My Forum for steel kitchen cabinets from 40s 50s 60s & beyond

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steel125.jpgI launched a new feature on the blog a couple of days ago. Click here to see the new –> Postwar Steel forum where you can buy and sell vintage steel kitchen cabinets.

Take a look, and you will see that it’s entirely focused on vintage steel kitchen cabinets: Buyers, sellers, owners & curious fans alike.

So far, I’ve identified 30+ different brands of steel cabinets from the postwar period.

I am very confident that, over the next several years, the demand for these incredible vintage cabinets will really boom. It’s a pain to find them, haul them, repaint them, reinstall them…yes…but the results are priceless.

I would love it, if readers who already own the cabinets will contribute to the forum. Please feel free to:

  • Let me know if you have a brand not listed – I really want to complete this archive listing
  • Add photos of your kitchens – photos are super easy to upload
  • Add info you have on your cabinets – for example, the cover of a brochure, if you have it
  • And, add listings for cabinets you might see in your local craigslist

I am really eager to catalog all the existing brands for all of us to enjoy and share. Thank you!

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Comments

  1. sumacsue says

    Hi. We wanted to use metal cabinets in the kitchen of our 1959 ranch in Lexington, Ky. This kitchen originally had maple veneer cabinets, but we ripped them out when we bought the house six months ago. They were disgusting, due to an old plumbing leak and 48 years of grease and grime. We’ve been depending on an old Hoosier cabinet and two small free-standing metal cabinets while we’ve searched for more half-way decent metal cabinets. Most we find are just too rusted out in the bottom for us to cope with.

    This past weekend, we found a set of 50s/60s era Haas maple veneer cabinets at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. We snapped them up — $295 for three base cabinets in different sizes and five wall cabinets. That’s about the cost for just one new in-stock sink base cabinet at the home improvement stores, and they are made of particle board! We hate to give up on the metal cabinet notion, but these Haas cabinets are so similar to what was originally in the house — and they are sturdy, pretty, and clean! I think we will be happy with them.

  2. 50sPam says

    Hi Sumacsue. Hey, Louisville is one of my home towns! We moved there when I was 12 and I went to jr. high and high school in Hardin and Meade County. All my brothers and sisters still live there. Small world.

    I think your maple veneer cabinets sound fabulous. I’ve written before about the use of wood cabinets. Both wood and steel were popular choices as America began constructing its first real wave of “fitted kitchens” after the war. I’d love to see a photo of the cabinets when you get them installed. Meanwhile, I’ll look for some photos of maple cabinets circa 1959 and post them. What kind of hardware do the cabinets have? Is it a colonial, or a modern look?

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Sumac Sue says

    Hi. Thanks for the quick replies to my posts. I am not very techno-smart, so, tell me how to get my jpegs into my replies, so that I can post some photos.

    The hardware on these “new” cabinets is a modern look, in a copper (soft orangey-pink) color, and is in super shape. The hardware on the original cabinets was black, hammered, and maybe wrought-iron, with a colonial or sort of western look. It was so rusted and dirty it was not salvageable. I am not sure which I like best, the modern or the colonial, but I am just glad the modern is in good shape so we can enjoy it right away and not have to slave over cleaning it up. We are only the second owners of this 48-year-old house, which in some ways is good, but in other ways is not. The previous owner seemed attached to 48 years of grime and passed it on to us.

    More small world stuff — you mentioned elsewhere on your site that you have a journalism degree. So do I, and back in the 1980s, I worked at a newspaper in LaRue County, Ky., next door to Hardin County. My son was born at Hardin Memorial Hospital in E-town in 1985. I haven’t done anything journalism-related since 2001, when the internet business here in Lexington, where I worked as an editor, went belly-up.

    It’s inspiring to see what you are doing with your web site, combining your journalism skills and your love of your home and 1950s design. It’s getting me in the mood to decorate and write about it! Thanks for this great site where I can communicate with other people who are excited about their homes. Homes are such wonderful places to nestle in and share with others, and these older homes keep us connected to our own and our country’s history.

  4. 50sPam says

    Thanks, SS. I have to ask my web wizard about putting photos into Comments. Honestly, I am not too techno-smart either, I’m learning a bit at a time. Meanwhile: Send photos to me at: pam@retrorenovation.com. But – keep putting your comments into the blog directly, as this helps the blog on google. I’ll likely do a post on your cabinets, they sound cool! I think I know exactly what you’r talking about re the copper pulls, I’m eager to see them! Take care, Pam

  5. Femme1 says

    Sumac Sue, I have a 50s ranch in southern Indiana (not too too far from Lexington) and the original pulls and knobs on my wood cabinets are copper. Thay have sort of a widened V-shape with “facets” on the surface.

    Deb

  6. Femme1 says

    Do you think there may be a correlation between writing and renovating 50s houses? I’m an editor (a science editor now for a geological institute, but I’ve done other types of editing, too). This is odd…
    Or maybe not so odd, because those of us used to writing feel more comfortable “coming out’ on a blog.

  7. Sumac Sue says

    Hi. Maybe there IS a link between 50s houses and writing/editing. I’ve had a writing/editing dry spell for six or seven years, but now that I have this 50s house, I’m doing research on how to fix it up, and that led me to this web site. I guess that’s what a 50s house will do to you, get you moving in many creative directions.

    Oh, the copper pulls on these cabinets have a pleasant curvy shape. I will attempt to post a photo as soon as I finish painting my third bedroom a nice, refreshing, pale minty green, a lighter version of one of the previous owner’s many paint choices!

  8. 50sPam says

    I think that maybe what both things have in common – writing/editing and renovating — is a reporter’s mindset. Also like a scientist. We like to get to the bottom of the situation…the investigation…the quest…and the stories around it all… are all very appealing.

  9. Abby says

    Where is the best place you can find steel cabinets?Are there any companies that make them ?How much do they sell at?

    • pam kueber says

      Abby – use the navigation on my site. I have an entire category all about steel cabinets – in addition, there is an faq on this. good luck.

  10. Kelly says

    We have a house built in 1938 with a steel kitchen, stainless counter tops, stainless cook top & what I think may be original stainless Tappan oven. I have several questions: Oven just quit working about 8 months ago. Worked great up till then. Service guy said it would cost more for him to look into it and possibly not find parts than for us to buy new. Anyone know what our chances are in getting it going again?
    Next, three different styles of door and drawer pulls with three different screw sizes — 2″, 2 3/4″ and 3″. Is there A) anywhere to get matching pulls in these three different sizes or B) a way to drill new holes and plug old without it being really ugly?
    Last, what are you recommending for flooring. Hard wood throughout house. Ugly & dirty 1970s/1980s linoleum in there now. Want something that would be appropriate retro, but wondering where to look, or are people redoing cabinets with more modern flooring??? Thanks for help! Kelly

  11. midcenturykk says

    Hi all,

    I am so delighted to find this site and this community. What a gift! I’m in the process of buying a midcentury modest house built in 1949. I already have a wonderful collection of midcentury modern furniture that is going to look fantastic in the space, and I know a bit about design in the period, but I am completely new to the world of midcentury modest kitchens and baths. From what I read here the class has all of the classic midcentury modest kitchen and bath design features in tact. The half bath is a wild dusty pink- sink, tiny toilet and tiles half way up the wall and covering the floor. All around the top of the tiles someone very skilled hand painted pink flamingos! The full bath has turquoise/light blue double sinks and bathtub.

    The kitchen has painted metal cabinets and the coolest green flowered laminate counter tops. There is even a paper towel holder recessed in the wall! The stove is a fantastic green, one piece number that has an oven below and another over the top of the stove top. Although the logo on the cabinet below the sink has been painted over it is the shape of the Youngstown cabinet logo shown here. The cabinets have been painted a very light yellow. They feel rough to the touch, almost as if there was sand mixed in the paint or perhaps someone glued some kind of vinyl or other similar material on the fronts? I’d appreciate any advice on how to determine what’s on the cabinets, who to talk to about getting them stripped and refinished, etc.

    I am tremendously excited about making this kitchen beautiful!

    Thanks in dvance.
    midcenturykk

    • Marisa says

      Hi Midcenturykk.

      So I found a lot of comments about having the cabinets painted etc. online. Mine have a really awful paint job a previous owner had done…obvious brush strokes, rough, etc. In my case, it appears to just be paint and on the cabinets my Dad (who is also an automotive guy) has been messing with, he says he’s just been stripping them using a paint stripper, giving them a sand and then spray painting a primer…we’ve only gotten as far as primer at moment.

      I read a couple things online where people spoke about using a type of automotive powder-coat paint treatment where its hit with a high temperature and produces a very shiny, glossy and durable finish (like a car door), but if I were you, I would stay away from anything like this that involves high heat. When we were dismantling the cabinet we’ve customized, we discovered a paper insulation in the door…this would be a very bad idea if your cabinets also have this which I think they all do to absorb noise when opening/closing.

      There are some painting companies that do some sort of electro-static (or something like that) painting that some folks mentioned comes out real nice. I found 1 place semi-local near me that did. But I think I’m going to stick with stripping, sanding, and spray paint. It seems to be working out pretty well so far.

      • pam kueber says

        Marisa, I have never heard of anyone dismantling a door. Be aware: Lead and asbestos and other nasty midcentury materials can be lurking anywhere including in insulation. Lord knows what that stuff is made of. I always advise to consult with professionals when you buy the house and then again if you start messing with the original materials and start uncovering more layers. Also: re putting those doors in ovens – we also have heard reports that the heat may warp them — something to be very aware of if you can’t afford to “lose a few.”

  12. Marisa says

    I bought my house in late October…a 1948 Cape in central MA. Its my first place and as I’m single…I occasionally think I bit off a bit more than I could chew (its got a big case of the uglies), but I just tell myself I have plenty of time to reno the place.

    But I found your website because of the cabinets. The very first time I walked into the absolutely massive kitchen and saw the white metal cabinets with the funky chrome pulls and old, car door-like push button latches, I fell in love. I even managed to get past the 70s-era cheap wood panelled wainscoting and the harvest gold fruit basket wallpaper.

    So I’m almost 5 months into modernizing the kitchen while trying to keep some of that original feel. I needed to rearrange the layout to have a better working space and add a dishwasher. Adding the dishwasher meant removing 2 of my beloved cabinets but then there was a smaller gap left afterward. Dad’s a former machinist by trade so metal is his thing. He already took 1 of the cabinets we needed to remove and cut a section from the center of it and then welded the 2 ends back together. That probably sounds like sacrilege to some of the folks, but because we’re able to do that…I now have a perfectly custom fit cabinet to fit into that gap. We’re going to do the same to put in the empty space between the stove and the fridge. The entire kitchen will be fully modern…but will look like its been there forever. My goal is not to take the retro/vintage thing to the level of kitschy, but to blend a bit of the modern/contemporary with the vintage.

    I just wanted to thank you because I spent a good amount of time on this site reading what folks had written about painting them, etc. and I’ve found it very helpful.

  13. Kmb says

    Hi- my husband and I just found a youngstown metal cabinet and double metal sink set at a salvage yard yesterday for $20. We liked the look but don’t know anything about this style. Luckily you all are hear so we can learn more and turn them into beautiful kitchen cabinets. Several questions…what is the best way to repaint these cabinets. We live in a rural area and were just thinking about taking them to an automotive body shop to get some of the dents out (they are pretty beat up) and painted. It is also missing a cabinet drawer and several of the boomerang handles. I am also interested in purchasing some top cabinets if anyone has some for sale or knows of a link. I applaud this forum and appreciate all the knowledge y’all share. Thanks!

    • pam kueber says

      Kmb — see the Forum http://retrorenovation.com/forum for Youngstowns for sale. This is not a DIY site, but you can see the category Kitchens/Steel Kitchens for some stories about folks sharing their refurbishing experience. Please also be aware there can be lead in the paint of these old cabinets. Get informed and consult with professionals so that you can make informed decisions. Good luck.

  14. Donna says

    I have metal cabinets in my 1954 house and want to keep them, But they had been painted several times. I stripped them down to the bare metal. I’ve decided to leave them as is but I want them to have a shine. What do you suggest?

  15. Donna says

    Do you know what kind of attachment is being used (attached to drill)? What kind of finish does that leave? I tried using a buffer pad to polish or give the metal a little shine. I will try the EZ Prep, denatured alcohol and ProtectaClear.
    Thanks!

  16. Andrea says

    I’m wondering if anyone knows how to remove a st Charles cabinet door without ruining or marring it? I’ve got a really nice set in my house but one cabinet is missing a door. I’ve not been able to find a replacement so thought I might as well take the other one off too. Any ideas?

    • pam kueber says

      bmvh, this is not a DIY site per se, but we do have some stories featuring readers who have had these repainted in different ways. Start going through our category Kitchen Help / Steel Kitchens to get to the stories.

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