Skip to Content

What color to paint a vintage kitchen?

What color to paint a vintage kitchen?

When it comes to renovating a vintage kitchen, one of the most important decisions is choosing the right paint color. The color palette can make or break the look and feel of the space, so it’s crucial to select hues that enhance the vintage aesthetic. There are a few key factors to consider when deciding what color to paint a vintage kitchen.

Match the Era of Your Kitchen

If your kitchen dates back to a specific era, consider paint colors that were popular at that time. For example, if you have an art deco kitchen from the 1920s-1930s, go for bold, contrasting colors like black and white or glossy chartreuse. If your kitchen has mid-century modern appeal from the 1950s-1960s, opt for retro pastels like turquoise, pink and mint green.

Here’s a quick overview of popular vintage kitchen color palettes by era:

Era Popular Color Palettes
1800s Earth tones, blue and white, red and white
Early 1900s Mint green, pale yellow, black and white
1920s-1930s Black, white, chartreuse, chrome
1940s-1950s Pastels, turquoise, pink, yellow, green
1960s-1970s Harvest gold, avocado green, burnt orange, brown

Matching the color scheme to the era of your kitchen is an easy way to enhance its vintage style. Just be sure to also consider factors like the existing cabinetry and countertops so the colors complement each other.

Consider the Existing Elements

When selecting a vintage kitchen color palette, take stock of elements that you plan to keep like cabinetry, countertops, tilework, appliances and flooring. You want to choose paint colors that complement these existing features rather than clashing with them.

For example, if your kitchen has white subway tile backsplashes and brass fixtures, opt for colors like pale blue, warm yellow or sage green that pair nicely with the white and brass accents. If you have colorful retro tile countertops from the 50s or 60s, select a neutral paint color so the countertops can take center stage.

If your cabinets are in good condition, simply painting them a new color is an easy way to transform the look of a vintage kitchen. For floors, match the paint to the tone of the wood or vinyl to tie the space together. The goal is to have a cohesive, harmonious look, so consider how the paint color will interact with the rest of the kitchen.

Consider the Amount of Natural Light

The amount of natural light your kitchen receives should factor into choosing paint colors. Lighter, brighter hues help brighten up a space and make it feel more open and airy. Darker shades can make a kitchen feel cozy and intimate.

North-facing rooms with little natural light do best with lighter paint colors like white, eggshell, buttery yellow or soft sage. South or west facing kitchens with ample sunlight can handle deeper, bolder hues like navy, forest green or brick red.

When painting a vintage kitchen with limited natural light, consider lighter paint colors for the walls and bolder hues on accent pieces like cabinets or the island. This can help brighten up the space while still allowing you to incorporate darker vintage-inspired colors.

Popular Vintage Kitchen Paint Color Ideas

Here are some of the most popular paint colors to give a kitchen vintage flair:

Mint Green

Mint green is a quintessential vintage color that adds cheerful retro charm. It looks great paired with white cabinets and brass or chrome accents. Light mint green works well for walls, while bolder mint on cabinets or the island makes a fun statement.

Robin’s Egg Blue

This pale blue adds a cute cottage feel to a vintage kitchen. It looks delicate and dreamy when paired with white subway tile, marble countertops or antique wooden cabinets. Use it on walls, cabinetry or even kitchen islands.

Sage Green

Earthy sage green is another classic vintage choice. It’s versatile enough to work with different wood cabinet stains and granite or tile countertops. Sage reads as a neutral but has more character than beige or off-white.

Soft Yellow

Warm yellow gives a vintage kitchen a cozy, sunny feeling. Mustard yellow works well for cabinets or making a colorful statement on an island or accent wall. Softer shades like buttercream or lemon chiffon make charming wall colors.


From pale Tiffany blue to bold peacock shades, turquoise adds playful pops of color. It pairs nicely with white cabinets and brass hardware. Use it sparingly on walls or make a vibrant splash by painting cabinets or the island.

Retro Pink

Pink may seem unusual for a kitchen, but it can give a fun, playful energy. Light dusty rose makes a romantic wall color, while hot pink, fuchsia or magenta are eye-catching on an island or set of cabinets.

Black and White

For an art deco vibe, black and white is a striking and sophisticated combo. Paint upper cabinets white and lowers black, or vice versa. Use black on an island and keep walls bright white. Black also makes cabinet hardware pop.

Farmhouse Neutrals

For a more subdued vintage feel, consider neutral farmhouse hues like cream, beige, tan and light brown. Softer neutrals read as vintage and pair well with elements like marble countertops and antique wooden cabinets.

Vintage Kitchen Color Combinations

Some fun vintage color combinations include:

– Robin’s egg blue walls with white cabinets + black island

– Light pink walls + white and sage green patterned tile backsplash + brass accents

– Black and white checkerboard floor + pale yellow walls + cherry wood cabinets

– Tiffany blue walls + black cabinets + chrome hardware and light fixtures

– Sage green walls + antique white cabinets + mint green subway tile backsplash

Mix and match paint colors on your walls, cabinetry, island, accent walls and architectural details like molding. Having two or three colors creates visual interest and layers in vintage character.

Sheen Matters Too

Don’t overlook the importance of sheen! The glossiness or flatness of the paint also affects the look and feel. Here are some tips:

– Eggshell or satin finish adds gentle vintage appeal to walls and cabinetry. It’s low shine but still wipeable.

– High-gloss paint has an old-fashioned diner feel. Use it sparingly on accent cabinets, islands or front doors.

– Distressed paint techniques work beautifully in vintage kitchens. Try a base coat in a flat finish like chalk paint, then sand and distress to reveal woodgrain.

– Lacquer paint has a slick, shiny finish reminiscent of 1950s appliances and dinettes. Use on accent pieces like cabinets or stools.

Combining different sheens like glossy cabinets with flat walls adds dimension. Don’t be afraid to get creative with distressed finishes and layered paint techniques for extra vintage appeal.


Paint color can make or break a vintage kitchen remodel. Choose hues and color combinations that enhance the era and existing elements of your space. Consider the architectural details to highlight like tilework or molding. Use lighter colors to brighten up rooms with minimal natural light. Distressed paint techniques and vintage sheens like lacquer or high-gloss add flair. Be bold with your color choices to recreate a fun retro vibe. With strategic use of color, your outdated kitchen can go from drab to fab.