Avco American “Pioneer” Kitchen brand coppertone and wood combo — Color-styled by Beatrice West

1956 American kitchen metal kitchen

1956 American kitchen metal kitchenThis is the “trend-setting new ‘PIONEER’ by American Kitchen” – 1956 – “color styled by Beatrice West.” I find it so fascinating. It was right about this time that steel kitchen cabinets started to lose their battle against wood. But it was a slow death. And along the way they decided they’d rather switch than fight. That is, these cabinets have wooden doors…steel drawers – with a coppertone (or possibly real copper???) finish drawer cover… and all steel bodies. Kind of, the best of both worlds. Other makers, like St. Charles and Youngstown show an alternative approach — all wood on the base cabinets, all steel on the walls. I think that one of the main issues they may have been addressing was dented doors. Little Billy on his trike and all.

avco american pioneer kitchen 1956avco american pioneer kitchen 1956

The ad above notes that there were antique copper appliances to match, if you wanted up buy up:

For more elaborate kitchens, additional cabinets and accessories can be added, as well as matching antique copper appliances such as the famous American Kitchens Roto-Tray Dishwasher, the new American Kitchens Set-In Countertop Range, and the new American Kitchens Set-In Waist-High Oven. Both range and oven available in gas or electric models.

I don’t really understand whether “antique copper” means REAL copper, or coppertone.

Great kitchen also in its streaky brown floors, cool roller shades, and simple breakfast bar. And I even love the chartreuse walls / reddish coppertone / light birch color scheme. Hey, look beyond to the dining room — it’s those pecky-cypress-paneled walls, which we saw last week in the scary kitchen photo. I saw them in another magazine the other day. I’m on the lookout for real now! Oh, and be sure and open the thumbnail, to get the best look hubby on the indoor bbq.



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  1. SeattleJulie says

    Wow! I just painted my kitchen a very similar chartreuse color. It looks great with the brown/rose accent tiles in the kitchen!

  2. sablemable says

    I love the look of wood, brass and copper in the modern kitchen! Very smart looking. Love the floor, too.

    • Amy says

      So do I! I bought a 1956 rambler foreclosure 3 years ago. I am trying to clean and refurb the metal drawer fronts. Been searching for what to use and no luck so far.

  3. Patrice says

    Do you have any information on how to refinish these American Kitchens coppertone cabinets? I have these exact cabinets in my house and the finish is worn off the drawers causing them to tarnish all the time. Other than the wear spots and some rust on the drawers they are in beautiful shape and i’d love to refinish them somehow. Thank you

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Patrice, this is not a DIY site. That said, we have had several readers discuss ways they’ve restored their cabinets. You can research these stories in our Kitchens/Steel Kitchens category. Also, please be aware that there can be vintage nasties in old materials — such as lead in old paint, including on old kitchen cabinets. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional on this issue, so that you can make informed decisions about how to handle. Good luck.

  4. Sheralyn says

    My kitchen was almost identical except for the counter bar as my kitchen is smaller. My house was built in 1957. By the time I bought my house in 1991, only 2 burners on the stove top worked, the oven did not work and the dishwasher did not work. I called around to appliance part stores but I was told that no parts were availableand hadn’t been for decades. The previous owners who built the house put a double oven in the basement kitchenette to compensate. Eventually I had the kitchen remodeled. I kept the double oven in the basement!

    • Elly says

      Anyone have any of these they’re looking to sell? I have an original “Pioneer” kitchen (house built in 1956) that I would like to reconfigure and keep, but could use a few more cabinets.

      • Joe says


        Let me know if you are still looking for these cabinets. I’m buying a house with a full set of these appliances and cabinets.

      • Mike says

        Yes, we just bought a 1958 ranch that has the Pioneer AVCO cabinets and cupboards. I’m remodeling the kitchen and was going to install these in the basement kitchen. I’m unsure how they’re anchored to the wall and I don’t want to harm the cabinetry by getting rough with them in removal….but I can’t see what’s holding them in after I’ve removed all the obvious screws.
        If I get them removed without trauma, I’d consider selling them.

  5. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    I have early american maple cabinets, white counters, and parchment wallpaper with large blue bird graphics on it. Plus cooper backsplash. What color counters and or floor would unite this?

  6. JP says

    I bought a set of these from the forum, and another pink set (with a sink) from the same year. Both owners were sad to sell them but updated kitchens on the advice of real estate agents that said that was what needed to be done to sell in a tough market. My guess is that the copper is paint. It has not started to turn green as copper would. However, it peels off the steel in wear places differently than the paint in the other set. Is there an easy test for copper? If so I would be happy to do one.

    (The cabinets are line two walls in my Victorian era apartment. They are full of dishes used for serving. Visitors always comment how nice my built ins look–just the bottoms the tops are in storage. The sink is in the office and has the closest spot to the wifi. My kids fill both sides up with pillows for iPad time…still looking for a home for them, but getting closer)

  7. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    JP, is there an inconspicuous place to use copper cleaner on these items? If you try some and the items get clean, its an indiction they are copper but doesn’t make it definate.

  8. MamaC says

    Holy Crap! We recently bought a 99 year old house that we are restoring and it has this EXACT kitchen in it. I mean the cabinets, the copper drawers, orange sink, countertops (BOOMERANG- LOVE) and even that funky dishwasher!!! I am so thrilled to find this ad- thank you for posting!

    Also I have been investigating and I think these drawers are real copper. Mine were gross and covered in junk but after some serious scrubbing with steel wool I got it down to a gorgeous shine!

    And the dishwasher- I thought about restoring, I think its impossible. So Im going to remove the cover and make it into a full pull out drawer. So it will still look like a dishwasher but it will be functional 🙂

    Thanks again- so happy to find this!

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