Monday, March 14, 2011

Learning to Love my 50s, Metal Kitchen Cabinets

When we bought our house, we knew our kitchen needed quite a bit of remodeling.
However, since we did not have an endless supply of cash, we had to pick and choose what we'd do first  and what could wait.
The problem was, I kind of wanted a whole new kitchen.
Yeah right.  Who am I kidding?
I totally wanted a whole new kitchen.
My sister in law and 2 other friends had just gotten or were in the process of getting new cabinets, appliances and all the bells and whistles.  
I caught the bug and was sure I needed that too.

Aaron calmly explained how much of our budget that would take, even if we went with IKEA.
Even though I knew he was right, I would say things like, "well, in a year, after we get our tax $ back..."
Obviously I wanted my way.

So we didn't get new cabinets, or new appliances, (except our vintage stove) a new sink, or even a dishwasher put in.
We painted the cabinets we had and put our money into other things.
The kitchen we could live with.  But the bathroom was unbearable.

It's been almost 2 years and we are in the midst of remodeling the kitchen.
It's not the remodel I originally envisioned.
And actually, I am really glad it isn't.

For one thing, we're keeping our cabinets.
They're the original cabinets from 1952.
They're metal.
The hardware is original too--just cleaned up a bit.

The shelves are not adjustable.
There are not any special places for your cookie sheets or over sized stock pots. 
There are no fancy drawers or compartments for kitchen gadgets or recycling bins.
Kitchens in the 50s were pretty simple.
What you see is what you get.

But you know what?
I really like my metal cabinets now.
It took some time.
It took living with them.
It took reading a blog about  a couple who did an amazing remodel of an old house.
Every room was beautiful.
Their kitchen had old, metal cabinets just like ours.
They replaced them with some other kind of cabinets--not ugly by any means--but not the metal.
And I was really surprised to see that much of the character was gone from that kitchen.
It looked just like every other kitchen.
And that was when I realized that I liked what I had.

When you have metal cabinets, you can use a magnet to hang your dish towels from.

And your pantry doors are the perfect place to hang your photo booth picture collection, the baby's ultrasound picture and your bird watching poster.
All with magnets, of course.

And when your metal cabinets are filled with bright, beautiful dishes, it doesn't matter too much what kind of cabinets they are.  Just opening them up will make you happy.

More than anything, I think my cabinets have taught me to be content.
In this small way, I have learned to appreciate what I have.
It is so easy to get caught up in all the things that we want.
How often do I dwell on the ways my kitchen, home, yard, wardrobe, car or whatever could be better?

It is just wasted energy.
The 2nd house Aaron and I lived in had terrible carpet.
I mean truly awful.
When other people agree with you, rather than come up with some nice lie to say about how it isn't that bad, you know it's bad.
I hated it.
I spent the entire 8 years we lived there hating that carpet.
The landlord would not replace it, and since we rented, we weren't going to.
I obsessed over that carpet.
It's embarrassing to look back now at how much I thought about that carpet.
I am sure Aaron sometimes wanted to say, "just shut up about the carpet already!"
But he never did.

It was a great little house.
In a fabulous location.
I loved living there.
Except for that carpet that I apologized for every time someone came over.
Like I said, what a waste of energy.

I just read a book about the various kitchens of the famous food writer, M F K Fisher.  
It was really interesting.
Most of her kitchens were nothing special.
Many, especially those in Europe, were tiny affairs, completely lacking in modern conveniences.
She had one that required placing a board over the bathtub to use as a makeshift counter top and then washing the dishes in said bathtub. (ala Kramer)
Now that is roughing it.
It made me think about what I need versus what I want.
A gourmet kitchen might be nice, and I would actually use it because I cook a lot.
But do I really need it?
I can be happy with what I've got.
In fact, I can even love what I've got.
And I do.
I found this quote that sums it up nicely:

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

Happy Monday, friends.
Next up, our counter top choices.  In Formica.  Oh yeah!
Love from,

For more pics of vintage metal cabinets, go here.  Take some time to look around.  There are some amazing kitchens.  It's fun to imagine what you can do when you think outside the (big) box (store).
This one is one of my favorites.  One day when we're ready for more change, we may ditch the white and go with more color!

To see our first phase of kitchen remodeling, go here.

Lastly, I am linking up to Heather's Life Made Lovely Mondays, here.  If you've never looked at this series, please go now!  It will inspire you and make you smile.


Lillian said...

Your a peach!!

Zac said...

I love the cabs! and the lesson too that comes along with them, being content is something we all need to be reminded of!

April said...

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have those bainets!!! They are so vintage and are very lucky! It looks like you have also filled them with some great finds! xoxo

Katie @ minivan diva said...

Just the fact that you can hang magnets on them says it all for me.

Unknown said...

i came by from the blessed nest and life made lovely blog hop. i truly would LOVE to have a 50s kitchen with awesome metal cabinets!! lucky girl.
i love this part of your lovely indeed...
'It is so easy to get caught up in all the things that we want.
How often do I dwell on the ways my kitchen, home, yard, wardrobe, car or whatever could be better?'

lovely, lovely blog. new follower too!

Anonymous said...

Alcoa Aluminum House Steve........looks great and would love to see more of that red tile floor!!

Gwen @ The Bold Abode said...

I think yur lucky...we tried so hard to find a house with character when we moved...nada...ended up buying a new home with a lovely kitchen, but it's just everyone else's. What a gem you have.

Anonymous said...

You are so lucky. I am trying to find a house to buy with that kind of character, and am only coming up with horrible beige subdivision houses, so I will stay in my little farmhouse rental until the bulldozers come and then I'm taking my 50s wood cabinets with me. Especially with your vintage Pyrex and all, they can't live in new IKEA cabinets!! Glad you kept character in your house instead of generic-izing it.

Lindsay said...

Thanks for this. Our metal cabinets are not so cute. The original hardware is missing, the paint job o change them from turquoise to white years ago, before our time, is lousy, and I don't have nearly so m any of them as you do (love your pantry!!). Still, we are in the midst of a remodel that does not include new cabinets, and I am learning to be content as well. My tastes are not so vintage--I like it, but you have to love it to invest in building the collections that make it work. However, after months, we seem to have found some compromises that will allow us to explore our own more trtaditinal and rustic preferences while playing off the modern edge metal cabinets give.

Erin + Jeannine said...

thanks for stopping by our blog, and for the sweet compliment. Your kitchen is fabulous! In a land of granite countertops and stainless appliances, it's so refreshing to see that I'm not the only one in left field. love your blog. we'll be sure to stop by often :)