My new favorite laminate for a 1940s kitchen countertop

In the 1940s, you could have any color of kitchen countertop as long as it was black. I exaggerate, but only a little.

A couple of years ago I wrote a small e-book, which I never published, all about how to get the look of a 1940s countertop.

In short: Use black.

Like this: Arborite St. Laurent laminate. Three large samples just arrived in my mailbox (I was hunting and pecking what’s new on the interwebs again, and spotted it.) 

I like it. It looks like close enough old Cusheen see here or

or see here, to make me happy.

Get the IM finish, that’s the one I recommend.

Edge it in metal, either aluminum or stainless steel.

Live happily ever after.

My 1940s kitchen design boards:

The 1940s could be so sweet… at least the idealized version we have!


  1. ineffablespace says:

    I would say yes to early 1950s for a transition in interior design (look at early television like I Love Lucy)–with the exception of actual Mid Century Modern, which took off immediately after the war with the Eames and the Knolls and Herman Miller
    Womb Chair (1946) with prototypical antecedents back to 1940; Risom Lounge Chair (1943) using surplus parachute straps; Eames LCM and LCW(1946) ; Noguchi tables (1948); Nakashima Straight Back Chair (1946); Nelson Bench (1946).

    Of course it took some time for the influence of these pieces to make an impact on popular culture. And still, many people think these iconic pieces were designed 20 years later, in the MAdmen era, rather than a generation earlier.

  2. Ms. Vel-Vida says:

    I’m loving this black marble laminate! I’ve been mulling over bathroom remodel ideas and I’ve been thinking the contrast of black marble on the vanity countertop would look sharp against the pink, white, and green tones I’m planning to to put together. This would look snazzy with the Shirle Wagner swan faucet I have been pining over.

  3. Kathy says:

    A lot of old illustrations of kitchens circa 1930s-1950s had deep red to salmon red counters, and I’ve seen pictures of such counters in the wild. The earliest were linoleum.

    My mother had a time working around salmon red laminate counter in the 1970s in our Tudor style house. I wish I had pictures, but she ended up painting the cabinets green and antiquing them, and found a very vibrant vinyl wallpaper of oversized geraniums with matching fabric for the curtains. The breakfast nook was white with green trim to offset all that color, with the matching curtains, and plain white curtains over the sink. It was pretty fab, and of course the first thing that was removed by the next owners.

  4. Nikki says:

    I have and use my stainless steel vacuum coffeepot! Makes the best coffee ever!

    I really enjoyed the “boards” Pam! They are very inspirational!

  5. CarolK says:

    I could kick myself for not getting that vintage vacuum pot I saw at an antique shop a few years ago. I do want to add one to my coffee maker collection when I finish my kitchen renovation. I already have a Chemex, a French press and a percolator.

    I’ve spied vacuum pots on the counters in Leave It to Beaver, the original and best version of Father of the Bride and, IIRC, Merrily We Live among other films. The most classic appearance is in Woman of the Year where Katherine Hepburn tries to make coffee in one.

  6. Ms. Vel-Vida says:

    Kathy, this sounds amazing. You had me at oversized geraniums! I love big bold prints on wallpaper and curtains. It’s sad to think how many of these wonderfully vibrant kitchens were lost to remodels when people seemed to become afraid of bright colors and patterns. Live out loud I say.

  7. Neil says:

    For many of us who are hooked on Golden Age of Hollywood movies…..the kitchens in those 40’s, and 50’s, movies are THE seminal influence of our kitchen taste. Those 40’s dream kitchens are to die for; so cozy, inviting, comforting, cheering, and endlessly reassuring. (And yes, I spent my childhood being nurtured in hard-used but still vibing 40’s kitchens…)

    And in those days, when American husbands and wives inhabited separate but overlapping planets, the 40’s kitchen was the sole realm of women, and were spectacles of what was deemed feminine then: Frills, color, sparkle, sensory seduction; all tarting up the sweaty under-story of cycling, hard hand-labor (leavened with male-invented gadgets to keep the “little woman” happy).
    But boy, they were tres charmant.

    When we remodeled our 1925 San Francisco kitchen, in our comfy Spanish stucco house, we kept the built-in wood cabinet bodies but updated the drawers and doors, adding more to match, and installed charming tile countertops of the period. All in (tasteful, mind you) ivory, green and yellow. I couldn’t resist making some gathered, overlapping, white-sheer swagged 40’s curtains, edged with Loretta Young frills and poised with matching tiebacks, on the generous window over the sink.

  8. Evan says:

    I wanted soapstone when we took out the white Formica in our 1936 Tudor home. Couldn’t swing the price (gasp!) so I settled on a Formica called “soapstone”. It’s very pretty with subtle veining and a nice matte finish. We are currently gearing up to restore a 1947 ranch style with its original kitchen in tact…except for the countertops. So I’m in a quandary again!

  9. Kathy says:

    Arborite has some other great patterns – I just ordered a sample of Stella Yella – doing a 1962 kitchen remodel.

  10. Sarah says:

    We have that original black marbled Cusheen countertop in my 1952 kitchen, and it’s held up great! We love our Youngstown cabinets (with 4 corner Lazy Susan cabinets!) — we sandblasted them ourselves and had them powder-coated glossy white when we bought the house from the original owner. They look brand new!

  11. Kristin says:

    This is an older post but seems like the perfect place for my question. I have a 1947 home with sparkle laminate countertops. It seems sparkle laminate didn’t come out until later (1960s?) and yet it seems too soon for a “remodel.” What do you think is up with this? Thanks!

  12. pam kueber says:

    Hmmm. I don’t know the year when sparkle laminate first came out. Yes, 1947 seems early. That said: We adore sparkle laminate! If I had a 1947 kitchen with sparkle laminate, I’d be thrilled, I think!

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