ENTHRALL YOUR WALLS WITH VINTAGE WALL CABINETS
Unruly media devices taking over your living room? Tangled tech cords have you in tizzy? Relax—with a vintage wall cabinet they’ve met their match. Although it’s been a minute since vintage wall cabinets with doors have been in fashion, there’s no question that the moment is right for a redux. So grab your speakers, TVs, remote controls, and phone chargers—vintage and antique wall cabinets are here to restore the order you’ve been craving.
Wall cabinets are a relatively neoteric concept. In fact, you’re unlikely to find many antique hanging wall cabinets that predate the Bauhaus era. Perhaps a direct construct of Bauhaus’s form follows function theory, wall cabinets are most closely associated with the Danish Modernist movement that spanned throughout the late 1940s, 50s, and 60s. In the 1970s, the trend was adopted by avante-garde luxury makers like Mastercraft, Vladimir Kagan, and Paul Evans. These makers applied high-end finishes to what was previously a strictly functional piece. Around the same time, more mass-market brands like Stanley Furniture and Drexel began interpreting the concept as well, creating designs that would precursor the media armoires that would come to dominate the 1990s.
Which is all to say, while seemingly a niche item, there’s no shortage of vintage wall cabinets with doors on the market. If you’re on the hunt for a large vintage wall cabinet, it can help to know what style of wall cabinet you’re looking for to narrow down your search. To help, we’re spotlighting some of the most common styles of large and small vintage wall cabinets, plus giving you insider tips on the maker search terms to know.
Danish Modern Teak Wall Cabinets
Simple, modular, and usually made of teak, Danish wall cabinets are the epitome of function-meets-style. Many Danish Modern wall cabinets integrate desk space, making them ideal for living rooms that double as office space, or offices where storage is a must. If you’re looking for maker names to plug into your search bar, consider Kurt Ostervig. The Danish designer created a number of cabinets that require no wall support, making them ideal for use as room dividers. Kurt Ostervig wall units are also unique because of their legs. Rather than the standard pencil legs found on most Danish Modern designs, Ostervig wall units feature splayed sawhorse legs, giving them a vaguely Italian Modernist feel.
Another Danish Modernist worth seeking out is Poul Cadovius. In 1948, Cadovius created a floating, modular shelving unit known as The Royal System Shelving Unit. The system landed the gold medal at Finland’s 1950 Furniture Fair and became a hallmark of Mid-Century design. Following the release of the Royal System unit, Cadovius began cranking out dozens more wall cabinet designs, ranging from minimalist (think a single wall-mounted sliding-front cabinet designed to function as a desk) to grand (a 12-cabinet system with cabinets designated for records, showcasing collectibles, and more).
If teak furniture feels a bit too simplistic for your pad, you might consider wall cabinet designs by American makers such as George Nelson and Paul McCobb. While undeniably inspired by Danish Modern wall cabinets, American-made Mid-Century wall cabinets tend to integrate additional mediums beyond wood, such as chrome or brass. They’re also less likely to be composed of teak wood. George Nelson’s Omni wall cabinet, for instance, features walnut cabinets and aluminum rails.
1970s Glam Wall Cabinets
Unlike Danish Modern wall cabinets which tend to feature a surplus of open shelving, those wall cabinets designed in the 1970s and 80s tended to be more enclosed. Undoubtedly, this was partially due to the desire to show off the luxury materials that were in vogue during the era, including burl wood, chrome, and lacquer. Milo Baughman designed several wall cabinets during his career. His early models closely adhere to the modular blueprint put in play by the Danish Modernists, while his later designs for brands like Henredon are grander and more elaborate. For instance, an iconic Hendredon wall cabinet consists of a tall, armoire-like burlwood cabinet sandwiched between two arched bookcases backed with mirrors and outfitted with glass shelves.
If you appreciate the look of this Milo Baughman for Henredon wall cabinet but favor a look that’s bit more modernist, try hunting down one of Vladimir Kagan’s bar cabinets that features a similar center armoire constructed of burl, but comes equipped with square smoked plexiglass cabinets on either side. More adventurous style seekers may want to try their luck landing a Paul Evans Cityscape wall cabinet. The collection’s modular patchwork of chrome and brass tiles lent itself easily to shelving units, and it’s possible to find both open shelving wall units as well as floating closed wall cabinets (typically sold as a set of five).
Lastly, if you’re a fan of brass, consider plugging “Mastercraft wall cabinets” into your search bar. Although they may have more in common with a curio cabinet than a traditional wall cabinet, Mastercraft made a series of tall, glass-fronted cabinets filled with glass shelving and encased in a bright, brass framework. For anyone interested in Hollywood Regency design, they're the epitome of the era's glamour.