Nancy’s metal kitchen cabinets get a fresh coat of paint — and lots of new red accents

retro-kitchenReader Nancy has shared much of her home with us in the past — most recently the interior and exterior of her newly constructed retro inspired pool house. This impressive before-and-after is in Nancy’s main house — where she restored her original aqua St. Charles metal cabinets and, to dial up the playfulness, added lots more red. There’s just something so… cheerful… about this color combination.

Nancy’s retro kitchen renovation — BEFORE:


Nancy writes:

We LOVE our kitchen!! I feel like our granddaughter spent the first 2 years of her life on the large island in her bouncer!  The kitchen is so nice & roomy that all of the family can cook in there together! We love having theme meals with everyone in charge of something. To me that is what a kitchen is all about.  The person that said the kitchen is the heart of the home got it right! I also think the original colors that were selected for the kitchen are very beautiful.


The original St. Charles metal cabinets were painted light aqua and dark aqua, and we used the bottom of the drawers to repeat those same colors once they had been cleaned  (with the age and all the light in the kitchen our original colors had faded).



Nancy’s retro kitchen renovation — AFTER:

mid century modern kitchen

The original flooring was the asbestos, off white tile that was very much in need of being replaced. I love color, so had to add some to the floor to make it easier to clean. We chose Azrock by Tarkett. If it works for Pam, I thought it would work for us, and it has! The colors: The checkerboard is made from “red pepper” and “cloud white”, with a black “midnight” border.

The original counter top was the ivory linen formica that really was in pretty good shape for the age.  But, since everything was being pulled out we decided on Arborite, and the color is Red Xabia. The edging is from New York Metal (as per the resource list from Pam).


The ovens are original and wonderful (maybe more wonderful to look at than use but who cooks that much anymore)!!  They are L&H brand which was the earliest Thermador. I had to have them removed and shipped them to Georgia, where they were fitted with modern elements that could be easily repaired. The cooktop is also Thermador.  I was able to find some replacement burners on line.

blue red kitchen

midcentury kitchen

red kitchen counter tops

Sinks are the origional Elkay’s and really in amazing shape for their age & use! The faucets were replaced by original owner.

The curtain is from my vintage barkcloth collection.

red refrigerator

The fridge is a Re Store find. It is a Northland that Kris built in and made front panels that were painted when he did the cabinets.



Over the cabinets I framed a set of vintage Vera napkins (the blue) and a vintage set of cocktail napkins I got from Etsy.

Our dishes are vintage Red Wing Tampico pattern.  I love their unusual shapes, the form is just beautiful!  Also, the way they are painted you almost have a summer side and then a fall or winter side.  At least I turn them for the seasons.

Kitchen table and chairs are vintage and from our favorite guy- Adam Henderson on Etsy (Dead50sModern).

We have so much natural light that I thought a glass collection would be just the thing to finish off the room.  I found these through another very nice Pam on Etsy and just love the beauty they bring to the room!

Thank you, Nancy! Wow, you have completed a lot of work on your house in a relatively short time. Are you done now???

Resource List for Nancy’s Kitchen Remodel


Nancy found the raised dog feeders on Etsy — though she doesn’t think they are available anymore.


Her dogs Buster and Betty — who are brother and sister — love the new kitchen.




The combination of color and whimsical accents — like the pirate ship basket on the table above — make Nancy’s kitchen a cheery and fun place to gather. It seems she has thought of every detail — and used both vintage and new pieces to make the retro kitchen of her dreams a reality. Thank you, Nancy for sharing yet another part of your lovely home with us!

  1. texastechie says:

    Hey! I finally got back in the house. There is an oval plate on the sink base that says “St. Charles.” I almost missed it because it was painted over! Also, there is a stainless steel band that runs around the countertop and along the backspash; husband noted that these two are welded together at the outside corners. I sure hope they can be removed and replaced. I would hate for all those cabinets to be junk. The sink base does have extensive rust in the bottom, but rust elsewhere is insignificant.

    Also, he had planned to spray these in place before we move into the house, even though the chemicals for prepping and painting are way toxic! He and I both have fears of getting in over our heads. We have done kitchen remodels before but never with metal cabinetry. He sells automotive paint and chemicals for a living and has a vast knowledge of that part. We just don’t know anything about taking these apart or putting them back together. How smart is it to take them apart? Should we leave them in place to paint them? Or is it better to take them apart?

    Any answers you might have would be most appreciated!

  2. texastechie says:


    I made it to this website and to your renovation hoping for some counter top details!!! We are desperately trying to get an answer. We just submitted an offer on a 1950 house that has original bathrooms and kitchen. The kitchen cabinets are metal. They need to be painted but they are in great shape! The problem is the sink and counter tops. They must be replaced. The white sink is rusting underneath, and the formica is split and raised behind the sink and at corner seams due to water damage. The kitchen is basically a U shape. We opened lower cabinets and looked extensively, but my husband could not see a way to remove the counter top from the base cabinets in order to replace it. Can you offer any help?

  3. Kimby says:

    I absolutely love this kitchen, I was very excited to see the red metal apple canisters. I have the same set and they still have the 1966(year) tag on the bottom of them.

  4. Janice says:

    Fabulous kitchen! I might even begin to like cooking if I had a kitchen like that to do it in! How much easier would it have been to rip out all those wonderful metal cabinets and replace them with something from a big box store? Kudos to you for restoring them to perfection even though it was probably more work and more expensive. I loved the Big Chill red fridge in the “before” pictures until I saw the Northland. What a great choice. Really, I love everything about your kitchen. Nicely done!

  5. bg says:

    I wonder if all the catches on the cabinets were working or if your restoration involved a substitution of that hardware. We have a St. Charles kitchen, and we have been using magnetic strips to keep the cabinets closed b/c we have not been able to find another substitute for those catches. If you can give me an idea, that would be fantastic!

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