What is a Hoosier Cabinet?

M.C. Huguelet

A Hoosier cabinet is a tall, fairly wide kitchen cupboard intended as an all-in-one storage unit and workstation. It originally became popular in America in the early 20th century. A Hoosier cabinet is typically made up of two storage sections divided horizontally by a prep surface, and it often has a number of labor- and space-saving features and optional accessories. As of the early 21st century, both original and reproduction Hoosier cabinets are popular among those seeking an antique American style in their kitchens.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

The Hoosier cabinet was first produced by the Indiana-based manufacturing company Hoosier in the early 20th century. As the cabinets became increasingly popular with American consumers, as many as 40 manufacturers began producing their own versions. Gradually, the term Hoosier cabinet shifted from a specific brand name to a general term used for all cabinets of this style.

All Hoosier cabinets share the same basic design, consisting of three primary sections. The top section consists of storage compartments, often which are concealed behind traditional or roll-up doors. Positioned at approximately waist height is a worktop, often made from metal, wood, or porcelain, which can be pulled out for additional surface area. The bottom section of the cabinet is made up of a combination of drawers and storage compartments concealed behind doors. Originally, the body of a Hoosier cabinet was made from wood or metal.

In addition to these basic design features, a Hoosier cabinet often includes a number of elements intended to save both labor and space. Many models feature a metal bin capable of both storing and sifting flour. Others contain racks from which glass jars holding spices and other common kitchen items can be hung, as well as recipe card holders and shelves for organizing bake ware. In an era before cabinetry was a standard feature of American kitchens, the Hoosier cabinet was promoted as a device for keeping one’s kitchen organized while at once making cooking and baking easier by housing ingredients and cookware in a single location.

As of the early 21st century, both original and reproduction Hoosier cabinets are popular among those who want a kitchen with a retro American ambiance. Original cabinets can often be sourced from antique dealers, although models which are in good condition can be quite expensive. Those with budget limitations might consider purchasing a reproduction Hoosier cabinet. While reproduction models may lack the authenticity of an original, buyers may have a wider selection of materials and finishes.

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