If you are anything like me, you might have a little bit if a soft spot for beautiful tableware’s! There is something about collecting interesting, classic and beautiful china that is just a little bit addictive!
As many a famous interior designer has said; Tables are like playing, once a room is decorated there is only so much you can do, but with your tablespaces you can play to your hearts content!
I was drowsing though my favourite book on table settings the other day, Table Settings by Alberto Pinto (If you love setting your table then this book is your bible!) and I thought it would be nice to share a little about my personal china collection as well as what I look for when adding new pieces and pattens.
I’m not absolutely sure where my personal obsession began, my mum has a nice, but not particularly fancy dinner service by Noritake that we seldomly used when I was growing up and neither of my grandmothers were particularly china obsessed either.
However, I did stay with an older couple Audrey and George most school holidays for a week or so and Audrey always set, or should I say, had me set, a nice table for dinner (lunch) every day. Audrey had some beautiful china, 4 very special blue and white plates with dragons on them that she had inherited from her mother and still used every day! She also had a beautiful dinner service, that had a boarder of orange roses, which I think was Royal Doulton. I’m not sure if at the time I really understood or appreciated these beautiful things the way I do now, but I do believe on reflection that this is where my china obsession began.
My own collection started at quite a young age when I really think about it, I was 16 and found a sage green dinner service, the pattern was called Beryl by Woods Ware, I asked for it for my birthday (Just the usual request from a 16 year old!) and I still have it to this day. It’s definitely not fancy, quite a classical masculine style, but a solid foundation and a good team player.
Over the years I have added more and more to my collection, from simple and modern too classical and the more traditional, but there is always a thread that unites everything!
For me my china collection can be broken into two categories, kitchen table and dinner table, or perhaps every day and formal china. I find that if you work with the pieces you have in either of these collections you can play and play, and your table will look chic no matter the meal!
Kitchen Table ~ Everyday China
Kitchen table or everyday china is commonly known as stone ware, it is heaver then porcelain and bone china and it is perfect for everyday use. I like to collect both solid colours, transfer printed designs in blue, green and pink and hand painted pieces. I love that these pieces can be mixed and matched to create personal and interesting tables every day!
Dinner Table ~ Formal China
This is a finer style of china made up of both porcelain and bone china and has traditionally been used for more formal occasions. However, in our modern lives I use a simple white set of porcelain plates as my everyday china.
How To Build Your China Collection
With all good things getting a well-rounded china collection takes time, but don’t fear you don’t need much to get stated! For both formal and informal china the best place to start is with a good solid foundation. I would recommend stating with 6 to 8 of a plain white plate. I find its better to by pieces individually as most sets of china have bowls and cups/mugs that will never get used. If you stick to 6 or 8 then as you find new bowls & plates you can add these to your collection too and your table setting options will be limitless!
Once you have your foundation pieces of china you can start to build from there, it helps to keep to a particular style or colour pallet at first and then you can build from there. In my own collection I have two main styles and I add accents to create different looks. My kitchen table china is mainly blue and white with accents of green, I love to mix and match different pieces, from my classic Blue Willow and Spode mixed will hand painted bowls from China and Thailand too my rustic Italian splatter ware and handplanted Portuguese charger plates. The other side to my collection is my more formal china, in this collection it is more of a classical flavour, with mainly English sets from Wedgwood, Royal Doulton and feature pieces from Lenox and Royal Copenhagen as well as many antique pieces too.
Where To Buy Your China?
Finding beautiful, original and unique pieces of china can be tricky, these are my top places to find it (A few of these places might feel unexpected but trust me I have found special pieces in all of these places!);
Basics; for your everyday and foundation pieces;
- Ikea – Have a great collection of basics in different colours and designs
- Kmart – You will find simple, yet good foundation pieces of china.
- Thrift stores – You can find everything from basics to best, but you will have to hunt!
Better; for good quality pieces, by well-known brands;
- Department Stores – You will always find beautiful pieces of china at department stores, however, just be mindful that most of the classic English brands are no longer made in England.
- TK Maxx – A great source for every day good quality pieces of English made china (Most is missing it brand, but there is true china gold!).
- Replacements.com a great online source for finding missing pieces for your collection or starting and adding to your collection.
Best; for the most beautiful and finely crafted pieces;
Creating a beautiful table every day is such a special treat, you don’t need it to be over the top, just a table that makes you happy!
Happy table setting and collecting!