Two 1948 kitchens in Mary and Duane’s time capsule house


1948 kitchenMary and Duane’s 1948 time capsule house is a sweet little Cape Cod. Quintessentially post-war New England, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a Royal Barry Wills. I need to go through all my books and see if I can find the plan — wouldn’t that be something? Oh. I’m writing about the kitchens. Yes: This house may be small — but this house is mighty! There is an original kitchen downstairs… and a second equally useful kitchen upstairs. Both have original vintage steel cabinets — and more. 

The main kitchen downstairs:

The downstairs kitchen is most notable for its fantastic stainless steel combination countertop + double sinks + backsplash. This must have been SOMETHING back in the day! Remember, the original owner was a plumbing contractor, we are told, so we see lots of little extra something in this house. 

This is my third story on Mary and Duane’s house. The other two:

The original metal cabinets remain. I can’t identify the maker on sight, I might be able to find these in my vintage marketing materials. Don’t hold your breath, though, my piles have piles. 

No more photos of this kitchen. The rest of the space is taken up by a small kitchen table ‘where I’m standing while taking this photo’. As you can see, the original flooring is still in place, and the stove and refrigerator have been updated.

But wait til you see…

The upstairs kitchen: 

Above: An original steel sink cabinet unit with dual-drainboard enameled sink. 

To the left of the sink, a vintage Universal stove!

To the right of the sink: A cute little vintage GE refrigerator.

To the right of the refrigerator, there’s a door to storage in the attic eaves. But lookie close: There’s a can opener attached to the door frame!

Photo dump:

Note: A while back, I did a lot of research going through brochures. The most popular color for countertops in the 1940s, I decided: Black. These countertops are some sort of plastic or vinyl or… ? … mashup. They are not laminate.

Floor is original. Molly let me help her choose colors for new paint in various parts of the house. In this room, I recommended a beige that was found in the floor tile (she wanted something neutral). The new color looks very nice!

Bonus photos: Vintage Maytag in the mudroom downstairs. Doggonit: Even the washers were prettier back then!

  1. Allison says:

    Two points; 1) I’m nearly certain that dryer pictured at the bottom is a Sears Kenmore and not a Maytag; and looks very much like the one I used as a young bride in the early 70s.

    2) In 1948 there were still effects of the housing shortage post-war, with material availability easing but not yet loose. Many young families were living in make-do quarters because the shortage of housing units was still acute.
    The point being, building a house with an apartment upstairs would have been considered frugal and thrifty; a good place for grown children starting a family, or a source of income if times got tight. It was also easier to borrow mortgage or construction money if an apartment was part of the planning.

    Where I grew up, apartments in the basement, or at least a separate kitchen down there were quite common. It certainly made canning in the summer easier; cooler for the housewife downstairs and the upstairs kitchen didn’t get hot.

  2. Debbie in Portland says:

    I love the floor in both of those kitchens. How amazing that both kitchens are still in such fabulous condition. I have a similar stove, and I believe the well was for deep-fat frying. I haven’t yet tried that, though.

    I also have one of those can openers (and three spares, because I’m afraid they’ll eventually stop making them). They are the best thing EVER for opening cans, but I am completely befuddled by the placement of this one. Why the door frame, and how tall WERE these people? 🙂

  3. Steve says:

    Just gotta say, Pam, your blog is like tonic for my MCM soul! I’m so heartened to find here so many others rejecting the “paint it white or rip it out” mania! Your blog is a Feast of Swank, a real class act. Well done!

  4. Molly says:

    Hi – Molly here. The upstairs was made for the owners daughter who was finishing nursing school and came back home to live. So the upstairs is like a small apartment. My parents and I are benefitting from everyone’s positive comments about the house. They are doing great with their big move from their previous house they lived in for 34 years, an 1864 farm house. So this is all an update! 🙂

  5. Mary Anne S says:

    Both beautiful kitchens and I especially love the original appliances upstairs, the fridge even still has it’s crisper drawer with the lid on the bottom. I did have a stove with the deep well, as it’s called. I don’t think it gets hot enough for deep frying but it will simmer beans or soup as long as you want. My gramma always had a pot of pinto beans on the back of her stove and they were always delicious. Much of her life was spent cooking on a wood stove but even when they moved to a house with electricity she still had the beans on the back of the stove.

  6. Bobbie says:

    Congrats, Pam! What you do here is so great! Thank you! I started following the blog years ago – until that point I thought I was the only one who loved pink bathrooms. Honestly, I thought this blog was older than ten years because when I found it it seemed so well established and excellently moderated, a real testament to your dedication and professionalism.

  7. Joe Felice says:

    I can’t believe that someone hasn’t converted the space over the eave to a true pantry with shelves after all these years.

    And yes, back in the day, people actually used linleum as counter tops.

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