Retro style wood cabinets for a 1950s or 60s kitchen renovation

Steel kitchen cabinets are what started me on this road to the retroblogosphere. But I also completely admire the look of nicely executed wood cabinetry. In reality, it was a Steel vs. Wood dual for most of the 50s with the two industries duking it out for the heart of the mid century housewife. And Wood won!omega-vail.jpg

I will do more posts on this most fascinating and important of subjects over time. But to start, one recommendation if you want to go with wood is to: Consider Dynasty cabinetry in the Vail door style shown. 

You’re looking at a “slab” door in a “full overlay.” It’s basically identical to how steel cabinets come together – just in wood. Streamlined, not fussy, 50s and 60s Modern. There are a number of finishes – and you can match them to the vintage photo I’ve shown. I’ll post more as I find them.

Add the right cabinet pull, or have them notched and go without. You could even skip the kick plates and put them on little Danish legs – that would be really Modern. Omega can, I believe, even notch out the “air vents” in the sink cabinet, if you want that.

A couple more notes:

  • This recommendation is for stained finishes only. If you want to get new wood cabinets and paint them (like the wall cabinets in this image) — you may want to consider MDF doors, which may take paint better — ask a pro. 

  1. Robin, NV says:

    Was just perusing some of the older posts and alighted on this one. I checked out the Omega Cabinet website. I was thinking it would be awesome to order their cabinets in two opaque colors. The bottom cabinets in one of their inset styles in “Pesto” (which looks like avacado green to me) and the upper cabinets in the Half Milford style in a creamy color. That would make for a fabulous early 70s kitchen for sure! I’ll have to keep this in mind if I ever start a kitchen from scratch.

  2. Lynn says:

    OMG! That is the exact door style I had picked out on my own. I was going to use red birch in a light stain, but that’s when I was going to totally tear out my kitchen. My new “love what I have” plan is keep the layout, including wall oven and electric cook top, and just paint it all and get new hardware. I researched your countertop stories, and I think I have the white onyx pattern from Formica..still in excellent condition. The backspalsh tiles are also white and look brand new. I’m leaning towards a light or medium gray with stainless pulls.
    This is a 1960 ranch, but the current kitchen is maybe mid 70’s or 80’s.

  3. Nicole Vonder Bruegge says:

    This is a fantastic site! I have been dying to redo my kitchen and bath since we moved in, and now I have the tools!

  4. chrisc says:

    I’m looking for the hinge pins that are found in old metal kitchen cabinets. They sort of look like the inside of a ball point pen,(dowel with a spring) that insert into a door and have spring loaded heads that pop into the flange that is attached to the cabinet. I had a set of cabinets refinished and the painter lost a few hinges making the cabinets sort of useless. (but good for poltergeist, since they fall off randomly.)

    I see a lot of these cabinets on the net and often they are just going to get tossed during a remodel if they are in poor shape. I doubt if the hinge pins can be in too bad of shape no matter what the condition the cabinets are.

    A picture of what I am referring to can be viewed here:

    If the picture is still there, I still need the hinges.

    If the picture is gone, and you need hinges I may have picked up some spares.

  5. 50sPam says:

    That’s great to hear, Laurie. I was doing research on other wood styles last night and have a few more that I am planning to post. The bottom line: “Modern” melds very well with more traditional styling – especially if you put love into the project!

  6. ranchredo says:

    It’s funny because when we redid our kitchen we couldn’t afford fancy cabinets, so our choices were very limited. We went with hickory cabinets, but everything else in the kitchen is very mod. It’s truly amazing how good it looks. I was really worried at first, because when you’re in the middle of a project it’s difficult to imagine the finished product, but it worked out great and really has a 50’s flare.

  7. 50sPam says:

    Hi kbk. The photo is from an advertising pamphlet I have, no date, sorry. Ditto the previous photos I had up. I have lots more advertising ephemera, a stack a foot high actually, and will be posting much more over time.

  8. kbk29 says:

    Could you give me a hint on that publication and what month that was out? I would be curious to check it out. Thanks!

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