Classic midcentury wood kitchen cabinets from 1948 — 20 pages of Nu-Style by Bilt-Well

1940s kitchen cabinetsWood kitchen cabinets were surely more popular than steel kitchen cabinets after World War II. Homemakers were very familiar with the comfort of wood, and although I don’t know this for an academic fact, steel cabinets must have been more expensive. Wood cabinets also other benefits — they are “warm”, dents and fingerprints are less likely to show, and you can repaint them relatively easily. I tend to think that there were many makers of wood kitchen cabinets nationwide, each selling into their locality or region. Today for your viewing pleasure: A 1948 catalog from my collection full of stylish kitchens designed with wood kitchen cabinets. The company is Bilt-Well, manufactured by Carr, Adams & Collier Co. of Dubuque, Iowa. 

bilt-well kitchen cabinets catalog pageThe style is “Nu-Style”. That seems to be: Slab-front, radius-edge door panels and drawer fronts… at close to full overlay. This is very much akin to the design of steel kitchen cabinets. Sleek. Fitted.

1940s white wood cabinetsThe year is 1948, so America is still very much in recovery from World War II. The styling in these kitchens is all very linked to Streamline design that was popular before World War II.

1940s kitchen cabinets with ruby red bases and blue wall cabinets The brochure says the cabinets are made of specially treated Ponderosa Pine. This surprised me. I tended to believe wood kitchen cabinets were usually made of birch or maple. But here you have it: Pine. I wonder if it was “better” pine than we have today. Older-growth pine. ?

1940s kitchen cabinet designsCubbies galore!

1940s wood kitchen cabinets gray base cabinet yellow wall cabinetsThe cabinets are modular, like today.

affordable 1940s wood kitchen cabinets Efficiency rules.

coral kitchen cabinets from the 1940sOooooh, what a pretty color! This page says the cabinets are set on a built-up base, so you can raise or lower the counter height to suite.

bilt-well wood wok kitchen cabinets from the 1940sLots of piece available to maximize every inch of available space.

1940s kitchen colorsThey’re talking up the ability to easily change the color of your cabinets here. Note: It’s fascinating to see the bold colors of 1948!

colors for 1940s kitchen cabinetsSuch happy spaces! a before and after kitchen with new 1940s wood kitchen cabinets farmhouse kitchens updated in the 1940sBefores & Afters.

1940s kitchen cabinet specifications and installation instructions bilt-wel nu-style cabinet units planning sheet how 1940s wood cabinets were constructedaccessories for 1940s kitchen cabinets flour bin lazy susan what not shelfThe catalog includes a fair amount of technical info, too. Oh, and don’t forget (1) to order your choice of two optional flour bins and (2) to wallpaper your soffits, ladies!

Fun, don’t you agree!

  1. Cynthia C Shelly says:

    Does anyone know of a manufacturer that makes this style of cabinets new? Or doors like this can be put on current-manufacture cabinets? I’m hoping to undo the 1990s white melamine kitchen in my 1950 house. There’s a single cabinet like this in my enclosed back porch, so I think that’s what the house originally had.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi Cynthia,

      This style of cabinet door is called a slab door with a radius edge, typically in a full overlay style. (There are also 3/4 overlay styles.) There are many manufacturers who carry this door style today, although not necessarily in the exact thickness or wood as back in the day. You can also check manufacturers of replacement doors (like Barker Doors) for their options…

      Here is my category on kitchen cabinets >> https://retrorenovation.com/category/kitchen/cabinet-recommendations/

      Also go thru Readers & Their Kitchens >> https://retrorenovation.com/category/kitchen/kitchens-hi-pam-reader-spotlight/

  2. G. K. says:

    Such a lovely trip down memory lane to a kinder, gentler time. Makes me want to walk in and bake something, or better yet walk in and have my mom bake something!❤?

  3. Ann says:

    I should have said this in my earlier comment . . . Thank you so much for scanning and posting this brochure. I have printed it out and will keep it with my “house info.” Thank you also for designing the Aqua Ripple laminate. It makes me smile. Last week I treated myself to a retro-style aqua toaster and matching electric kettle. Which I didn’t technically “need-need,” but I certainly did need-want them. If you know what I mean!

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