Lighting in 1950s diners

Written by audrey pannell
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Lighting in 1950s diners
Neon signs were seen in 1950s diners. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Diners are not just classic American eateries, but remind us of 1950s style. These prefabricated buildings looked like railroad dining cars and were placed along roadways for easy access. Neon signs beckoned to hungry drivers. Lighting inside the diner was decorative and true to the era. Today, diner-style lights can be found in antique stores, while some companies manufacture replicas for present-day diners or house decorations.

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Outdoor Neon Signs

Radiant, outdoor neon signs shout to passersby that the restaurant is open. The neon signs make such announcements as "diner," "welcome," "shakes" or "good home cooking." The lights also surround the upper perimeter of the building, bringing even more attention to the structure.

Indoor Neon Lights

Neon lights can also be found inside the diner and serve as works of art, such as the outline of a 1950s-style corvette or a guitar. Sometimes thin rows of the lights follow the rim of the upper walls.

Retro Pendant Fixtures

1950s-style pendant lights hang above tables and bar areas. The lights are often made of brushed or polished nickel or chrome, creating the space-age feel so familiar in 1950s diner decor. Covering the bulbs is an opal, painted opal or a clear glass shade. Retro, coloured stripes---often in red, blue, beige or green---are sometimes seen on the lamp shades.

Deco Fixtures

Art deco 1950s light fixtures fit close to the ceiling or along the wall. This style light features straight lines and simple, geometric shapes. Similar to the pendant lights, the ceiling fixtures and wall sconces are made of polished or brushed nickel or chrome with an opal, painted opal or clear glass shade. They might have a surrounding, decorative polished nickel or chrome trim.

Diner Decor

Some people decorate their kitchen or another room in the house to mimic a 1950s diner. To create a 1950s feel, use lighting similar to those seen in traditional American diners. Scour antique stores for authentic lights, or order them from a company that specialises in replicas.

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