Retro style is back in fashion and is a popular trend for home decor. Retro kitchen chairs add a fun, nostalgic element to any kitchen. Vintage kitchen chairs from past eras like midcentury modern, 70s, and art deco can completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen. Beyond aesthetics, retro chairs bring character. They have a history and soul that mass-produced chairs lack. There are many aspects to consider when shopping for retro kitchen chairs from style, color, upholstery, size, comfort and more. This article explores the world of retro kitchen chairs – their history, popular styles, tips for choosing the right vintage chairs, and decorating ideas to make them the focal point of your kitchen.

A Brief History Of Retro Kitchen Chairs

Retro kitchen chairs encompass decades of changing tastes and trends. Here is a quick overview of the most popular eras for vintage kitchen chairs:

Midcentury Modern (1940s-1960s)

The midcentury modern look brought sleek, minimalist design to the masses. Iconic midcentury kitchen chairs feature slim metal legs, molded plywood or plastic seats, and bright colors. Popular chair designs included the Tulip chair, Eiffel chair, and Womb chair. Scandinavian influences also emerged in organic, wood chair shapes.

Art Deco (1920s-1930s)

The glamour and sleek styling of art deco featured angular, geometric frames. Distinctive kitchen chairs boasted leatherette or vinyl upholstery, dramatic curves, and glossy finishes in bold colors. The iconic Zig Zag chair encapsulates art deco style.

1970s Style

Retro 70s style embraces vibrant patterns, earth tones, and natural textures. Distressed wood chairs, macrame and rattan peacock chairs, and bold graphic prints define 70s kitchen style. The conversation pit took relaxation and socialization in the kitchen to a new level.

Shabby Chic

A more timeworn, distressed look defines shabby chic vintage chairs. Layers of chippy paint, worn wood, mismatched furniture and florals embody the faded beauty of shabby chic decor. French provincial and cottage styles also fit the shabby chic aesthetic.

Industrial and Farmhouse Styles

Vintage factory carts and stools add industrial edge to the kitchen. Repurposed wood and metal chairs in unfinished, raw styles compliment farmhouse decor. These chairs have an authentic, hardworking feel.

Retro kitchen chairs run the spectrum from sleek midcentury lines to carved traditional frames. Their diversity is part of the appeal. Vintage chairs with provenance, stories, and nostalgia are full of character.

Benefits Of Retro Kitchen Chairs

Beyond just looking cool, vintage kitchen chairs offer many benefits:

Unique Styling

It’s unlikely your neighbors or friends will have the same retro chairs. Vintage pieces are much more unique than mass-produced modern furniture. You can create an eclectic, one-of-a-kind look.


Older furniture was built to last, often from solid wood frames and quality construction. Sturdy retro chairs bring lasting value.


The charm and idiosyncrasies of older chairs add warmth. nicks, scratches or stains hint at the chair’s backstory.

Conversation Starters

Friends and guests will inevitably ask about your vintage finds. Retro chairs are natural conversation starters.


Upcycling chairs already in existence is more sustainable than buying new. Vintage is greener.

Cost Savings

Used retro chairs are often more affordable than new designer chairs. You can score deals and one-of-a-kind vintage items.

In summary, retro kitchen chairs are stylish, durable, eco-friendly and full of nostalgia and craftsmanship. Their age Adds character that simply can’t be replicated.

Popular Styles Of Retro Kitchen Chairs

Retro kitchen chairs encompass a wide range of looks across many decades. Here are some of the most popular vintage chair styles:

Diner & Cafe Chairs

Retro diner chairs featured in old school burger joints are now sought-after vintage finds. Their commercial durability makes them built to last. The simple streamlined design of bright vinyl and metal chairs fits nicely into modern kitchens. Iconic red and chrome diner chairs never go out of style.

Midcentury Modern Chairs

From Danish modern to American retro, these 1950-60s chairs feature slender tapered legs, molded seat shapes, and early plastics. Decorative details like cane or rattan add texture. Lucite chairs allow light to pass through for a floating effect. Iconic designs like Egg chairs, Swan chairs, and Eames chairs exemplify midcentury style.

Industrial & Tolix Chairs

The utilitarian look of rugged metal chairs originally used in factories and workshops blends well with industrial decor. Galvanized steel folding chairs have an unfussy, casual appeal. French Tolix chairs with their signature stamped steel seats are very popular in modern rustic kitchens.

Bentwood Chairs

Bentwood describes the flexible, molded construction technique used to shape curved wooden chair frames. Classic examples include Thonet and Breuer ‘Cesca’ chairs. Their organic lines and woven cane seats suit bohemian kitchens.

Retro Upholstered Chairs

Plush retro lounge chairs allow for relaxed seating in the kitchen. High arched backs, wood frames, and funky upholstery patterns on armchairs embody 70s style. Bold graphic prints and deep button tufting add eye-catching drama.

Plastic Pop Chairs

From futuristic bubbles to trippy pop art shapes, retro plastic chairs represent era innovations in molded furniture. Their sculptural, space-age or pop-art look enhances modern rooms. Panton and Verner Panton’s iconic S-chair is a coveted find.

The most fabulous period styles from midcentury to art deco can reinvent your kitchen’s look through the chairs alone. Curved, angular, organic – the options are diverse.

Where To Find Retro Kitchen Chairs

The thrill of the hunt is part of vintage chair shopping. Here are some top places to track down retro beauties:

Garage & Estate Sales

For great deals on unique older chairs, garage and estate sales are prime hunting grounds. You can discover great budget finds from random barstools to coveted collectibles.

Thrift & Consignment Shops

Check both chain and local thrift stores regularly. Their inventory is always changing. You may luck into super cool retro chairs for a song.

Antique Stores & Flea Markets

Spend an afternoon browsing antiques shops and flea markets to uncover retro chair gems. Dealers specialize in different eras so explore a range of vendors.

Classified Listings

Scan classified ads online and offline for locals selling vintage chairs. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist often have retro chairs at reasonable costs.

Online Auctions

ebay and auction sites like LiveAuctioneers let you bid on vintage chairs. Search by keywords like “vintage”, “retro”, “midcentury” etc. Auction prices can vary wildly.

Online Stores

If time is limited, stores like Chairish, 1stDibs and Etsy offer curated vintage chairs for sale. Expect higher price points for rare designer pieces. Delivery is available.

With some persistence, you can find amazing retro chairs at any budget. Take your time and enjoy the hunt for your perfect vintage finds.

What To Look For When Buying Retro Kitchen Chairs

To help you pick the best vintage chairs, here are key points to evaluate:

Size & Scale

Make sure a vintage chair’s size and proportions suit your kitchen. Measure to ensure it fits the table and doesn’t overwhelm the space.


The chair should be comfortable to sit in for extended periods. Test padded seats, armrests and back support. Avoid chairs that are too low or lack cushioning if comfort is important.


Check for rips, staining, loose joints, or damage. While patina adds charm, major issues affect durability. Assess if repairs are needed.

Quality & Durability

Study materials and construction. Solid wood frames tend to be higher quality. Look for signs of quality like dovetail joinery. Avoid chairs that seem flimsy.


Make sure the era and style complement your kitchen decor. Identify the design period to choose chairs that harmonize.


Set a budget and factor in restoration or reupholstery costs. Cheap retro chairs can become expensive with repairs. Focus on quality.


Pick chairs that speak to you and feel special. Minor imperfections often add character. Quirky details make a big decor impact.

Take your time when evaluating vintage kitchen chairs. Make sure your finds are functional, comfortable additions full of style.

Tips For Styling Retro Kitchen Chairs

Once you’ve found your perfect vintage chairs, use these decorating strategies to make them shine:

Mix & Match For Eclecticism

Blending retro chairs from different eras and styles makes an eclectic statement. Coordinate them through color rather than matching.

Add Bright Color

Vibrant hues like citron, tomato red and turquoise show vintage chairs off dramatically. Go bold with color choices.

Embrace Imperfections

Chipped paint, rust, and scratches contribute retro charm. Add new life with reupholstery while preserving distressing.

Pair With Round Table

A circular dining table balances the strong lines of many retro chair designs. Round and oval tables complement vintage chairs nicely.

Contrast Modern & Old

The juxtaposition of sleek modern elements with retro chairs creates visual interest. This mash-up brings out their charm and quirks.

keep Pairs Together

If you have a set of vintage chairs, display them together. Splitting them up dilutes their impact.

Add Retro Accessories

Surround chairs with midcentury bar carts, iconic lighting or atomic starbursts. Curate a retro theme with accessories.

With the right styling, yourawesome vintage chairs can be thepièce de résistance of your retro kitchen decor.

Common Questions About Retro Kitchen Chairs

Are vintage kitchen chairs comfortable?

Comfort really depends on the particular chair. Features like cushions, ergonomic shapes, woven seat pads and armrests contribute to comfort. However, some desirable retro chairs prioritize style over comfort. Test chairs in person.

How do you update retro kitchen chairs?

Try reupholstering in a fresh fabric, replacing seat cushions, or painting the frame a modern color. Add removable cushions or pillows to hard seats. Retain vintage charm through minimal updates.

How do you clean retro chairs?

Check the chair’s existing condition. Use mild soap and water on sturdy vintage chairs, ideally outdoors. Avoid submerging chairs in water. Use gentle cleaners or specialty products for more delicate chairs prone to damage.

Are vintage chairs worth anything?

Values vary. Rare designer vintage chairs can be worth thousands. Unique pieces in good shape have higher value. Condition greatly affects worth for any vintage furnishings. Iconic midcentury or Danish chairs tend to fetch higher prices at auction.

How do you identify retro chairs?

Look for details like tapered metal legs, molded plywood seats, bright retro colors and patterns, cane detailing, sculptural plastic shapes, and other era-specific traits. Research key midcentury, art deco, retro and Danish designers to spot valuable pieces.

The Allure Of Retro Kitchen Chairs

Retro kitchen chairs offer budget-friendly style, nostalgia, conversation potential, greater comfort than modern chairs, and an eco-friendly way to prevent older furnishings from ending up in a landfill. Their imperfections and quirks lend warmth and character to any kitchen. With an array of fabulous vintage chair styles available, you can easily find options to express your personal taste. Let your chairs reflect your personality. Relish the hunt for that perfect retro find that makes you smile each time you see it in your reimagined kitchen. The right chairs become an anchor for your decor over decades. Turn your kitchen into a comfortable, stylish gathering place with retro seating that sparks joy, nostalgia and new memories.