The Hoosier Cabinet is an iconic piece of furniture from the early decades of the 20th century - a baking, cooking, storage facility all in one. Originally manufactured by the Hoosier Manufacturing Co. in Indiana, they were a fixture of older houses all over the American midwest and beyond from the era before fitted kitchens with built-in cabinets became commonplace.
The typical Hoosier cabinet consists of three parts. The base section usually has one large compartment with a slide out shelf, and several drawers to one side. Generally it sat on small casters. The top portion is shallower and has several smaller compartments with doors, with one of the larger lower compartments having a roll-top or tambour. The top and the bottom are joined by a pair of metal channels which serve as the guide for a sliding countertop, which usually has a pair of shallow drawers affixed to its underside. The whole assembly, with the counter retracted, is fairly shallow, about 2 feet deep; the width and height are generally about 4 feet and 6 feet respectively.
This example has distinctive curved storage bins with the folksy name of ¨sow belly¨.
I lusted after one for years, which would have been ideal for our 1920´s Chicago bungalow, but they were running around $1000 or more and to get one into a container and ship it to Europe seemed unrealistic.
They have inspired books.
She uses the Hoosier cabinet as a lens for social history. As a multi-purpose piece of furniture that claimed it could enable you to do almost everything you ever need to in a kitchen without moving a step, even saving up to 1592 steps in one day. Depending on what year you were in or what marketing message was being promoted, it might help the housewife to ‘stay young’, ‘abolish (household) slavery’ or be the best gift a father could give to his daughter to teach her how to cook. Its local setting is Indiana, where they had manufactured over a million cabinets and created hundreds of jobs by 1916. But its really a story of early twentieth-century America and the drive for efficient production, provision of mass furnishing, expectations of consumer comfort alongside the gradual commercialisation of the kitchen industry.
There are even kits available, in case you want to build your own.
And you can find plans online, if you are even handier, or plans and hardware here.
And more images on pinterest.