Larry’s 40s kitchen: Plastic Marlite wall panels and Youngstown cabinets make a big first impression

This is such a cool kitchen.

Larry in Vermont writes:

My wife and I bought this house last year and it has a really old kitchen in it. It has a sink that says Electric sink in chrome letters. The material on the wall looks like metal but it is not metal. It is like particle board underneath with a very stain and scratch resistant coating over the top. We have some cool recessed lights in the ceiling. The Stove, refrigerator and dishwasher have been updated but everything else is original. I don’t know much about this stuff and I am trying to get some info. The house was built in 1860 and has a ton of old stuff in it. We have original stain glass windows from 1860, cool lights from the early 1900’s and a really old cast iron sink but the kitchen is what really blows people away when they come into our house. I am looking into buying and old refrigerator and stove to match the rest of the kitchen. – Larry

Thanks for writing, Larry. Your cabinets look like Youngstown’s and the wall panels are Marlite or a similar brand.

These wall panels were quite a rage, it seems, in the 40s and into the 50s. I surmise that they were especially popular in older farmhouses where the walls were ‘imperfect’ but folks wanted to fix them in tandem with installing an all-new, modern kitchen.

Also, these panels may have evolved from high-end Carrera glass panels that were used in bathroom and kitchen walls in the deco period. Your wall panels are certainly a very interesting remant of the period – and long-lasting, to be sure. I hope you keep them!

It’s great that you are looking for a vintage stove and fridge. There are several modern-day fridges you might consider – a big topic on this blog, just search “Refrigerators” for the history. One more thought (though you didn’t ask!) – I think that linoleum floors from either Marmoleum or Armstrong would be perfect in your kitchen. And can we convince you re new/old laminate counters with stainless steel edging?


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  1. mklsvg says

    Can you tell me if anyone still manufactures Mirawall in #700 Dove Grey color? We own a house built in 1954 that we are restoring and found this material in the build specification notes. The product is installed in our shower. The panels are approximately 18″w X 84″h. Has anyone heard of Mirawall before. Maybe a competitor of Marlite?
    Thank you,

    Mike Savage
    Portland Oregon USA

  2. scurl says


    This is a bit late, but Mirawall is still being made by a company called “Otefal” and it doesn’t seem that they sell to/in the united states, though they have a distributor in Quebec. They do have quite a selection of colors so I’m sure yours is in there somewhere.
    here’s their site from the Italian branch, but in english.

    If someone finds a way to buy this stuff here, I wouldn’t mind checking it out myself. This stuff seems better than Marlite in fire resistance terms.

    • mklsvg says

      hey Scurl. Super hard to get in touch with Mirawall Italy. Still hoping to connect. Did get thru to Marlite today and their customer service was excellent. I always wondered why more people don’t use this product in shower surface. We love it.

  3. scurl says

    LOL! I was just trying to remember the name of Marlite, saw Mike’s comment, and figured it wasn’t too old to comment on, especially as the Mirawall sounded like an excellent alternative and any info involving sweet shiny retro walls is good info, right?
    Besides, I already read every post a few months ago and have just been keeping updated since then!

  4. NorthsideCJ says

    I love the kitchen. If only you could still get the red Kentile flooring It would look amazing. Good luck finding a vintage 30″ range…. you’ll need it as it seems 30″ was a rather uncommon size for that era. 36″ to 40″ seemed to be the norm. I have been searching two years for one. Elmira sells a new one but I am not impressed with the styling, it seems to be trying too hard.

  5. says

    NorthsideCJ, welcome to RetroRenovation. See this post, Summit and Premier (url in the Comment from Robert) may have something suitable. I agree with you re the Elmira’s – “trying too hard” is a great way to put it. Pam

  6. Christina says

    Hi there,

    We bought a mid-century cabin in Tahoe and want to build a shower enclosure with panels that look like theones in Larry’s kitchen – including the brushed chrome edges. I’ve looked at Marlite and searched around, but cannot find a supplier of the panels, the edge strips and installation materials. Does anyone know of a source?



    • mklsvg says

      Hi Christina,
      Super late response but just saw this reply trail. We have a 36″ square shower stall with Mirawall siding all around and the ceiling. It’s original to the house. Very nice alternative to tile since no nasty grout. Easy to squeegee the water down. Did you have any luck? I just got off the phone with Marlite in Ohio. They are sending me new samples and trim to test. Let me know how your Tahoe project is going.
      Portland, OR.

  7. John Billingham says

    We have an older kitchen cabinet set, which has
    painted wood face frames, but the doors are of a very
    dense masonite like material which is encapsulated
    in a thick layer of green plastic like material.

    vintage 20s to 50 s ??? Does this ring anyone’s bell ?
    Thanks in Advance,
    Best Wishes,

  8. RanchO'Rama says

    I am leaving one lovely time capsule ’54 ranch for another. The new ’52 ranch has these exact soft yellow Marlite panels! Problem is, yellow is my most unfavorite color. :O( However, if I have to choose between ruining a time capsule kitchen and getting over my dislike of yellow, I’ll chose the latter. I wondered if anyone has ever taken these panels down and had them redone or simply painted them in place. I’m afraid there might be asbestos behind them, in which case, yellow sounds fab to me. I’ll send photos when I take possession!

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