Bizzaro-Pam-and-6-kitchensReader Pam — who claims to be blogger Pam’s bizarro-twin — has just completed her fourth kitchen renovation using vintage steel kitchen cabinets. And in this — her latest remodel — the story is even better because — stick with us: She (1)  purchased vintage St. Charles kitchen cabinets that we featured for sale from a fantastic time capsule house… (2) moved them into her ‘new’ kitchen, which had failing 1970s cabinets that she wanted to replace… and (3) topped off the entire confection with vintage capsule mosaic tile from that mega stash we featured on ebay earlier this year. Golly, this Pam is a force of nature. Read on for more her story, more pics her latest kitchen epic, and a peek at kitchens past.

Pam writes:

Hi Pam,

I have to say I may just be your biggest fan!  I am obsessed with metal kitchens, everything retro & reuse!  I also love dumpster diving & I am cheap, LOL!  Feel free to use any of my pictures and/or my story!  I would be delighted : )  I have been following your blog for years.  I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Seinfeld in bizarro world, but I’ve kinda always thought of you as my bizarro twin with the same name, LOL!

We (recently) bought a Nashville time capsule rancher from 1950….

Everything in it is original except the kitchen, which was updated in 1973 with cheap quality masonite cabinets. We never dreamed that the estate would sell it to us at a price we could afford. We put a note with a note with our offer about how I wanted to save the house.  It turned out that he sister and niece of the previous owner hated the thought of their sister’s/aunt’s beloved house getting knocked down. They were so thrilled we wanted to save the house — vs. knockdown/build mansion — that they accepted without counter!

It has great features like bamboo walls, and FANTASTIC light fixtures, wall papers, and bathrooms — my favorite one is the pink & black tiled one!.

(To replace the kitchen), I went to Columbia, TN and purchased a HUGE set of MINT St. Charles with recessed lighting, locking liquor cabinet, built in flour, sugar, tea, and coffee canisters, breadboxes, cabinette, and many more bells & whistles — yes, the same cabinets from the gorgeous gray and turquoise 1956 dream kitchen that Pam featured a while back. The seller had the most beautiful mansion from the 1800s. I am so thankful she wanted to restore her house to its original state, so that I could do the same!  She was also planning on selling that beautiful aqua stove (which I would have gotten if we didn’t have gas). I tried to convince my sister to buy it. She also had a great “King” woddity — the combined sink, stove top, fridge, which I’m unsure if she is going to sell!

vintage-retro-modern-kitchen-st chalres metal-cabinets





vintage tile for kitchen backsplashYes, those are the tiles from ebay!  In fact, I also bought some cobblestone tiles from him as well! They will go in the laundry room.

I actually bought three different sets of tile from Mark on Ebay:
1) the kitchen backsplash
2) The multicolored cobblestone (brown, pink, white-gray, maybe just a hint of aqua): Those tiles are going to go on my laundry room backsplash. This is the laundry room that my husband is currently building!  The countertops in the laundry room will be the gorgeous turquoise Formica counters from the house that we bought the St. Charles kitchen cabinets!!!  We will also be using the remaining upper cabinets leftover from the kitchen in the laundry as well.
3) The “aquamarine” large cobblestone tiles (more of a seafoam green/gray in actuality): These will be the entire wall behind the retro double-bathroom vanity that we are putting in the master bath!   My husband found it for me at Habitat Restore & put a pine top on it (long before we bought our current house & I decided to use it as sink vanity)!

retro-70s-ceiling-lightThat crazy light fixture thing is the original chandelier from 1950!  I don’t have the heart to remove it, and I think it is so funky & cool.  A real conversation piece : )

Pam’s first metal kitchen:

Pam is a longtime fan of old fashioned steel kitchen cabinets. Here first steel kitchen is shown above. She explains:

It is the Kelvinator aqua cabinets that remind me of Pam K’s.  We did that kitchen about 11 years ago.

Pam’s second metal kitchen:

When she moved across the country, she found similar steel kitchen cabinets for her next house. Reader Pam calls these “Federal” brand, but blogger Pam thinks she means “Republic”? Reader Pam says,

I found these authentic 1950’s metal cabinets on Craigslist for $600 in Knoxville. Wayne painted them with glossy white car paint and clear coat. LOVE them!!!

[Precautionary Pam K. pops in to remind: Remember, readers, there can be safety and environmental hazards in the surfaces, layers, materials and products in our homes. Be sure to get with your own properly licensed professionals to determine what you are working with so that you can make informed decisions how to handle, become familiar with and use recommended best practices, and also learn about the proper disposal of debris, etc. Read more: Be Safe / Renovate Safe]

Pam’s third steel kitchen:

She explains:

My 3rd metal kitchen — a guest house that we renovated — was cobbled together from little bits and pieces I collected piece meal on Craigslist over the course of about a year. Those are almost all Youngstown but I snuck in a few no-names and put Youngstown handles on them.

Pam-and-Daughter5-hensMy handy husband and I are both kind of camera shy but we have an adorable dog & a beautiful daughter! We also have 5 hens in our family : )



The rest of Pam’s house is also an eclectic blend of retro fun. Her living room even has original bamboo wall paneling.

textured-vintage bamboo wallpaper-in-retro-living-room


Above: A closeup of the vintage bamboo wall treatment — and a cool retro push button light switch.

knotty-pine-retro-built in cabinet

Her living room also has original knotty pine built-in wall units.


Above: Pam’s diverse collection of dining room furniture all works together. Can you see that peek of pattern in the hallway?

vintage-foil-fan-wallpaperThat is original vintage wallpaper. Pam says the bottom of the wall was damaged and couldn’t be saved, so her husband covered the damaged portion with molding.

Charlie-Harper-posters-in-hallwayThe Charlie Harper posters that she has hung in her hallway were purchased after seeing Pam’s story about the government stockpile of Charlie Harper posters for sale. Imagine that. She says:

Thanks so much for the poster link as well. We love the way the look in that ginormous hallway.

One thing is for sure, bizarro-twin-Pam loves her home — and it shows — nothing bizarro about this dream house! Thank you, Pam, for all the sharing!

  1. Kathleenlou says:

    Bizarro Pam,
    I am on the verge of redoing my kitchen with St. Charles cabinets. I own one set and know that I have to buy another. I have a very restricted space to work with. Any advice on puzzling them together? Also, did you always keep the horizontal strips at the soffit and how did you deal with the vertical strips that connect the cabinets? Did you rebuild them or use them at all?

    Kathleen, in yes, St. Charles, IL

  2. Pat from Chicago says:

    Pam, I love your cabinets. I, too, have original metal cabinets in my kitchen that I adore.

    We are going to do some remodeling. Have you ever had any problems with the door hinges? A couple of my doors are “popped” in that they won’t close completely. But I don’t know who to contact that would know how to fix them and my husband, although wonderful, is not at all handy.

    Also, I’d like to repaint them. Some neighbors in our building took their cabinets down and sent them to an auto painting shop for electrostatic painting. It sounds like your husband did your painting. Any tips on working with metal and paint?


    1. Pam from Nashville says:

      Hi Pat,

      Thank you! My husband has worked with metal as part of his job since the time he was in high school. We had similar problems with the doors/ hinges etc. In one case there were more cabinets than we had room for, so he switched out some of the hinges. I was really worried about the doors that didn’t shut right but somehow he knows how to tweak them in a way that they straighten out without denting them? I still can’t figure out how though? For some of the doors that had lost there snap-in doohickies to keep them closed, he glued small magnets to the door and now they work grand.

      As for the painting, that is the worst. I hope to goodness we don’t die of lung cancer from breathing in that aerosolized paint (we wore masks, but I could still taste it-ugh)! Furthermore, it requires special equipment including an air compressor and knowledge on how to adjust the gun and stuff like that. I wouldn’t recommend that to my worst enemy. I’d do like your neighbors & invest in the auto shop! Someday, when I move to CA & do my final kitchen, I will gladly fork up the cash for the professional paint job!

      If you do decide to paint them yourself, I would recommend just using bondo (used to fill in dents on cars) if you have dents, and using spray paint. I have painted several stand-alone metal china cupboards that way, and they turned out quite nice. I also met someone that did his outdoor kitchen the same way, & it also looked quite nice. It would be time-consuming and I imagine not quite as nice of a finish in the end.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Julie says:

        Hi Bizarro Pam! Your kitchens are amazing. I am currently redoing my kitchen floor-to-ceiling (tiny post-war mid century modest in Alabama). I just bought a huge lot of the Japanese vintage tile sheets from Mark on eBay for my backsplash (I had my eye on them even before I saw this post!) and they are identical except for the coloring, gray and slate blue instead of the beige and more aqua blue of yours. Same black squiggles though. Did you install yours yourself or hire a pro? I was just wondering if they were hard to deal with because of the mesh backing being “vintage” although Mark says these are in better shape than some he’s seen. I can’t wait to look at them every day!

        1. Pam from Nashville says:

          Hi Julie,

          I did install them myself. I also did some of his other tiles in my laundry room and bathroom. I’ll send Pam some pics of them. They were easy to work with. It took only a day to set the tiles, and we grouted them the following day. I know which tiles you bought & I love them!


  3. tailfin says:

    Love, love, love what you did with the kitchen! Glad to see it happen in Nashville, where I grew up! I’m curious as to which neighborhood you found your wonderful house? That mid-century brick ranch could be in any number of great areas, as I recall. And love the stone retaining wall along the driveway!

      1. tailfin says:

        Great neighborhood, Pam! Lots of MCM through there and in West Meade. I grew up in the West End, not far from you.

        1. Pam from Nashville says:

          Where on West End? We actually have a house in Hillsboro West End that we rent. We loved it but couldn’t pass up the current house in Hillwood when it was on the market. Kitchen #2 is the Hillsboro West End house and Kitchen #3 is in the guesthouse belonging to Kitchen #2 house! Such a small world! Where are you now?

          1. tailfin says:

            Pam, I currently live in Buffalo NY, which, believe it or not, is a treasure trove of MCM.

            When growing up in Nashville, we lived on S Wilson Blvd, then on Woodlawn & finally in a townhouse on Bowling Ave, all in the West End area. My Dad now lives in The Continental, which is a cool MCM high-rise on West End at I-440.

            But the last time I lived in Nashville (2000-2001), I lived in a corner apartment at the fabulous Imperial House (aka The Flying Nun) across from the Belle Meade Theatre. That 1963 high-rise, with its gull wings, is the most awesome structure in Nashville, as far as I’m concerned & it’s a shame to see it closed down, deacying & awaiting inevitable destruction.

            I’m so glad to see all the wonderful MCM metal kitchens in Nashville, Pam! You’ve done such a wonderful job with each one!

            1. pam from nashville says:

              So sad to see the flying none go : ( I’m trying to get in contact with the demolishers to see if I can get some of that fab railing. Up until yesterday, I have ridden my bike through that parking lot on my way home but they told me I cannot even ride by it anymore. Great talking to fellow Nashvillian (sp? strange word, sounds like opposite of Nash-hero, LOL!)!!!

              1. gsciencechick says:

                I occasionally travel to Nashville to teach a workshop at St. Thomas Hospital, so I know that area very well. I wonder why that gorgeous retro theatre sits unused. Very sad about the high-rise. It truly is a spectacular building, but from my understanding it was ruined in the flood. At the hospital, the staff told me the entire first floor of the parking garage was underwater.

                Tailfin, I am originally from Buffalo! My extended family does not really share my love of MCM. Growing up, I mostly experienced colonial type of furniture while I loved modern clean lines. Although I wish I had the giant clawfoot tub from my original home.

  4. Lauryn says:

    Wow. Having gone through ONE kitchen remodel, I cannot fathom going through FOUR. Amazing work on all of them too … so impressive, so beautiful, and so cool. You and your daughter are just beautiful, too!

  5. Diane in CO says:

    Separated at birth, for sure! You, Pam #2, also have great flair and great taste. Thank you for sharing these wonderful kitchen photos. The bamboo wall covering is just marvelous.

    Most amazing, that 1950’s “crazy light fixture” is soooooo early ’70’s looking to me, not ’50’s. It must have been very avante garde for the time!!! Orange is my color so I love that fixture. Very good of you to save it! 🙂

    1. pam from nashville says:

      You are so right Diane. That orange kitchen light was the only thing I kept from the 1970s reno! You can see it in the before pics. I’m sure I wasn’t very clear in my e-mails, which I am so impressed that they edited into a coherent story! There is a crazy funky double light switch thingie on the bamboo that is from the original 50s burglar alarm in my house, which I didn’t have the heart to remove! I think maybe I was spastic & confusing & the light quote & alarm quote just got just a little mixed up in translation!

      1. Elaine says:

        I love everything in your house and how you love working the original things into your decor. We have a 1964 colonial with a very similar burglar alarm switch in the front hall. A contractor I had in here working on things kept wanting to “get rid of it” for me. No way! I love that thing. the little dohickeys in the windows are all gone now, but that will stay. Does yours still light up?

        1. Pam from Nashville says:

          No Elaine,

          I wish it lit up! The alarm was hilarious. It looked like something out of a spaceship. I wanted to take pictures of it but my hubby took it out & scrapped it before I had the chance. You’ve given me an idea though. Maybe, I’ll try to turn it into a nightlight somehow : )

  6. Alan says:

    FWIW, those Charlie Harper posters are still in stock at the US Govt bookstore. What an awesome find. Twelve bucks and perfect for the basement of my finally-said-goodbye-to-the-contractors-this week renovation project. (Photos, etc. off link from my name above.)

  7. tammyCA says:

    Very cool! So glad to see the time capsule cabinets found a good home.
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen bamboo paneling before…Tiki style would be fun with that. Great job!

  8. RetroSandie says:

    Pam-tastick!!! It’s so wonderful what you have done with everything. The area your new home is in looks beautiful, too! Please show us more pix of all the projects when done!! 🙂

    1. pam from Nashville says:

      Thank you RetroSandie! I’d love to share pics of the current projects when they are done. All of the fixtures in the new bath and laundry are from an 1950’s tear down from down the street, and the double vanity is from Habitat Restore, and the tile from that stash that Pam K featured!

Comments are closed.