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17 Design Ideas for an ‘80s Kitchen (With Pictures)

kitchen interior with a little greenery

As kitchen trends keep changing, it’s quite fascinating to learn how the kitchen has transformed over the years. The 1980s were a fascinating time in terms of kitchen design ideas. Homeowners were longing for change and made their spaces lighter and brighter.

While the ‘80s look might not be many people’s cup of tea today, the style was quite influential. There was so much change taking place while still mixing in the old kitchen design ideas.

In this article, we get to explore different kitchen design ideas from the ‘80s. Many are making a comeback, and you might see some of them in modern kitchens.

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The Top 17 Kitchen Design Ideas from the ‘80s

1. Built-in Banquettes

The right furniture can make a kitchen stylish and comfortable. In the ‘80s, families wanted to fit more in the kitchen and needed more seating space. This led to the creation of built-in banquettes to have more seating space for the whole family.

The idea was to hang the banquette on an available wall, preferably a corner. Once it’s set, the family would put a small table in front of it. They’d make this sitting area quite cozy for all the family to gather and have a meal together.

Some additional chairs were placed in front of the table to create more seating space for larger families. For storage purposes, additional space was necessary. A fabric skirt was added at the base of the banquette, thus creating extra storage space underneath it.


2. Big Center Island

While the ‘90s embraced more ideas for the center island, it’s the ‘80s that pioneered the concept. Before then, most kitchens had overhead cabinets to store kitchen appliances and items. While these were quite effective at the time, they became a little tedious due to height.

Homeowners wanted another way to store items and not have to deal with height issues. This was when the idea of the center island came about.

Basically, they set up an oversized center island with shelves and cabinets for storage. Many chose to keep the overhead cabinets but use more of the center island space for storage in the kitchen.


3. Wood Furniture

In the ‘80s, the whole concept was to create a brighter and homey kitchen. One idea was to bring in wood furniture. Companies began producing a wide array of wood furniture to suit a modern home in that era.

Wood was seen as a revolutionary solution to a couple of issues in the ‘80s kitchen. First, it was durable, especially when furniture was made using hardwoods like ash, walnut, and oak. Some people still have pieces of furniture from that era in their homes today.

Second, wood was versatile and blended well with the light and warm theme of the ‘80s kitchen. It was easy to paint to match other parts of the room and create a specific vibe as per the owner’s needs. Plus, this was seen as a sustainable option that won’t cause harm to the environment.


4. Rustic Beams

Rustic kitchen beam over hob
Image Credit: stux, Pixabay

In the ‘80s, embracing the country vibe became quite a popular concept. Modern kitchens in the city had changed immensely, moving away from the country concepts. But now, some homeowners want to embrace the country feeling once more.

This led to the idea of using rustic beams which were quite common in country kitchens. They still wanted the comforts of a modern kitchen, but also aimed to make it look a little different. Rustic beams bring lots of character to the space.

These rustic beams were exposed, which changed the whole look of the kitchen. This meant taking away the ceiling covering the beams and redesigning it.


5. Tile-Covered Range Hood

Imagine having a range hood cover with tiles on its exterior in your kitchen! Well, that was the ‘80s with its bold ideas. Families loved the idea and would cover the range hood and wall against the cooker with tiles.

At the time, homeowners wanted a brighter and clean kitchen. Cleaning tiles was easy, so it only seemed natural to add them on the hood. That way, if any soot or messes collected on the exterior, it was easy to wipe the area clean.

Plus, the tiles matched the ones on the wall to create a bright and light look. The style of adding tiles on the hood did fade away, but it has slowly been making a comeback across the country.


6. French-Blue Cabinets

blue kitchen
Image Credit: Vincent Erhart, Unsplash

There was a time in the ‘80s when many people were crazy about French-Blue cabinets. These were present on many homes, and they were seen as the epitome of design. The idea was to have French-Blue cabinets and leave some wood exposed.

French-blue is a smokey gray-blue color that’s quite distinctive. It dates back to the 19th century as the official color for the military uniforms worn by French infantrymen. The color went on to inspire homeowners in the ‘80s seeking to transform their kitchen cabinets.


7. Honey-Oak Cabinets

huge kitchen with aesthetic backsplash
Image Credit: GetLostMIke, Pixabay

Not everyone was won over by the French-blue cabinets. In fact, many people liked the honey-oak cabinets which were a staple in the ‘80s kitchen. Today, people prefer white and gray as their favorite colors for kitchen cabinets.

But back then, wood was more popular when it came to creating long-lasting kitchen cabinets. Many were made using hardwood which was heavy and durable. Honey-oak created a warm and light vibe in the kitchen in line with the ‘80s theme.


8. Giant Microwave

Giant microwave in 80s kitchen
Image Credit: Vlad Zaytsev, Unsplash

Microwaves started hitting the market in the 1950s. But at that time, the kitchen appliance wasn’t readily available. Many families saw it as an unnecessary expense due to its high price tag. But, by the 1980s, things had changed.

The manufacturing industry had made it possible to mass-produce appliances such as microwaves. Though still quite big, it became cheaper such that many more people could buy it. As many women were joining the workforce, having a microwave in the kitchen to heat meals became a staple.


9. Kitchen Island Seats

Seats around kitchen island
Image Credit: Piqsels

Prior to the creation of the kitchen islands, most family meals were had in the dining area. Families would gather in a separate room to enjoy their meals away from the kitchen. But the 1980s saw families relax the rules as both parents joined the workforce.

While others opted for built-in banquettes in the kitchen, some opted to get high chairs for the island. The whole family could gather around the island and share meals without needing to leave the kitchen. This was particularly practical on busy mornings.

The seats were either high chairs or stools. This idea is still quite popular today as the idea of open kitchens takes root. More families enjoy meals in the kitchen rather than gathering in the dining area. Some have even done away with a separate dining room and opted to have a bigger kitchen space.


10. Terracotta Tiles

Ceramic tiles come in numerous types. One of the main types is the terracotta, which was quite popular in the 80s. The tile is made from an easy-to-shape porous clay that’s baked to create the end product. For the perfect finish, manufacturers could glaze the top, which was in line with the modern look.

Terracotta tiles come in low and high densities. The idea was to create durable tiles that would suit a space that got lots of foot traffic. The high-density tiles were and are still a favorite thanks to their durability. They don’t crack easily and are more waterproof.


11. Laminate Countertops

spacious light kitchen with dining table and modern furniture
Image Credit: Max Vakhtbovych, Pexels

The 80s saw many homes embrace laminate countertops as opposed to wood. Before, laminate was seen as a cheap material to have anywhere in the house. But manufacturers began making colorful and high-quality laminate.

This changed everything, and now more kitchens were opting for laminate countertops, which were a more affordable option and quite handy for setting. Kitchen countertops tend to get wet, but the laminate was waterproof.

Plus, the material was easy to maintain. Homeowners could go about their work preparing meals, not worrying about staining the kitchen countertops.


12. U-Shaped Kitchen Layout

light colors kitchen interior
Image Credit: Max Vakhtbovych, Pexels

As the kitchen island became more popular, the shape of the kitchen changed. The U-shape was seen as a better option and made it easier to access different parts of the kitchen. One issue was the limited space once the island was added and as all people gathered in the kitchen.


13. Cork Flooring and Walls

Cork is a material that you can get from the bark of the cock oak tree. In the 1980s, the material was used to create kitchen flooring. Manufacturers ground the material and created sheets to be installed on the kitchen floor.

Since the sheets had multiple layers, they provided adequate flooring even in other parts of the house. Some even went ahead to add cork to kitchen walls to match the floor. It would need a sealant as part of the maintenance to prevent staining and permeability.


14. Houseplants

brick design for kitchen's interior
Image Credit: TheVirtualDenise, Pixabay

As more millennials and Gen Z embrace houseplants, it’s easy to think the concept is relatively new. The truth is, the ‘80s are responsible for popularizing the idea of indoor plants.

At the time, there were many tropical plants available in the market. Homeowners wanted to create a green vibe in their homes, and they took full advantage of these plants. Tropical plants were a favorite, thanks to their beauty and resilience as indoor plants.

You could spot a giant plant in the corner of an 80s kitchen. In addition, there were smaller pots on the countertops and island. ‘80s kitchens had more light which was perfect for adding indoor plants and even growing small herb gardens.


15. Dense Floral Wallpaper

The ‘80s were all about embracing a lighter and brighter kitchen. But one trend that people simply couldn’t leave behind was floral wallpaper. The kitchen walls were covered by a dense floral wallpaper in areas that didn’t need tiling.

Imagine a space covered with a riot of red roses from top to bottom. That’s the 80s for you! Apart from the denseness, there was also a love for wallpaper borders. The idea was to pair the flowery wallpaper with borders, mostly on the ceiling or baseboards.

In homes that still have the ‘80s décor today, you can find floral wallpaper covering paneling. At that time, having floral patterns were more popular than exposed wall paneling.


16. Black and White Kitchen Appliances

kitchen interior with concealed storages
Image Credit: Max Vakhtbovych, Pexels

Before the onset of stainless-steel appliances, the minimalist look had to pass through the 80s. This is the time when families moved away from colorful cookers and blenders. They wanted something subtler and went for white and black kitchen appliances.

The idea was to embrace a lighter and brighter vibe. White was the most popular of the two colors, but you could still come by a black appliance in the same kitchen. These appliances were slimmer and sleeker than their counterparts.


17. Recessed Wood Framed Fluorescent Light

recessed lights installed
Image Credit: Mauro Soncin, Unsplash

Many 80s kitchens had recessed wood framed fluorescent light. You can still find this design in homes that haven’t been upgraded since then. The idea was to build a frame out of wood to surround the fluorescent light.

The wood was on all four sides of the fluorescent light. Then there was a glass bottom for light to pass through. The wooden box, at times, would match the honey-oak cabinets in the kitchen.

divider 5Summing Up

The ‘80s aren’t so far gone. Some homeowners and renters are still living in homes with 1980s kitchen designs. This was a fascinating time of lighter and brighter kitchens. It was all about extravagance, similar to the hair of the time. While some are outdated, many are making a comeback.


Featured Image Credit: Dmitry Zvolskiy, Pexels

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