Add some shabby chic style to your kitchen
Pretty, elegant and creative, the shabby chic kitchen fills a room with character. Quirky, vintage finds, pops of pastel colours and comfortable furnishings create a lived-in look that’s instantly inviting.
The vintage kitchen works for any budget, and any size of kitchen. It can also be as full-on or as subtle as you like. Play with patterns, textures and little touches to dial up the artistic vibe, or opt for something toned down and coordinated for more of a themed approach.
Ready to get creative? Let’s explore how to transform your kitchen into a shabby chic haven.
Tools & materials required
Vintage kitchen ideas
Kitchen cabinets & storage
There are many ways to add some vintage charm to your kitchen through your kitchen cabinets. Unlike more contemporary styles, the shabby chic kitchen keeps things matt and muted – no gloss here – preferring the painted wood look. We love the Cooke & Lewis Woburn Framed kitchen. The soft ivory colour comes with an antique paint finish offering classic vintage style.
For the style of cabinets and drawers, it’s all about detail – the more, the better. To achieve this, look for the classic Shaker - especially those with a frame, and how about a tongue and groove design? The IT Chilton White Country Style kitchen (pictured) offers one in a clean white that looks great with dark worktops.
Glass doors, as featured with the Cooke & Lewis Carisbrooke Ivory Framed kitchen, add further shabby chic detail. Choose between clear glass to showcase your kitchen knick knacks, or frosted glass to keep the contents of your cabinets hidden.
Alternatively, get creative to achieve a look that’s completely unique to your kitchen with a patterned window film. They come in a wide range of patterns and colours – from polka dots to ditsy prints - to complement your kitchen. Check out the Rosalina which looks like delicate lace for a pretty, feminine touch. These versatile, self-adhesive films (also known as sticky back plastic) add an interest to the back of cupboards and are a fun alternative to curtains and blinds when used on the lower parts of your windows.
Another key staple of the vintage kitchen is open shelving. And don’t worry about keeping everything in perfect order – a little clutter and busyness here and there adds to the eclectic feel. We offer a wide range of wall shelves to create a fun feature out of storage.
For the kitchen that’s all about character, the favourite worktop choice is solid wood. Solid wood worktops develop over time, aging beautifully to offer a richer colour than you started with. Plus, every stain and scratch just adds to the comfortable, lived-in look.
If you want the look of wood without the need to sand and stain it regularly, consider one of our curved or square edge, wood-effect laminate worktops. They’re durable, water-resistant and can easily pass for the real thing. And whether you opt for real wood or laminate wood-effect, go big and chunky with a thick worktop profile.
Kitchen sinks & taps
The vintage kitchen is all about ceramic sinks. These are a traditional classic that work well in a more modern style with 1.5 bowls and drainers, or as the timeless Belfast. Handcrafted and baked in fireclay, our ceramic sinks are available individually or as complete kits with tap and waste kit.
Deck mixer/ bridge or monobloc taps provide both practicality and style in the shabby chic kitchen. Look for ones with ornate detailing, an antique-style finish and traditional lines. For monobloc taps, check out the Newport range or the Cooke & Lewis Bonneville which both benefit from timeless cross-shaped handles. The Newport comes in an unusual Bronze effect, while the Bonneville’s extended spout would look at home in a period setting. The Cooke & Lewis Chambley range is available as either monobloc or bridge/ mixer and boasts a chrome finish with shapely white handles.
Ovens, hobs & cooker hoods
When it comes to vintage styling in your kitchen, go as retro and old-fashioned as possible. This might be fun colours or over-sized items. Range cookers create a warm, welcoming feel and are available in eye-catching shades like blue and red. And they’re not just for larger kitchens. As well as four compartment options, we also offer slimmer, two oven options with either ceramic or electric hobs.
Cooker hoods can either be hidden away (such as integrated ones), or you can make a real feature of them. To do this, we love black hoods. None of the contemporary gloss of a stainless steel one, but enough personality to make it stand out.
The vintage kitchen loves appliances so happily show them off. Display small appliances with pride on your worktops and don’t worry about coordinating them – this look is all about that thrift shop, eclectic vibe. Like with cookers, retro is the key trend and the 50s-style works well with all sorts of vintage styles – especially American diner.
Get this look with soft curves, big American-style fridge/freezers and pastel colours. Existing appliances not the right colour? Upcycle them with our wide range of renovation paints. Look for ones specially designed for kitchen appliances such as fridges, dishwashers and washing machines.
If you'd rather keep them discreet, look for integrated options (pictured) or hide away your under-cabinet white goods with a skirt made from pretty fabric. This is also a top tip for under sinks and the bottom shelves of old-fashioned pantries. This whimsical touch softens the look of your kitchen and adds texture and colour.
Kitchen walls & floors
Help your accessories or patterned accents really pop with neutral décor. Match your walls to the shade of your kitchen cabinets and drawers using special kitchen paint or kitchen wallpaper. Or why not combine colour and texture by hanging paintable wallpaper with embossed patterns and painting with just the right shade of paint?
Tiling is a popular favourite in vintage kitchens and is massively versatile. Cover the entire wall or just an area; mix and match different designs, sizes and shapes or opt for an on-trend layout such as herringbone.
Like kitchen worktops, shabby chic kitchen floors are a great way of introducing some warmth, colour and texture. While wood may feel like the obvious choice, it runs the risk of getting stained and warping. Instead, we recommend a wood-effect in laminate, vinyl or floor tiling. And while it might show the mess a bit more, pale flooring adds to the light, airy feel. We love ones with distressed, antique styling, such as our Whitewash Oak Effect Laminate flooring - an upcycled look without any of the effort.
The vintage kitchen calls for something interesting when it comes to lighting. Think about delicate, intricate designs, antique metal finishes or retro curves for the 50s-look. Hang a few chandeliers (pictured) over your kitchen table or breakfast bar to highlight the dining area, or, if going for a more American diner vibe, explore our glossy spotlights. And why not spread some lanterns and candles around your space when entertaining for the ultimate in intimate, ambient lighting?
When considering your lighting, be sure to combine decorative lighting with functional task lighting to get the right balance between attractive statement pieces and those that help with your kitchen tasks. Subtle downlights are ideal as they can blend into the ceiling without distracting from the look.
Kitchen accessories & finishing touches
The vintage look is all about the little touches so it’s time to get busy with those final flourishes. Add some softness with fabrics by furnishing windows with patterned roller blinds. And complement these with fabric bunting and seat pads on all seating areas and chairs. Don’t have space for a large kitchen table? Bring your garden furniture in from the cold. Metal bistro sets will fit nicely in smaller kitchens and can be painted with specialist metal paint to fit into your colour scheme.
Decorate walls with ornate wall mirrors – great for making small spaces seem larger – or patterned plates, favourite artwork and slogan plaques. Keep crockery on show along with utensils, aprons and tea towels and finish your cabinets and drawers with ornate handles. If possible with your chosen fitted kitchen, consider swapping out kitchen handles and knobs for furniture ones instead. These are a more unusual, eye-catching alternative. We love drop or pull handles and antique metal finishes for true vintage style.
And lastly, fill bottles, jugs and vases with freshly cut flowers (or artificial ones) for that final, finishing touch. Vintage kitchen – complete.