Since 2002 I’ve learned quite a lot about steel kitchen cabinets, which were crazy popular in post-World War II America. During the war, we worked hard, saved our money – and dreamed of the day it would all be over so that we could build happy homes with our families. The center of the home then, as now: The kitchen. And steel was the material of choice. Pulling together much of what I’ve learned and covered on the blog to date, I created an entire page dedicated to the history and design of vintage metal kitchen cabinets, along with an FAQ. 3,263 words. Short? Well, there are lots of pictures too. Read all about the history of steel kitchen cabinets.

  1. Annie says:

    I saw my first steel kitchen “in the wild” this weekend, after reading about them on this Web site. I was at an estate sale (70 years of accumulation) in a home in Minneapolis near Lake Hiawatha. This place was a fabulous time capsule! Red kitchen countertops, white steel cabinets. Blue bathroom, with tub and plastic wall tiles. Basement rec room. The works! What fun to see one in person. Love your Web site.

  2. Pamela Brookins says:

    I love these cabinets! My Mother-in-Law had these in her kitchen when I first started dating my husband. They were perfect condition and looked brand new, even inside. I was so sad when she replaced them with wood. Wish I’d had a place to store them at the time. Alas they were relegated to their garage.

  3. Joe Felice says:

    Steel was the key — the all-American material. We manufactured it & everybody else wanted it. After WWII, we had to do something will all those steel mills. Then we invented plastics & how to work with them. Plastic became a cheap imitation for both wood & steel. This included laminates. Then, we discovered how to extrude plastic, and, by the ’60s, there was no stopping us.

    Nowadays, we buy our steel from other countries (mostly Japan), & our plastic and wallboard from China. Ain’t that a kick? No wonder we have no jobs.

  4. Rose Johnson says:

    In 2002 I decided to renovate my 1958 kitchen of GE steel cabinets in order for the kitchen to function for today. So, I bought more steel cabinets filling our garage with all the colors of the 1950s. Then I planned a new kitchen layout that gave me ample counter space and 17 drawers – replacing my previous workspace of about 3 linear feet of counter and 6 drawers. I also updated the insides with slide-out drawers and other inserts.

    My old pantry became shelves for small kitchen appliances at the end of one counter. I bought a 1940s pantry – 15 inches deep and 36 inches wide. I took dining room space and made a niche for the new pantry and refrigerator. I remember taking the old handles from the pantry to a store specializing in handles and knobs. The owner told me tough luck – he didn’t have anything that would fit my holes. I said surely you do. Then I found four stainless steel knobs to fit each each hole. Few would look at this cabinet or my kitchen and say “Wow, that’s old.”

    I studied 1950s magazines and in a McCall’s I found one kitchen designed by Paul McCobb. It used various shades of his favorite blues and oranges for the cabinets. At that point, I knew that McCobb, Nelson and other designers from that era would approve of my plans to update their innovations of the 1950s to work in today’s world.

  5. bepsf says:

    Very Interesting!

    When my Dad was in the USAF, we were stationed at the old Kincheloe AFB near Sault Ste Marie, Michigan…
    …all base housing had steel kitchen cabinets – we lived in a 2 br w/ soft yellow cabinets and later in a 3br w/ powder blue cabinets.

    I’d imagine that you could find TONS of them up there or near any decommissioned military base where the 1950’s housing has been sold to the public or torn down…

  6. Teresa says:

    Oh my goodness! SO interesting …! My sister-in-law lives in the MOST GORGEOUS midcentury modern home – in Belpre, OH…. but I was so sad to see she had swapped out her old kitchen cabinets and the atomic boomerang countertops.

    And the all tile bathroom was done in a classic grey with accents in black… with a matching cast iron tub and sink too! All of the tile was painted over in beige. 🙁 And it still has the original shower curtain rod – which I have looked ALL over to find an original or reproduction to no avail – It’s a hex shape, with the curtain attachment hanging from the bottom… and then runs back and forth in that bottom groove via some sort of ball bearing attachment.

    Love the blog!! 🙂 Great job!

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