The return of the retro kitchen: Could old be the new modern?

Retro fashion is back in – but could retro kitchens make a comeback too? We’ve selected some of our favourite trends from the past 50 years and used our expertise to decipher whether any of these retro gems could make a reappearance anytime soon…

80s avocado kitchen

Here at Magnet, we’ve been kitchen specialists for over a hundred years and it’s safe to say, during that time, we’ve seen more than our fair share of short-lived kitchen novelties and timeless kitchen classics.

Join us on a trip down memory lane as we spot any throwback trends with comeback potential - and see if you recognise any trends from your own kitchen history on the way.

Trend #1: The serving hatch

Let’s start with a classic we can all relate to: the serving hatch (also known as the service window).

A feat of modern practicality that also added a much-needed social aspect to the retro kitchen-diner, the serving hatch was an extremely popular trend that lasted in our kitchens for years.

Why did it go out of fashion? We think it’s because so many of us have opted for an open-plan kitchen diner. The dividing walls were knocked down and unfortunately, our serving hatches went with them.

Will it come back in? We’re still a majority open-plan nation, so we don’t think this throwback trend will be coming back anytime soon.

Trend #2: Flip-down TVs

How could we ever forget the state-of-the-art classic that was the flip-down TV?! We all aspired to be flip-down TV owners – and although they were mainly used for showing off to our friends, we’ve still got a lot of love for this kitchen throwback.

Why did it go out of fashion? Technology progressed and sadly, the novelty wore off.

Will it come back in? In the age of the driverless car and robot-hosted restaurants, unfortunately the flip-down TV no longer has a place.

Trend #3: Neon green cabinets

Making their debut in the 90s, high-gloss neon green cabinets were one kitchen craze we just can’t forget. Contemporary, bold and avant-garde, they were considered to be at the cutting-edge of kitchen design at the time.

Why did it go out of fashion? The fashion world moved on from neon green – and so did our kitchen designers. Not before these cabinets had seen their 15 minutes of fame, of course!

Will it come back in? Neon green has come back in fashion but interiors is all about neutrals right now.

Trend #4: Veneer-trimmed kitchens

Remember when this retro design was the norm? This classic farmhouse kitchen is from our 1989 Veneerline range – and it was a big hit!

Featuring veneer-trimmed cabinets with inverted handles and plenty of open feature-shelves, this throwback trend was a staple of the kitchen design world for longer than we care to remember!

Why did it go out of fashion? This retro trend was succeeded by glamourous 90s styles which were slightly more minimalist and slightly less garish.

Will it come back in? Perhaps not the main elements of this kitchen - but open shelving with natural accents is a hot trend right now.

Trend #5: Tiled worktops

The tiled worktop trend was another kitchen classic which was both practical and stylish. They offered plenty of design options – from colours to shapes – and were heat resistant, so we could take pots straight off the hob and onto the worktop.

Why did it go out of fashion? A tiled worktop came with a fundamental design flaw: the grout was susceptible to staining from spilled liquids. Less than ideal for a kitchen worktop.

Will it come back in? We’re seeing a gradual return of tiled worktops in kitchens across the UK – so it could be that this trend is on its way back.

Trend #6: The walk-in larder

Back in the day, walk-in larders were built-in to kitchens as standard – but as the years went by and trends changed, we saw fewer and fewer kitchens with these included.

If your kitchen was big enough for one of these, it was a storage dream. Although traditional in style, it kept clutter to a minimum and stored all of your tinned goods at an optimum temperature.

Why did it go out of fashion? The development of clever storage solutions meant the walk-in larder was no longer a necessity.

Will it come back in? If Nigella has one, we want one. Bring back the walk-in larder!

Trend #7: Dark wood cabinets

Dark wood units were a retro trend mostly associated with Shaker style kitchens (featuring panelled doors). Classy and sophisticated, they epitomised refined, upmarket style throughout the 90s.

Why did it go out of fashion? We moved on to more minimalist styles with lighter cabinet colours.

Will it come back in? We’re certainly seeing a return to dark timbers but in a more natural, less cluttered way. Think midnight blues and emerald hues...

Trend #8: Stripes

Straight from our TV ad in the early noughties, these not-so-subtle stripes were a fashion statement that made sure not to go unnoticed. Paired with monochrome units and bright-coloured cabinet lighting, they made for a bold, unapologetic aesthetic.

Why did it go out of fashion? Fashion-forward yet short-lived, this throwback novelty simply didn’t stand the test of time.

Will it come back in? Dual-toned cabinets: yes. Stripes: highly unlikely.

Trend #9: Linoleum flooring

Last but by no means least, it’s the super-easy-fit, wipe-clean, definitive 90s kitchen trend that was linoleum flooring. You could choose any design you like – wood, tile or patterned – and replicate it in lino as an affordable, easy-fitting alternative. Dreamy!

Why did it go out of fashion? Lino was largely replaced by the laminate craze of the early 90s.

Will it come back in? More and more of us are choosing linoleum flooring – even today. We think it could be soon to make an official return, so watch this space.

1970 kitchen

Which retro trends did the public vote to bring back?

Walk-in larder: 42%
Dark wood units: 20%
Linoleum floors: 9.5%
Tiled worktops: 9%
Serving hatch: 5.5%
Veneer-trimmed cabinets: 3%