Old Hoosier Cabinet, Paint it? Stain it?

mooskiMay 23, 2008

I got a really sweet 1929 Hoosier cabinet off a neighbor for 50 bucks. It needs a lot of work as it's been on her porch and parts of it are water damaged. Most of the 'big things' are done on it already. The bread drawer has been replaced, the heavily damaged back on the lower half has been replaced and the drawer slides are all reglued or replaced. (I had to pay for those jobs, but they're worth it).

Not particularly interested in 'staying true' to historical accuracy or resale value. The cabinet is made of poplar and poplar veneer. It may have been originally painted white enamel and I see traces of dark green here and there too. It's currently 'honey' stained, but the damaged areas look kinda nasty.

Now my question. The inside is unpainted, should I paint that with an oilbased or latex based primer then enamel paint? The outside. I got some birch plywood for the sides and am having trouble getting a color near enough to the stain on the rest of the cabinet. Should I take the plunge and just paint it? Any advice on a vaugely accurate color?

BTW, the work surface is bright wite with blue 'granite' edging. Very bright blue, not my speed, not too bad. Any advice would be appreciated.

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I would work on getting the stains on the new plywood to match the old and stain it...not sure if it's more accurate for a 1929 model...but I like it better. And I would paint the inside, but be careful not to use a color that screams....
I would stain the outside, not worrying if the new and the old were an exact match (after all it's new wood) and paint the inside a color very close to "wood".
Lucky you....but I'll bet you will have a bundle in it when it's done!
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 10:32AM
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I recently saw one in an antique shop--it was painted a slightly off-white ("warm white?") with very simple blue stenciled accents. Just for kicks I got out my old 1928 Montgomery Wards catalog to see if they had a color picture of the ones they sold. Sure enough, there it was---white with blue stenciling. I also looked in my 1938 catalog and they were still being offered and virtually unchanged: white with stenciled accents.

I was interested to see that they show a family eating at the pull-out work surface and that one of the selling points was that a family of four could be seated around it. I had no idea that these were used for anything but work stations, but it makes sense when one remembers how tiny some kitchens were back then.

So, I guess it's really up to your personal preference. I'd paint it if it were mine, but mostly because I hate all the hassles of trying to get new and old and different varieties of woods to stain uniformly.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 1:41PM
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My MIL had one of those in her kitchen, with the big flour dispenser and she used it. It was in original condition. It was painted white.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 7:38PM
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Poplar is not a very popular wood. No pun intended. I would consider painting it and applying stencils. Is it an actual "Hoosier" cabinet? Often times people call any kitchen cabinet a "Hoosier". When in reality it's a brand name. It would be like calling any vacuum cleaner a Kirby. or any cell-phone a Sanyo.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 11:08PM
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I got some birch plywood for the sides and am having trouble getting a color near enough to the stain on the rest of the cabinet.

Birch is a real pain to stain, you might want to read up on that (google "staining birch"), unless you're a pro. ;) Love Hoosier style cabinets, have been looking for one myself, good luck with the restoration! Suggest you ask in the Paint forum for recommendations for a good interior coating that will serve your needs best, several pros there.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 7:11AM
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That's weird, I've tried to reply 2x and wasn't able to. Anyway, Thanks for all the advice and memories and help. You are all wonderful. I decided to paint the interior bright white and the exterior a soft gray. The white would be pretty, but we're not white cabinet kind of folk. My kitchen is dark, and a Big White Cabinet, might overwhelm the rest of the room. The color we picked matches my Great Grandmother's Spatter wear roaster I think it's from the same era, so they'll look pretty nice together.

Floyd, it's actually a Hoosier, I found the original shipping tag. It was from 1929, and just for fun I did some research on the name. According to the 1930 census, public marriage records, and city maps--all available to me via internet one rainy afternoon. The piece was purchased in March of 1929, according to the shipping label. According to the marriage records, the name on the shipping label married in June of 1929. As listed 1930 census, they lived on the groom's family Dairy farm. The farm is gone, but the family still owns the house. I'm afraid to ask any more information though. What if they claim it was stolen and want it back? Ugh. That would be my luck. Messy, messy. So, I am looking for an Ad or milk bottle from the Dairy. I only live a few miles from the origial owner's house, the stuff might show up at a flea market or an antique shop.

Thank you all again.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 7:07PM
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Oh, I think that sounds like an excellent compromise. Will you be able to show us pictures of the finished cabinet?


    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 7:30PM
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Hi mooski,

We recently bought a 1929 Hoosier that was painted green, the original color. Most in that time frame were not oak (except interior pieces), painted instead of stained. The one we got was their electrified model (an electric plug inside the tambour doors.

My husband has had to rebuild quite a bit of it. He is using birch plywood also. We are going to repaint rather than stain. As a soft white was also a factory color, we have opted for that instead of the green. I have added the link for the pics of the cabinet when we first got it.

Once rebuilt, we are having the owner of our local Benjamin Moore store spray paint it.

I'm not fond of the stencil design on the door, so I will be changing. However, we are saving part of the cabinet that had to be replaced with the original color, and I have the old stencil design saved.

Here is a link that might be useful: Green Hoosier Cabinet

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 7:17PM
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My Hoosier has origional paint. It is a soft gray with blue and white stenciled design.The paint has worn off in a few places but I wouldn't think of repainting it!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2010 at 5:25PM
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I have an orginal,oak it has the flour and surgar bins, the pull out in the bottom for pot and pans, the spice rack, and I have all the spice jars and the bread box. The cabinet has the beauiful pull doors to shut off the spice rack and flour areas. It has the drawers for utilies both flat ware and other, It has the top flode out door for the coook book holder. There are three drawers to the right side, and the slide table comes out at least 6 inches more.
Its oak , and I am dying to find out what this is worth, its in two pieces top and bottom. I've had it for 20 yrs and paid 825.00 for it in Galveston,tx. never seen another with this much stuff. Its is gorgeus.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 12:25AM
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Having problems finding business that refinishs the old ceramic pull-out work surface.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 11:37AM
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I love your Hoosier. What a beautiful job you did on it!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 7:51PM
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