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January 14, 2010

Ron’s Vintage Republic Steel Kitchen – Unlimited Potential

Ohhh! You know we love to see restoration and period renovation on this site!  Everyone give a big hello to Ron, who recently sent me some amazing pictures of his “new” mid-century house.

Ron needs a little help with his kitchen cabinets, and I so I decided to share his story with all of you!

Ron writes:

I purchased my 1955 house in September, so it is very much a work in progress in many places. The house had sat vacant for a year as the previous owner had been placed in a nursing home. The house is about 1,300 sq feet and has many of the original features still in place. I haven’t done much in the kitchen yet. I gave it a good scrubbing, I installed the light over the sink (it was salvaged from an old diner that was going to be torn down).
I HAD TO remove the old wallpaper; it was a lovely rose design (I’ve included a picture of that to stress the need of removal)
I also installed 3 shelves over and around the refrigerator.
I hope to work on the kitchen sometime this year. I’m not sure exactly how I’ll refinish the cabinets, I have read that I need to remove them and have them “soda blasted” and then an article said I should get them “powder coated”. I really just want them to have the shiny finish that they have on the interior of the cabinets. I hadn’t really thought of any color other than just plain white (Maybe I should be open to other colors).
The tile on the countertop is white with gold flecks. I included a photo of that. I plan to keep these, they just need to be regrouted. I also want to add a tile backsplash. I don’t think I’ll be able to locate any more of this tile but there is always E-bay and the local Habitat for Humanity resale so I haven’t given up yet.
I also hope to pull up the industrial grade carpeting and replace it with the Vinyl Composite tiles like you and your husband did. I don’t think carpeting belongs in kitchens, I’m too much of a klutz for carpeting in there. It is so much easier to clean up with tile.
I hope you will enjoy the photos and any feedback is always welcome!
Wow, Ron. Thanks so much for sharing!  Yours is definitely a kitchen with potential.  It is too bad that the cabinets were painted over, because that wood-look finish is a pretty cool thing.  I just have a question about the paint on the cabinets, how well stuck to the cabinets is it?  I can’t imagine paint actually sticking to my metal cabinets at all, even if they were sanded a bit before painting. It might be an easy fix to try and gently scrape off the paint and then polish up what is underneath.
If that is a no-go, I would recommend visiting Retro Renovation.  Pam has tons of information and will be full of ideas if you send her an email. But as I understand it and as you mentioned, refinishing the cabinets requires taking them out and sending them to an auto body shop to have the old paint taken off and the new paint put on.  It is truly a beautiful thing when it is done, and you will have some very unique cabinets when you are finished.  I am not sure how the cabinet removal will work if you are planning to keep the countertops intact, though. Hmmm.
In terms of color, the sky is really the limit for you! With your neutral countertops and the fact that you are getting a new floor, you could probably paint your cabinets any color you wanted.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I adore having colored cabinets instead of white.  But I love the white cabinets in my laundry room just as much as their blue kitchen cousins. 🙂
By the way, I love your collection of vintage kitchen items displayed on your shelves!  I have that same set of divided plastic picnic plates.  I guess great minds DO think alike. Thanks again for sending the photos and the story, Ron. We are glad you found us.
Feel free to chime in readers, and give Ron your two cents!

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9 Responses to Ron’s Vintage Republic Steel Kitchen – Unlimited Potential

  1. Annie B. Reply

    January 14, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Congratulations, Ron, on your fabulous mid century home. What wonderful cabinets! I’m so envious of anyone with vintage steel cabinets. Love the rescued light fixture over the sink and that great set of aluminum canisters. You’re going to have so much fun restoring Your new home!!

  2. sablemable Reply

    January 14, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Nice cabinets, Ron! Hurray that you bought a classic MCM house! Kudos!

    Yep, visit Retro Renovation where you’ll find companies that make vintage flooring and such. Besides, Pam has metal cabs in her home and she knows a lot about them (one of her passions).

    Can’t wait to see more photos of your kitchen-and the rest of the house.

  3. Barbara Reply

    January 14, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Congratulations Ron! If it were me (which it isn’t), I’d 86 the countertops, have the cabinets refinished and then replace the countertops with formica. That’s actually truer to the period anyway. Have fun!!

  4. Sara in AZ Reply

    January 14, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Great kitchen Ron! It is so awesome that you want to keep everything. I am sure I read somewhere about metal cabs being refinished/repainted on site (without being removed) *BUT* if they have been painted over the original finish they probably would have to be removed to be refinished. I agree with Barbara, if you have to pull out and refinish the cabs put some Formica countertops in. You could install the retro Turquoise boomerang Formica and that would look fantastic!

  5. Deb Reply

    January 14, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    So Ron, it doesn’t look like the countertops need to be regrouted from your pic – just cleaned. Denise at livinglifecreatively.com had a post the other day about Kaboom with an INCREDIBLE pic of what a good job it did cleaning the grout on her pink bathroom tile floor. If you do decide to replace the countertops, I agree with Sara in Az. I did ours with Formica turquoise boomerang and love them. Good luck!

  6. Ron Reply

    January 15, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Ruth, Thank you so much for posting my kitchen pictures yesterday! Also a big Thank you to all who provided feedback. I think this spring I’m going to start tackling the cabinets. Ruth, I liked your idea of seeing if I couldn’t just get the latex off and restore the original wood grained finish. I think I will try this first. Luckily, I have a matching cabinet in my laundry room which had the same treatment as the kitchen. I’ll try taking one of those cabinet doors down and stripping it. For now, I think I’m going to keep the tile countertop. I will be buying some Kaboom on my next trip to the store. If/when I have to remove the cabinets for refinishing, I will most definitely look into the boomerang formica. I’ll have to keep you all informed as I start and proceed with the kitchen remodel. Thanks again for the comments!

  7. Harold Wolf Reply

    May 21, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Where can I find hinges for my Republic Steel Kitchen Cabinets.
    Also looking for a couple of doors.

  8. StoneMaven Reply

    May 21, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I repainted an entire salvage BeautyKraft kitchen set for my new house. RetroRenovation was a huge help in finding the T-style aluminum edging for my new counter top since the configuration of the original wouldn’t work in the new house. If you’d like a look I posted pics here, and plan to do a “fancy set” of finished photos soon – I’m tired of waiting for my Dhaaaarling Hubby to declare the wiring finished so we can put up the bead board ceiling. :-/

  9. Richard Reply

    October 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Hey Ron
    I’m currently doing a kitchen renovation and the kitchen has the exact same cabinets in them. I think they look great but this kitchen also has some wood ones I would like to replace with the republic cabinets. Any idea on where to get some?

    Thanks Richard

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