Over the past decades, dinette sets have seen an ebb and flow in demand and in desirable qualities. Retro styles are always popular, with new reproductions that recreate the more familiar chromed favorites of the 1950s. The hunt is still on for originals as well. As these downsized table and chair ensembles regain their footing for many owners, rattan and bamboo are fitting choices with their range of finishes and styles.
Early 20th Century Dinette History
According to historians, the dinette concept arose sometime in the late 1930s as a spot where wealthy homeowners could gather for an informal meal without assistance from the hired help. Scaled to seat four or fewer family members, the name arose from a combination of dining table and the diminutive -ette suffix. These cozy groupings typically were located in kitchen alcoves.
The dinette’s claim to fame as a casual grouping continued to find favor in the following years to match the prevalence of middle class families. Parents no longer worried about young children making a mess in the more formal dining room, and newer materials were much easier to clean. Manufacturers began producing sets featuring spindly steel legs and plasticized laminate tabletops paired with mesh-backed metal frame chairs that verged on the uncomfortable. By the 1950s, tubular steel with chrome finishing, Formica tops and vinyl upholstery became the rage while providing a much more stable grouping that focused on comfort. From commercial dining establishments to home kitchens, dinettes offered their familiar polished gleam that has become synonymous with the Rock and Roll era. Another bonus in choosing metal dinettes was their cost, which was decidedly budget-friendly as compared to wood sets of any size.
Throughout the 1960s, dinettes held their place as a modest choice for newlyweds and apartment dwellers. Their continued involvement would carry with it a heritage of sometimes rickety pieces alongside the sturdier choices that are found today through auctions and estate sales.
Rattan and Wicker Dinette Sets for Today’s Spaces
While rattan cane and bamboo furniture has been around for many more decades, these pieces now can set new standards in dinettes that bring special flair to any decor. Many are still relaxed in styling, but some finer pieces are decidedly formal. Crafted to fit into any lifestyle, from a beach house to a more upscale urban setting, wicker ensembles are among the sturdiest pieces anyone can invest in while providing their characteristic flair.
Round and square tables remain the centerpieces of dinette groupings. Most feature glass tops, which are attractive components that showcase wicker frame bases. They also contribute to a sense of greater space in cramped quarters. Wood framing is also popular, and many wicker sets feature chairs with woven banana or abaca grass upholstery on arms and backs. These definitely lend a more elegant air that is reminiscent of British Colonial design.
For a tropical look, bamboo still tops the list with its bold characteristics and straight-line framing. Rattan cane and weaves left in their natural state, but with clear protective sealants, also exude an island feel with styles ranging from carefree to a more sophisticated exotic feel.
Eastern coastal wicker brings a genteel charm to indoor and outdoor spaces. As recreations of very popular 1930s designs, they offer even more variety in how they can fit into a variety of settings. Many feature a wider array of finish colors that includes classic or dark hues along with bolder bright tones, pastels and traditional neutrals. Any of these affect the personality of coastal sets.
There is no longer a need to tuck dinette sets into a hidden nook. With the exquisite wicker styles available, they can easily claim a more prominent spot in dining rooms and sunrooms or on patios and porches.