Postwar America witnessed an unrivaled population, technological and economic boom. Sleek kitchens outfitted with the latest appliances were considered a must-have in burgeoning suburban enclaves. A mix of pastels and vibrant colors gave these modernistic kitchens a quirky, optimistic quality that is still in demand today. These distinctive color combinations stood in stark contrast to traditional color schemes of previous decades. Instantly recognizable, 1950s kitchen colors remain a favorite among design enthusiasts.
Mainly associated with the retro diner look, red also featured prominently in a variety of other 1950s kitchen color schemes. Red, as a predominate color, was often used on Formica countertops and linoleum flooring. These large expanses of red were balanced with other colors, such as yellow walls, white cabinets and green accents. Red, sometimes used as an accent color, showed up on Formica tables and vinyl chair upholstery.
Look to the quintessential poodle skirt as design inspiration for 1950s kitchens. The pink, white and black color scheme seems odd but was quite the rage in the 1950s. Pink appliances like cooktops and ovens coordinated with wallpaper, paint, furniture, countertops and flooring. Pink kitchens had a decidedly feminine appeal, which was not a problem during the 1950s when the kitchen was typically the woman's domain.
Accents of atomic turquoise could be found in other rooms of the house, but this color was particularly common in the kitchen. Much like its pink counterpart, a kitchen could be decorated in all things turquoise, with accents of chrome, black, white and red. Manufacturers of cabinets, flooring, countertops and major appliances, as well as clocks, breadboxes, dinnerware and fabrics, embraced the turquoise trend that continued into the early 1960s.
Yellow, also a favorite kitchen accent color in the 1940s, really took off during the next decade. Often paired with colors like white, green, black and red, yellow could be found in varying intensities and shades, from muted yellows utilized on walls and cabinets to punches of bright yellow wallpaper patterns, upholstery and ceramic serving pieces.
Like yellow, green was a holdover from 1940s kitchens that made a big splash in the 1950s. Deep jadeite and pastel mint green were used in the same room and might be accented with contrasting touches of white and yellow. Dark jadeite linoleum brought a hint of the outdoors to kitchen floors. Glossy mint green vinyl chairs and banquettes graced chrome and Formica dinette sets. Jadeite dinnerware coordinated with red, brown and yellow cafe curtains and tea towels.
Black was used primarily as an accent color in 1950s kitchens. Black found its way into the abstract fabric patterns featuring bold color combinations. Black wall clocks, cabinet knobs, wall-mounted telephones and Eames-style kitchen chairs provided a counterpoint for the many space-age colors of the day.
Quite the rage in 1950s kitchens, white conjures up romanticized images of diners with bold shots of red and black. In reality, white was used to create a bright neutral background with cabinets, appliances and countertops. Homeowners utilized a range of accent colors, from traditional yellow, green and red to atomic turquoise, pink and orange to provide a welcome contrast.
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