Should I Refurbish My Vintage Steel Kitchen Cabinets or Buy New Ones?

published Mar 25, 2014
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Q: I’m living in a 50s era home with a 70s era kitchen. The current kitchen cabinets are falling apart around me, and intriguingly, the original steel Youngstown cabinets are in the basement and are in solid condition. They just need new powder-coating, which would end up being about 10% the cost of new big-box cabinets.

Before I plunge ahead with the switch though, I want to make sure I know what I’m getting into. I am particularly nervous about the fact that the base cabinets have fixed, full-depth shelving, which would mean a lot of very deep, dark, low cabinet space.

So I’d like to hear from other readers who have used steel cabinets, particularly if you cook for a lot of people! (I have five kids and cook a lot.) How did you work around base cabinets like these? Did you find roll-outs or other add-ons that worked well? Did you enjoy working in a kitchen with steel cabinets?

Sent by Lori

Editor: Lori, if you need a little design inspiration, check out this tour of a kitchen with repainted steel cabinets:

Kitchen Tour: Matt and Blair’s Fresh Retro Kitchen

For the logistics of cooking in a kitchen with vintage steel cabinets, I’ll leave it up to our readers. Readers, do you have any advice on the pros and cons of vintage steel cabinets in the kitchen?