Today: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About “Cabinettes” But Were Afraid To Ask.” Over on the Retro Renovation Forum, cabinet-hunter pja2trees wasn’t afraid to ask, “Could you please explain what a ‘cabinette’ is?” 52PostnBeam, aka Helen, who is the mega-expert, responded:
A ‘cabinette’ is a small cabinet with sliding glass doors, popularized by General Electric. It’s usually mounted under the upper cabinets, or less frequently they’d be mounted atop the backsplash, with the base cabinets slightly extended from the wall to accommodate. They’re often seen in conjunction with the GE Wonder Kitchen and the GE wall mounted fridge – products both marketed in the mid 50s.
Above: An illustration of a 1957 GE Wonder Kitchen from Helen’s archive. You can see the cabinettes in pretty much all their variations here. Yes: That’s a “Wonder Kitchen”: One long piece of stainless steel countertop incorporating a sink and cooktop, with oven t the right, cabinets including dishwasher underneath. We see these occasionally on the Forum, they are quite the marvel.
The unique spelling “cabinette” is from GE’s marketing materials. The sizes came in 21″, 30″, 51″, 54″, 64″ … and possibly 12″, 18″ and others. Additional photos:
The vast majority of these type cabinets were made by GE, but Geneva made a version with thicker reeded glass. St. Charles and Lyon also had their own versions.
Thank you, 52PostnBeam.
Now: Why didn’t these undercabinettes remain popular and continue into today? I am going to speculate: (1) These cabinettes did not leave enough counter space for the growing list of kitchen appliances women wanted to leave out on the counter. Another thought: (2) Wood cabinets came to dominate anyway… and the cost to make units like this in wood was prohibitive — although we certainly did see the rough concept continue with corner appliance garages. And (3), I think that GE was out of the steel kitchen cabinet business sooner than others.
Aren’t vintage steel kitchen cabinets fascinating? Continue work on your Retro Renovation undergraduate, graduate or ph.D. degree by reading more here:
- My “short history” of vintage metal kitchen cabinets
- Helen’s survey of pricing for premium steel kitchen cabinets (Another lesson from Professor PostnBeam.)
- 86 stories in my Steel Kitchen cabinets story archive!
When they left the market, so did cabinettes. What do you think, Helen? Readers?