In praise of kitchen tables – plus a new photo gallery

1953-daystrom-dinette

A kitchen island can be fantastic, for seating and especially for expanding useful prep space. But in my mind, there is nothin’ more cozy, comfy, homey than a kitchen table set close at hand. There’s just something… egalitarian and *grounded*… about sitting together around that most basic piece of furniture. Mid-century America was boom times for kitchen dinettes. It seems there were a gazillion possibilities to love — and in my mind, the quirkier, the better. I’ve been grabbing screenshots from ebay for the past several months, now collected into a gallery of 46 examples.

In my 1963 aquamarine kitchen, we have the Crate & Barrel Saarinen tulip table knock-off. It’s everyone’s favorite place, and I can’t imagine the room without it. The chairs, which I bought from a place selling replicas via ebay, are not holding up well, by the way. I recommend: Hold out for something built in the period — if it’s lasted this long, it’ll last through your family, too. And it is SO FUN to search.

The kitchen table: Humble, like our houses. Do you have a wonderful dinette? I’d love to see it and share it with other readers. Email me photos at: retrorenovation [at] gmail [dot] com.

Note: Click on the first image — it will enlarge — and then you can use the arrows to proceed through the slide show. Enjoy!

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Comments

  1. says

    I have a 50’s dinette similar to the red and grey one pictured above. Do you happen to have a source for replacing the plastic caps on the bottom of the table legs. Like the one in the picture, my table has two metal pieces so the caps at home depot don’t work as they are. I would love to find a nice option that doesn’t involve hot gluing two together.

  2. Tim says

    Speaking of dinettes… do you have any information on fixing the chair seats? We’ve got a beautiful yellow set with vinyl seats that have started to shred (it seems like they’re just cracking from age).

  3. MrsErinD says

    Oh my, Image # 8, the one with the quilted brownish chairs, we have that exact set, it’s a Chromecraft table set!!! It was Hubby’s aunt’s. BUT~ ours has a white table top and the chairs, I have no idea what color they were originally, they were recovered in the 70’s in cream and orange flower vinyl, cute but we are recovering them, ours aren’t quilted they have a middle overlay with buttons, so we are doing them in aqua and white naugahyde. We also painted the “wood” (it’s really sticker stuff) part on the table/chair legs white cause it was in real bad shape, and had to respray the chrome was also in bad shape, but we hope to get them recovered and looking 50s again soon!

    I adore 35 and 37 especially, the pink boomerang and aqua ones!

  4. Diana of Mt. Lebanon, PA says

    Thanks for sharing these with us. I love looking at dinettes and we love our own dinette (which I just sent you photos of).

    A couple of our chairs in our dinette have some small tears. Is there an easy fix for such tears? Or, is this something we’d have to pay someone to fix? Any ideas are appreciated. Our chairs are made of a vinyl material, but it’s not a smooth vinyl, it has a very fine marbly texture to it.

  5. Bryan says

    I looked thru the old adress’s of the Metal Masters Mfg on the underside of the chair and the one on harper is a old hardware store that ive been in. im guessing the hardware used to sell the furniture. they have been around since the 40’s in the same building and its one of the last old school hardware stores around. I know Metal Masters are still around cause ive seen there logo on a building near by. i just need to remember where i saw it at.

    All so i have a really neat table im going to send you pictures of. it has a cool design inlayed in the laminate. I found it in the Garbage this summer. It would actually go in the new kitchen well but its very small and its busy holding all my Motorcycle parts right now.

    • Matt says

      I just picked up a metal masters table and four chairs near Detroit I can’t find anything on the Internet about it, wondering what years they made them

  6. Annie B. says

    Thanks for the delightful gallery of dinettes. I want one of these sets so badly I can hardly stand it; however, my kitchen is too small for even one vintage chair. A dilemma in the classic sense!

  7. says

    So fun to look at. I’ve been on the lookout for a round dinette set for quite some time, now. I may have to take your route, Pam.

    ps.
    Congrats on being in the finals over at AT! you have my vote:)

  8. Magnarama says

    The sheer variety of styles that were produced is just dumbfounding!

    Pam, if we could climb in the RetroReno Wayback Machine for just a moment, I’d like to call your readers’ attention to a dinette question I submitted to you back in March of ’08. I’m still trying to find out any information on this unusual dinette I own that has every surface (including all chair parts) completely covered with Formica. I’ve never come across another set like it.

    Now that your blog is so heavily trafficked (and award-nominated!), maybe someone knows something about the manufacturer or history of this unusual set?

    Your original post about it , with pix, is here:

    http://retrorenovation.com/2008/03/20/magbot-shows-us-her-awesome-all-formica-dinette/

    (My user name and email have changed since then, but I’m the same Maggie.)

    • pam kueber says

      Hey, magnarama, I most certainly remember your fabulous dinette – in fact I was just looking at it the other day. I need to go thru the blog and add dinettes that already have been featured to the slide show. Yes – let’s home someone can ID yours. I’ve never seen another one like it – a treasure!

  9. says

    Emy,
    I was lucky enough to find the plastic end caps we needed for our dinette at a local old-time hardware store. Measure the diameter of the leg so you’ll know what size cap you need and look around locally for a good old hardware store where there are knowledgeable staff and ask for their help.

  10. James says

    This post reminded me of the Late 1950s Daystrom dinette set that I grew up with, in my parents’ kitchen. Table was clad in “boomerang” formica, the chair seats in sticky naugahide (or something like it). Eventually mom replaced the set with a fine old round oak claw-foot table with vintage wood chairs- all very fine, but my best memories are of the Daystrom set. Wonder whatever happened to it?

  11. Alice says

    Pam – you continue to evoke ooohs and aaahs from my home! The dinette, and the question of what to do, is currently on my mind. These photos are a great collection and have inspired me to look for something vintage…I hadn’t thought I would like anything in that regard but your collection of photos has convinced me otherwise. I hope you know how excellent you are at crafting and feeding this blog! Thanks for sharing!

  12. pam kueber says

    You should see what readers are sending in, too — some great stuff. I’ll keep this up…I think I am obsessed with dinettes now.

  13. Hilary says

    The room divider “island” behind the dinette is gorgeous, after seeing it in a previous posting, I searched on-line for a similar piece. Now here it is again. Does it have a name, or is it something that a cabinet maker must try to replicate? My kitchen needs this piece of furniture.

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Hilary, I can’t say I’ve seen that configuration of cabinetry in the catalogs of current kitchen cabinet manufacturers. That said – I wasn’t looking. A custom or semi-custom cabinet maker might be able to make it for you. The wall cabinet seems to essentially be a “box” with slided reeded or fluted (i get those mixed up) glass doors on both sides. A really really basic box… and then there are the matching pillars. Are you planning on installing new cabinets throughout your kitchen or just adding this piece/configuration?

  14. Hilary says

    My home is in a 1963 prefab townhouse style condo, and I have gutted the kitchen and put all appliances against one wall, I’ve been trying to send you a picture. Since I discovered your site, I’m understanding why “retro ” things seem to be at home in my house.

  15. Fiona - Notorious Kitsch says

    I love Dinettes! we have a lovely one too, I’ll send a pic but like others say we have a couple of small tears in the chair so would love to get some tips on fixing! Thanks for the fab pic Pam!

  16. atomicbowler-Laura says

    David & I drove from Bellingham to Tacoma to get our little beauty. It’s a Duncan Phyfe cracked ice red & oyster leaf design. Got a killer deal too. $150 for table w/leaf and 6 chairs! The woman said they were remodeling so didn’t have room for it and had paid $400 only a year ago. It is one of our favorite MCM pieces. Will send photo via email if you’d like to add it to the collection.

  17. says

    What a treat! I have never seen this amazing variety in these sets before.

    I am absolutely lusting after the table with the teapot and cup! It would make my Atomic Tea Party utter perfection! Sigh….

  18. says

    THAT was the motivation I needed to finish re-covering the chairs to my awesome dinette set. Now I can’t wait to show y’all the before and after!

    Thanks!

  19. Becky says

    I’ve got two–and room barely for one!–dinettes: a small red Daystrom from the very late ’40’s and a gorgeous yellow number from the other major manufacturer (forget their name) which I really love because the legs curve in to form a double tiered “cage” (two horizontal chrome bars encircle the legs) before splaying back out, again. 3 of the 4 chairs need new seats, and they’re awaiting my getting up the time, and the nerve, to do this: http://www.pinkofperfection.com/2006/09/the-hot-seat/

      • Becky says

        I just crawled around in the dog hair and found it on the bottom: ARVIN! :-) I’ll be sure and send pics once the seats are recovered. I’ve never seen table legs done quite like this…

  20. MbS says

    Oh my!!!!!! the last booster seat is amazing AND exactly like the one at the Rainbow Hotel in Great Falls, MT between 1964 and 70. My baby sibs sat in it, with me sometimes lifting them up!!!

  21. joyces jane says

    Funny how when u are just relaxing and browsing, after decades of wondering what the perfect room divider/ storage cabinet would look like, you find it and cry out into the dark and lonely night, “Eureka, I have searched far and wide and here, in your simple splendor, you present yourself like a wise pearl from the deep”
    Perfection is always simple and unencumbered.

  22. Sara stidham says

    I just bought a dining set today and I’ve been searching all day for a similar one. and finally i found it, Do you know the brand name of the black and white set you have pictured?

  23. Lori says

    How do I find out when and who made my old table? I have no clue and need some expert help. All searches for anything similar have come up empty.

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