Atomic kitchen with fun pop culture memorabilia
Collectible lunch boxes of the era add a nice air of depth and color to this plain, white kitchen. Photo by Jim Brown.

Love kitchen kitsch? Can’t get enough of that stylish diner appeal? Whatever the age of your home, you can incorporate retro touches for a fun, atomic kitchen. Here are some large and small elements you can use to add atomic whimsy to the hub of your home.

Pop culture references. Use fun memorabilia like lunchbox tins to infuse some retro design and nostalgic fun to your space. The lunchbox motif is a clever gesture to the room’s function as a place of food preparation. The lunchboxes’ unexpected use as décor can also become a conversation starter or just make you smile as you recall your own lunchbox days. Other memorabilia could include vintage signs or figural ceramics like the Pillsbury Doughboy cookie jar. Figural ceramic salt and pepper shakers are another period-appropriate way to add some midcentury fun and function.

Color. Inject playful atomic energy into your kitchen with splashes of retro color like tangerine, chartreuse and turquoise. Planters on the counter and even appliances you keep on your counter like a stand mixer are natural places to incorporate color. Dining furniture in your kitchen can be another fun place to mix up your color palette like Eames chairs in a variety of colors.

Design and Materials. If your home has period cabinets and hardware, do your best to work with them. They give your kitchen authenticity, which is not something you can easily replace. If you must replace or you don’t live in a midcentury modern home, opt for cabinetry with a clean, flat-front linear design and simple cabinet pulls.

Wood is a timeless material you can also embrace as part of the midcentury modern kitchen. It contrasts well with the metal appliances and cool tile. Mix and match with these materials in your decorative elements as well such as a metallic fruit bowl, tin wall décor and wooden picture frame or teak magazine rack.