Diners, those sneered-at relics of the 1930s, are back in a big way. Like Art Deco, dark colors such as burgundy (only then it was called maroon), big bands and wide, peg-legged pants, diners are once again enjoying a tremendous fling.
No longer merely way stations for weary truck drivers, today's diners come equipped with candlelight and white wine, and other hallmarks of high chic.
In one quick step, folks have adopted chrome-trimmed, laminate-topped tables and banquette seating covered in vinyl (only then it was called leatherette). After High-Tech, designers have discovered "diner tech."
It has become popular for many reasons:
The parts are easy to find. The chief components of diner tech, table and chairs, are readily available in secondhand stores, or new, at restaurant supply distributors or even your favorite department store.
The parts are relatively inexpensive; counter-height stools, tables, "period" wall lights, all can be purchased for modest prices at most sources.
Diner tech fits in with the new interest in expressing simple, honest and utilitarian design, a kind of younger brother to high tech, to which it's closely related.
In a kitchen I designed recently, the idea of diner tech appealed strongly to the owners, a young couple who had grown up in the city. Their kitchen was large enough to accommodate a generously sized dining area, ample for them and large enough for an extra couple.
I found a wonderful old table, with the typical chromed base so common in diners. I covered the table top with the same white ceramic tile, in four-inch squares, that I used to cover the adjacent kitchen counter top.
Bar stools were easy to find at a restaurant supply store; I covered these in bright red vinyl. They were astonishingly comfortable. The type I selected had a chrome base broad enough to support the stool. Others are available that have to be fastened, real diner style, to the floor. o
Diner tech is so popular, even diner tableware has appeared in stores. I used the thick white china that's almost unbreakable; a sensible, diner-type napkin dispenser, and salt, pepper and sugar dispensers that would make any truck driver succumb to nostalgia.
Plants hang from the pop-out window. Two Art Deco wall sconces, leftovers from a real diner, combined with dark green walls covered in shiny vinyl and white cabinets give this kitchen a generous touch of diner tech.