A junior high in Lawrence, Kansas, wants color tips for their vintage Geneva kitchen cabinets

This is a fun one!

Teacher Kerri is the shepherd of three kitchens’ worth of vintage Geneva’s and of course – her students.

Dig this incredible extended kitchen – and read on for her question – and my response.

Hi, Pam!

Recently I “inherited” a Family and Consumer Science (HomeEc) classroom with Geneva kitchen cabinets. The school — which is in Lawrence, Kansas — was built in 1960. They are still in good condition so I am interested in sprucing them up a bit. What are the original colors these cabinets were made? The current (and original I believe) color is a pinkish beige.

Here are a couple of my questions:

1) If I am able to get them repainted, how should they be painted? Sprayed, brushed, etc. If sprayed, is there a certain way it should be done?

2) Since I can’t change the color of the Geneva emblem, do you have a suggestion as to what color should be used? I kind of pictured them in a pearl gray, which would be similar to one of the pull-out trays in the cabinets.

If I were to try to stay with school spirit, the school colors are Columbia blue and white. That shade of blue is a medium light blue, which might not look too bad, but might not look good with the emblem. I would like to stay with a color that would help conceal dirt so don’t want to go too light.

Because these cabinets are in a junior high, I don’t really want them to look too retro or the students will think it looks out of style.

Thanks for your help!

Kerri Hess
Family and Consumer Sciences
West Junior High

Well, Kerri, in a word, I recommend: Aquamarine, aka Holiday Turquoise. See the Sherwin-Williams Suburban Modern palette here for the correct vintage shade. And, you can see my Geneva kitchen – pretty much the same make and model year as yours — here — to get the idea.

The reasons I recommend aquamarine:

  • I am telling you, my 8th grader’s friends – boys and girls – LOVE our kitchen, led of course, by the color. It’s youthful but…sophisticated. It’s also quite an au-courant color today – the kid’s don’t even need to know that it’s authentic retro.
  • This color will harmonize with your school blue chairs.
  • Regarding the badges – they should come off via screws inside the cabinet. For your use, I think I would take them off and replace them with….decorative magnets. Over time, I’d keep an eye out for aquamarine Geneva badges. Funny as it sounds, these things turn up once you put your retro renovation vibes out into the universe.
  • If you want or need to replace the countertops – how about the aquamarine Formica Skylark boomerang laminate? Again, I have it in my kitchen, and it’s been a big hit. That said, the countertop you have — is it sparkle dust laminate? swoon! — looks fine. We also heartily approve of your vintage VCT tile floor. If you do replace the counters – go to New York Metal for edging – and be sure to donate the counters to your local ReStore, we retro renovators want sparkle dust flecked laminate!
  • Finally, one of our most active readers/contributors is Lawrence Bill, from your fair city. Maybe he wants to come down to consult…or make a presentation on mid century modern to your students?
  • I bet you could even get a newspaper story out of this whole experience!

Regarding Kerri’s other questions:

  • She’s already reported back that the maintenance staff says they will powder-coat the cabinets, just as they do lockers.
  • And Kerri, regarding colors that we used in 1960 – pretty much all the colors that you see on the SW interiors palette were used – even pink flamingo! Oh yeah – and harvest gold of course!

Let us know what you decide – and how it turns out!

  1. Kim Dronet says:

    Did this teacher ever let you know how it all turned out?? And send pictures?? As a FACS teacher myself with a vintage kitchen id love
    To know!!

  2. Susan says:

    What cool cabinets! Thanks for sharing. I especially love that open shelf with glass sliders on the wall. I vote to keep it pink!!!! Teach the kids about retro–there are enough pop culture references out there. The original Hairspray movie, for example. Mad Men. Who can think of others?

  3. karmi_woolfe says:

    How exciting! I can’t wait to see what happens with these. And tho I love — and always will love — Holiday Turquoise, I’d love to see the in Sherwin Williams PINK FLAMINGO!!!! That gorgeous red is timeless. 🙂

  4. Good luck with your project, Kerri! Lucky you, having all those vintage steel cabinets to work with, and a maintenance crew so willing to powder coat them for you! Be sure to send along some “after” pictures! We all want to see.

Comments are closed.