The 1940s were a transformative time in interior design, with many homes shifting away from the more ornate styles of previous decades towards simpler, pared-back looks. This change was especially noticeable in kitchens, where popular 1940s decor trends emphasized practicality, efficiency, and a touch of nostalgia.

Recreating a 1940s style kitchen today can be a charming way to add vintage flair to your home. With strategic use of color, lighting, cabinetry, appliances, and accessories, you can design a space with all the warmth and character of this iconic era.

Elements of 1940s Kitchen Decor

Several key elements defined the look of a classic 1940s kitchen. Keeping these details in mind will help you craft an authentic, inviting space.

Color Palette

The color palette of 1940s kitchens tended to be simple, focusing on light neutrals accented by pops of color.

Popular paint colors included:

  • Pastel pink
  • Pale yellow
  • Mint green
  • Light blue
  • Beige
  • White

Many kitchens also featured colorful accent tiles on countertops and backsplashes. Common shades were pink, yellow, turquoise, and green.


Linoleum was the flooring material of choice in 1940s kitchens. This affordable, easy-to-clean product came in a range of patterns, from solid colors to checkerboard motifs.

Some other flooring options included:

  • Black and white tile
  • Hardwood planks
  • Florals and geometric vinyl patterns


Lighting took on a streamlined look in the 1940s. Metal fixtures with simple globe-shaped shades were common over sinks and countertops.

Other features included:

  • Pendant lights
  • Track lighting
  • Recessed ceiling lights
  • Skylights to maximize natural light

Cabinets and Hardware

The 1940s were the heyday of shaker-style cabinetry with recessed panel doors and minimal ornamentation. Stained wood or painted cabinets in light, bright colors were popular.

Cabinet hardware was often vintage-inspired with porcelain knobs and decorative trim. Other 1940s kitchen cabinet trends included:

  • Open shelving for frequently used items
  • Solid cabinet fronts without glass doors
  • Corner cabinets and lazy susans for efficiency


Kitchen countertops in the 1940s tended to be made from easy-to-maintain materials that could withstand heavy daily use.

Common options included:

  • Tile
  • Stainless steel
  • Porcelain enamel
  • Formica laminate
  • Butcher block


The 1940s saw major advancements in kitchen appliance design. New technology made appliances more streamlined and better suited for the average home cook.

Typical 1940s kitchen appliances were:

  • Refrigerators with rounded corners and latch handles
  • Double basin sinks
  • Electric or gas ranges with button knobs
  • Toasters, blenders, and percolators
  • Hoosier cabinets to organize baking supplies

Wall Decor and Accessories

Vintage-style wall decor and accessories could be found in many 1940s kitchens. Some ideas to recreate the look include:

  • Wall clocks with easy-to-read faces
  • Calendars to help organize meal planning
  • Framed artwork and posters with fruit or vegetable motifs
  • Pot racks for hanging cookware
  • Spice racks to keep seasoning organized

Design Elements for Achieving a 1940s Style

When designing a kitchen with 1940s flair, keep these tips in mind:

Focus on Practical Storage

The 1940s placed an emphasis on practicality and efficiency. Make sure to include plenty of smart storage options, like drawers for utensils, pull-out pantry cabinets, and open shelving for easy access.

Select Vintage-Inspired Appliances

Look for appliances with retro rounded edges, button knobs, and colors like turquoise and pale yellow. Brands like Smeg offer fridge and stove options that perfectly capture 1940s style.

Use Patterned Linoleum Flooring

Choose linoleum flooring with vintage-inspired patterns like checkerboard or floral designs. This will instantly transport your kitchen back in time.

Add Nostalgic Accessories

Include 1940s-era accessories like wall clocks, calendars, posters, and ceramic canisters. Visit antique stores to find unique vintage items.

Embrace Metal and Glass Cabinets

Opt for metal or glass front cabinets to get the sleek 1940s look. For a more modern feel, try open shelving in metal wire or glass.

Include Some 1940s Technology

For fun, display some old 1940s kitchen tech like a percolator, toaster, or egg beater. This adds a touch of nostalgic charm.

Use Pendant Lights and Globe Fixtures

Pendant lights over islands and sinks along with globe-shaped ceiling fixtures will lend your kitchen 1940s authenticity. Add sconces for ambiance.

Paint or Tile a Backsplash

A painted or tiled backsplash boosts your 1940s vibe. Use pale paint or choose vintage-look tile in pink, mint, or pale yellow.

1940s Kitchen Decor Ideas

Here are some full kitchen decor ideas to inspire your 1940s design:

Vintage Country Kitchen

Capture old-fashioned farmhouse charm with a vintage country kitchen. Key elements include:

  • White shaker cabinets
  • Butcher block countertops
  • Gingham café curtains
  • Robin’s egg blue appliances
  • Checkered linoleum floor
  • Vintage signage and ceramic accessories

Retro Diner Style

For a retro 1940s diner feel, use these design ideas:

  • Black and white checkerboard floor
  • Stainless steel countertops and backsplash
  • Red leather barstools
  • Jukebox and neon diner signage
  • High-gloss lacquered cabinets in mint green
  • Chrome pendant lights

Cottage Chic

Design a cozy 1940s cottage kitchen with:

  • Painted sherbet yellow cabinets
  • Baby blue subway tile backsplash
  • Vintage-style fridge and range
  • Gauzy floral curtains
  • Wainscoting and beadboard details
  • Pastel art and china on open shelves

Hollywood Glam

Channel 1940s Hollywood glitz with:

  • Black lacquered cabinets with gold trim
  • White quartz waterfall island
  • Brass pendant lights and hardware
  • Mirrored and glass front cabinets
  • Faux marble countertops
  • Champagne metal barstools with white leather

Tips for Decorating on a Budget

Creating a 1940s kitchen doesn’t have to strain your decor budget. Here are tips for an affordable vintage makeover:

Shop secondhand. Check out antique stores, flea markets, thrift shops, and online auctions for deals on vintage appliances, furniture, and accessories. These add instant 1940s charm.

Use contact paper. Renew cabinets affordably by applying contact paper with a retro pattern like checkerboard or floral. This also protects cabinets when removing isn’t an option.

Paint existing floors. You can mimic vintage linoleum by painting existing floors in a glossy pale pink, yellow, turquoise, or black and white checkerboard motif. Use painter’s tape to create patterns.

Buy reproduction items. Many companies sell new products designed to look old. You can find very affordable vintage-style kitchen accessories like canister sets, clocks, and tin signs.

DIY light fixtures. Save money by spray painting existing lighting fixtures instead of buying new ones. Use metal spray paint in chrome or gold to get a 1940s look.

Display collectibles. Fill open shelving with inexpensive 1940s kitchenware finds from flea markets and antique malls. Mix with colorful vintage cookbooks.

Use vintage tablecloths. Tailor inexpensive 1940s-style tablecloths into charming tiered cafe curtains. Tea towels can become adorable aprons.

Incorporate inexpensive tiles. Add a tiles above a backsplash, on the walls beside a sink, or behind the range. This is much less expensive than tiling a whole wall or backsplash.

15 Essential Items for 1940s Kitchen Style

If you’re looking to nail the 1940s kitchen aesthetic, be sure to include some of these key items and features:

  1. Shaker-style cabinets with porcelain knobs
  2. Vintage-style refrigerator
  3. Retro wall clock
    4.Linoleum or checkerboard vinyl flooring
  4. Porcelain enamel sink
  5. Gooseneck faucet
  6. Subway tile or painted backsplash
  7. Jelly cabinet with glass doors
  8. Chrome pendant light fixtures
  9. Formica countertops
  10. Red barstools
  11. Stenciled floral accent wall
  12. Open shelving with ceramic canisters
  13. Gingham café curtains
  14. Vintage-inspired kitchen signage

FAQ About 1940s Kitchen Decor

Get answers to some frequently asked questions about recreating 1940s kitchen style:

What colors were popular for 1940s kitchens?

Pastels and bright colors were popular, like mint green, sunny yellow, robin’s egg blue, light peach, and pale pink. Many kitchens also used white or beige as a neutral background.

What flooring was used in 1940s kitchens?

Linoleum flooring was extremely common. Other options included checkerboard tile, wood planks, and floral patterned vinyl.

What appliances were used in the 1940s?

Newer appliances like refrigerators, gas ranges, electric toasters, percolators, and blenders became widely available in the 1940s. Brands like General Electric, Frigidaire, and O’Keefe and Merritt were popular.

How did people decorate their kitchen walls in the 1940s?

Stenciled wallpaper and floral prints were popular. Walls were often painted in light, bright colors. Open shelving to display dishes and glassware was also common.

What furniture and decor defined the 1940s kitchen?

Porcelain knobs, glass door cabinets, gooseneck faucets, wall clocks, calendars, posters, pot racks, and ceramic canisters were typical.

How can I decorate a 1940s kitchen on a budget?

Shop secondhand, upcycle existing items, use contact paper, look for reproductions, and incorporate inexpensive tiles. Focus on smaller accents like curtains, accessories, and lighting.

What are some ways to light a 1940s kitchen?

Pendant lights, globe-shaped fixtures, recessed and track lighting, and sconces were common. Skylights brought in natural light.

What countertop materials were used in the 1940s?

Popular options included stainless steel, tile, porcelain enamel, Formica laminate, and butcher block. Built-in drainboards were also common near the sink.

How do I choose appliances for a 1940s kitchen?

Look for rounded retro styles in colors like mint green, pink, pale yellow, and turquoise. Brands like Smeg and Big Chill make vintage-inspired appliances.

What type of sinks were popular in the 1940s?

Stainless steel and porcelain enamel double basin sinks were most common. Gooseneck faucets with cross handles complement the vintage look.

1940s Kitchen Decor: Bringing Retro Charm Into the Heart of Your Home

The 1940s were a simpler time – the world was emerging from the Great Depression and WWII had not yet begun. Home decor reflected these sensibilities with clean lines, practicality, and unfussy style.

The kitchen in particular saw massive changes during this era. As more women entered the workforce, efficiency and functionality became paramount. Gadgets debuted to save time on cooking and cleaning. Layouts evolved to be more user-friendly.

Today, 1940s kitchen decor has experiencing a major revival. The vintage look brings charm and character to contemporary homes. With strategic choices in color, lighting, cabinetry, flooring, and accessories, you can easily craft a kitchen with the cozy nostalgia of everyone’s favorite “simpler times.”

Defining Features of 1940s Kitchen Style

Certain elements help create an authentic 1940s kitchen aesthetic. Keep these details in mind as you design your retro-inspired space:

Color Palette

The 1940s embraced simple, light colors accented by occasional bright pops. Popular schemes included:

  • Soft greens like mint, sage, and seafoam
  • Blues in powder blue, robin’s egg, and periwinkle
  • Warm neutrals like cream, beige, yellow, and peach
  • White as the common backdrop
  • Occasional hits of red and turquoise

Many kitchens also incorporated colorful tiles on countertops and backsplashes. Pink, yellow, light blue, and mint green were favorites.


Linoleum defined 1940s kitchen floors. This affordable material came in checkerboard patterns, solid colors, and fun floral prints. Other options included vinyl tiles, wood planks, and black & white checkerboard tile.


Simple, streamlined lighting was typical. Metal fixtures with globe-shaped shades dominated over sinks and stoves. Other common features included:

  • Pendant lights
  • Track lighting
  • Recessed ceiling lights
  • Skylights for maximizing natural light

Cabinets & Hardware

Shaker-style cabinets were most popular, with clean lines, recessed panel doors, and minimal ornamentation. Stained wood or painted pastel colors were common. Cabinet hardware featured porcelain knobs and vintage-inspired trim.

Other cabinet features included open shelves, corner cabinets, and lazy susans for organization. Solid doors without glass fronts maintained the clean, unfussy aesthetic.


Countertops needed to be durable for everyday use. Typical options included:

  • Tile
  • Stainless steel
  • Formica laminate
  • Porcelain enamel
  • Butcher block

Built-in drainboards near the sink were also common.


The 1940s produced major advances in kitchen appliance design. New technology led to more streamlined, user-friendly models tailored for home cooks.

Popular options included:

  • Refrigerators with rounded corners, latch handles, and colors like robin’s egg blue
  • Double basin sinks with gooseneck faucets
  • Electric and gas ranges with push button knobs
  • Toasters, percolators, blenders, and other handy gadgets

Wall Decor

Wall decor emphasized function and a touch of whimsy. Typical items included:

  • Clocks for timekeeping
  • Calendars for meal planning
  • Framed art and posters with food themes
  • Open shelving to display dishware
  • Pot racks and spice racks for organization

Key Elements for Designing a 1940s Kitchen

Follow these guidelines when planning your retro-inspired space:

Focus on Practical Storage Solutions

The 1940s prioritized efficiency and organization. Include elements like:

  • Drawers for utensil storage
  • Pull-out pantry cabinets
  • Open shelving for easy access
  • Lazy susans in corner cabinets

Select Vintage-Inspired Appliances

Choose appliances with charming retro details like:

  • Rounded corners and edges
  • Pastel colors like seafoam green or robin’s egg blue
  • Push button knobs
  • Brands like Smeg that recreate 1940s style

Use Vintage Flooring

Linoleum or colorful vinyl tiles are perfect for an authentic look. For a modern update, paint floors in a retro tile pattern.

Incorporate 1940s Accessories

Display canisters, pot racks, clocks, posters, calendars, and other period accessories found online or in antique shops.

Choose Glass Front and Open Shelving

Glass cabinet fronts and open shelving give a lighter, airier look compared to solid wood cabinetry. Try wire mesh shelves for a modern twist.

Add Pendant and Globe Lighting

Pendant lights over islands and sinks paired with globe ceiling fixtures capture 1940s style. Add vintage-style sconces for ambiance.

Include a Backsplash

Use beadboard, painted walls, or vintage-look tile like mint green subway for your backsplash. This adds color and texture.

Full 1940s Kitchen Decor Ideas

For complete inspiration, here are some fully designed 1940s-themed kitchens:

Cheery Cottage Kitchen

Channel charming cottage style with these elements:

  • Robin’s egg blue shaker cabinets
  • Butcher block countertops
  • White subway tile backsplash
  • Vintage-style refrigerator and range
  • Gingham curtains in lime green
  • Linoleum floor with floral accents
  • Open shelving lined with green plants and ceramic canisters

Retro Diner Kitchen

For a fun retro diner look:

  • Black and white checkerboard floor
  • Stainless steel countertops
  • Chrome stools with red vinyl seats
  • Jukebox and neon signs
  • Pastel blue glass front cabinets
  • Matching blue porcelain sink and appliances
  • Milky glass pendants over island

Farmhouse Chic Kitchen

Capture farmhouse chic with:

  • Beadboard cabinets in sage green
  • Natural wood butcher block counters
  • Porcelain farmhouse sink
  • Linoleum flooring with rooster motif
  • Gauzy white curtains with embroidered trim
  • Vintage-inspired appliances in butter yellow
  • Open shelving for dishware displayed with green plants

Tips for Decorating on a Budget

You can create charming 1940s style without overspending. Follow these budget-friendly ideas:

  • Shop flea markets, antique stores, thrift shops for accessories, furniture, and lighting. Vintage items add instant flair.
  • Use contact paper with retro patterns like checkerboard to cover existing cabinets and drawers.
  • Paint your existing floors instead of installing new flooring. Choose glossy pastel paint or use tape to create a checkerboard effect.
  • Seek out reproduction accessories and decor from companies specializing in retro style. Items like canister sets are usually very affordable.
  • Spray paint existing lighting fixtures instead of replacing them. Aim