Our house was a bargain, priced about $40,000 less than similar houses in the immediate area. Our realtor said, “Well, it’s a bargain to you because you like the kitchen. Most people would expect to spend about $40,000 totally redoing the kitchen.”
Yes, we’re charmed by our kitchen decor, which dates from the 1950s: pink and gray, with chrome trim and boomerang-pattern Formica counters! There are a few worn-through spots in the Formica, but otherwise it’s all in good condition, and all the appliances are newer except the dishwasher, which has such a cool space-age look that we don’t much care if it’s usable. The kitchen layout is excellent, about as efficient as a kitchen its size (10′x10′) can be. But after living in this house almost eight years, I think the best feature of the kitchen is the steel cabinets.
Now I can’t understand why anyone makes kitchen cabinets out of any other material! Steel cabinets
- provide gobs of surfaces on which to display things secured with magnets. In addition to the puny refrigerator surface, we have magnetic areas covering most of two walls! We can hang up all the shopping lists, artworks, nutritional references, cartoons, and inspiring quotes without overlapping. (Note to gift-givers: We always can use more magnets!)
- are coated with enamel paint that can be thoroughly scrubbed with plenty of water, without damaging it. The constant grabbing of the door edges by damp hands takes a long time to wear off that paint–unlike the finish of many wood and laminate cabinets I’ve known. When we get tired of the color (which we thought would happen much sooner–they’re a kind of battleship gray that we thought would be depressing, but somehow it isn’t), they’ll be easy to repaint.
- are extremely solid and durable. They don’t rattle, and the shelves don’t fall out when we pack them with heavy stuff.
- operate reliably. The latches sometimes stick just a little in humid weather, but that’s about it. Even the doors that are missing their latch pegs stay closed until you touch them. The hinges rarely creak, stick, or get loose. The drawers slide smoothly. After 50+ years!!
- don’t have a lot of annoying grooves to gather dust that then suddenly falls into your mixing bowl as you reach for the cinnamon! There’s just one ridged panel, in front of the sink (our cabinets are almost identical to the ones in this photo), and apparently I’m dusting it with my tummy every time I wash dishes, because it doesn’t accumulate much dust. Everything else is a smooth, vertical or slightly curved surface except (unavoidably) the top edges of the doors.
Steel cabinets work for me! If you’re shopping for a house or planning a renovation, I highly recommend them. Like most good-quality home furnishings made of “real” materials, I bet new ones are hard-to-find and expensive these days, but steel cabinets turn up regularly at Construction Junction, salvage yards, and yard sales.