Nostalgic kitchen decor is making a comeback for 2024 – designers explain how to embrace the 'kitschen' trend

The kitsch aesthetic is having a major comeback

kitsch kitchen ideas
(Image credit: Laura Olden @savagehouse1970, Prospect Refuge Studio, Emily Pertzborn/Madison Kim Poppen)

Last month, Pinterest announced five interior design trends expected to dominate home decor throughout 2024, based on its most popular search terms. Within this, the term kitschens was coined: an emerging kitchen trend that's all about celebrating a nostalgic and retro look in the heart of the home. 

But what exactly does a kitsch aesthetic in the kitchen mean for 2024, and more importantly, how can you achieve this look through your decor ideas? Here, we take a deep dive into this playful trend and speak to interior designers to get their take on this no-doubt controversial interior design trend

What is the "kitschens" trend? 

Last year, we saw the dopamine decor trend emerge which is all about channeling bold personality and feel-good home decor. Homes are more and more becoming spaces that tell a story, focusing on embracing decor items, colors, and styles that bring joy above all else. This is set to continue in 2024, so it's no surprise to see a similar trend emerge in the kitchen. 'Kitsch has shown up in all the interiors, so it was a matter of time before it infiltrated the kitchen scene,' observes designer Tyson Ness.

Tyson Ness
Tyson Ness

Tyson Ness is the founder and director of Studio Ness, a NYC-based full-service interior design studio. Studio Ness is known for its collaborative approach to residential and select commercial and workspace projects across the US and abroad, crafting spaces that are unique to the client. Tyson has over a decade of experience in the NYC design sector and has worked on a number of projects that have been featured in publications both in print and online.

Retro kitchen with yellow island

(Image credit: Nathan Schroder)

Kitsch kitchens can be seen as a less serious approach to decor, in contrast to the sleek and understated designs we so often see in this room. While a modern aesthetic has its advantages from a practical perspective, we're now seeing homeowners seek to create more elaborate and unique spaces. 

The kitsch aesthetic largely references the period between the 1940s to the '60s, welcoming lots of color, nostalgic decor items, and all in all a return to bygone times in place of modern and sleek furnishings. 'To me, the "kitsch" kitchen trend embodies a vibrant, eclectic aesthetic that is whimsical and nostalgic,' says interior designer Jennifer Davis.

Jennifer Davis
Jennifer Davis

Jennifer fell in love with design at a young age and has been working in the industry for over 25 years. She has developed an eye for detail and a talent for creating timeless designs. Jennifer offers a balance of creativity and forward-thinking with a structured, organized, and detailed mentality. Jennifer is driven by her deep passion for design while curating an exceptional client journey, ensuring pure delight from the very beginning to the end.

For those who lean towards maximalist decor, you'll likely gladly welcome this eccentric and more-is-more kitchen trend. 'The kitschens trend is the use of louder colors and bold statements in your kitchen,' explains Laura Williams, Owner and Lead Designer at ATX Interior Design. 'This can be done through a bright cabinetry and lighting combination or even a vibrant wallpaper paired with colorfully contrasting decor pieces.'

3 ways to create a kitsch kitchen

If you're looking to bring some nostalgic charm into your kitchen this year, then continue reading to learn three ways designers suggest bringing a kitsch look to your kitchen. While this decor trend can be all-encompassing, you can equally choose to dial down the look. If you have a modern kitchen with sleek fixtures, you can incorporate some of the elements below to add interest, without going full-on maximalist. 

'Retro or vintage pieces will be a recurring theme in design for 2024,' says Elizabeth Sherwin, Creative Director at Naked Kitchens. 'Incorporating pieces that hark back to yesteryear is a way to add a comforting sense of the familiar to contemporary design schemes. It also acts as a device to soften sleek lines and helps to add a decorative layer that feels more handcrafted and organic.'

Elizabeth Sherwin
Elizabeth Sherwin

Elizabeth Sherwin is the creative director at Naked Kitchens, a bespoke kitchen company with a focus on contemporary and functional design. 

1. Opt for retro tiles

vintage kitchen grandmillennial with vintage fridge, check tiles, butlers trolley, 50s style wallpaper

(Image credit: Emily Pertzborn/Madison Kim Poppen)

Decorating with tile ideas is one of the best ways to instantly capture a kitsch aesthetic. Whether it's through statement kitchen flooring or backsplash ideas, you can center your whole kitchen around a loud, playful tile trend for a dramatic look.

Elizabeth adds that in the kitchen, it's best to keep the kitchen cabinets more neutral since they're such a costly investment, while tiles can be more easily swapped out if you do change your mind later down the line: 'It’s better to keep the kitchen units more neutral and understated in design and go to town on things like flooring or splashbacks.' 

'Think big checkerboard patterns,' advises Elizabeth, which are instantly synonymous with a retro revival look. When it comes to choosing the best color for your statement tiles, choose something fun and yet liveable: 'That could be colors such as the mustard yellows and harvest golds of the '70s,' adds Elizabeth. Or, for a more subtle nod to to this retro look, embrace a checkerboard pattern in a darker hue, such as a rich burgundy which will tone down the playful side and ensure your kitchen remains timeless for years to come. 

2. Decorate with color

kitchen countertop trends, red and green retro style kitchen, vinyl on kitchen island, pale green glass backsplash, retro pendants

(Image credit: Prospect Refuge Studio)

When choosing a color scheme to base your kitsch kitchen around, you should opt for energetic hues. Layer lots of lively color trends to create an uplifting and dynamic look. Whether that's through paint ideas or wallpaper ideas, you can embrace colors and mismatched patterns for a playful look and feel. 

'To create this distinctive style, think of vibrant colors like a mix of bold hues such as electric blues, fiery reds, bright pinks, and sunny yellows,' suggests Jennifer. 'Don't forget about the eye-catching patterns like polka dots, stripes, or florals to add some fun to curtains, tablecloths, or wallpapers.'

If you're looking for a simple yet effective way of energizing existing plain kitchen cabinetry with a splash of color or pattern, Tyson recommends peel-and-stick options: 'Peel and stick drawer liners and wallpapers are an easy way to update the space and offset those builder-grade white cabinets. Pop in a Liberty London print or Milton and King paper for maximum effect.'

While you can certainly embrace a maximal approach to decorating with color, you can also stick to a more refined palette to ensure this trend doesn't look too eccentric, as Tyson advises: 'Kitsch should feel collected and mismatched, but to keep it from feeling too chaotic, I recommend staying within a color palette that works best for you. This could be monochrome or polychrome, depending on your comfort level, but if you are drawn to this style, you should lean into a polychrome scheme for maximum impact.'

3. Layer playful decor items

retro kitchen with wooden cabinets and yellow pendant lights

(Image credit: Laura Olden @savagehouse1970)

Arguably the most important step in creating a kitsch kitchen is to fully embrace an eclectic approach to decor items. Incorporate plenty of unique finds by decorating with vintage pieces that reference retro design, and you'll be well on your way to mastering this playful trend. 

'Seek out vintage treasures – from quirky salt and pepper shakers to charming ceramic figurines – infusing the space with nostalgic charm,' suggests Jennifer. 'Make a statement with standout pieces, like a retro fridge or an eccentric light fixture, to anchor the room's theme.'

'Embrace eclecticism by marrying modern appliances with retro accessories, or juxtaposing rustic elements with contemporary accents. Curate collections of whimsical items – vintage cookie jars, novelty teapots – to proudly display on shelves or countertops. Ultimately, the kitsch kitchen trend thrives on celebrating personality and joyfully blending elements to craft a space that exudes character and nostalgia,' says Jennifer. 

Tyson also recommends embracing an eclectic approach to decor and adds that this is a less-committal way of achieving the look, without having to reconfigure the main design elements of your kitchen: 'If this is the style you are looking for, but you don't want to completely gut the kitchen, lean into a mix of vintage kitchen wares.' 

The kitsch aesthetic may not be for everyone, but if you're looking to create an uplifting and retro-inspired space, take inspiration from the design experts and experiment with these playful decor ideas. 

Or, if you're looking for some more trend inspiration for different rooms throughout your home, take a look at the other Pinterest trends that will dominate home decor in 2024, with some even bolder than kitschens. 

Paint & Color Editor

Emily is H&G's Paint & Color Editor, covering all things color across interior design and home decor. She joined the team in the summer of 2023, having studied Fashion Communication at university before working in various creative roles ahead of making the leap into interiors. She lives in Glasgow where she loves admiring the city's architecture, frequenting her favorite coffee spots, and sourcing vintage furniture for her tenement apartment. Emily's interior style is inspired by the simplicity of midcentury design, mixed with more playful modern pieces that inject small (but bold) doses of color.