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Not-so-original kitchen cabinets

Questions, answers and advice for people who own or work on houses built during the 20th century.

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Not-so-original kitchen cabinets

Postby prairiebox on Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:44 am

After reading "Bungalow Kitchens", I'm having a problem deciding what to do with the kitchen in our 1920s Foursquare. The original cabinets from our kitchen were lost when a previous owner remodeled in the '40s or '50s (I think). The kitchen was remodeled again in the '80s, and the '50s cabinets were relegated to the garage. Even though they aren't original, I'm considering fixing them up and reinstalling them in the kitchen. With some paint and new hardware, I think they'd fit in nicely. Here is a link to a picture of the cabinets and the current kitchen with '80s cabinets.

I'm interested to hear what people think about this approach. Do you think it's an acceptable compromise (compared to new cabinets; no matter what, the cheap '80s fake wood ones have to go)? With appropriate hardware, will it suit the character of the house? Would it be better to either build or buy cabinets that look like the original 1920s cabinets?

Thanks in advance :)
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Postby thouser on Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:20 pm

It sounds as though you may be staying at this house for awhile . The kitchen is/has become a far to important part of the house to not go all out. A well designed new kitchen that is comfortable and practical even with ready made cabinets would be called for I would think.
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Postby Tujo on Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:54 pm

Those cabinets are almost identical in design to my own plywood cabinets, however mine are painted pastel yellow and baby blue, with the doors left as laminated plywood. The counter is the original blue formica counter with the metal banded edge.

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Postby HouseMouse on Thu Apr 06, 2006 1:18 pm

I think your 50s cabinets could look very nice with a little bit of work and the right hardware -- they're old so they'll have built-in patina even after restoration. WAY better than those 80s nasties! :lol:
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Postby al_roethlisberger on Thu Apr 06, 2006 1:30 pm

I love the old cabinets, and if they will fit your needs I'd go with them.

We had 1940s vintage cabinets in our last house, and I loved them.

They weren't very fancy, but with a new coat of paint they looked great.

Al
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Postby Abuela on Thu Apr 06, 2006 1:30 pm

Your '80's cabinets look a lot like the ones in my new Old House which were installed in 1999:
http://www.oldhouseweb.com/newBB/viewtopic.php?t=9163

If you're on a tight budget and the older cabinets are in good shape and there are enough for your needs, I'd go with those - they're simple enough that you could fix them up to almost any style, but I think it might be cool to make yourself a retro kithen with a linoleum floor and a retro formica or linoleum counter and other 40's/50's decorative touches.

But if you have the money, I'd just go for new cabinets, something that you really want and like and that fits well with your vision of your house.
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Postby prairiebox on Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:28 pm

It's not the cost that I'm worried about as much as the "feel" of the cabinets. New cabinets, even ones that are period appropriate just don't feel like old cabinets. The angles are too sharp, and you can just tell that they're new. I know the '80s cabinets have to go, but I'm very hesitant about buying new ones.

To answer Thouser, yes, we're going to be staying a while, possibly forever. We actually have too much storage in the current kitchen. Or rather, we have too much of the wrong kind of storage. There's no room for larger items, and too much for little stuff. There is also a lot of wasted space because of the soffits. The old cabinets will eliminate the soffit, and some of the wasted space will be reclaimed. We still will have to fabricate at least one lower cabinet for baking sheets and such, but I've read that making a plywood cabinet isn't horribly difficult.

Abuela - I think your cabinets are nicer than mine... :) The faces and doors on mine are wood, but the box is just particleboard with a faux woodgrain laminate. I do plan on going "retro" with my kitchen, but probably '20s and '30s more than '50s.
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Postby HouseMouse on Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:51 pm

This is fun: Revolution in the Kitchen. Click on the red "Revolution in the Kitchen" bar on the right (#4), then click on the blinking "Launch rich media" bar on the upper left, then "continue" then the top bars for 1930s and 1950s kitchens.

You sound like you really want to redo those old 50s cabinets. :) Sounds like they would work well in your space. And you're right, unless you pay through the butt, you'll never get fool-the-eye-to-old new cabinets.

I think your 50s cabinets could look wonderful with some retro hardware (try Rejuvination, they have lots of great kitchen hardware). You cold do a lot of 20s and 30s stuff and mix in a few 50s accents and you will have a kitchen that spans a few eras just as if it had been updated back then. It would look great, I think.
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Postby moonshadow317 on Fri Apr 07, 2006 2:14 pm

What makes you think that those cabinets are from the 50's and not the original?

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Postby kwill1229 on Fri Apr 07, 2006 3:38 pm

Had those. Ripped 'em right out. No, really.

At first we were just going to paint everything. Thinking we'd do something more permanent when time and money permitted. Then we decided to make new frame and panel doors and use the existing cabinets. Finally, we decided to make everything free standing.

We purchased a Hoosier cabinet, we bought several antique pieces (upper & lower), painted them and moved them in. The only 1950s cabinet left is the one that houses the sink (if an old wall hung farm sink could be fitted with a garbage disposal, that cabinet might be gone too). We are going to clad the sides & front in beadboard and make new frame & panel doors for it. Luckily, we have a built-in in the dining room and we have a cold storage room in the basement for additional storage. But I have to say that I have not felt that I have too few cabinets in the last year. I am probably tidier and don't keep things around that I don't need, but it's always nice not to have Tupperware attack you when you open the cupboard.

Do a search on "unfitted kitchen" (which is the British term) or "freestanding kitchen". Apparently this is the typical British kitchen, so they have tons of pictures of kitchen layouts & styles. I find that large antique pieces here in Ohio go for a reasonable price. That does not apply to Hoosiers. We got ours fairly cheap and restored it.

Go to our website at http://am4sq.com, click on the House Stuff button and then the kitchen on the schematic to see our kitchen project.
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