Retro Canisters for Mid Century Modern Kitchen Decor

Retro Canisters for Mid Century Modern Kitchen Decor

Whenever I’m at an antiques mall and see a set of retro canisters, I always pause and ponder if I need them. You know the kind I’m talking about, right? Tea and coffee canisters that come in different sizes, often labeled in a vintage or mid century modern font?

Well, I’ve never pulled the trigger and just keep on walking. But. BUT.

I can’t say the same thing about plain or wooden canisters I see at thrift stores.

Wooden canister to be upcycle into retro canisters with mid century modern stencils

Whenever I run across a single canister that’s been separated from its set, I snap it up. Eventually, I found myself with a rag-tag set of canisters in my garage.

Upcycling the wooden canisters into tea and coffee canisters for a retro kitchen

And they needed a plan, an upcycling idea to bring them together. That’s when I decided to create my own set of retro canisters.

I hunted down the perfect set of mid century modern stencils, too! 

Mid century modern stencils to use on the tea and coffee canisters

So, I gathered everything together and started creating a set of retro canisters to use as vintage kitchen decor.

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Transforming the Wooden Canisters into Retro Decor

Before I could get going on my idea, though, I needed to address the elephant in the room.

And by elephant, I meant the canister with a metal handle on its top. The other three canisters had round or flat knobs.

Removing a metal handle from a wooden canister before upcycling into retro decor

First, I unscrewed the handle and removed it, leaving two gaping holes in the top.

I filled in the holes with plastic wood and removed any excess filler with the flat edge of a wooden coffee stirrer.

Filling in the screw holes on a wooden canister with Plastic Wood or wood filler

After the wood filler dried, I sanded down the holes to ensure a perfectly smooth surface. Then, I glued a round wooden knob (from my stash) to the center of the canister lid.

Attaching a wooden knob to the top of the retro canisters

Once the glue had dried, it was time to give my retro canisters a makeover. And since I am the MOST smitten with aqua kitchen decor, that’s the color direction I went in.

Spray painting the retro canisters to be the aqua kitchen decor

Mid Century Modern Stencils on Retro Canisters

It was finally time for the most exciting part of the transformation: the mid century modern stencilsUnfortunately, these stencils are no longer available; however, I have seen similar decals available on Etsy here.

Mid century modern stencils on retro canisters for vintage kitchen decor

Because I was stenciling over a painted surface and not naked wood, I took extra care while stenciling.

Which meant I used a nearly dry stencil brush to create the letters on the tea and coffee canisters. A super dry brush helps to prevent paint bleed.

Tea and coffee canisters with a mid century modern font for retro decor

I used plain black craft paint and my stencil brushes from this online store to add the labels to my retro canisters.

And when I was done with the mid century modern stencils, I gathered the canister lids to paint the knobs black, too.

Aqua kitchen decor with mid century modern stencils on retro canisters

I stippled the black paint on the knobs with the same stencil brush I had used earlier. I’ve found that stippling paint on rounded surfaces works better than brushing!

Finally, I gave them a couple of quick coats of spray top coat (matte was all I had on hand), and they were done.

Mid century modern font on retro canisters and aqua kitchen decor

With that, I had a set of retro canisters that were the cutest things ever. And you might never know that they all started out as singlets from different sets.

Retro Canisters for Mid Century Modern Kitchen Decor

I mean, honestly, aren’t they adorable? The mid century modern font on those stencils is positively fantastic!

Vintage kitchen canisters

And, of course, if I use them to store dry goods in my kitchen, I’ll line them with Ziploc bags first.

Either way, I love how these retro canisters turned out. They make me want to transform my entire kitchen with mid century modern kitchen decor!

Retro canisters for mid century modern kitchen decor


Plus, guess what today is! It’s Thrift Store Decor Team day, which means the best upcycling bloggers are all posting new projects today. Click on the links below to see the “afters”.

Upcycling ideas and thrift store makeovers from the best upcycling bloggers

1. How to Make a Cement PotDomestically Speaking

2. Decoupage Sewing DrawerMy Repurposed Life

3. Antique Kitchen Tools for SpringRefresh Restyle

4. DIY Coffee Pot TerrariumHouse of Hawthornes

5. Create a Natural Raw Wood Look My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

6. Retro Canisters for Vintage Kitchen DecorSadie Seasongoods

7. Decorative Candy JarPetticoat Junktion

8. DIY Footed TrayOur Southern Home


If you enjoyed this upcycling idea for mid century modern kitchen decor, then you may also enjoy reading about our latest “Thrift the Look” challenge, too!

mid century eclectic decor

And for another project that I made with a mid century modern stencil, check out these repurposed cigar boxes!

mid century makeover on wooden cigar boxes

Craft on!


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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Hi, i also love aqua in the …anywhere! So, you don’t need to seal the paint? These look great. i see some random boxes in my future, lol.

  2. Why do I hear the theme song from, The Jetson’s when I look at those canisters? Very cute!

  3. Molly Tomaszewski says

    Gorgeous and those stencils are perfection!

  4. LOVE, love, love those canisters! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  5. Amazing transformation into a complete set, lovely job and nicely retro.

  6. Hi Sarah! I love these!! I had the big canister but i could not think of what to do with it so into the goodwill box it went. darn! I love those stencils and they are the perfect retro vibe. I will be on the look out now.

  7. What a fabulous look for the mismatched set. It’s amazing how paint and stencils can unify items! Absolutely adorable!

  8. Love your project, Sarah…you made these beautiful, functional storage now! Great project…saving these old canisters!

  9. christinafayerepurposed says

    These are adorable Sara! I love the aqua!

  10. Love the color!!!Can’t beat retro aqua. Great job.

  11. giantsdancefarm says

    I *love* them! so very clever. You must drink a lot more coffee than we do here to make the largest canister your coffee one. Or is that my OCD kicking in? LOL

    “Hi, I’m Shelley and I’m a thrift store canister addict.”
    “Hi, Shelley.”

    We’re gradually remodeling our barn here on our farm to live in, so I tend toward country-ish decor. I currently have 2 sets of the same round metal canister sets that my mom and Aunt had while I was growing up. They are large, straight-sided (opening at top same size as canister to make getting stuff out easily) and have a great tight seal. I also have a set and a half of the very large old enamel rectangular white with black trim. When I say large, the flour canister holds 20lbs of flour, the sugar holds 15lbs. And then I have the glazed ceramic ones with a clamp top lid…. in blue, green, red, and white…. for the smaller baking stuff

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Haha, you know, I didn’t really pay attention that the coffee one went on the largest (vs. Flour, which would be the normal case). It was honestly a matter of which word fit best on each canister. But, that being said…we drink a lot more coffee in this house than bake, so it’s an accurate reflection!!

  12. Super cute and fun–great color!

  13. That is a awesome collection and I love how they turned out, so beautiful!

  14. The color of these canisters and that RETRO font stencil are a perfect match!!!!

    I love, love, love them!



  15. These are the best thing I have even seen! I Love retro, and these are amazing!!! Great job!!!

  16. You always seem to find the coolest stencils! Do you have a favorite place to source them? Thanks very much for another great project!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      I included a link to these in the post, did you miss it? Just about all of my stencils come from various online shops and I often link to them!

  17. Love the color, love the retro vibe!

  18. Oh my cuteness!!! I love the font of those stencils… adorable!!

  19. These are adorable! I love the color and the font of the stencils. So cute!

  20. I love your new canisters!


  21. Angie Jerrell says

    Like ALWAYS – you are so creative and INSPIRING! Thank you for sharing this wonderful idea. Look forward to adding to my “to do” projects

  22. Your canisters turned out amazing!! Pinned. Thanks for the link to the stencil website. They have a huge variety. I’m visiting from A Morning Cup of Joe.

  23. These canisters are so fun! Amazing transformation! And I love how the others are displayed as “befores” in their link. More enticing to check them out!

  24. Smokes… I don’t think I could love a project more than I do this one! Right down to colours, you totally nailed this Sarah!

    I’m featuring this cutie in this weekend’s DIY Salvaged Junk Project 515. Thanks for linking it up!

  25. Wow the before and after is fantastic! I love the bright pop of color you chose 🙂

  26. Robyn Wright says

    I found a set of wooden canisters at a rummage sale last weekend. Thank you for a great idea!

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