I wasn't in the market for (yet) another set of dishes when I stopped by my favorite local thrift store on Saturday morning. I saw the box in the picture below. I quickly moved the dozen or so items piled on top of it and peered inside. I expected to see something other than pristine white dishes. I assumed there'd be clothing, toys, kitchen items, VHS tapes ... anyone's guess! It's a shop that sells abandoned items from storage units.
Surprisingly, it held the original contents, still sealed with tape in unmarked boxes with cardboard dividers to protect the dishes. I asked the shop owner, "How much?" "Twenty dollars," was the reply. We chatted about nothing in particular for a few minutes. Then I began, "About those dishes ...," intending to ask the return policy. She smiled and said, "If you want 'em, you can have 'em for fifteen."
How could I say NOT have taken them home? SO many dishes! What to do with them now?
For me, the answer was obvious. I love setting formal tables with vintage crystal, silver flatware, a floral centerpiece, and lots of candles.
White dishes are truly versatile. They can easily be substituted for expensive bone china. Another plus is that, regardless of the menu you've planned, any food looks its absolute best presented on simple white dinnerware.
I'm using Fostoria's "Holly" glassware (1942-80). I love the crisp, stylized laurel decoraton and the graceful shape of the stems.
Dogwood branches provide drama, with their organic textures, beautiful petals, and interesting shapes. They also repeat the whiteness of the dinnerware.
Then there was a dilemma. What was I to do with all the remaining dishes? Another table perhaps. A far less formal table, set in the den ... bare tabletop, no chargers, stainless flatware, sturdy glasses, cups for coffee or tea.
Well, perhaps we'll need tall flutes for something pink and bubbly. Floral print napkins will add a romantic touch. These are an easy-care blend. I purchased them a few seasons ago at Tuesday Morning.
Peonies and azaleas are blooming in the garden. Their colors and shapes seem to me to be exotic, almost tropical. Like pink flamingos!
Even though I wanted this to be the "dressed down" version of a table set with white dinnerware ... I couldn't stop myself from adding a touch of silver. The vintage footed bowl (silverplated) is great for displaying fruit or flowers. The plating is worn on the inside so, when it's being used as a fruit bowl, a round porcelain vegetable bowl acts as a liner.
These saucers can do double duty. I used them as bread plates on the more formal table in the dining room. The water glasses are Imperal's "Cape Cod" (1932-84). I bought the champagne flutes at a consignment shop.
A closer view of the napkin:
Readers often comment on the oil painting over the fireplace. My friend, Yvonne, painted a rose from her garden with bold strokes of a palette knife.
Yvonne also did the pastel painting of a crepe myrtle in bloom. It normally hangs in the sunroom. Frequently I'll rearrange furniture or rotate artwork within the house to create a mood that insures harmony between the table setting and the space it inhabits.
Something interesting in the sugar bowl?
The flatware is "American Harmony," a current Oneida pattern.
My favorite time of day is coming, with the beautiful light of late afternoon ...
But first, let's visit the dining room again ...
Back to the den ...
I've begun collecting sets of individual silver-capped crystal salt & pepper shakers. It's nice not to have dinner conversations interrupted by requests to pass the salt! By the way, if the caps (or entire shakers) are silver or silverplated, it's never a good idea to leave salt in them between dinner parties. Since salt is quite corrosive, it can cause pitting, plate loss, and other problems over time.
Time to light the candles in the dining room ...
The silverplated chargers and trays used as chargers were from estate sales and antiques malls. The crystal salt & pepper set in the dining room is by Mikasa. Flatware is Gorham's La Scala. Pale green napkins and silverplated napkin rings were estate sale finds.
Tip -- to make luncheon sized napkins appear more generously proportioned:
1. Unfold napkin completely
2. Instead of grasping napkin in the center, lift it from midway between the outer corner and the center.
3. Fold the shorter side under and wrap sides toward the back.
4. Slide it in the napking ring. The original center fold will be hidden under the ring.
Thank you to Susan of Between Naps on the Porch for hosting Tablescape Thursdays. Because of Susan, Blogland now has a tablescaping community. Because of Michael Lee of Designs by Gollum, we know how useful, versatile, and beautiful basic white dishes can be.
Whether it's Gollum's ubiquitous Gibson Claremont pattern, JC Penney's basketweave (thrifted or not), the more upscale Mikasa Countryside Italian, or one of Susan's favorites, Lenox Butler's Pantry ... there could (and I think, should) be a set of dress-em-up/dress-em-down white dishes in everyone's home. They're the "little black dress" of tabletop design!
I hope you all have a great week! Thank you for stopping by.
P.S. No assigned seating today! Which table would you choose if you were a guest -- dressy dogwood white or whimsical peony pink?
Southeastern Designer Showhouse Atlanta: Part 2
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