How to Go Retro: ’50s Diner-Inspired Style
When it comes to pop culture, what’s old is new again. Leggings are back in; The Beatles are cool again; and ’50s-style diners are making a major comeback. Eaters in major cities around the country have taken the retro diner aesthetic and dissociated it with greasy burgers and fries. The Spiral Diner in Dallas, for instance, dishes out only organic, vegan food in a throwback setting. So does the Chicago Diner, a favorite dinner spot for Lady Gaga when she’s visiting the Windy City. But no matter where you live, you can experience the charm of a retro diner—without even leaving your apartment. Here are a few ways you can bring your kitchen and dining area into the 21st century by throwing it back:
Checkered walls (or floors) (or tablecloths). A signature feature of ’50s diners was the prevalence of black-and-white checkered patterns. On the floors, on the walls, on the tables—no matter how the diner incorporated the element, almost every one did. You can bring the same design to your kitchen with temporary black-and-white checkered wallpaper, which you can peel right off when you move. For an even cheaper and easier makeover, just buy a checkered tablecloth.
Red vinyl diner chairs or stools. Depending on how dedicated you are to creating the retro diner aesthetic, you might want to invest in new chairs. Nothing says, “I’ll have a malt,” quite like a squeaky vinyl seat. Keep an eye out for vinyl chairs at thrift stores or troll eBay and Amazon for finds that fit with your kitchen (bright red seats should always be your first choice, at least for the sake of authenticity). If you have a breakfast bar, you can also add swiveling leather stools.
Grooved, metal-edge table. If you’re really willing to invest in your kitchen/dining room makeover, consider buying a new table. Amazon and eBay are both chock full of options for the metal-edged tables you remember from TV Land reruns of ’50s-era shows. You might even be able to find one on Craigslist if you look hard enough. These old school tables will perfectly complement a new set of vinyl chairs.
Retro details. If you don’t have an entire paycheck to spare on making over your kitchen, then just round out your existing decor with a few fun, vintage accents. Silver napkin dispensers and retro ketchup and mustard bottles might do the trick. Large glass cookie and candy jars lined up on the counter will also give off a retro vibe. You can even pick up a classic milkshake maker at the thrift store. For an added dose of nostalgia, budget for a mini Coca Cola cooler like this one. Pro tip: keep an eye on Groupon for deep discounts on similar Coca Cola fridges.