10 ways to mix old and new in the kitchen

We take a fresh look at ways to mix old and new to practical and stylish effect in your kitchen

A sage green kitchen with Herringbone tiles and a grey Everhot range


An industrial-style kitchen with and exposed brick wall
Kitchens supplied primed and ready to fit and paint, from around £8,000; individual cupboards, from £465, all British Standard.

A sure way to a timeless kitchen is to mix new cabinets with recycled and vintage elements. Take your cue from the architecture – here, exposed brickwork signals an industrial aesthetic, picked up in reclaimed wood shelves and salvaged factory furniture. New cabinetry is plain and functional in style, but modern in performance. The tall cupboard provides plenty of storage, relieving the need for cabinets, which would detract from the room’s simplicity.



A classic white kitchen with an Aga and a display of blue and white ceramics
Bespoke Pilaster kitchen, from £50,000, Smallbone of Devizes.

Some collections cry out for a kitchen setting. Copper saucepans, ceramic jelly moulds and wooden breadboards are obvious candidates, but in an open-plan kitchen where a more elegant look is required, blue and white ceramics are a classic choice. The colour combination has the freshness of a well-scrubbed dairy and the shapes are pleasing. Showcase your collections behind glass or choose objects in materials that are easy to keep clean.



A dark grey kitchen island with marble worktops
Complete kitchens from £40,000, Thomas & Thomas.

In the kitchen, a layered lighting scheme is essential to provide general, task and mood lighting in just the right amounts. Hung above a table or in multiples over an island, industrial shades and enamelled pendants are attractive features but rarely sufficient to light the entire room. In most kitchens, recessed downlights provide discreet background lighting while hidden under-cabinet fittings illuminate the worktop. Here, LED lights have been recessed into the underside of the lowest oak wall shelf as well as the upper side of the top one to provide the extra light needed.



A beige kitchen with a ceramic sink and vases of fresh flowers

Ceramic sinks are practical, durable and now come in a range of sizes and formats suitable for both kitchens and utility rooms. The example pictured was chosen by designer Pam Baker of Martin Moore for a client with a passion for flower arranging, in need of a sink and tap that would give enough clearance for tall vessels.



A contemporary white kitchen with an antique Persian rug on the floor

Flooring options for kitchens are boundless. Marmoleum is a good choice for a mid-century kitchen, flagstones for a Georgian example and quarry tiles for an Edwardian space. In open-plan kitchens, rugs provide colour and texture and give a furnished look.



A pale blue countryside kitchen with an Everhot range
Everhot 110i in Cream, £8,925, Everhot.

A range cooker is first choice for the keen cook, who needs a large hob, high-capacity ovens and modern features. Professional, classic or country styles all suit a traditional kitchen, with either coloured or stainless-steel finish.



An industrial-style kitchen with a blue Smeg fridge
FAB28 fridge in Pastel Blue, £1,199, Smeg.

In a traditional kitchen, you can choose an integrated fridge concealed behind cabinet doors, or a free-standing version designed to be seen – try an American-style fridge-freezer or, for impact, a 1950s-inspired rounded model in a bold shade.



A dark grey contemporary kitchen with geometric wall tiles

Cladding the wall between the worktop and cabinets with vintage tiles gives a traditional kitchen authentic style, but it’s rare to find enough to make an entire splashback. One solution is to create a panel or border of original tiles and surround them with plain ones in a complementary colour. Another is to choose new tiles in antique-inspired designs, mixing several patterns to form a patchwork. Vintage-style tiles can be bought in mixed sets designed specifically for this purpose, or individually, so you can make your own collection and achieve a unique result.



A dark blue kitchen with striped curtains and a table covered with a floral tablecloth

Fabric provides a soft counterpoint to hard kitchen surfaces, and curtains, seat cushions and other textile accessories make the room feel colourful and inviting. In a room where spills and splashes are a daily hazard, fabrics that are easily cleaned are essential and natural fibres like cotton and linen can be popped into the washing machine. If you’re a reasonably experienced seamstress, it’s easy to make your own soft furnishings, but check that the cloth you use is pre-shrunk. If you’re not sure, wash it before you begin.



A dark grey cottage kitchen with black quartz worktops

Modern houses, with their square corners and regular room plans, may seem like a gift to kitchen designers but, along with the low windows, alcoves and architectural details in traditional homes comes that intangible quality – character. Chimney breasts are the natural home for a range cooker, alcoves are made to be filled with tall cupboards or shelves, and decorative plasterwork poses a delicate contrast to the practical cupboards and surfaces below. In this double-volume kitchen, the lofty ceiling could have resulted in a chilly, Spartan atmosphere, but dark, time-worn floorboards, grey cabinets, a cosy window seat and a few vintage pieces ground the scheme, creating a warm and homely environment.