Monday, May 2, 2011

2 May 1957 “The Little Corner Shelf”

mycornershelfThe corner shelf. That quintessential vintage kitchen accessory. This image here, is of my own corner shelf. My house, which is very old, had its 1880’s addition ‘done over’ in the 1950’s. My cabinets are of wood and were made to fit the space, as this house, even in the 1950’s, was never on square. A lot of settling can happen in 300 years.
I have always loved these little corner spaces. My own here houses a plant in a vintage yellow 1930’s McCoy Pottery planter, the gravy boat and sugar and creamer to my Temporama set and a smattering of shells and starfish. A nod to my proximity to the ocean. I also love pale blue, yellow and red in a kitchen. And touches of dark green, as from this plant, is very 1940’s actually. (Read Entire Post)...

Here are some lovely examples of such shelves.cornershelfThis one houses some lovely collectibles.cornershelf2These matching pair are a little greenhouse of plants.
 cornershelf4And this unit serves the functional purpose of spice rack.
 cornershelf3The little corner cabinet is not just for the upper shelves. Here we see a great example on the end of a lower unit. We see this often in mid-century design. Rather than just a plain flat ending to a cabinet it provides a space for decoration, storage, or even book shelf.
  50shelfThis darling little shelf isn’t technically a corner cabinet, but was so cute and certainly easy to make yourself, I had to share it.
  This Lovely set, ripe with corner shelves on the top and bottom units, is of English make. It sold in 2010 for close to 2000 UK Pounds. Here is the blurb about its manufacture:
The Rolls-Royce and Holy Grail of post-war kitchens, English Roseunits are built from industrial-strength aluminium, trimmed with stainless steel. Part of the appeal of English Rose is the quality and 'integrity' of its design and construction and the way it bolts together like grown-up Meccano. They also seem to last a lifetime - or two. When reconditioned, vintage "ER" kitchens look fantastic. Today's kitchens are big on 1950s retro style and English Rose is the real thing.
The first English Rose kitchen was made in Warwickshire in 1948 by CSA Industries, an engineering firm that originally made nose cones for Spitfires. After the war ended, CSA used stock-piles of aircraft-grade aluminium by diversifying into up-market kitchens. The original cost of a fully loaded kitchen when new would have bought a house at the time - they are the finest quality kitchens ever made. The profile of English Rose kitchens is rising rapidly thanks to screen appearances on BBC2's The Reclaimers and the 2004 Mike Leigh film Vera Drake.
I love Red in a kitchen. And these pre-made metal cabinets are really wonderful. I would like that one could simply use a magnet to hold up a recipe on a recipe card or paper in front of you on one of the top doors, very handy indeed.
Now, don’t think I am going to leave you in the lurch. If you don’t already have one of these cabinets and don’t wish to just buy an ‘off the rack’ version, here are a set of real vintage plans.
cornershelfpattern A handy homemaker could handle this or slip it on the ‘Honey-Do’ list. This would look great in an entry or even the mudroom with a plant and a little treasure of some sort.
cornershelfpattern2I LOVE this idea. You often find these old victorian shelves, at least in my neck of the woods. And if it were of fine make one would be loathe to cut it up, but many are just mass produced and with a lick of paint, some fabric and a saw, viola’ a corner dressing table that would fit in the smallest of NYC apartments. I really like this idea.
And, of course, making use of our corners is just a wise choice. With the economy what it is and perhaps many of us considering downsizing our living for affordability, using all space is important and can be, well gosh darn it, quite darling to boot!
Do you have a corner shelf, or are you covetous of one?


  1. How cute! I have those white star fish scattered about our house as well. We're two hours from the coast. But I just love the beach!

    Don't have a corner shelf in my kitchen. But I would love to find a vintage pie safe for our kitchen!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  2. Oh, pie safes with punched tin or even screen door material are so darling. And they are quite practical in the summer to keep bugs out.

  3. I may just have to construct my own corner shelf unit. I love these. My grandmother had one and it was quite useful and decorative. I think it would be a great place to store a few cookbooks.

  4. I just wanted to say I LOVE the new format of the site. I love the variety of fun vintage stuff on the news of the day. :) Thank you!!!

  5. I have one exactly like yours, and I LOVE it:

    What a coincidence. We renovated the kitchen to what it looks like in the picture, and had this dull corner, so we invented these lovely small shelves. I didn’t even know that they are fifties, so I must have a fifties taste. They are good for displaying decorative items, and having things handy nearby too. It’s such a great idea.

    You just gave me a great idea with the magnet holder for recipes – I want such one in my kitchen. :)

    I’ve downloaded your plans and will put them on my “honey-do list” (a lovely expression), they are truly nice. I thought about if you had some great ideas for storing a collection of 100+ nail polish bottles? I have them in the fridge, but now I don’t have more space, and you make up such lovely storing ideas.

    Truly lovely post, I enjoyed it very much!

    PS: I also love "news of the day".


 Search The Apron Revolution