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5 Ways to Create a Timeless Kitchen by Mixing Vintage and Modern

dark green and white kitchen
Photo credit: deVol Kitchens

It’s been an exciting year for kitchen design, with the popularity of jewel-toned cabinetry, open shelving, and the whole eclecticism of wabi-sabi. But as you know, from scanning the back of your closet (acid-washed jeans, anyone?) design trends can come and go. If you’re looking to create a kitchen design that’s timeless, do it by mixing modern and vintage styles.

There’s something irresistible about mixing opposites – high-low works whether you’re talking H&M Home with Hermes or potato chips with Champagne. In design, who doesn’t like draping a $10 flea market blanket on your custom velvet sofa.

As the old year changes into the new one, we can’t help but think of our favorite odd couple of Dec. 31: Father Time and Baby New Year. So we saved this vintage + modern 2018 trend for last. Here are five ways to give your kitchen design staying power by mixing old and new.

1. Roll Out a Vintage Rug

This is probably the fastest way to give your kitchen some gravitas. Whether you prefer a Bokhara, kilim, or Beni Ourain, it will add a nice spot of color and add warmth to a modern or classic white kitchen. Choose a design that coordinates with the colorways of your kitchen or contrasts – you really can’t go wrong here as long as you choose a rug that you love.

modern kitchen with vintage rug by studio dearborn
Photo credit: Studio Dearborn

2. Incorporate Reclaimed Wood

Character woods with beautiful whorls, grains, and imperfections are making a big statement in kitchens this year, and not just on flooring. Oak, maple and even pine is adding personality to cabinetry, islands, and ceilings. Choosing reclaimed boards with a beautiful patina of age gives your kitchen some dimension and creates an instant backstory.

reclaimed wood kitchen by becki owens
Photo by @beckiowens

3. Show Off Vintage Collectibles

Open shelving or a picture rail makes the perfect place to display antique store finds. We have a friend with an enviable collection of McCormick spice tins and Hills Brothers coffee cans. Others farmhouse or rustic kitchen devotees display tin advertising signs, scales, tarnished copper gelatin molds, and vintage rolling pins. Or if you’re a collector extraordinaire, go all out with a lifelong collection of Jadeite, milk glass, or transferware.

4. Add Bin Pulls and Vintage Hardware

Cabinet knobs and drawer pulls are so much more than utilitarian; they’re like statement jewelry for the kitchen. Whether in patinated brass or oil rubbed bronze, there’s something about the curve of a classic bin pull that’s so inviting. It gives a modern kitchen a dose of charm.

green cordelia fox kitchen
Photo credit:

5. Mix in Some Midcentury Modern Pieces

We have a thing for midcentury chairs and love mixing them into all kinds of kitchen designs. These midcentury classics were so sleek and ahead of their time that they look perfectly at home in a modern space. We’ve paired Eames Eiffel base chairs with a pedestal table in a colorful-yet-traditional white kitchen, and Cherner bar chairs in a traditional kitchen with white cabinets and a pale gray driftwood island. A grouping of George Nelson’s Bubble pendant lamps would look great over an island or kitchen table.

cherner chairs in transitional kitchen
Photo credit: Studio Dearborn