Friday, April 10, 2015

Dish Obsessed

When my former husband and I announced that after a 6 year engagement we had finally decided to get married the first thing my mother did before congratulating us was to privately assure me that she was ok with it if I never married him. She had long accepted the fact we were living together unmarried raising our son and deep down must have known that the relationship was doomed from the word "wedding".  The second thing she did was to tell me that as the eldest daughter and the first to get married, I had my choice of the two sets of china she owned. One being the wedding china she and my father registered for and the other being the antique Limoges china she inherited from my paternal great grandmother. Her wedding china, Royal Doulton's English Renaissance, has a sage green and gold scrollwork design around the edges on a crisp, white plate. Very stylish and sophisticated. The Limoges was a pretty, pink chintz like floral that also came with the receipt from purchase from the 1800's as well as a handwritten note from my great grandmother telling the story of how my great great grandfather stayed home from church one Sunday in order to surprise her mother with a dinner table set with gorgeous new china when she arrived home. Amazing. 
I hemmed and hawed over which one to pick; the Royal Doulton pattern being more my "style" but wanting the Limoges for being in love with the rich history that accompanied it. 
I eventually picked the Royal Doulton because at that time in my life I felt like it would be the one I would opt to use more often. Ironically, I feel like that old, chintzy floral would be gracing my table more often these days. Too bad I left it to my younger sister. If I asked her for it do you think she'd yell "No take backs!" like she would when we were kids? Maybe....
 I was always a little sad that my mother's set only had 7 place settings (her wedding guests really should have coordinated the gifting better) and with the aspirations of my younger years wanting to be the next Martha Stewart, incomplete services of china would never do. So Charlie bought me the 8th setting for the first Mother's Day we were dating. An even number of dishes made me feel much, much better and thus was the beginning of my life long love affair with dishes. 
As I roam in and out of thrift stores, I find myself picking up the random, gorgeous plate or even entire services of stunning china. Sometimes I have to stare at them for a few weeks before I can list them in the shop and sometimes I cannot bring myself to list them at all. Sometimes I even find I have unknowingly collected an incredible mix match set and list them as such. Those curated sets always get snatched up immediately because they are just so.damn.special.
On the rare occasion I stumble across a piece so incredible that it leaves me feeling almost shell shocked. Like this unbelievable Limoges plate with the navy and gold border I just bought. I found one. One! (shakes fist at sky) At first I thought I would save it for a mix match set but the more I look at it, the more obsessed I become with finding an entire set. And keeping it for myself. Actually, I will even settle for a few more pieces in this pattern if I can not have a whole set.
From what I can determine, it was made by Haviland around 1887. 1887!!! This pattern, which I feel is so now, was made 128 years ago??? Incredible! Unfortunately, this has also made it almost impossible to find. 

isn't it dreamy?

The point I am trying to make amidst my long winded story telling is this: vintage china never goes out of style. It is also the closest thing in beauty, originality and style to buying fine, artisan made dinnerware like Suite One Studio or Handmade Studio TN.  Two swoon worthy companies turning out exceptional pieces. But maybe artisan made is a little out of your budget. That's where vintage can fill in the gap. Inexpensive, and relatively easy to find,  making vintage fit into your modern day lifestyle is all about the elements you pair it with. 

For instance, I nearly fell over when I discovered this 1980's set of Mikasa's Capistrano dinnerware piled in a crate in my favorite thrift store.

this set is my boho dream come true

Paired with a bohemian crochet tablecloth, chambray napkins stuffed into beaded rings and set on a long, wooden table in the middle of a field would be a Bohemian dream come true. I die, I really do.

Or what about this ancient set of Haviland Limoges?

chippy floral china gets me right in the heart. every.damn.time.

Paired with seersucker linens in a classic, blue stripe is a match made in heaven. If that doesn't evoke visions of Jackie, JFK and preppy, New England waterfront dining I don't know what will. Beautiful!

feathers! i am becoming such a hippie in my old age

Sometimes those little vintage accent plates can be just the touch a table needs. This old Wentworth China salad/dessert plate looks amazing paired with earth tones and rich patterns. This was actually my table setting for our Valentine's Day dinner party. I adore these dishes.

Then there's the set of American made ironstone plates I recently discovered.

this pattern. amazeballs.

There aren't many adjectives to describe how great these are so I will just leave it at that.

There are always pretty glass plates lurking around the thrift stores too:

purple! with fluted edges!

Paired with solid dinner plates, sometimes a colored glass plate is the way to go.

Then there are those times when vintage pairs incredibly with something new and exciting:

another swoon worthy setting if i do say so myself

In early March we were installing a designer collection boutique at work (think major celebrity actress) and one of the props purchased for the jewelry table was one of these Chilewich Dahlia placemats in gold. The instant I saw it I knew it was meant to be on a table with my vintage Noritake Janice dinnerware that features a gold chrysanthemum pattern. I mean, I could see it in my head...they are perfect together. Paired with natural mats and a textured charger, this is the way I intend to entertain this summer.
As long as no one snatches up the dinner plates before I can host that first dinner party!

Do you see the potential in vintage dinnerware? Or does it just look like Grandma's china to you? I could wax poetic on this all day...


  1. I prefer a bit different style for eating, however some of them are really beautiful and you can make great decorations.

  2. Haha I don't think I need to answer this! I love your China! I thought the other day maybe I should count how many pieces I have but then I remembered I'm not good at math so I didn't. One of my favorite "sets" is actually a pieced together collection of China with flowers on it. It's so acquired and goes together we'll but each setting is a little different. Love this post!