Ondrea and James’ English Rose kitchen: Two sets refurbished into one joyful remodel!

english-rose-kitchen-11english-rose-kitchen-25English Rose metal kitchen cabinets: One of three brands we’ve identified as made and sold in England — and, still made today! But being a U.S.-based blog, we have mostly U.S. readers (84%), so it’s only now and then that we get to read about Retro Renovations from across the pond. And what a delightful story this is: Ondrea and James paired up, and soon enough, were feathering their Bristol, UK, nest with a “new” kitchen. In this case: combining two sets of vintage aluminium — (in U.S. talk, aluminum) — English Rose kitchens into one… and there’s lots to the story, of course!

english-rose-kitchen-21Edited a bit for flow, Ondrea writes:

Hi Pam,

I’m not sure where to start! I moved into my two bedroom bungalow, as I was downsizing after three of my four children had flown the nest. My 26-year-old still lives with us. I grew up in this area, and the bungalow is in a great location — very near the Bristol harbour, Ashton Court and the suspension bridge.

The bungalow from the outside looks very unassuming  (like a wooden shed)! and lacked in character, being a 15-year-old newish build. I knew that one day I would have to add something to make it unique and not just a granny bungalow  –  yes, I also have grandchildren.

I’ve always had a love of anything vintage, I enjoy flea markets and charity shops. 1950s is my favourite.

I was lucky enough to meet James three years ago, and we have many shared interests. At the beginning of this year. we decided to sort out the bungalow kitchen. We looked around all the shops that sell modern units. I thought they were all similar to each other and not built to last and that they cost a fortune. At first we discussed James’ making wooden units to look 1950-60s.


Then I spotted a set of English Rose on eBay. It was February, and I had teased James for not being very impulsive (he’s a deep thinker — likes to plan properly!) So there and then — sitting on a bus — he bought the first set of units online. I cried with emotion (sounds silly, I know) — best Valentine’s gift I ever received.

English  Rose is made from aluminium! It’s lighter than steel and doesn’t rust, also it’s the metal that was left from Spitfire aircraft.

(Pam here:) As often is necessary in projects using vintage metal kitchen cabinets, the couple needed to buy two sets of cabinets — or cupboards, in UK-lingo — to get the number and configuration they were aiming for. I’ve heard from some Retro Renovators who have purchased three kitchens — and from those who have “finished” but are still looking for one last piece to fit just righ.

english-rose-kitchen-12Ondrea continues:

We bought two batches of cupboards from eBay and sprayed them all to match. One kitchen came from Cornwall (cream & red), and the other, from London (blue & green).

The next few months were very hard work. We took them all apart like a giant meccano set and sprayed  everything!


We didn’t use any outside contractors in at all. James did all of the work himself, the spray paint, flooring, tiles, shelves, even sewing the curtain hems. He’s such a star!!


The finished kitchen, the cooker is 1960’s — a “Creda Carefree” — a bit modern! Curtains and clock are original 1950’s.


I also found this lovely 1960s larder.


When James moved in with me, his most treasured possession for sentimental reasons was a 1950s radio that belonged to his friend Keith. Keith has passed away now — he was unable to use the radio so new-in-box as he had cerebral palsy. Now we have a whole kitchen to match!



Wow. Just wow. Ondrea and James, I adore your story, your kitchen, and your touching tribute to Keith. You are our dose of love and joy to start the week! Congratulations on feathering your nest so creatively — and beautifully. And thank you for sharing your story and photos with us!

anemone kitchen cabinetsRead more about vintage metal kitchen cabinets from the UK:

And don’t forget, all’s being built and tracked in the:

  1. Margie C. says:

    What’s the curtain fabric? Vintage, or new, and does it have company name and design name in the selvage?

  2. Ondrea says:

    The curtains are original 1950s fabric (at least I was told that and it appears to be older fabric to the touch & design) they have no label and I haven’t been able to be sure where fabric was from. They look handmade we did have to sew them up a tiny bit to fit the window (they were a bit long).

  3. la573 says:

    Whenever I flip through kitchen renovation books and magazines from the UK/Europe I often see things that to my American eyes look like mid-century fittings. I can’t tell from their website whether English Rose will ship to North America.

    I had a Creda oven we bought in the ’90s (with a neat side-hinged door) in a previous home, and have a Creda Solarspeed cooktop where I live now. They sold their wares (at a slow pace) in the US in the ’90s. Nice stuff. Using appliances designed for foreign markets in the US is problematic though due to different electrical standards (i.e. 50Hz rather than 60Hz) and lack of US certifications. Too bad – I’d love one of those Smeg ovens with the oval window.

  4. Amanda says:

    Hi Ondrea,
    Great work, was wondering if you could advise how James spray painted the cupboards and handles, what paint was used etc. My husband and I have bought some cabinets with the aim of re doing our kitchen but I’m struggling to find details on how we should do this. How far back they should be stripped etc etc. Any advise welcome as yours look so good.

  5. pam kueber says:

    Amanda, this is not a DIY site per se. On questions like these, I prefer/recommend you consult with properly licensed professionals — also remember that old products like these may contain hazards — for example, lead in the paint, etc. — so a pro can help you assess what you are dealing with so that you can make informed decisions how to handle. For more info see our Be Safe / Renovate Safe page >> https://retrorenovation.com/renovate-safe/

  6. s says:

    We redid a 1900 era house about 10 years ago and found a lot of classic wallpaper designs at Lowes. This was floral Queen Anne? style. It needed to be ordered. When it came I saw it had been made in England. You might check their sample books in store. I don’t think patterns were shown then online.

  7. Robin Stroll says:

    I would also like to know where to buy the flooring. I’d like to install it in my condo kitchen.

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