Vintage kitchen cabinet swing-out shelf storage contraption: What is it?

kitchn handy rotating shelf holders

Kersten went to an open house yesterday then wrote me right away, all excited:

Hi Pam!

Just got back from a walk through of a time capsule home (OMG! OMG!) and saw these inside one of the kitchen cabinets. Any idea what they are used for? I’m stumped! (And so was the realtor.) As you can see, they swivel. Did you notice how the wood is cut for these specifically?  Love that.



In following emails, Kersten also wanted to point out: The cupboard shelf edges are actually routed to fit these thinga-ma-bobs.

vintage stove in 1950s kitchen

I also asked her why she is at an open house, since we know she has a cutie mid century home of her own — which we just featured. Is she house-shopping?

1950s yellow bathroom

She answers:

Not really, but whenever I see a time capsule listing, I always check it out.  (Then when it is sold, I show up with a potted plant and tell the new owner that I’ll offer to pay for the things they tear out.) The realtors get a big kick out of how much I adore these houses.

Kersten, please don’t take this the wrong way, but I love you. Thank you for sending these photos, you have made my day. I’ve never seen one, ever! So: Aaaaahhhhhh, to see something altogether new — a strange, simple and beautiful, unidentified 1950s kitchen gadget species — still running free, undisturbed, in its natural habitat….Like you, I would have been all goosebumpy and excited and jumping up and down and making the realtors think I was a rare bird, indeed.

Note, I’ve seen Kitch’n Handy cup holders — long, ruler-like assemblies with cup-hooks that you screw into the bottom of a wood shelf and then pull in and out like a drawer. Actually, I think I bought a NOS one from ebay last year and have it stashed somewhere. There might have been one on the bay recently.

Okay, so, moreover:  What the heck are these woddities (“wonderful oddities”) for, given their design?? Each of the three rings swivels out independently…. Why? What would really fit in there?

Surely some reader who grew up with one will know in a flash. Who’s the smartie today?


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  1. TappanTrailerTami says

    Kersten, thanks for snapping the photos of this awesome time capsule! I just LOVE those big wide chrome handles on the cupboards – and everything else too!


    • Lou Meigs says

      We fixed that problem in our kitchen. I got rid of it!!! I never used them anyways and pointed out to my husband that the micro…tiny as it was…didn’t work in our kitchen; it definitely “ruined the vibe”! 🙂

  2. Lauren says

    Adore the house. Swoon for the bathroom and kitchen. I would so use that swing-out rack. And finally.. the microwave looks extremly silly in there. It’s why I am the only weirdo who keeps hers in the garage.. it simple kills the vibe in the kitchen. lol…

  3. Michele says

    Absolutely charming! I agree about the smaller dishes of yesteryear–maybe that’s why the experts keep saying we are obese as a nation–but I digress…I have a 1950’s set of The Illustrated Do-It-Yourself Encyclopedias and those nifty rings aren’t there. I wish they were! They would be so useful in my tiny 1893 kitchen! Thanks Kersten!

  4. Gabbie says

    Those are pretty nifty! A lot easier on your dishes than when you have them stacked and have to slide things under and over each other.

  5. Melanie says

    What an incredible little wonderful house! I’d move in tomorrow! Love that sliding door that must be between kitchen and livingrroom? The bathroom is to die for! This house reminds me of my great aunt and uncles house that they built themselves from the ground up in the 50’s. They have very similar cabinets that my uncle built himself.

  6. Todd A. says

    My home built in 1950 has two metal drawers that are made by Kitchen Handy.
    The home I grew up in also had them, one for keeping bread fresh and the lower one for flour and sugar.

  7. Loquaciouslaura says

    Question: How do you time-capsule-hunters find the listings? I mean, I guess I can spend lots of time searching through all the listings in my area, but I don’t know how to easily find them. Thoughts?

    • TappanTrailerTami says

      Hi Laura,

      While I’m not expert – maybe others have different methods, I think the trick is to find a real estate website that allows for searching by age of home. The Windermere real estate site here on the west coast allows you to input minimum and maximum years, ie – 1895 to 1940, 50, 60 or whatever span of years you wish to search for.

      From there, most listings have interior photos, so then you can just start looking at pictures. If you are familiar with basic design trends / eras then you can pretty well nail down which homes are still intact vs. having “updates” done.

      Maybe someone else will chime in if they have some better way of finding time capsule homes……


      • pam kueber says

        I think this is on the mark — I used to do the same thing. Also watch for words like “original owner”, “needs updates”, “kitchen needs updating” haha. Also, it has been my experience that when they DON’T show the bathroom or kitchen — it’s one we would want!

        • Sara Paul says

          As a Realtor what I would suggest is if you know what neighborhoods were built in the decade you like, search by zip code. lets you search this way. As an agent we search by mls area codes but zip codes will work. And I agree – lack of kitchen photos dead giveaway.

  8. pam kueber says

    I have been on the run all day long so didn’t get a chance to participate in everyone’s comments. My goodness, I never expected 50 comments on a shelf thingamajiggy! What fuN!

  9. TappanTrailerTami says

    I did discover in an eBay auction description that the Kitch’N Handy Co was located in Tacoma, WA – my home state. Now I think I have to start collecting Kitch’N Handy things!

  10. TappanTrailerTami says

    Wow, this is too cool!

    Here is the trademark info for Kitch’N Handy – Kitch’N Handy name was owned by Washington Steel Products in Tacoma:

    And here are a bunch of photos of Washington Steel Products, Inc. facilities and workers (lots of women!). One of the notations says that WSP was sold to Ekco in 1959! Pretty fun to look through, the photos enlarge if you click the more detail link –,%20Inc.%20and%20Tacoma

  11. 63 Kurt says

    That is the Kitch-N-Handy Swing out plate holder. It appears in my 1952 and 1954 Kitch-N-Handy catalogs. It was meant to hold a full service of dinner plates, luncheon plates and salad plates that would swing out of the way to help save space, but also make them easier to access.

    If you are intersted, I can scan and forward that section out of my catalog. Kitch-N-Handy made a ton of great space saving gadgets for the kitchen that all work great.

    • Mary K says

      That is exactly what I was thought when I first saw it. How awesome! Living in a 1955 ranch with the original steel cabinets that don’t have this, well, now I’m bummed. How useful this would be!

  12. Nina462 says

    Nice house! I’d buy it in a heartbeat (if I was looking). That is a great idea about going back once the house is sold…..I may have to start doing that, as I love to go to open houses on Sunday afternoons. hmmmm- (I usually tell the realtor about this website to help potential buyers, as well).

  13. Josey says

    How funny- I just ordered one of those plate holders on ebay, only it was sold as a “towel rack”. Oh well, now i have an awesome plate holder!!!

  14. George says

    I believe that shelf swing out thing is a pie rack/cooler (if pie pan size). Thay are still made today as counter top doodads. Mom baked a lot.

  15. Nancy says

    Found website with catalog for products from 1965. /
    Per website, some products in stock and for sale.

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