Decorating ideas for a '50s diner type kitchen

Updated February 21, 2017

Retro decor is right at home in a suburban bungalow or an urban apartment. Best of all, you can give your kitchen the stylish look of a 1950s diner without spending a lot of money. While some decorating styles call for expensive, rare antiques, thrift stores and garage sales are a great source for affordable, authentic items from this bygone decade.

Vintage Furniture

Nothing projects the image of a vintage diner like vintage diner furniture. Choose an enamel-top table with matching chrome chairs. Line up vinyl covered stools along a Formica counter, as you would find in a traditional soda shop. Take the look to the next level by installing 1950s reproduction appliances. Many manufacturers are now making items--from refrigerators to toasters--that pair retro looks with contemporary technology.

Retro Colors

Different colours bring to mind various decorating periods. One of the most iconic colour combinations in 1950s diner decor is black and white. Checkerboard floors employ this bold pair and give your kitchen a professional look. Black cabinets and aqua walls also offer a retro combination. Other common colour accents include bright flashes of red, yellow and green. All of these colours match well with gleaming chrome.


While this style looks best when kept streamlined and minimal, there is room for a well-curated collection of vintage kitchen objects. Genuine collectibles from the 1950s help set the stage for retro decor. Martha Stewart suggests that you line your shelves with a collection of lively Fiesta ware or colourful Pyrex bowls and also use them for serving food. Set the table with vintage linens. Create simple cafe curtains with a tension rod, curtain clips and napkins with various patterns and novelty prints.

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About the Author

Fiona Fearey has an undergraduate degree from Temple University and a master's degree from New York University. She has been a freelance writer and editor for over five years. She has written for Pluck on Demand and various other websites. Other professional experience includes education, the arts and decorative painting.