• The average price of premium vintage steel kitchen cabinets in 2010: $39 per cabinet, according to 52PostnBeam analysis

    how much is a set of vintage st charles metal kitchen cabinets worth

    What was the average price of a premium vintage steel kitchen cabinet purchased via craigslist in 2010? According to analysis by reader-expert 52PostnBeam aka Helen: $39. As regular readers of our Steel Cabinet Forum  know well, Helen has been fiercely pursuing vintage metal cabinets for her own kitchen for the past year. Moveover, in her quest, she has posted hundreds of craigslist ads for all varieties of metal kitchen cabinets onto the Forum. 52PBnJ (as I like to call her) is one tenacious researcher.  By this point, she can name virtually any cabinet by sight, and discuss the differences within brands over the years. It is very impressive! Now, Helen has taken it up another notch by cataloguing and analyzing the final listed sales prices of major cabinet sets for the past year. How much should you charge for your vintage steel kitchen cabinets? How much should you pay? The final decision will always be personal. But, read on for 52PnB’s analysis of 29 final sales of “premium” sets last year. –>

    Helen explains:

    I went back through all 2010 sales in the Forum that published an asking price and included photos showing the whole kitchen, for an exhaustive comparative survey of premium cabinet sales. I defined “premium” sets as complete sets in excellent condition and with one or more exceptional qualities such as: a rare brand, unusually large set, in color, with custom details or specialty cabinets.

    Results: Of the 29 full sets I compared, the price range was between $9 – $83 per cabinet. The average per cabinet asking price came to $39. Turquoise was the most common color last year (excluding white), with ten sets, followed by 6 yellow ones. Turquoise pricing ranged from $9 – $60, with the average turquoise cabinet price @ $33.

    I dropped out the highest cabinet sale – which was a yellow St. Charles set for $116/cab, and the lowest sale, of which there were at least three full free sets of cabinets (Homart, pink/white GE, and wood front St. Charles).

    Full kitchen photos, data & links to the original forum threads will be loaded in here — in the new section that Pam started on Pricing in the Steel Cabinet Buy/Sell Forum. (Registration required.)

    Methodology:

    • Cabinet count: Some kitchens included in the sale appliances, drainboards, special countertops and very rare items. I counted each non-cabinet item as an extra cabinet or sometimes two. Glass front “undercabinettes” are worth two cabs. An oven, fridge, or drainboard is 2 cabinets, a range plus hood counts as one (except for a few rare integrated large stoves, worth more). Consequently, those items were undervalued rather in the extreme, as a vintage Elkay double drainboard, for example, could easily sell for $300-1500. As calculated in the kitchen it was sold in, it’s only “worth” $60.
    •  I didn’t include eBay sales in the survey. The market is largely local and only a handful of cabinet sets are sold there, since shipping is cost prohibitive. I only remember a few sets actually closing last year, for very low amounts ($300 range).
    •  I used the final asking price on the ad, many which were reduced several times over weeks or months. Again this errs on the conservative side, as most Craigslist deals settle for less than asking price. There may be a few sets however (the Elkay sink set for example), that could have fetched more.
    • Geography was not taken into account, as a quick look at Dwell, Apt. Therapy, Atomic Ranch, Modern Phoenix, Pam’s blog & forum, or any of the dozens of mid mod blogs and publications prove that the demand for midcentury is nationwide.

    Thank you, Helen. This is amazing, and provides some much-needed “comps” to the market. Why are vintage steel kitchen cabinets such a great deal — well, in my mind they are – I have been predicting rising prices, but that has not born out. Why not?  A few ideas:

    • 52PostnBeam says that she believes the #1 reason for prices not rising, is that, “Tthe economies of all home-related industries and actions run parallel with the housing market. As 2010 saw the bottom of the market, it makes sense that it was the year cabinet sales fell the most dramatically. Those lines of credit are a thing of the past. Also – when people are worried about being able to sell their house in a tough market, they make conservative choices, not artsy, custom antique kitchen choices.” Yup, I think she’s right.
    • Many if not most vintage metal cabinets require repainting. This is a hassle and can be expensive, even more so if there is rust, which there often is. You have to find someone to do it who has the patience and consideration required. Beware: Hot baking ovens can warp doors. Things can go wrong. *And remember to test for lead paint.
    • Unless you are installing a galley kitchen in a loft, you are going to have to fit someone else’s kitchen into your existing space – a huge issue. 52PBnJ has one complete set, a 20 pc Republic Steel that she was able to buy 100 miles away; but, she has continued to acquire other necessary pieces from Tucson, two separate cities in Michigan, Cincinnati, Denver, and Los Angeles. All this, to parse together one kitchen that works, and I believe she is *almost* but *not quite* satisfied with her collection to date. I also recall that Scathing Jane, another reader who in previous years was a Reader of the Year for her Forum contributions, also had to collect three sets of St. Charles cabinets to create one set that would work for her kitchen.
    • You need to haul the cabinets — or pay shipping, which is not cheap for big hunks o’ steel.
    • You need storage to hold everything until you have the set you need.
    • Your search has to come together in synch with your desire to start or end your kitchen renovation – timing is really a critical issue in making a deal work out.
    • You have to have the time, patience and true drive to do this. You have to be a fanatic to do this. See all of the above.

    Bottom line: Time is money. If you are a seller, please realize that you are not just selling “cabinets”, you are a selling “a humongous project.” If you are a buyer, please realize, the outcome can be fantastic – amazing – but it is A LOT of work. A lot a lot.

    More resources:

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    Comments

    1. MIfroggies says:

      Thank you Helen! We all appreciate the huge amount of time and effort you have put into this and finding cabinets for everyone!

    2. Trouble aka Shane says:

      I know she’s been on those cabinets like a puppy with an old rag. She STILL hasn’t found what she’s looking for?? does it exist!?

      • 52PostnBeam says:

        All I need is one remaining 30″ wide by 18″ tall upper, and I am done! Please … someone must have one, somewhere. (Republic Steel or GE preferred, but will use anything as a filler for now).

    3. A big THANK YOU to Helen for her work on this, and for being an invaluable member of the cabinets forum. (I lurk!)

    4. Hmm, so that means I got ripped off? I spent 83-100/cabinet depending on how you count things… and they need refinishing… but, they fit my kitchen perfectly, so maybe not so bad in the long run… of course now I want a bigger sink… haha

    5. I definitely over paid for our full Geneva set, but I’m still happy with the final product.

    6. MIfroggies says:

      Remember she said prices ranged from $9 to $83, with free sets at the bottom and $116 at the top, for 2010. I only paid an average of $17 a cabinet for 31 cabinets, but I had to buy from 5 different sellers to get what I needed. Of course I had to travel, paint, and sometimes gut someone’s kitchen to get them all! Most of them were also average or rough condition.

      Like Pam said, if you can find everything you need in good condition closer to you, that is a huge savings of time searching, traveling, and worth paying closer to the top end price. I do think it is hugely helpful to know an average, it will help move cabinets from sellers to willing buyers. Otherwise, people think that their cabinets are worth way over these averages, and hang onto them while buyers look elsewhere. I found two sets near me that had just about all I needed, but the sellers were so far off on prices that I just looked elsewhere. Now my kitchen is DONE, and these people are slowly lowering their price to what I offered them to begin with. It is disappointing to the sellers as well as the buyers.

    7. Yeah, steel cabs tend to run the gamut here in St. Louis. I think I paid a little under that average for what I have. Maybe more like $20-$25 each. We rarely see any free pieces or sets though. And some sellers think they are selling gold plated steel or something. Lately there was a seller who wanted at least a grand AND you had to pull them! Then again these were seafoam GEs with a matching dishwasher! But it was otherwise a smallish set. I was going to offer $300 until they reposted with the idea that they were looking to get at least $1000. I really didn’t even feel like giving them $300 if I had to do the labor for them too!

      • 52PostnBeam says:

        Saw that. Small kitchen, has been up for a few weeks… first was “make offer” and said the counters needed to be replaced, the next week they advertised as having awesome boomerang counters, and start at $1K.

        Still have the ad photo (and I’ll bump it up over in the forum). Here’s how I’d price it. 6 regular cabinets (3 of those are sink, range, and oven.) Appliances range & dishwasher count as 1 cabinet each. oven and 5 glass front “undercabinettes” are 2 cabs each. Nothing for stainless single basin sink. Let’s throw in one cabinet worth for the boomerang, though it’s really pretty small …

        Total count, 21 cabs. Avg turquoise price is 33, total avg 39, puts this kitchen btw $700 – 820. At $1K it’s $48 / cab which is definitely not overpriced. But it’s a tiny set, for most this would be just one piece in a larger kitchen puzzle. There are only two upper cabinets! And yes, seller should traditionally remove, for liability purposes if nothing else.

      • Hey Mr. Modtomic, are you in Florissant and sell retro stuff on CL? The page1/page2 ads? If so, I wrote you once about some chairs you had. I look at your stuff regularly for treasure that I don’t need :)

    8. MIfroggies says:

      I am curious…how much did a steel cabinet cost new in the 50′s? Does anyone know? Just would be interesting to compare…

    9. What an awesome reference collection! I would like to see it in an easier format, where you didn’t have to click in and out of each photo. I’d be willing to put everything on my photo site if nobody minds. Then it would be one link to all of the phenometal :)

      It’s all really killin’ me though….my kitchen is so small and so oddly laid out that getting anything to fit is going to be really really hard. I have the cash, which makes it even worse! Wahhhhhh!!!

      • 52PostnBeam says:

        Patience, grasshopper. The cabinets will appear …

        I do have all the info in an album, but didn’t want to include the link in the blog article because every 6 months or so I delete albums. I thought it best we have the info archived on the site somehow. Agree the forum screen grabs are a little clunky, so for now feel free to check everything out here:

        https://picasaweb.google.com/117559197788514355872/SteelCabinetPriceComps?authkey=Gv1sRgCJ_M7P_33MfvqwE#

        • Oh, that’s great! I bow down to you!

          Seriously though, my kitchen is 14′ x 8′ but because of the basement door and 3 windows, one of which is low, I can only fit a dishwasher, a small sink cab, a 48″-ish “run”, and then one 18″ cab to one side of my range. The uppers are even worse. I have zero hope of those fabulous whatnot shelves that typically flank a window. I’ve just about resigned myself to getting some of the current Holiday cabs noted on this site that could kind of blend with 50′s.

          On the upside, I love my little 2 bedroom 1045 sf house with its beautiful wood floors throughout and fabulous 50′s rathskeller. Built in wet bar, knotty pine walls, and the original linoleum tile floor with a decorative hand of aces center tile :) Probably my favorite thing about the house is the door to the back yard….it’s in my bedroom.

    10. 52PostnBeam says:

      Hmmm, house sounds cute but your kitchen is actually bigger than mine … I have a dedicated wall that is exactly 132″ (11′), and if I put the fridge, stove, sink, and dishwasher all on that wall, there’s only room for maybe one base cabinet. So, I’ve been going back and forth with various L, C, U, and aisle layouts where the remainder of the cabinets are in the open floor plan room — the kitchen expands into the dinette and living room. The 11′ kitchen wall is also the first thing seen upon entering the main part of the house, so it’s a biggie. Hence the year of searching and planning.

      You have a hand of aces on your floor?! Rad!

    11. I have seen many photos of kitchens and also cabinet advertising pieces and I have to ask……..Why do all of those kitchens seem so large? Even Pam’s kitchen looks huge. I’ve not been in a house with huge kitchens…….except maybe for the 1963 split foyer I grew up in. We had a table/chairs in the kitchen where all 4 of us could sit and eat.

      Even my kitchen now..in Mom’s house (1985) is a galley style kitchen. There is a dinette area at the far end.

      I would love one of those large kitchens.

      • pam kueber says:

        Jason, my kitchen was originally smaller – it was expanded to take over the long, narrow mudroom adjacent, back in 1975. I am on the run right now — I’m in New Orleans! — but when I get the chance, I’ll add a link to a small kitchen I posted once that was, in reality way more typical. I agree: When your house is like 1,000 s.f. not so much space for the kitchen!

    12. I have the cabinet hardware from my antique Lyon metal kitchen cabinets that I am interested selling. Would anyone know what these would be worth to sell. They look just like the hardware that was in.

      The link is….http://retrorenovation.com/2008/01/19/30-photos-of-vintage-lyon-metal-kitchen-cabinets-and-some-history-on-st-charles-kitchens-over-on-postwar-steel-forum/. I have 8 push button latchs, 3 push button w/o latch, 2 push drawer handles plus 3 more that are kinda rusty, though (only the additional 3 are slightly rusty). I also have a few additional misc pieces. I can send a pic if anyone supplies their email address to me.

      Any comments or suggestions would be so helpful.

      • pam kueber says:

        Amy, all the information about pricing is in this story. And, there is more information on the Forum. Good luck.

    13. I would like to photograph a retro kitchen for an upcoming commercial. We would need to do so in the next couple of days. If it would be at all possible, please contact me as soon as possible. Thank you and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day!

      Best regards,

      Layne Howard
      laynethoward@gmail.com
      http://www.laynehoward.com
      714-916-2767

    14. I HAVE VINTAGE METAL KICHEN CABINETS. THE UPPER AND LOWER HINGES ON ONE DOOR NEED TO BE REPLACED. I COULD NOT FIND A MANUFACTURER’S NAME ON THE CABINETS. DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE I MIGHT LOCATE THE HINGES?

    15. Hi,
      We have vintage metal kitchen cabinets from 1940-1950′s, similar to yours posted.
      We have had a hinge bend and need to replace it.
      I can’t find a replacement anywhere.

      Any ideas? I have a picture of the hinge and can send it to anyone who may have more info.
      Thank you,
      mbottani

      • pam kueber says:

        We have identified more than 70 brands of steel kitchen cabinets and hinges etc vary widely. You *May* be able to find something. But in general my answer to this question is: You must find spare cabinet… or jury rig something.

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