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A guide to buying retro kitchen furniture

Retro is defined as being the designation of the style of an earlier time. When it comes to furniture, retro largely refers to pieces produced in, or styled to look like pieces of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Below are some ideas on how you can incorporate retro style furniture into your kitchen.

What is retro?

Scandinavian design principles have had a huge influence on international furniture designers and manufacturers of the mid 1900s. Formable plywood and injection moulded plastics allowed for new styles of chair to be created, drawing on organic shapes for inspiration. The furniture was bold, but elegant, with many pieces having the appearance of floating on slender legs. Pieces had a low, long and lean aesthetic emphasising on the horizontal plane. The love affair with teak had begun. This timber was used for many items during this period.

The retro kitchen

The status symbol of the retro home was the fitted kitchen. The kitchen was designed to be efficient and made working in the kitchen effortless. Many kitchens of the time had units made of steel, aluminium or timber that required regular painting. In the mid 60s, Formica was discovered which allowed the fitted kitchen to be available to the ordinary man. The kitchen table was iconic of retro style, spindly chromed legs with a glossy Formica top was the staple. Use this retro table in your kitchen in a round, oval or rounded triangle shape.

Retro lighting

Lighting is an excellent example of retro design. With the development of new plastics, light shades could move away from the simple alabaster ‘fruit bowl’ to new high-design shapes and colours. The aesthetic of the time was heavily inspired by science fiction. Lamp shades took on the shapes of flying saucers, space ships and star bursts. Using mid-century lighting in your kitchen is a simple and unfussy way to add to the retro flair in your kitchen.

Retro seating

The icon of retro kitchen seating is taken directly from traditional American diner furniture. These pieces are the pastel coloured, vinyl covered, upholstered stool and the vinyl upholstered diner booth seat. You could add a rock-a-billy edge to your kitchen by choosing a stool with a large white stripe down the centre. These seats usually have a scalloped polished chrome edge around the seat.

Retro appliances

After the World Wars, there was a dramatic development of kitchen and home appliances, from food processors to electric mixers. Many companies are now producing these appliances to original 1950s style, and in gorgeous bright colours. Pastel coloured mixing bowls are also a nice nod to the past. Adding one of these appliances to your kitchen collection will up the retro glamour.

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