‘Kitschens’: how bubble-gum pink and retro appliances lend personality to hub of home

<span>A colourful kitchen designed by Ms Pink.</span><span>Photograph: Neil Perry</span>
A colourful kitchen designed by Ms Pink.Photograph: Neil Perry

Carpenter and kitchen designer François Damseaux used to get annoyed by all the black, grey and white in British homes. “I come from South Africa, where the colours are really vibrant, so it’s hard. For so long everyone had a grey Shaker kitchen, then it was a blue kitchen, then green if you were a bit bold.”

Finally though, Damseaux’s clients at his Sussex-based kitchen-design business Wood Works are opening up to colourful ideas. “I told them: look at what you wear, where you eat, where you travel – look at what colours you actually like.”

Damseaux and his customers are not alone in a desire to see more personality in the kitchen. Searches on Pinterest for retro pink and green paint, vintage appliances and ornaments have risen in the past 24 months, creating the “kitschen” trend. Searches for “eccentric kitchen” have also risen 160%.

Secondhand homeware marketplace Narchie reports a rise in searches for coloured glassware and retro accessories, with sales from these ranges up 35% compared to last year. Meanwhile, John Lewis has added an exclusive rose-pink 50s-style Kenwood mixer to its spring kitchen range.

“The kitchen trend to know about this spring is the emergence of retro and colourful decor,” says Grazzie Wilson, head of creative at Ca’ Pietra, a family-run tile business based in Wiltshire. “Think ruffled cafe curtains, bold, bright stripes – and eclectic patterned tiles.”

Kitchen use has changed radically over recent decades. In the 1980s, kitchens evolved into more of a household social space when it became common to have a dining area alongside worktops and appliances. Since Covid, many have doubled as classrooms and offices due to lockdown and the continued trend for working from home. Now the kitchen is a multi-functional area where more family members spend time, and decor reflects this.

With an interiors business called Ms Pink, it’s no surprise that London-based designer Tania James likes colour. She also think the kitchen needs to feel like a less utilitarian part of the home.

“Why not treat the kitchen in the same way you would any other room when decorating?” She says. “So much thought goes into colour schemes in living rooms and bedrooms, but traditionally the kitchen was purely functional.”

Magnet, one of the UK’s biggest kitchen retailers, predicts warm shades, such as terracotta, will be big news in 2024. The company now offers two pinks: rose bowl and chalk blush. Magnet’s head of design, Jen Nash, says the colour is actually very easy to live with.

“It’s a versatile colour that can be paired with various finishes to achieve different styles. Whether it’s combined with marble countertops for a luxurious, elegant look or with matte black accents for a modern edge, pink kitchens offer endless design possibilities.”

Colour, kitsch and cute have been growing influences in popular culture in recent years. Defining generational taste with a colour palette has brought us millennial pink, zoomer green and Gen Z yellow. Colour consultancy and the return of the 80s style trend for colour season analysis are both big business in fashion and interiors.

“I’ll never forget a couple that came to see me to discuss a blue and yellow kitchen,” says Damseaux. “They had all the plans, the photos and a Pinterest board. But they were both wearing lovely green jumpers so I asked them, ‘Don’t think, just tell me your favourite colour.’ Turns out they didn’t even like blue and yellow. Now they have a lovely green and oak kitchen.”

James stresses that if you are renovating your kitchen it is important to be honest about your needs and aspirations.

“I don’t particularly like cooking, so I treated my kitchen design in the same way I treated the rest of my home so I enjoy spending time there. I’ve created a ‘colour block’ kitchen using the same four colours throughout and it makes me very, very happy whilst waiting for pasta to boil.”