Do you go shopping? Call Replacements, LTD? Use (shudder)your finest paper plates? Let's not go there just yet. Maybe you have your wedding china in the cabinet and Grandmother's dishes stored in the back of a closet. You might consider mingling everyday ironstone plates with your fine china (especially if the background colors are similar). You can still give your guests equal treatment.
I took a relatively safe approach to mixing-and-matching two sets of dishes for one event today. The key is to make it look intentional, fresh, and modern. I combined two Lenox patterns: Monroe and Essex Maroon. Introduced decades apart, they have in common a warm, creamy background, decorated with maroon accents and metallic gold rims. You could take the same approach with patterned/solid dishes, black/white, two bright colors, glass/porcelain, gold/silver rims. The trick is to alternate place settings -- the dinner plate of the first setting matches the salad plate of the next, and so on. I took the same approach with the cups and saucers, even though the cup shapes are quite different -- you'll see.
This turned out to be an image-intensive post. I hope you'll indulge me and scroll through to the end. If you have a slow Internet connection ... well, this may not be the post for you. I'm sorry! I love setting tables for you and photographing them in a variety of lighting conditions.
Obviously we're in the dining room. There was almost nothing blooming in the garden (the odd rose here and there and a lantana or two). I wanted to include touches of autumn colors and reminders of harvest time.
I headed to Kroger and checked out the supermarket's floral department. I was in luck. I found a beautiful bouquet reduced from $20 to $3.99! I stripped off a few wilted leaves, discarded some of the aging filler greenery, and cut the stems relatively short. I added height to the centerpiece with the stand of a silverplated chafing dish ($1.49 at Goodwill -- the other pieces had gone astray) and inserted a round silver Revere bowl to hide stems and floral foam.
I unified the place settings by using the same stemware throughout (Fostoria Holly, 1942-1980). You could just as effectively mix and match a variety of patterns. If you do that, I'd suggest using all clear glass or a single color, either all gold rims or only platinum decoration -- something to create harmony along with interest.
I often use stemware originally intended to be tall water glasses for serving wine. Since it's no longer common practice to change wines with every course, nor to serve course after course, it's easier to use a larger glass and avoid frequent refilling. The "iced tea/beverage" glasses work well as water glasses.
Do I always place the glasses (and flatware) where rules of etiquette dictate? Not necessarily. Especially for a tablescape post, I tend to place things where they feel balanced or look interesting. A real-life centerpiece wouldn't be this tall. I'd probably use just the silver bowl and cut the stems much shorter. This arrangement would work well in an entry hall or on a large sideboard. But, for today, it's our centerpiece.
Below -- one of the place settings with a Monroe dinner plate and bread plate (used as an underplate for a Holly tall sherbet glass). The tall sherbet/champagne glasses are perfect for serving appetizers.
The 1847 Rogers Brothers "Remembrance" flatware was my mother's. As I set this table, the weight of the forks and the shape of the knives reminded me of setting tables for long-ago Christmas dinners. She would often say, "My wants are simple." Buying this silverware for herself had been a rare indulgence.
Here I "married" an Essex cup to a Monroe saucer.
A closer view of the flower container and the garden greenery I used as filler. The upholstery fabric remnant cost a dollar (or less) at a local moving sale.
The Tablescape Thursday wine is faux once again. Two or three drops of red food coloring and a drop of blue in a pitcher of water created the look I wanted.
I alternated two kinds of napkins. They have in common a similar size, off-white color, and taupe embroidery, but they're definitely distant cousins. Two contrasting colors would have also worked -- especially if the dishes and/or the flowers used were bright and colorful.
Closer view of the centerpiece ...
I used a pair of gold-plated salt and pepper shakers. I could have added silver or glass ones, but I thought these repeated the tones of the china's gold rims.
I was delighted to find the flowers for such a good price. They actually looked better the second day after having had their stems cut and being placed in fresh water.
The late day autumn light brings attention to the wheel cut laurel design of the Holly stemware.
The gold trim of the china shimmers as day's end approaches.
Visitors (real and online) often ask where I store tabletop items. The Holly glassware lives in the sitting room secretary/cabinet. The Monroe china is displayed in the dining room china cabinet, and the Essex Maroon dishes have zippered, padded storage containers and are stored on floor-to-celining shelves in an upstairs closet.
A closer view ...
Almost time to light the candles ...
The double-light candleholders are also Fostoria Holly, an eBay purchase a couple of years ago.
A series of candlelit views ....
Did you think we were finished for today? I decided to stretch two services for 8 into one for 16 (actually I have more than that of each pattern -- this is for instructional purposes!).
The second table is set in the sunroom and, even though the dishes, silverware, glassware, and napkins are the same, the overall mood is quite different. Obviously, the room itself is a more casual space. I opted to use (mostly) fruit instead of flowers for the centerpiece. I gathered the pears from under my father's tree (they fall as they ripen). The tree is loaded this year -- and they're organic -- he never sprays his fruit trees. The grapes were on sale at Kroger. I saved enough on grapes to offset half the cost of the flower arrangement in the dining room (and we can eat this centerpiece!).
I used my favorite Mikasa crystal salt and pepper shakers. The single candleholders are Fostoria Holly.
This stemware came from a recent local estate sale. Their previous owner is 93, and she's moved to a nursing home. Her nieces were at the sale. They told me it had been her wedding crystal and that Aunt Lucy probably only used it once or twice. They were in pristine condition, and the set included 8 Holly salad plates. If you're lucky (and it's the last day of a sale), you can often purchase a similar complete set of stemware for not much more than a single stem of new department store crystal. I'm sure prices vary in different areas of the country, but I think estate sales tend to be great sources of vintage and antique items that cost the same or less than (often lower quality) mass-produced merchandise.
An overview of the table.
I elevated the centerpiece with an upside-down Pyrex square baking pan and used an old curtain valance to add color and softness.
I placed clusters of grapes on either side of the round centerpiece to add interest and to echo the oval shape of the table.
It had been a gloomy afternoon, but the sun came out just as I began taking the photographs.
I love the stems of the tall sherbets and tall water glasses. Fostoria produced a plain version of this shape called "Astrid." Holly is one of the few vintage patterns that combined a wheel cut pattern with an "gray" acid-etched one. The longer etched shapes represent leaves, and the more rounded polished cuts symbolize the berries. Honestly, I don't think of actual holly when I see the pattern. I just like the crisp, modern, stylized design juxtaposed with the neo-classical shape of the stem.
The color of the "wine" spreads a rosy glow as reflections and shadows extend across the table.
The Fostoria center handle plate below is great for serving cookies, appetizers, etc. Most of the serving pieces were based on Fostoria's Sonata shape. The stemware was decorated on shape number 6030 (Astrid).
I thought the fringe was too pretty to throw away. And now it's come in handy!
So tempting to keep samping the centerpiece as I took the photographs!
Here you see the transluscent quality of the Lenox china ...
Do you mix your china patterns?
The Lenox covered casserole dish is the only piece that makes me uneasy when I use it. If chipped or broken, they're very expensive to replace these days!
I snipped a few blooms from an outdoor pot of mums. They really say fall, don't they?
More shots in the late afternoon light ...
You know what's next .... candle time!
And the Blue Hour ...
Thank you for visiting today. I hope you'll join Susan of Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday!
See you soon ...