Dinette sets

vintage dinettesThere is nothing quite like a real dinette set — a table, four chairs — preferably “vintage” — to anchor a kitchen design.  A kitchen island? I had one once, and it was nice. But we still spent our best times, fee firmly planted on the ground and lounging around the kitchen table. There is something — democratic — about the kitchen table.

If you have a kitchen built in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s or 1970s, it was likely designed to hold a dinette set. So this page focuses on where to find dinette sets — vintage and new, how to clean up a vintage dinette, how much they typically cost, and we have a fantastic slide show of 200+ dinette sets in readers kitchens.

Where to buy vintage dinette sets:

I am cheap. Used stuff is usually cheaper. And I think old stuff is usually better quality. Put these all together, and I vote: If you want a dinette set, shop for one vintage. Here are some ideas where to look:

  • Craiglist — Anything bigger than a breadbox is going to be easier to buy locally. You can go look at it. You can throw it in your car and avoid shipping costs. So tip #1 is to start watching craigslist like a hawk. Read this story for 4 tips on finding great furniture deals on craigslist.
  • Estate sales — These are my #1 favorite place to shop. They are ground-zero, houses full of lifetimes’ worth of possessions. If you are really hot on the trail for a vintage dinette, get there early and expect no discounts. These days, lots of dealers are also seeing the value in dinette sets, so you may have some competition, depending on your local market dynamics and the beauty of the set. See my story 8 tips to shop an estate sale.
  • Garage sales — These can be hit or miss, but if you town doesn’t have many estate sales, you may have to cruise these.
  • Thrift stores — Shop local thrift stores, including Salvation Army, Goodwill and the like. Think about branching out to smaller towns further from your house. In particular, look in smaller towns that were once thriving — maybe there was a factory that’s now closed? Any place that was thriving during the 1950s and 1960s likely has vintage stuff in it that is still coming out of houses built and furnished during those years.

The value of vintage dinettes:

  • Expect to pay a few hundred dollars, more if the set is really special and more if you live a “hot” market for vintage.
  • However, if you are willing to wait it out… you may find a set for as little as $50. I still do see deals like that on craigslist and at estate sales.

Cleaning and polishing chrome on your dinette set:

Cleaning the Formica top:

  • See this story for the products that Formica recommends to clean its laminate. I am presuming these are worth testing on antique and vintage laminate, including those of other manufacturers. However: Be sure to test on a small spot first. I have heard from one reader that a cleaner “clouded” the shiny finish.

Reupholstering your dinette chairs:

Vintage dinette sets — 1930s and 1940s:

porcelain enamel table topAbove: Before World War II, I think it was much more common to see dinettes built with metal tops painted in porcelain (baked on) enamels. We recently saw this New Old Stock table top for sale. It was from 1947, marketed by Sears. It sold on ebay for $229 plus shipping.

Vintage dinette set styles — 1950s:

vintage dinette

I tend to think that 1950s dinette sets were usually similar to the one above — laminate top, wrapped with aluminum edging, fat upholstered chairs. But unusual or rare: Inlaid designs like the apples in the photo above. Also rare-ish to see chairs with built-in scrollwork or handles at the top of the seat.

1953-daystrom-dinette

Above: Daystrom, 1953.

The coolest vintage dinette ever — the Daystrom Playdine:

daystrom playdine

Yes, this vintage Daystrom PlayDine dinette set may be the coolest dinette ever. The laminate table top opens to reveal a poker table.

Vintage dinette sets — 1960s:

dinette setAbove: I’m guessing this is from the 1960s. Lines are sleeker, designs more… stylized. It’s hard to say for sure, though, because trends seem to have lasted longer back in the day.

Slide show: Dinette sets in readers’ kitchens

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Comments

  1. gail says

    I’m looking for a round dining table that had green rocks under clear coating(acrylic, I’m guessing). 1970’s

  2. Patricia Cooke says

    I am interested in locating the chairs shown in Image 67 – I’ve checked Craigslist with no luck. They are by Daystrom and I’m adding to the four I currently have. If anyone can help, please reply.

  3. Teri says

    Hi all, I have a #2470 Table and chairs in “grey seafoam” and am looking for a leaf for it, is this impossible? Any ideas?
    Thank you!

  4. April says

    Just was wondering about a dinette set,.. Gold with black flowers on the chairs. Is this one Rare to find?

  5. JAMIE says

    I am desperately seeking information about the set in image #166. I have inherited a table that is almost identical and am in the process of restoring it. The chairs are long gone and I cant locate replacements without knowing more about the set itself.

    Before the label wore off I could have sworn that my table was manufactured in 1938, but now I’m not so sure. If anyone could give me more info about this set it would help. Thanks

  6. Julia says

    We just inherited a dinette with 6 chairs. They say Dixie Dinette Duchess line on the bottom. They are red and green/gold vinyl upholstery with high backs and black wrought iron type trim and legs. The oval table is dark faux wood Formica with a patterned border on top around the outside and a removable leaf. It doesn’t look like anything I’ve been able to find on line. Can anyone tell me anything about it like vintage?

  7. Chandra says

    Hi there!
    Can anyone tell me the best way to sell my 1950’s Daystrom Playdine dinette/poker table, with grey cracked ice Formica top and green felt on the poker top and chrome legs and trim? I have to sell it soon! Simply don’t have the room for it!
    Thanks
    Chandra

      • Chandra says

        Hi Sarah no I have not sold it yet, however I do have someone that wants it bad! The only thing is that he won’t be able to buy it until he gets his tax return sometime in February. I really would like to be able to hold it for him, but I don’t have the space. I really need it gone and just like any business would say first come, first serve or leave a deposit! So if you still want it let me know!

        • pam kueber says

          These are photos uploaded by readers to share their treasures and so that we can see a sample of the variety out there.

          You need to find these vintage – at local antique stores, on ebay and craigslist, for example. See the blog tomorrow – I am showing a GORGEOUS set currently for sale in Michigan.

  8. Grace Schnick says

    Anita, Can you smell the coffee? Looking at these brings back memories. Grandmom ,Mom and my Aunts in the kitchen drinking coffee! I can smell it!

  9. Carla McKinney says

    Can anyone tell me where I can find pricing for the kitchen set on this page; it is the round white table with the round stand…about halfway down the page in the second column……two white chairs with matching round stands and beige cushion seats…I have a larger oval table with 6 chairs I am selling and I have no idea hot to price!! Thanks you!

  10. Linda says

    I have a set of chrome dinette chair handles (8) very similar to the ones in the “Vintage dinette set styles — 1950s:” pictured above… does anyone know of a restoration place that might be interested in these? They are from the dining set that my parents purchased in 1959.

  11. Tula says

    I was looking for ‘how to’ redo the laminate table top with inlay. I have my parents original vintage table with grey cracked ice. No luck. I wanted to see specifically how the inlaid is pieced, glued and sealed together. Does anyone have any information on this?

    • pam kueber says

      I believe that most laminate tabletops with designs were ‘inlaid’ by stacking the various color deco papers, then putting them through the melamine press. See this story on how laminate is made – http://retrorenovation.com/2013/06/04/how-laminate-is-made/ This would be impossible to replicate today unless you get a company to do it for you. Alternatively, you could design your own tabletop and have them print the file and laminate it for you. Wilsonart has a custom-printing program like this, and Formica may have too.

      If you don’t have an inlay – you can still get gray cracked ice laminate in sheets today. See http://retrorenovation.com/2010/08/01/where-to-find-crackle-ice-laminate/

      Be wary of vintage nastiness that may be in your adhesives and/or other layers. Get with your own properly licensed professional to assess what you have so you can make informed decisions.

  12. Shannon says

    I just wanted to thank everyone for the inspiration and all the picture posts. I’ve been obsessed for years about finding something in good shape. I’m picking up a yellow and gray cracked ice table tomorrow from a Craigslist ad at last! 🙂

  13. Jenny says

    I just purchased a GORGEOUS dinette set at an estate sale today. It is in very good shape but does have a little bit of rust and needs to be cleaned up. I’ve been reading about how to clean and remove rust from chrome, but the chairs look to be made out of chrome and another type of metal – it is light bronze or cocoa in color and almost has a lightly hammered texture to it. Any ideas what this metal is so I can research the best ways to restore it? The set is by Queen City Dinettes.

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Jenny, No, I am not an expert on this question. On questions regarding old materials like this I suggest you seek out an expert.

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