My Forum for steel kitchen cabinets from 40s 50s 60s & beyond


steel125.jpgI launched a new feature on the blog a couple of days ago. Click here to see the new –> Postwar Steel forum where you can buy and sell vintage steel kitchen cabinets.

Take a look, and you will see that it’s entirely focused on vintage steel kitchen cabinets: Buyers, sellers, owners & curious fans alike.

So far, I’ve identified 30+ different brands of steel cabinets from the postwar period.

I am very confident that, over the next several years, the demand for these incredible vintage cabinets will really boom. It’s a pain to find them, haul them, repaint them, reinstall them…yes…but the results are priceless.

I would love it, if readers who already own the cabinets will contribute to the forum. Please feel free to:

  • Let me know if you have a brand not listed – I really want to complete this archive listing
  • Add photos of your kitchens – photos are super easy to upload
  • Add info you have on your cabinets – for example, the cover of a brochure, if you have it
  • And, add listings for cabinets you might see in your local craigslist

I am really eager to catalog all the existing brands for all of us to enjoy and share. Thank you!

    1. pam kueber says:

      bmvh, this is not a DIY site per se, but we do have some stories featuring readers who have had these repainted in different ways. Start going through our category Kitchen Help / Steel Kitchens to get to the stories.

  1. Andrea says:

    I’m wondering if anyone knows how to remove a st Charles cabinet door without ruining or marring it? I’ve got a really nice set in my house but one cabinet is missing a door. I’ve not been able to find a replacement so thought I might as well take the other one off too. Any ideas?

  2. Donna says:

    Do you know what kind of attachment is being used (attached to drill)? What kind of finish does that leave? I tried using a buffer pad to polish or give the metal a little shine. I will try the EZ Prep, denatured alcohol and ProtectaClear.

  3. Donna says:

    I have metal cabinets in my 1954 house and want to keep them, But they had been painted several times. I stripped them down to the bare metal. I’ve decided to leave them as is but I want them to have a shine. What do you suggest?

      1. Donna says:

        I have metal cabinets in my 1954 house and want to keep them, But they had been painted several times. I stripped them down to the bare metal. I’ve decided to leave them as is but I want them to have a shine. What do you suggest?

  4. Kmb says:

    Hi- my husband and I just found a youngstown metal cabinet and double metal sink set at a salvage yard yesterday for $20. We liked the look but don’t know anything about this style. Luckily you all are hear so we can learn more and turn them into beautiful kitchen cabinets. Several questions…what is the best way to repaint these cabinets. We live in a rural area and were just thinking about taking them to an automotive body shop to get some of the dents out (they are pretty beat up) and painted. It is also missing a cabinet drawer and several of the boomerang handles. I am also interested in purchasing some top cabinets if anyone has some for sale or knows of a link. I applaud this forum and appreciate all the knowledge y’all share. Thanks!

    1. pam kueber says:

      Kmb — see the Forum https://retrorenovation.com/forum for Youngstowns for sale. This is not a DIY site, but you can see the category Kitchens/Steel Kitchens for some stories about folks sharing their refurbishing experience. Please also be aware there can be lead in the paint of these old cabinets. Get informed and consult with professionals so that you can make informed decisions. Good luck.

  5. Marisa says:

    I bought my house in late October…a 1948 Cape in central MA. Its my first place and as I’m single…I occasionally think I bit off a bit more than I could chew (its got a big case of the uglies), but I just tell myself I have plenty of time to reno the place.

    But I found your website because of the cabinets. The very first time I walked into the absolutely massive kitchen and saw the white metal cabinets with the funky chrome pulls and old, car door-like push button latches, I fell in love. I even managed to get past the 70s-era cheap wood panelled wainscoting and the harvest gold fruit basket wallpaper.

    So I’m almost 5 months into modernizing the kitchen while trying to keep some of that original feel. I needed to rearrange the layout to have a better working space and add a dishwasher. Adding the dishwasher meant removing 2 of my beloved cabinets but then there was a smaller gap left afterward. Dad’s a former machinist by trade so metal is his thing. He already took 1 of the cabinets we needed to remove and cut a section from the center of it and then welded the 2 ends back together. That probably sounds like sacrilege to some of the folks, but because we’re able to do that…I now have a perfectly custom fit cabinet to fit into that gap. We’re going to do the same to put in the empty space between the stove and the fridge. The entire kitchen will be fully modern…but will look like its been there forever. My goal is not to take the retro/vintage thing to the level of kitschy, but to blend a bit of the modern/contemporary with the vintage.

    I just wanted to thank you because I spent a good amount of time on this site reading what folks had written about painting them, etc. and I’ve found it very helpful.

  6. midcenturykk says:

    Hi all,

    I am so delighted to find this site and this community. What a gift! I’m in the process of buying a midcentury modest house built in 1949. I already have a wonderful collection of midcentury modern furniture that is going to look fantastic in the space, and I know a bit about design in the period, but I am completely new to the world of midcentury modest kitchens and baths. From what I read here the class has all of the classic midcentury modest kitchen and bath design features in tact. The half bath is a wild dusty pink- sink, tiny toilet and tiles half way up the wall and covering the floor. All around the top of the tiles someone very skilled hand painted pink flamingos! The full bath has turquoise/light blue double sinks and bathtub.

    The kitchen has painted metal cabinets and the coolest green flowered laminate counter tops. There is even a paper towel holder recessed in the wall! The stove is a fantastic green, one piece number that has an oven below and another over the top of the stove top. Although the logo on the cabinet below the sink has been painted over it is the shape of the Youngstown cabinet logo shown here. The cabinets have been painted a very light yellow. They feel rough to the touch, almost as if there was sand mixed in the paint or perhaps someone glued some kind of vinyl or other similar material on the fronts? I’d appreciate any advice on how to determine what’s on the cabinets, who to talk to about getting them stripped and refinished, etc.

    I am tremendously excited about making this kitchen beautiful!

    Thanks in dvance.

    1. Marisa says:

      Hi Midcenturykk.

      So I found a lot of comments about having the cabinets painted etc. online. Mine have a really awful paint job a previous owner had done…obvious brush strokes, rough, etc. In my case, it appears to just be paint and on the cabinets my Dad (who is also an automotive guy) has been messing with, he says he’s just been stripping them using a paint stripper, giving them a sand and then spray painting a primer…we’ve only gotten as far as primer at moment.

      I read a couple things online where people spoke about using a type of automotive powder-coat paint treatment where its hit with a high temperature and produces a very shiny, glossy and durable finish (like a car door), but if I were you, I would stay away from anything like this that involves high heat. When we were dismantling the cabinet we’ve customized, we discovered a paper insulation in the door…this would be a very bad idea if your cabinets also have this which I think they all do to absorb noise when opening/closing.

      There are some painting companies that do some sort of electro-static (or something like that) painting that some folks mentioned comes out real nice. I found 1 place semi-local near me that did. But I think I’m going to stick with stripping, sanding, and spray paint. It seems to be working out pretty well so far.

      1. pam kueber says:

        Marisa, I have never heard of anyone dismantling a door. Be aware: Lead and asbestos and other nasty midcentury materials can be lurking anywhere including in insulation. Lord knows what that stuff is made of. I always advise to consult with professionals when you buy the house and then again if you start messing with the original materials and start uncovering more layers. Also: re putting those doors in ovens – we also have heard reports that the heat may warp them — something to be very aware of if you can’t afford to “lose a few.”

Comments are closed.