Vintage/Retro -> Modern -> Contemporary
From the late 40s through the 50s, smooth colorful easy-to-clean surfaces reigned supreme.
Retro style kitchens can be very playful, as daring designs are what established the concepts of shape and contrast that would come to bear in the modern design movement. Designers started experimenting with sleeker shapes and lines, smoothing one area of the kitchen into another.
While a mainstay of vintage countertops was tile, laminate, Formica and easy-to-clean synthetics were embraced by homeowners. Vintage and retro kitchen eras were when laminate first started being proudly displayed, metal trim and all. Metal edging isn’t so popular today, but out of the various rounded edges available, a classic and simple corner edge to your countertop can keep that vintage feel.
Cabinets were also smooth, often with slab style doors but Shaker style doors could fit if the colors were kept light and bright. Enameled appliances were available in colors, and are a treasure for someone planning a vintage or retro kitchen. A colored appliance, whether bright or pastel, speaks strongly of days gone by but can be hard to find. Smaller appliances like a bright microwave or toaster might do the trick without breaking the bank.
Decor is a key element in a vintage kitchen, and the art and accessories you select can define exactly what era you are looking to evoke.