There’s something special about cooking in a kitchen with old-world charm. From exposed brick walls to antique cabinetry, these spaces evoke a sense of comfort and nostalgia. If you’re looking to give your kitchen a touch of old-world style, there are many routes you can take. In this article, we’ll explore the elements that create that cozy, vintage vibe and provide plenty of tips and inspiration to help you design the charming kitchen of your dreams.
Unfinished woods, natural stones, and exposed bricks or beams are hallmarks of an old-world style kitchen. These organic, raw materials provide texture and warmth.
Exposing original or faux bricks gives the kitchen instant character. For a more polished look, whitewash the bricks or paint them a bold hue. Leave cracks and imperfections visible for added charm. Accentuate the bricks by hanging copper pots or installing open shelves in front.
Granite, marble, travertine, and slate make gorgeous countertops and backsplashes in an old-world kitchen. Opt for honed finishes and muted tones for a relaxed vibe. Distressed edges and vein patterns add to the rustic aesthetic. Use natural stone tile floors as well.
Unfinished Wood Cabinets
Unadorned wood cabinets are essential for old-world style. Options like pine, maple, oak, and cherry have beautiful natural grains. Painting the cabinets white provides contrast against the wood elements. For added character, install glass-front cabinets to display collections.
Exposed ceiling beams instantly provide rustic appeal. Use reclaimed barn wood or roughly hewn logs. Whitewash or light grey paint helps beams blend in. For a dramatic statement, install heavy timber beams.
Incorporate antique or vintage-inspired accents to give the kitchen old-fashioned flair. From lighting fixtures to hardware, these special touches personalize the space.
Vintage Tile Backsplash
Subway, mosaic, or patterned tile in traditional colors make a timeless backsplash. Look for tiles with an aged or crackled appearance. Tiles with decorative borders or artistic motifs work nicely. Arrange an eclectic mix of vintage tiles for a one-of-a-kind look.
Use antique pendant lights, chandeliers, or sconces for ambient lighting. Rejuvenate old metal or glass fixtures from antique stores. Or opt for new lighting designed with vintage character like filament bulbs or candlestick-style pendants.
Swapping modern hardware for vintage pulls, knobs, and handles transforms cabinetry. Look for pieces in aged metal, glass, or porcelain for an antiqued appearance. Display collections of various old hardware proudly.
Vintage enamelware like cannisters, pitchers, and pots make charming kitchen decor. Use them to store flour, sugar, utensils, or coffee. Hang them from racks or display on open shelves. Opt for soft pastel colors like mint, sky blue, or sunny yellow.
Subtle traditional elements sprinkled throughout the kitchen help cultivate old-world appeal. Keep these aspects simple and tasteful.
White Subway Tile
A classic white subway tile backsplash or wall provides a clean, vintage style. Use a traditional brick pattern or get creative with herringbone designs. You can also opt for longer planks. For variation, use a few rows of patterned accent tile.
Apron Front Sink
Apron front or farmhouse sinks are perfect for old-world kitchens. Choose a classic enameled cast iron or fireclay material. Opt for a clean white sink or go bold with a standout hue like navy. Add vintage appeal with clawfeet or brass fixtures.
Built-In Spice Racks
Built-in shelving to store spices and jars adds traditional charm and organization. Opt for open shelving near the stove topped with crown molding. Or design custom drawers or cabinet inserts to neatly tuck away supplies while keeping the rustic feel.
For a more modern old-world style, consider Caesarstone countertops. The look of natural stone is blended with practical high-performance materials. Muted tones like London Grey and Cliffside work well. Pair with white cabinetry for a cottage kitchen aesthetic.
Relaxed & Welcoming Atmosphere
More than anything, a laidback welcoming vibe defines an old-world kitchen. Create spaces meant for gathering, cooking, and making memories.
Plenty of Seating
Incorporate benches, stools, and chairs so friends and family can comfortably chat while you cook. Try fixtures with woven seats or wood frames. Place seating nooks around the kitchen, like near a window or rustic table.
Earthy hues like cream, slate, moss, and terracotta exude welcoming warmth. For pops of color, try soft sage, dusty blue, or peach. Whitewashed wood and antique brass accents also provide an aged, relaxed look.
Fresh Flowers & Plants
Fresh-cut flowers in enamelware vases instantly brighten up the space. For life year-round, fill the kitchen with potted herbs, ferns, ivy, and other easy-care greenery. Place plants in iron urns, copper pots, or ceramic crocks.
A farmhouse or butcher block dining table provides a gathering place. Look for well-worn finishes and visible wood grains. Style it simply with wood chairs, fresh flowers, and a homey tablecloth.
Layer in cozy textiles like cotton curtains, braided rugs, linen towels, and vintage-inspired aprons. Use burlap or muslin for rustic appeal. Textured neutrals help create a relaxed, welcoming mood.
Designing an Old-World Kitchen
Ready to revamp your kitchen with old-world style? Follow these best practices as you design the space:
Maintain the Architecture
Keep original kitchen layouts and structural elements. Work with existing niches, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors rather than changing them. This allows the kitchen’s natural character and story to shine.
Focus on Craftsmanship
Seek out quality materials and construction when choosing fixtures like cabinetry and lighting. Well-crafted pieces lend authenticity and last through years of use. Opt for solid wood, durable metals, and handmade tiles.
Blend Period Styles
Don’t limit yourself to one era. Mixing design elements from different periods creates eclectic charm. Pull medieval beams, French doors, an apron front sink, and vintage café stools together seamlessly.
Start with larger vintage-inspired features, then keep adding layers ofOld-World Kitchen Charm. Paint the walls a historic hue. Install antique light fixtures. Display your enamelware collection. Little details provide plenty of flair.
Seek Out Salvaged Pieces
For one-of-a-kind finds, hunt through salvage yards, antique shops, and vintage stores. Repurpose items like an old wood storage crate as a utensil holder or a directoire as a kitchen island. Let these pieces guide your design.
Customize for You
While you want an overall cohesive old-world style, customize the kitchen to match your personal taste. Display your favorite heirlooms or choose paint colors matching your style. The kitchen should reflect the people who live there.
Old-World Kitchen Charm Elements to Get the Look
Creating a kitchen with old-world charm requires bringing together the right mix of materials, accents, and furnishings. From natural stone countertops to antique lighting, each element contributes to the vintage style. Use these essential components as a guide when designing your own cozy, character-filled kitchen.
Hearths & Fireplaces
A classic heart or fireplace establishes an intimate ambiance while providing visual warmth. Exposed original brick or stone lend authentic old-world appeal. For a modern update, install a sleek stove with traditional vent hood styled to mimic a chimney.
Well-Worn Wood Floors
Wood floors with visible knots, cracks, and imperfections provide an aged, organic feel. Options like new oak planks can be physically distressed to mimic worn antique flooring. Light whitewash or greyed finishes help new floors blend naturally.
Layer patterned or braided rugs on top of wood floors to provide comfort and delimit spaces. Try muted Persian-style carpets or wool kilims in creamy ivory and faded crimson. Jute and sisal rugs offer earthy textures.
Warm Hued Walls
Paint walls in historic hues pulled from medieval cottages and Victorian manors. Try buttery yellow, soft sage, or robin’s egg blue-green. For contrast, use deeper matte shades like crimson, navy, or moss. Add visual texture with Venetian plaster or limewash finishes.
Arched doorways and windows lend an architectural elegance and old-fashioned flair. Try rounded Roman arches or traditional cathedral-shaped Gothic points. Add custom molding to play up graceful silhouettes. Frame entryways with antique wood doors.
Search antique stores and salvage yards for one-of-a-kind lighting fixtures with vintage appeal. Curvy cast iron chandeliers, carved wood sconces, and geometric stained glass lanterns work beautifully. Add ambiance with candlestick wall lights.
Handmade Ceramic Tiles
Subway tile is popular, but also consider Moroccan zellige tiles or hand-painted Spanish ceramic talavera tiles in the kitchen. Geometric and botanical designs provide artistic depth. Mix different tile shapes and designs for eclectic charm.
Rough-hewn exposed beams add sculptural drama overhead. Look for naturally distressed barn wood, or use chemical solutions to grey and age new wood. A light whitewash helps beams blend in. Wrap beams in twinkle lights for a cozy feel.
Incorporate antique furnishings like an worn farm table or painted hutch for historic appeal. Check secondhand stores, or sand and stain new furniture to mimic a well-loved antique. Mix different periods, like Louis XIV chairs with a rustic farm table.
Display your collections of charming vintage kitchenware, like classic enamelware, milk glass vases, or copper pots. Intersperse antique cake stands, wire racks, grain sacks, and pitchers. Add interest by placing plants and fresh flowers.
Common Old-World Kitchen Decor Motifs to Include
Beyond the major design elements, applying tasteful antique-inspired decorative motifs elevates the old-world aesthetic. From romantic roses to bold geometrics, these patterns layer on vintage personality.
Romantic Floral Patterns
Floral motifs inspired by 18th century porcelain and chintz fabrics lend delicate femininity. Try dainty roses, flowering vines, and pastoral botanical sketches. Use on dishes, potholders, window curtains.
Baroque metal scrollwork provides rich ornamentation. Look for brass scrolls used on sconces, chandeliers, cabinets, and corbels for melodramatic elegance. Intricately carved foliage and curls pair well.
The raw natural beauty of wood makes a pronounced decorative statement. Display the grains and whorls of salvaged barn wood, reclaimed oak flooring, or live-edge wood slabs. Let the wood speak for itself.
The aged patina of antique metal, wood, and stone adds to the old-world ambiance. Allow cast iron, brass, natural limestone, and hardwoods to gradually patina. Or apply chemical solutions to replicate the effect on new materials.
For a touch of medieval flair, incorporate coats of arms, family crests, and other heraldic devices. Carve these symbols into cabinets, display on dinnerware, or frame on the walls as authentic ornamentation.
Distressed Architectural Details
Add architectural relics like corbels, spandrels, columns, molding medallions, and sconces with an aged, timeworn look. Physical distressing or paint effects like liming and pickling work nicely.
Scenic pastoral toile patterns reflect 18th century aristocratic country living. Look for toile in muted blues, reds, and greens depicting romanticized landscapes and rustic vignettes. Use on curtains, upholstery, and linens.
Classic Checks & Plaids
Checks and plaids in cozy softened colorways reference pastoral country cottages. Try gingham, buffalo check, and traditional tartan plaids. Use these prints on chairs, throw pillows, table linens, and curtains.
For an eclectic twist, blend in Moroccan tile-inspired geometrics with diamonds, chevrons, and overlapping shapes. Introduce these patterns with ceramic tiles, rugs, fabrics, or wallpaper.
How to Make a New Kitchen Look like an Old-World Space
Want to transform a fresh, modern kitchen into a timeworn old-world space? With clever design techniques, you can fake vintage appeal. Follow these tips:
Add Architectural Interest
Install crown molding, raised panel wainscoting, arched niches, or glass-front cabinet doors for architectural depth. Add thick casing around windows and doors. Expose beams overhead.
Use Antiquing Products
A variety of antiquing products can instill an aged, timeworn look in new kitchen materials. Brush on glazes, liming waxes, tea staining, or tobacco staining for wood elements. Patina metal finishes.
Source Reclaimed Materials
Design with authentic reclaimed materials salvaged from old barns and buildings. Look for antique wood floors, vintage corbels, well-worn floor joists or stair treads to repurpose.
Install Distressed Floors
Distressing techniques like chiseling knots and nail holes physically damage wood floors to mimic old planks. Chemical techniques like fuming also grey and age floors. A whitewash pickling treatment unifies the look.
Carefully curated collections lend heirloom appeal and a sense of history. Display your vintage pottery, classic books, well-loved linens, or silver serving pieces.
Add Handcrafted Touches
Incorporate hand thrown pottery, woven baskets, wrought iron fixtures, embroidered linens, carved wood accents, and blown glass lighting to bring in one-of-a-kind artistry.
Layer in Soft Textures
Burlap, linen, cotton lace, wool, and velvet offer timeworn textures when used for window treatments, slipcovers, and table linens. Let edges gently fray and use muted, dusty color palettes.
Blend Old & New
Don’t overwhelm the space. Blend antique lighting and reclaimed wood floors with clean lined cabinetry and updated Caesarstone countertops. Sprinkling in old and new creates balance.
DIY Projects That Add Old-World Charm
Want to infuse more vintage character into your kitchen without a major renovation? Plenty of easy DIY projects provide old-world allure on a budget:
Dilute white paint and brush over exposed brick walls or fireplaces. Let paint pool in crevices so brick details peek through. The limewashed look feels fittingly weathered.
Turn basic white subway tiles into works of art by stenciling over them with intricate patterns. Try floral designs, geometric shapes, or Moroccan motifs. Use paint pens to get crisp lines.
Collect wildflowers, dried herbs, and plants to arrange in shadowboxes or bell jars on open shelving. This nature-inspired decor looks plucked from an old apothecary.
Fill your kitchen with warmth by hanging shiny copper pots, pans, and molds from ceiling hooks or a pot rack. This functional antique-inspired decor doubles as storage space.
Take prized collections like vintage kitchen scales, glass jar labels, and silk tea towels out of drawers. Frame or display them artfully on the walls as focal points.
Make custom wood or chalkboard signs for a personal touch. Try your family name, inspirational quotes, or displaying the menu. Hung on galvanized metal easels, they feel pleasantly old-fashioned.
Update cabinets and drawers with new vintage-style hardware. Try porcelain knobs, crystal handles, or decorative cast iron pulls for an easy switch with big impact.
Add Architectural Columns
For inexpensive drama, install box columns at doorways or corners. Use plaster kits or upcycle cardboard shipping tubes. Paint or finish the columns to mimic worn stone or concrete.
Antique Kitchenware Staples to Search For
Beyond furnishings, the little vintage kitchenware touches really cement the old-world aesthetic. Keep an eye out for deals on these kitchen antiques and collectibles:
Vintage enamelware like kettles, pots, and canisters in retro colors lend charm. The enameled steel construction makes them ultra durable. Display on open shelving.
Glass Rolling Pins
Glass rolling pins with etched measurement markings along the shaft add nostalgia to baking. Search antique malls for pretty handled pins with delicate floral etchings.
Cast Iron Cookware
Well-seasoned cast iron skillets, dutch ovens, and pans last a lifetime. Search flea markets and online auctions for ornate vintage Wagner and Griswold pieces.
Monogrammed silver flatware sets feel ultra-traditional for special meals. Look for ornate handles and mix into everyday flatware rotations.
Milk & Juice Glass
Add delicate, ribbed milk glass containers and juice glasses to open shelving. Their translucent sheen and hobnail patterns catch the light beautifully.
Decorate your kitchen with leather-bound, gold-lettered antique cookbooks. Search for editions passed down through families brimming with recipes scribbled in the margins.