Most retro kitchen steel cabinets date from after World War 2 when steel was the preferred material and quite modern for that time. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise once you start realizing how much steel was produced during the war. At the end of World War 2, steel production was abundant and new markets had to be found to replace the war industry.
US Steel for example promoted their kitchen cabinets and sinks as vermin proof which was a big deal in those days as diseases and pests like rats and mice were still very much rampant. These rodents could not chew their way through a steel cabinet like was the case with wooden cabinets.
Vintage 1950′s Steel Cabinets
The original steel cabinets for the kitchen were mostly white and basic looking. After World War 2 it took about a decade before people in America started to really leave the war and the depression behind them. This manifested itself in bigger, more modern homes being built along with the introduction of vibrant colors, like the famous pink Cadillac.
The same colors that many cars came in were also used to spray-paint the steel kitchen cabinets. This love for steel lasted until about the early sixties when wooden kitchen cabinets started to gain the overhand again.
Although steel cabinets were advertised as being highly antiseptic, they stained easily because of fingerprints and could rust or get dented. Wooden kitchen cabinets on the other hand allowed you to create a much warmer feel and look in your kitchen and after several years of use it was very easy to repaint as opposed to steel kitchen cabinets.
Repainting steel kitchen cabinets requires hiring a professional as painting metal is not really a DIY job. This makes it a lot more costly of course and you might even have to disassemble the kitchen to get the job done. It didn’t take long for some manufacturers to combine the best of both worlds by building a steel kitchen cabinet where the doors and drawers were covered or plated with wood or in a Coppertone finish.
This gradually evolved to the production of steel cabinets with doors in wood before steel kitchen cabinets started to seriously fall from grace in the mid sixties. By that time wood had taken over as the preferred material and it wasn’t until the late twentieth century that retro kitchen steel cabinets came in vogue again.
Retro kitchen steel cabinets and retro kitchen appliances have a growing number of people trying to collect these items in order to give their kitchen a unique retro look and feel. This community is very dedicated as it can take quite some time and effort to find enough pieces to build a whole retro kitchen including steel cabinets.