A Vintage or Vintage Inspired Kitchen

Charming checkerboard floors adorned vintage kitchens in homes ranging from modest to grand. A black-and-white checkerboard floor was the most common, but occasionally you’ll see old checkerboard floors featuring gray, red, or cobalt blue.

 

If your vintage kitchen still has a checkerboard floor, don’t replace it. If you don’t have one, get this vintage look with a reproduction tile that looks like old.

Long before paint manufacturer’s came up with washable kitchen paint, homeowners installed tile to protect kitchen walls from splashes and spills. The coverage varied; installation ranged from just the lower third to the entire wall surface. The contrasting borders frequently used were a decorative bonus.

 

Ceramic tile rarely survives being ripped out, so a stash of new old stock is your best bet for an authentic look if your walls aren’t already tiled. If you can’t find that, opt for new wall tile that’s designed to look old. Study old kitchen photos so you can duplicate the tile color, shape, and size.

Built-in china cabinets were fairly common in vintage kitchens — and not just in luxury homes. I’ve lived in three relatively modest 1920’s apartments that still had them. And, when the kitchen didn’t have them, sometimes the dining room or butler’s pantry did.

 

The built-in cabinetry in the photo is marvelously intact, but it’s a shame the door pulls were replaced. Though they’re covered in paint, at least the hinges are original.

 

Some built-in china cabinets undoubtedly went to the landfill when the homeowners remodeled. Fortunately, lots were salvaged as well. I’ve seen them at flea markets, reuse stores, and thrift shops. If you don’t find what you need at any of those, your best bet is an architectural salvage shop.

Installing an old drainboard sink — one that features built-in drainboards on one or both sides — in the kitchen is a wonderful way to give a new home a little vintage charm.

 

Drainboard sinks are bigger than most of today’s reproduction farmhouse sinks, but they do have the same exposed front aprons. They’re usually wall mounted, with or without decorative front legs. But, occasionally, you’ll see them installed on a cabinet base that shares the sink’s width.

 

Look for vintage drainboard sinks at the same places you search for old cabinetry: thift shops, flea markets, and reuse stores. Also, check Craigslist and your local newspaper classifieds for drainboard sinks for sale, or for a salvage yard that deals in old fixtures.