The Perfect Vintage Table

I am a fan of the simplicity of the 1940s and 1950s, especially vintage decor.  We used to have a beautiful 1940’s maple colonial dinning room table.  But when we had small children and white wall to wall carpet in the dinning area, we felt it necessary to move our dinners from the dinning room to the kitchen.  However, the maple table didn’t fit the small kitchen space, and it went to live with a family friend.  Since about 2000, we have made due with an inexpensive basic drop leaf farm table with white tile top.  We had only planned to use it until we found (and could afford to buy) a more charming vintage table that fit in the kitchen.  Twelve years later, I am still looking for that perfect table.

Now that we are finally getting a real vintage style linoleum floor, I have been looking with a little more regularly. I didn’t think I was that picky, but I must be since I am still shopping around.  I think the hard part has been it must be small enough to use in our kitchen.  I really like inlaid decorative designs and the kind of tables with two tone colors either in the chairs or table.  Any color formica will do since I like having a colorful kitchen, and I am willing to pay $300 to $600, or more if it is in pristine condition.  However, the right retro table for us needs to be sturdy and usable since it won’t just be a decorative piece but our everyday family table.  Some of the tables I have come across, look good in the photos and in the owner’s descriptions, but upon closer inspection, they end up having more rust than a just little brushing of steel wool would clean up or have other big issues.  I want to avoid buying a table that will need to be rechromed.  I briefly looked into how much it would cost to get a table rechromed here in SoCal, and the price was more than the value of most tables.  So I am looking.  I have been regularly checking craigslist, ebay, etsy, and a few local estate sales since mid August.  Here are some favorites from my recent searches….

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I thought this 1950s dinette set would be absolutely perfect. And I responded to the ad as soon as I saw it (it was within a few hours of the post being listed on craigslist,) but the seller never responded and the ad was deleted by the next day. I was bummed.

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Gray cracked ice formica laminate table with chrome legs and black diner chairs from the 1950s


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A decorative white formica 1950’s table with cute red flower design on top. This would look perfect in my kitchen with the green floor, but the seller only offered local pick up

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This cute blue and white inlaid formica table was for sale at a local antique store in Orange, Woody’s, but it was sold. Most of their dinette sets are pricey, but they are usually in excellent condition due to being reconditioned or rechromed if necessary, prior to sale.

Since our kitchen flooring and laundry room is soon to be done, I have been  more seriously browsing for a table to complete the kitchen.

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A gray starburst patterned formica 1950’s dinette table and chairs on craigslist.

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Black and white mid century formica dinette table and chairs set. This one was awesome looking, but the chairs made it too wide for our 1940’s kitchen, and the style was a bit to mid century modern or atomic for my kitchen’s decor.

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A white 1950’s or early 1960’s dinette table and chairs set with black details. I like the border and patterned black vinyl on this set, but it is another one that the seller said “local pick up only”

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I liked this yellow and black atomic patterned table a lot, but it didn’t have its leaf anymore and no chairs.

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red Daystrom linen formica dinette set from the late 1940’s for $300 on craigslist.  This one was perfect but the seller responded that it was sold prior to my email.

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I would love to get a Red and white table like this one. This wasn’t a local sale and the selling said no shipping.  Darn!

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Yellow, Black and White cracked ice formica dinette table and chairs set from late 1940s or early 1950s. It was in excellent condition.  Unfortunately, although it was for sale, like many others, it was local pick up only and not in California.

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This was a really cute cherry red and white sparkle formica table and chairs set I found locally on craigslist. It was a nice small size, but on close inspection, someone had reattached the legs to the table at some point with screws that were too long and that cut through to the top of the formica laminate.  Even with the bad screws, it was still a bit wobbly and had too much pitting on the legs. Bummer.

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Another craigslist find: a pretty soft pink vinyl chairs with grey decorative formica table from the late 1950’s or early 60’s.

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Jade green 1950’s dinette table and chairs from a local craigslist ad.  Not exactly what I want, but still a cool atomic table.

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Red 1950’s formica inlaid table and chairs…I sure wish this was for sale locally.


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Green cracked ice formica and vinyl table and chairs from Virtue brothers in California on craigslist Los Angeles

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Chrome legged table with yellow cracked ice formica and yellow and black vinyl chairs with inset flower design on craigslist Los Angeles

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A detail view of one of the yellow and black flower inset diner chairs from the above set





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The Perfect Vintage Table — 12 Comments

    • Opps. The caption didn’t show up on that one. I am not sure why, but I will fix it. I thought that dinette set was absolutely perfect, too! And I responded to the ad as soon as I saw it (it was within a few hours of the post being listed on craigslist,) but the seller never responded and the ad was deleted by the next day. I was bummed. Basically, I have found the good tables go fast or I only find them for sale on the East Coast with no shipping. I am starting to think I will have to troll craigslist multiple times a day. The local antique swap meet at Long Beach City Collage and the couple times I have been into antique malls have been of little help, either.

    • Yes, we found one I am satisfied with that fits really well, but I am still looking for a vintage table that matches our kitchen even better, but not a new one/ modern reproduction. Our table and chairs set can be seen at this post: Our 1949 Red and Yellow Howell Dinette Set I recovered the vinyl upholstered chairs and painted the metal apron on the table.

    • No, i do not have any of these retro dinette sets for sale. Sorry. My post was all about my own search to buy a vintage 1950s formica table and chair set, as well as my love for the mid century style kitchen tables. I eventually bought a 1940’s table i liked via my local craigslist.

  1. i have a mini table like this it lite green just 2 chairs i think its a sale sample table or a child’s table its got aluminum side like what my grand farther had i like them tables too

  2. How do you know if a formica table is a reproduction or an original? I have found one for a really good price and it is in decent shape but I am unsure it is truly original because I’ve seen similar reproductions on the web.

    • Hi Ramona,

      I was able to tell the age of my vintage formica table and chairs by the date stamp on the under side. However, when there is no stamp, look for a table with one of the designs and colors that are no longer manufactured, like green cracked ice, star bursts, or some of the retro linen patterns. If you are looking at modern table, it might have a label with country of origin on it. A lot of the modern ones are white or grey and have wide table rim edges.

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