid century is kitchen more than a cooking space. Since the interior design movement began, it has had a steady presence in US households. Today, the mid century style is revered as a timeless design concept.

The inherent characteristics make mid-century a fit for today’s kitchen. Clean lines and lack of excess are ideal for the space. Shapes, colors, and materials from the era are ideal for mixing with today’s materials and styles.

Fresh Mid Century Kitchen Styles For 2022

Here are 15 different elements to incorporate into a mid-century modern kitchen makeover, from major changes to smaller accents.

Galley Style

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

Mid-century modern kitchen design gave birth to the open floor plan concept, but the kitchens of that era were not the sprawling spaces that they are today. True mid-century kitchens are generally galley style, which may or may not be open on one side.

The galley style among mid century modern kitchens is efficient because it is one long space with a counter running down each side. Making the kitchen flow and feel like it has a relationship with the adjoining spaces was the main aim of that era.

While today’s mid century modern kitchen floor plans include a large open plan where the kitchen is an integral part of the living space, a galley kitchen floor plan can still be a stand-out feature that feels on-trend.

Laminate Countertops

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

Home buyers have snubbed laminate countertops in a decades-long love affair with granite but that is changing. Along with technical innovations, new types of laminates have hit the market and they are far more affordable and look better than they did in the 80s.

The new laminates are ideal for homeowners who want a mid-century modern kitchen. Formica was the first major company to market the material back in its initial heyday and is still producing it, only in new and improved forms.

Besides being more affordable than natural materials like various stones, they are indeed durable. And, the colors available are a natural fit for a mid-century remodel.


Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

Flooring is an essential kitchen style element. It sets the tone for the space. Mid-century modern kitchen floors were finished in natural stone floors such as slate, bluestone, travertine, or terrazzo.

Other types of tiles are available at cheaper prices that are less maintenance. Cork and wood are two mid century. For design purists, wood is the best choice. 

Flat Front Cabinets

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

As popularity shifted from pared down concepts of the mid-century modern look, kitchen cabinets emerged as a decoration target. The period was highlighted by cabinet panels dominating the kitchen remodel market.

Cooking spaces embarked on a modern path, sparking a mid-century resurgence. Flat front or slab doors became the preferred choice. Thanks to their sleek design, the cabinets fit with midcentury modern style kitchens. Flat-front cabinets weren’t desirable, even though they were cheaper to manufacture. 

Metal Cabinets

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

Metal cabinets are the best mid century modern kitchen option. The early days of the mid-century design era saw the emergence of plastic and plywood in home decor. As the 60s began, wood was prevalent in kitchen design and began to overtake metal. Today, manufacturers produce retro metal cabinets. 

Open Shelving

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

Kitchen shelving creates an open vibe. It’s also used as a design accent. A section of open shelving offers a different look. Often these can be used over the kitchen sink or at the end of a shelving unit.

A confined section adds a color splash, a popular design touch from the original era. Even in a mid-century kitchen with wood, open shelving lightens the space, adding visual appeal.

Breakfast Nook

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

As kitchens grew, so did ceilings. The kitchen space expanded. People wanted a defined area to enjoy casual meals. This explains the popularity of the breakfast nook in mid-century design. Breakfast nooks are returning to modern kitchens.

Floor plans are more open, and the built-in seats with snazzy designs create a haven that draws people in to share food or coffee.

Pastel Colors

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

There’s nothing more vintage than pastel kitchen colors. The style was popular in the 50s. Choosing a pastel color in your kitchen will make it feel happy.

For walls, pale yellows and greens are the most common. Painted cabinetry featuring pale blue was also popular. If you want colored cabinets, use white or cream for your walls or you’ll overkill the design.  (toriejayne)

Bold Color

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

The mid-century modern kitchen design era might be best known for its use of bold colors like turquoise, apple green and orange. These bright hues provided a pop of color in spaces heavily done in wood grains.

They were also the dominant color in the space on many occasions, splashing huge swaths of color through the kitchen as homeowners chose to use bright orange countertops, vibrant tiled backsplashes or bold paint.

It was a big color shift from the cheery, sweet pastels popular until that point and the perfect backdrop for a more minimalistic aesthetic. In fact, some pieces from the mid-century design period were called “furniture candy.”  

Kitchen Lighting

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

Lighting in the mid-century modern era had a definitive look that was inspired by Scandinavian and European styles, as well as new silhouettes that mimic jet and space technology. Lighting was rendered in brass, steel, and early forms of plastic and wood.

One iconic lighting design from the era is the sputnik style features, fueled by the launch of the Soviet spacecraft in ’57. Starbursts, metal, and round bulbs were design elements of the mid-century period.

Retro Tile

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

Mid-century modern homes used plenty of tile and the kitchen was no exception. To create the vibe of the era, many options are available today that go beyond what they were in the 50s and 60s. While squares and rectangles are classic choices, they were not always the norm for mid-century modern styles.

Hexagons, circles, and others were found in mid-century tile designs and the styles available today have many more options. Also, a square is something altogether different when it features a retro graphic design like this retro-modern dandelion image.

Graphic Prints

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

One of the quickest ways to add mid-century style to your kitchen is with textiles because they’re cheaper than other furnishings. True vintage textiles are expensive, small in yardage, and hard to find.

They feature abstract or geometric repetitive patterns. It was an era when small companies collaborated with architects, designers, or artists to create patterned textiles.

Kitchen towels, curtains, and upholstery material for chairs can turn the kitchen up a notch when incorporating mid-century design.    

Wood Grain

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

Wood became popular in the kitchen as stainless steel fell out of favor in the 50s. Mid-century kitchens started using this cabinet material. Its warm feeling and natural vibe fit well with the wooden furniture.

If not used for the cabinetry, wood was used for the ceiling and kitchen walls. The move toward mixing materials made it easy to incorporate wood in the design along with Formica countertops and tiled backsplashes. 

Mid-Century Dining Set

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

The iconic furniture of this era has clean lines and uses what was considered new materials at the time. Plastics and bent plywood are two examples.

Classic silhouettes from designers like the Eames, Panton,  Bertoia, and Saarinen are ideal. Here the tulip table is combined with molded chairs on minimal chrome legs, emphasizing the kitchen’s design era inspiration.

Vintage Accessories

Brown cabinets mid century kitchen design

Vintage and vintage style accessories can be a godsend when trying to add a mid-century flair to your kitchen on a tighter budget. If you can’t remodel, retile, or buy a new dining set, you can add accessories that convey the sensibilities of that particular design period.

A starburst clock 0r mirror, colorful mixing bowls and retro canisters can make a big difference when combined with accents that emphasize the era. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Is The Biggest Flaw Of Modern Kitchen Design?

The kitchen is known for its inability to adapt to changing trends. Kitchens are not designed to include adaptability strategies. It is because of this flaw that when a homeowner wants to change their kitchen design, they must rely on remodeling solutions. 

What Kind Of Kitchen Cabinets Go With White Or Wood?

Custom anthracite matte lacquer cabinets offer a sharp yet quiet contrast with white or wood hues.

What Is The Best Ventilation For A Kitchen Island?

Downdraft ventilation is recommended for kitchen islands. The vent system is an alternative to traditional exhaust hoods.

What Is The Best Ventilation For A Kitchen?

Downdraft ventilation is recommended for kitchen islands. The vent system is an alternative to traditional exhaust hoods. For the entire space, canopy or updraft ventilation systems recirculate air or use an exhaust system. A recirculating system pulls air through a filter, recycling it and then returning it to the room.

What Is The Kitchen Work Triangle?

An efficiency model based on the three work centers of a kitchen space: refrigerator, sink or dishwasher, and oven. First introduced in the 40s by the University of Illinois, the model follows a triangle shape to determine the distances between the three points to achieve an efficient kitchen.

Mid Century Kitchen Conclusion

Designers have said the next phase of the mid century kitchen will center on technology. With the rise of computer-aided design and rapid prototyping, dream kitchens are created within hours. Rapid prototyping machines equipped with laser stereolithography have become the “Easy Bake Oven” toys of the design industry.