Wood-Mode kitchens from 1961 — Slide show of 15 photos

vintage-wood-mode-kitchen-cabinets-1961Let’s hear it for well-made, wood kitchens in mid-century homes. There’s virtually no name bigger in wood cabinetry than Wood-Mode. Their website says they have been in business about 60 years — that puts their start right in the heart of the postwar boom. This catalog from 1961 shows cabinetry made in three woods — oak, maple, and knotty pine. There were four door styles — Colonial, Contemporary, Provincial, and Classic. (Compare that to the dozens of door styles available today. Another example of how, “Life was simpler back in the day.” And, there were 22 natural finishes and 12 enamel finishes. (Okay: Complexity here.)

If you have original wood kitchen cabinets… and they are in good shape… please think twice about repainting them. Over time, and as we continue to get our heads around this mid-century look, I predict that “original patina” cabinetry like this will become even more desirable.

Enjoy the slide show — these are also great fun to scrutinize for design ideas and accessories.

  1. Reeba says:

    We have IXL Goshen Wood Mode cabinets dated 1966. Too bad the original owners didn’t take care of the finish on them. The finish was dark & gummy from years of the original owners cigarette smoking and cooking in the house. We tried to clean the finish to restore it but it didn’t work. We could not get that honey colored wood back. You could see inside some of the doors the true color which was nice. I opted to refinish them hoping removing the poly and resealing them would bring out the wood. However, once I began stripping the finish I was sadly disappointed to find out the doors were all MDF. Only the cabinet boxes were solid wood. As a result I ended up painting them because you can’t stain MDF. We ended up paitning them cream since the counter is that cream/marble stuff with the chrome edging. Then I swapped out the tarnished copper dated knobs for white ceramic. This look has lasted us about 10 years but it’s time to repaint again and get new hinges this time. I agree with one of the previous comments about IXL cabinets, the hinges are very weird. A rectangle if you will inside the cabinet door that mounts to the cabinet box face. While generally I love retro, the sad part of these cabinets is the doors. Wish they had been wood. They are thin and adding molding to them or refacing them isn’t really feasible the way they are mitered around the edges. They are also loud when closing them because the latch mechanism is actually a catch that clicks shut. They do not latch on their own, you have to push them closed. It makes for some pretty loud cabinet use but they are still standing anyway. Just replaced the bottoms in the lower cabinets this year. Just wanted to share our experience with the IXL Goshen Wood Modes that are now 52 years old.

    1. Gaile Bee says:

      I’m so glad you wrote. We purchased my in-laws house after he died. He was a builder and put in the cabinets like yours. What a mess we have. My husband likes to see the wood grain but not much in these. I’m going to paint them. Some day when I win the lottery I’ll get my new kitchen.

  2. Mary says:

    I bought a whole set of wood mode cabinets off of the classifieds (before Craigslist). I knew they were a great deal because my dad sold kitchens in th 1970’s an this family was taking out more than 20 upper and an equivalent lower for less than $1500. They are the very dark oak vertical oak plank style, which was perfect for my house a 100 yr old arts and crafts. And, they would give me more than I would need to play with the layout when I got that far. That was 20 yrs ago. The cabinets were marked 1970 on the back, this is 2017, and I am now looking for ways to give them a clean up/maybe a fresh stain.

  3. karen rosenbluh says:

    I have Woodmode cabinets from 1982 that are golden oak with the grain showing sideways in slants.
    They still look nice; I found hardware that fits the two inch holes which are an odd size.
    I’d like to clean up the front faces of the cabinets. I was told to use flax cleaner and polish them with bowling alley paste/wax.
    Any one know about this idea? I don’t want shiny but a matt finish.

  4. Wendellyn Plummer says:

    I am so happy to see stainless appliances in earlier homes. We have a home built in 1965 and have to replace the appliances in the lower living level. Now I can buy stainless and not feel bad.
    Your site has so many wonderful suggestions and resources. A BIG THANKY YOU, from me!!

  5. Barbara says:

    I have Wood Mode Cabinets as well ….. while they do need refurbishing … my problem is one of hardware …. the slide on one of the drawers is missing…. the came across the bottom from the front, up the back and the roller hooked into a cradle? above the cabinet …. any idea where I might be able to find one?

  6. Laurie says:

    Can you tell me the name of #7. I have those exact cabinets and I have painted them and updated hardware. Now I would like to update them further, looking for suggestions. They are still in great shape, I really don’t want to replace them!

  7. Angela says:

    oooh neat, if you look closely, #4 and #10 are of the same room, just moved over and one is in color!

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  8. Pat Miller says:

    The #11 is just like our kitchen cabinet style. We have been wanting to add matching cabinets in our breakfast nook which is adjacent to our kitchen to give us more counter and cabinet space. Anyone know of any site that might still be selling these vintage Wood-mode cabinets? I noticed recently that this same style was used in other houses in our neighborhood.


    1. pam kueber says:

      Your best bet: Get the word out to your neighbors. At some point, someone will renovate — and give you cabinets for nothing. Or, maybe someone already has remodeled, and has extras in their basement or garage. Many of our readers have had tremendous results using this approach.

      Other that than, watch craigslist and your local Re-Store Habitat for Humanity(s). That’s going to be a needle-in-a-haystack endeavor, though — I think your best bet is canvassing the neighborhood.

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