The Chinese emperors never dined on porcelain like this! Dinnerware hand-painted with 22 karat gold by Michael Wainwright.
The Home Zone/Tabletop
Fun With Tabletop
Dishes, Glassware, Flatware & Serving Pieces
No matter what lifecycle stage you’re in—student to empty nester—it’s never too early to start building a collection of great tabletop items. Our mother started our collection when we were an adolescent and a hand-painted ceramic pig pitcher at Lord & Taylor caught our eye. Today, we have...more than we can count. Because tabletop pieces are more than “beautiful” or “elegant.” It’s as much fun to concept the linens, dishes, flatware, serving pieces and table accessories as it is to plan the food.
There are lovely pieces at every price point—and table fashion is equally accessible at Target as at Tiffany. If you don’t have discretionary dollars to spend on extra sets of tableware but wish you did, here's an idea:
Rather than getting another sweater or CD for birthdays and holidays, register at a local store or online e-tailer and tell your family and friends that you would prefer a plate, a serving bowl or a set of espresso cups.
Building Your Collection
You don’t need to buy full sets of everything: Most of the time, just dinner plates are enough. You can serve almost every course on them, even dessert—just use accents and garnishes like the restaurants do; or follow the “tasting plate” trend and small portions of a few desserts will fill out the plate. You don’t need many sets of soup bowls if you don't serve lots of soup, cereal, or other bowl-focused foods. You’ll find it easy to mix and match, just as with your wardrobe. Other considerations:
- Think about how much storage space you have. If it’s limited, you may want to refrain from buying a barnyard theme, no matter how clever it is. Unless your decor is farmhouse-themed, you’ll need the space for dishes that can be used for more than breakfast and brunch.
- Think about how and when you entertain. For example, if you tend to do formal dinner parties rather than luncheons, choose more sophisticated dinnerware that complements your menus.
Solid colors are always a good bet: they’re easy to mix and match. Colors with texture, like rippled glass, give lots of bang for the buck.
Geometrics—dots, checks, stripes—can be easy to mix and match with solids if you want to use them on the table at the same time. Other patterns, including florals, can work well if the colors match.
If you have space, it’s fun to change dishes with the seasons. In addition to changing color palettes or patterns (spring flowers, autumn leaves), you can pick up 8 dinner plates (or just a platter and serving bowl) with snowflakes for winter, cherries for Washington’s Birthday, hearts for Valentine’s Day, shamrocks for St. Patrick, Easter bunnies, Mexican fiestaware for Cinco de Mayo, patriotic patterns for Memorial and Independence Days, beach and lobster plates for summer, pumpkins for Halloween through Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas themes.
It can become a fun endeavor for the whole family—and may even get certain people more interested in setting and clearing the table!
A much better Valentine's Day present than candy or flowers! This set of Inside Out Hearts cups from Yedi Houseware really says "love forever." You'll enjoy them long after the ephemeral gifts have disappeared. Available in a set of 6 teacups (far left) or espresso cups (left).
Click here to continue with Flatware and Glassware.
You change your wardrobe seasonally—why not
your tableware? Winter, spring, summer and fall
colors are one way to celebrate each season and
showcase your cuisine. These yummy Love plates
glass by European Sources Direct.
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