Purple and walnut 1970 St. Charles metal kitchen

Purple-vintage-st-charles-cabinetsJust when we thought we had seen every color of vintage St. Charles metal kitchen cabinets here on Retro Renovation, this set showed up. Purple — yes purple — and walnut 1970s St. Charles kitchen cabinets on the Detroit metro Craigslist. Special thanks to seller Ken for granting us permission us feature these photos on the blog and for our archivapalooza of vintage steel kitchen cabinets.

purple-st-charles-lazy-susanThe Craigslist ad states:

I am selling a full 19 piece set of St. Charles Steel Cabinets with island. The cabinets were produced in 1970 and finished in purple paint and some cabinets have a walnut veneer, which is original, with a purple or white interior. The kitchen is arranged in a “L” shape and has an island. The lower cabinets that are 28.5″ high x 24″ deep. The sink wall has cabinets with the following widths, 28″, 24″ (with drawer), 15.5″(3 drawer base), 18″(3 pull outs) and two 34.5″ tall cabinets with width 18″(pull out trash, divided drawer, butcher block), and 44″(lower pull out). The range wall has cabinets with the following widths, 22″(2 lazy Susans), 21″(4 drawer), 28″(range cabinet). The island cabinets are all purple and 34.5″ high; they are 15″, 30″ and 15″ wide, respectively. The sink wall has 5 upper cabinets; all are 12″ deep, 4 are 36″ high with widths 42″, 42″, 42″, 21″. The over sink cabinet is 24″ high and 33″ wide. The range wall has two upper cabinets with widths 33″ and 21″. I also have a St. Charles bath vanity [Retro Renovation emphasis] with three cabinets and a bar with 2 cabinets.

I can include a matching double oven with the sale, it is dated but in working order. There is also a matching Sub Zero refrigerator for sale in the craigslist appliance section for $3250. The price will be discounted if you are interested in purchasing both items.

purple-and-walnut-st-charles-cabinetPam says she has never seen purple metal kitchen cabinets in the flesh. The only mention of purple (spring violet to be exact) St. Charles kitchen cabinets she’s ever seen was an illustration in their 1957 brochure from the post St. Charles steel kitchen cabinets: A look at their line circa 1957. Pam does not have any later catalogs in her hoard collection, though…

purple-st.-charles-cabinetThere are so many built in organizers, lazy susans, pull out drawer inserts and even a pull out garbage bin in this set. Whoever ends up putting these cabinets into their kitchen will be very organized.


We have seen this style of wall cabinet a couple of times before — for example, a huge set here. We would guess these doors are very high quality… but then, St. Charles was the creme de la creme.


The original manufacturer’s care instructions are still attached to these cabinets — it looks like the owners have heeded this advice. This set looks to be in very good condition.


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  1. TappanTrailerTami says

    Wowza!!! Take note RR readers – even if purple isn’t your thing. Given this must have been the top-of-the-line color and not for the faint of heart, I’m betting it may have been an upgrade color (ie, more $$$) so only the bravest and richest could have it.

    It goes right along with the way fancy custom Sears circa 1956 or 1957 frieze sectional sofa I saw in Sacramento, which carried the same color name: “Spring Violet”.

    This is a great buy – hope some brave RR soul snags this, wow, what a kitchen!

  2. lynda says

    Wow! Incredible quality for a very brave kitchen remodel. The sub zero has a walnut veneer front–I couldn’t imagine what a purple sub zero would look like!

  3. Gracie Manasco says

    I would think that this color was for commercial usage… I’m picturing doctors, dentists, children hospital units… etc.

  4. says

    This color purple….Spring Voilet….is listed in my vintage St Charles cabinet catalog. I’m not exactly sure of the date of the catalog, but it’s late 50s/early 60s and just a normal catalog anyone would receive when deciding on what cabinets to buy – not a commercial catalog at all (like for Drs). They also show the purple cabs in the catalog, so I would not think that this was a “special” color you had to pay extra $$$$ for….just another color you could choose like pink or aqua etc.

    • TappanTrailerTami says

      Sara, thanks for the update straight from the catalog……I shouldn’t have assumed they charged extra, since it was 1957 after all……..today, it seems pretty common for companies to charge extra for just about anything!

  5. Sherree says

    At first glance I thought “Yuk”. But after looking at the rest of the photos and seeing it with the brown, I kind of like it.
    I could do a purple kitchen 🙂
    I think I would throw some yellow in the mix.

  6. Melissa says

    Oh glory! It makes me want to redo my kitchen. Look at the condition they’re in too. You’d think they were brand new.

  7. says

    I have some of these! I bought a set of metal cabinets that had been in a local dentist’s home dental office. They were a combination of purple and an ecru-ey color, and some of the ecruey ones appeared to have once been purple and then painted over. The upper cabinet has curved edges and glass doors and shelves. I also have that multi-sized drawer. I love these — I put them in my butler’s pantry and gave the ones I couldn’t use to a neighbor.

  8. George says

    I am working on restoring a set of these cabinets right now. 1. They can be sandblasted (carefully) and powder coated to any color you want.

    2. I have not been able to find new rolloers for the drawers. The slides on the drawers are welded in place, so this eliminates replaceing them. Almost all modern drawer hardware uses slides with ballbearings. These are made for mostly wood cabinets, so the old roller glides can simply be unscrewed an replaced. As a result, none of the major manufacturers make anything with rollers. I have two drawers that are non-functional because the rollers are broken. Keep this in mind when you are buying used St Charles units.

  9. khadija says

    I had steel cabinets while living in student housing. I love love love steel cabinets. Mice and bugs can’t get through them, they don’t sag they always look impeccably new. Why do we even use anything else??? I don’t even like purple but I would love these cabinets!

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