Color scheme for 1920s-1930s kitchen-what do you think?

ideagirl2November 16, 2011

In order not to intrude on Marcolo's excellent "Design Around This: 1920s" thread (see link below), here's a separate thread seeking your design wisdom. We're doing a retro style kitchen. I had a whole scheme worked out... and then I found out that the paint could be removed from the original 1935 tile on my sink wall, and here's what was underneath:

Butter yellow and burgundy! I love it. But I cannot seem to come up with a good combination of cabinet colors (or stain) and counter color. We're looking mostly at laminate (maybe the Wilsonart Carrara marble? Or the faux soapstone?) or wood for the counter, or maybe green marble, but we're not fixated on that. We don't want the kitchen too dark; it's north-facing and I don't want to aggravate the lack of light issue.

Can you think of a wood stain and counter combo that would work with this tile? It is original 1930s tile, so it goes from the floor to about shoulder height. At this point we're leaning a bit towards stained wood because we're not sure how long we're going to be in this house, and stained seems more versatile in that it's easier to paint stained wood than to un-paint painted wood. I do like cream cabinets, and pale yellow, and various other colors, but am not sure I want to commit to that since we don't see this as our forever house.

Any ideas??

Here is a link that might be useful: Design Around This - 1920s Kitchen Thread

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Are you giving up on your bookmatched cabs? Paint might actually be easier.

I'll go searching. Meanwhile, hold down the fort and smack the first person who uses the phrase, "tone down."

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 9:10PM
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Yeah, I'm sure paint would be easier. I feel like wood is better for resale and we may sell relatively soon (not afraid of doing a vintage kitchen, since any buyer who doesn't like a vintage kitchen will also hate our bathrooms, and therefore does not deserve to buy our house).

So I would love to find a wood that works. But feel free to persuade me otherwise.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 9:25PM
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I love your yellow/burgundy tiles! Very classic and tasteful. But I'm not too knowledgeable re the '20s/30s era. I think green would be a great counter top colour. Get hold of a colour wheel and choose the direct complement of the burgundy. Choose your other coordinates from the yellow half of the wheel. So, any natural wood stain should work even if it has yellow or orange tones.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 9:32PM
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I'm color happy...but I think green would be nice with the butter yellow and burgandy, along with a cinnamon toned wood.

Here are my favorite 1930s kitchens, in case they give you any ideas. Hope this helps :)

From 1920s kitchen project

From [1920s kitchen project]( From [1920s kitchen project](
    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 9:36PM
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Circus Peanut

I really dig the idea of a deep green serpentine counter. My tube tiles have a great green leaf in them. Could green work?

actual tile, for best color:

Re. cab color, it's hard to say. I wound up with the recycled cabinets I have (aged cherry) out of sheer chance; had I actually picked out a new finish I'm not sure which direction I might have gone. The cherry works pretty well with the burgundy in the tile, although I do wonder how painted white would have looked in comparison.

I would adore white enameled steel cabinets with your tile, with slightly rounded edges. I had some in a tiny San Francisco apartment once, and still look back fondly at their chrome handles and overall deco vibe; plus, they're indestructible. The burgundy/yellow seems to work with my white enameled stove:

What are your appliances? Flooring?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 9:59PM
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Oh right! Flooring. Under the hideous white vinyl is a 75+ year old light to medium golden oak hardwood floor.

I have your kitchen saved in my inspiration photos, Circuspeanut... :-)

I hesitate about the serpentine (though it is beautiful) because I wonder if it would either require dark-ish cabinets (in order to avoid the "countertop cutting kitchen in half" effect), and thus make the overall look much darker. And it's one of the least "green" options from an enviro perspective... nobody seems to make serpentine-like laminate counter, unfortunately.

But it's beautiful...!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 10:03PM
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Circus Peanut

Hmm. One thing I've always regretted is not being able to find a green countertop, either. I've always felt that my copper counters are just waaaay too much orange in an already dreadfully warm space, what with the fir and cherry. Had I known at the time, and if I had more verve at the moment, it's possible to chemically patina copper to a gorgeous deep verdigris hue, then seal it for use. Whereas copper isn't particularly green, either, it can be readily found locally, fabricated cheaply, and it is always recyclable. (We joke that my counters are basically my retirement fund, hardee har.)

Would green necessarily divide things in half if you did some kind of darker stain, like cherry?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 10:08PM
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Circus Peanut

oh! Do you have any current photos of your kitchen space as is?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 10:09PM
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Circus Peanut

And duh, you just said you don't want a darker stain. Never mind. I'm still flu-addled and just babbling on to myself here, cats on feet.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 10:10PM
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What about burgandy stained lower cabinets and uppers in a buttery cream w/burgandy glaze and a green counter?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 10:24PM
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Scheme One:

"Yellow" laminate counters:
Nevamar Almond:

or, Nevamar English Lace:

or Nevamar Papier Soleil:

Dark lower cabinets: (Thomasville Maple Cinnamon or Maple Cranberry come to mind but you can't copy and paste their doors)

I would paint the uppers to coordinate with the tile.

Scheme Two:
"Maroon" laminate counters:
Nevamar Sangaree

or, Nevamar Veta Crimson:

With a medium Maple Doorstyle:

And I found this Smeg Opera range, that is $2000, so not a real expensive range for one that comes in a color. Don't know anything else about it:

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 10:27PM
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How much of the tile have you stripped? It seems whenever I strip paint off something, I found there was a reason it was painted in the first place. I would make sure the tiles are still in decent condition. If you need to replace a few tiles here and there, you can probably find some old stock somewhere or pop some out from areas that will be concealed by cabinets.

I am keeping my 1930s kitchen tiled walls and counter. The mud cap (edge)on the counter is in terrible shape and needs replacing. It took me two years of searching to find the replacement tile.

By the way, I love the yellow and burgundy colors!


    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 11:07PM
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How about these colors ( not so much the style), the wall cabs are a butter cream and base cabs are cordovan with a sable gaze, looks sort of dark burgandy.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 11:08PM
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pal, funny you should post that range. She already has a Fratelli Onofri in burgundy!

I vote for pal's first scheme, but really want to see something like F&B Lichen on the wall.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 11:29PM
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Yes, as Marcolo says, our range actually is burgundy. I bought it before discovering the tile. Score!

Circuspeanut, current photos of our kitchen as-is would be too painful to behold. :-)

I have some sample doors and the cherry-ish/cinnamon-y ones actually do look decent next to the yellow tile, which surprised me. So my big conundrum there would be what counter would look both (a) good and (b) vintage but not outrageously vintage with BOTH the cabinets and the tiles. This is tile wainscoting, so it has to coordinate with both the base cabinets and the counter--it's right next to both.

The burgundy base cabinets idea is intriguing, but when it comes to painted cabinets I always prefer lighter colors. But maybe a wood stain with burgundy-ish tones, like JTerrilyn says... I'll have to get a sample and hold it up.

Ljrawr, I think the tile was probably painted partly because it was out of style and partly because the glaze was getting a bit crackly. Of course I could be totally wrong! We shall see.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 11:40PM
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Sorry--I just wanted to point out that Medallion makes a door style that is reminiscent of the interior doors in many of the houses in my neighborhood ('20s):

I still say slab inset for you.

Though there seem to be a lot of green granites in the world. This one has burgundy highlights.

But I'm not sure that's the right way to go.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 11:45PM
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I vote for Pal's #2 scheme.

I can't believe you bought a matching range, without having seen the tile. It is kismet!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 11:52PM
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I'm just throwing out some color combinations. My favorite is the burgundy counter with the honey spice oak.

Natural maple cabs & Formica Grass

Natural Maple cabs and Silestone Koan

Quartersawn Oak Honey Spice cabs & Formica Grass

Quartersawn Oak Honey Spice cabs and Silestone Koan

Quartersawn Oak Honey Spice cabs and Surf Green Granite

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 11:55PM
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This is from elle decor. They have a pretty nice Look Book on the right hand side.

It looks quite modern here, mostly because of the arrangement, but it's qtr sawn, white oak cabinets with a light stain in a plain shaker style. The shown counters are carrara, but in your kitchen, maybe the plainer solid surfaces that frequently go on sale as well as palimpsest's lighter laminate counters.

This is just my personal opinion and of course, reflects what I like. In any scheme there are the stars, the supporting players and the background. Like mint green counters could also be cool, but maybe consider letting small appliances and textiles use that color instead. I think plain will be your friend and easy to live with. Let the tile take one of the star roles while planning the other elements in the kitchen more in tune with life and styles of this century and not try for completely retro.

Here is a link that might be useful: Elle Decor decorating

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 6:05AM
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Could you do mostly stainless steel countertops mixed with some wood/butcherblock? To me that would really look nice with your tiles and what ever cabinet color you choose. You could then bring in another color like the green you like through cool accessories.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 10:06AM
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Ideagirl2- Have you seen Mama Goose's kitchen? She's been working on it for about a year and just put the sink in (bottom of thread). It looks fabulous and I think it would give you some great ideas. She's been using a lot of green on the cabinets that is similar to Jadite. I think you could do the same on the bottom and creamy/light yellow (to match the tiles) rather than white, on the top.

Jadite bowl...very 1930s

From 1920s kitchen project

The range you have is going to be perfect...and maybe find a fabric with a nice 1930s pattern, with the green, burgandy and a little black.

I would definitely choose the faux soapstone countertops. I think they'll look good with the tile, be easy to use and bring in a little black, which I think you'll need with all the colors and wood floors. Notice the black countertops in Mama Goose's kitchen look amazing! Also, the open shelves by the sink and spice shelves, under the upper cabinets, might be something you want to add, too. Hope this helps :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Mama Goose's kitchen

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 10:49AM
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Hello all, thank you!

Cawaps, I've got a sample of the Formica Grass, and IRL it looks nice with the tile, but only nice. What I'm hoping is that something will really wow me. I would settle for even being somewhat wowed, haha.

I wonder if stainless would work, as Jterrilyn suggested? In and of itself it's too cold a color, but maybe if it's surrounded by yellow it would warm up? Does anyone have pictures of stainless counters in warm-colored kitchens?

We have stainless right now and functionally speaking it's excellent, particularly with the nautical edges, but I'm so SO not into grey. The only place I like grey is on cats. Or maybe dogs. That's about it. Of course, our stainless looks as grey as possible because our cabinets are grey and the walls are putty-colored. (The whole abomination is due to Tasteless Previous Owners with No Common Sense... see rants on other threads.) Black or charcoal grey I'm fine with, but not dull cloudy-day medium grey.

Lavender, the black counters in Mama Goose's kitchen look great. Our first thought for counters was soapstone, but then we got a quote and I realized that my brain refuses to process any sentence that contains both the word "countertop" and the words "six thousand dollars." They just do not compute. :-) It's not about being able to afford it, it's about refusing to pay that much. The ghosts of my grandparents rise up and remind me that they grew up in the Great Depression, and then they say, "It's a COUNTERTOP. It's just a COUNTERTOP! You could lay BARE PLANKS across the cabinets and it'd work just fine! Do you realize what else you could do with $6000 etc. etc. etc."

So that's what we're dealing with here... :-)

And Lavender, I'm a total sucker for jadeite and also for carnival glass. Colors! Give me colors! Love 'em!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 3:43PM
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Oh hey! I just found a yellow kitchen with stainless counters. It does look like the yellow changes the feel of the stainless, shifting it warmer:

Do you think pale yellow would have a similar effect?

Oh, and by the way, the samples I've seen of painted cabinets have a weird surface... it's almost impossible to tell that what's under the paint is actually wood. Do you know what I mean? The "paint" almost seems like Thermofoil or something. I assume this makes the surface more durable, etc., but is it really a bad idea to have a proper PAINTED surface, one that doesn't look and feel like the wood is covered in a solid 1/8" layer of some sort of plastic that is misleadingly referred to as "paint"?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 3:59PM
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