Forget Formal Dining—Everyone’s Cooking It Up In Kitschens In 2024

What is Kitsch?

Kitsch is a slang word with German origin that's typically used to describe something viewed as gaudy or tacky due to being overly eccentric or sentimental. But vintage and retro-loving communities have reclaimed the word, proudly using it to describe decorating styles that embrace over-the-top nostalgia. Think colorful and eclectic interiors inspired by the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. Kitschy cute and kitschy Christmas styles show how it's already being embraced in interior design, and now kitschens are ready to be the next iteration.

Why Kitschens Are Trending

At it’s core, kitsch is all about nostalgia and a maximalist “more is more” mentality—creating a playful space that's full of personality and makes you smile the second you enter it. “The kitschy or eclectic kitchen aesthetic adds so much life, personality, warmth, fun, and of course kitsch to utilitarian kitchens—the trend really adds life to a space that is primarily functional, which is why I think it works so well,” says Heather Goerzen, design director and lead interior designer at Havenly.

Besides the feel-good effect kitschens evoke, experts also note that social and economic factors likely play a role in the rising interest toward unique and eclectic interiors. “Kitsch in the kitchen is all about having fun, and after the last few years, having fun ranks at the top of many clients’ wish lists,” says Susan Klimala, owner and principal designer of TKS Design Group.

How to Get the Look

Styling a curated kitschen can feel a bit complicated, but the process is actually relatively straightforward and intuitive according to designers. The only rule? Stick to what brings you joy. “Have fun with this look, and think kitschy, cluttered, European cottage kitchen," Goerzen says.

Color Palette

When it comes to going kitsch in the kitchen, creating a color palette is the first step you want to take, according to Newman. Pastel colors like pale pink, mint green, lavender, and soft yellow are popular choices, but don’t shy away from bright, bold colors if that’s your thing.


“If you're starting from scratch, appliance choices speak volumes,” says NYC-based interior designer Jackie Terrell. Go for bright colors and vintage silhouettes whenever possible. Of course, SMEG appliances make a natural choice and are a staple in many retro-inspired kitchens, but there are lots of other options out there. Even if you aren’t in a place where you can afford to replace your big appliances, accentuating your space with a retro-inspired toaster, colorful SMEG coffee maker, or even a vintage kettle still gets you that fun, kitschy touch.

Retro  Patterns

Checks, florals, and stripes are just a few patterns that you can expect to see in a kitschen, but you aren’t limited to these. Anything goes since kitsch is all about creating a space that reflects your personality, but sticking to prints that were popular in the 1950s-1980s inherently channels that eclectic style.

Vintage Knick-Knacks

Even if your kitchen is on the modern side architecturally, you can still get the kitsch look by decorating with vintage accessories and decor. Hit up your local thrift store and look for items like “framed art, posters of vintage scenes, vintage dishes, runner rugs, table lamps, potted herbs in quirky pots, pedestal dishes for vegetable display, fresh flowers, vintage tablecloths… I could go on,” Terrell says. Organize your collectibles on countertops, wall shelves, glass-front cabinets, and even windowsills to ensure they get the attention they deserve. If you have open shelving in your kitchen, definitely take advantage.

Statement Lighting

Featuring a statement light fixture adds a bold, personal finishing touch to any kitschen. “Consider a fun mid-century modern style light fixture or a few vintage lamps scattered throughout,” Goerzen suggests. Plus, switching out lighting is relatively easy and affordable, making it an accessible option for those who aren’t in the market for a complete kitchen renovation. You can even find one-of-a-kind pieces at your local secondhand shop.

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