Purple and walnut 1970 St. Charles metal kitchen

Purple-vintage-st-charles-cabinetsJust when we thought we had seen every color of vintage St. Charles metal kitchen cabinets here on Retro Renovation, this set showed up. Purple — yes purple — and walnut 1970s St. Charles kitchen cabinets on the Detroit metro Craigslist. Special thanks to seller Ken for granting us permission us feature these photos on the blog and for our archivapalooza of vintage steel kitchen cabinets.

purple-st-charles-lazy-susanThe Craigslist ad states:

I am selling a full 19 piece set of St. Charles Steel Cabinets with island. The cabinets were produced in 1970 and finished in purple paint and some cabinets have a walnut veneer, which is original, with a purple or white interior. The kitchen is arranged in a “L” shape and has an island. The lower cabinets that are 28.5″ high x 24″ deep. The sink wall has cabinets with the following widths, 28″, 24″ (with drawer), 15.5″(3 drawer base), 18″(3 pull outs) and two 34.5″ tall cabinets with width 18″(pull out trash, divided drawer, butcher block), and 44″(lower pull out). The range wall has cabinets with the following widths, 22″(2 lazy Susans), 21″(4 drawer), 28″(range cabinet). The island cabinets are all purple and 34.5″ high; they are 15″, 30″ and 15″ wide, respectively. The sink wall has 5 upper cabinets; all are 12″ deep, 4 are 36″ high with widths 42″, 42″, 42″, 21″. The over sink cabinet is 24″ high and 33″ wide. The range wall has two upper cabinets with widths 33″ and 21″. I also have a St. Charles bath vanity [Retro Renovation emphasis] with three cabinets and a bar with 2 cabinets.

I can include a matching double oven with the sale, it is dated but in working order. There is also a matching Sub Zero refrigerator for sale in the craigslist appliance section for $3250. The price will be discounted if you are interested in purchasing both items.

purple-and-walnut-st-charles-cabinetPam says she has never seen purple metal kitchen cabinets in the flesh. The only mention of purple (spring violet to be exact) St. Charles kitchen cabinets she’s ever seen was an illustration in their 1957 brochure from the post St. Charles steel kitchen cabinets: A look at their line circa 1957. Pam does not have any later catalogs in her hoard collection, though…

purple-st.-charles-cabinetThere are so many built in organizers, lazy susans, pull out drawer inserts and even a pull out garbage bin in this set. Whoever ends up putting these cabinets into their kitchen will be very organized.


We have seen this style of wall cabinet a couple of times before — for example, a huge set here. We would guess these doors are very high quality… but then, St. Charles was the creme de la creme.


The original manufacturer’s care instructions are still attached to these cabinets — it looks like the owners have heeded this advice. This set looks to be in very good condition.

CategoriesSteel kitchens
  1. Marjorie says:

    Can someone tell me if the exterior if these cabinets are laminate or veneer? I want to freshen mine up (remove scratches and resurface) but I don’t know what they are.

  2. khadija says:

    I had steel cabinets while living in student housing. I love love love steel cabinets. Mice and bugs can’t get through them, they don’t sag they always look impeccably new. Why do we even use anything else??? I don’t even like purple but I would love these cabinets!

  3. George says:

    I am working on restoring a set of these cabinets right now. 1. They can be sandblasted (carefully) and powder coated to any color you want.

    2. I have not been able to find new rolloers for the drawers. The slides on the drawers are welded in place, so this eliminates replaceing them. Almost all modern drawer hardware uses slides with ballbearings. These are made for mostly wood cabinets, so the old roller glides can simply be unscrewed an replaced. As a result, none of the major manufacturers make anything with rollers. I have two drawers that are non-functional because the rollers are broken. Keep this in mind when you are buying used St Charles units.

  4. Erica W. says:

    I have some of these! I bought a set of metal cabinets that had been in a local dentist’s home dental office. They were a combination of purple and an ecru-ey color, and some of the ecruey ones appeared to have once been purple and then painted over. The upper cabinet has curved edges and glass doors and shelves. I also have that multi-sized drawer. I love these — I put them in my butler’s pantry and gave the ones I couldn’t use to a neighbor.

    1. Sara says:

      I have a full kitchen of these St. Charles cabinets in plum circa 1962! They desperately need refinishing, but I hate to mess with original perfection.

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