Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thrift Meets Limoges, with Bunnies!

It seems to me that appealing table settings often include vintage treasures, thrifty finds, garden flowers, new acquisitions, and ... something else -- elements that are unexpected, even whimsical. Little surprises can take a table from pretty (but generic) to fresh, modern, unique, and interesting! I hope some of these adjectives can be applied to the table I've set for you today. You decide ...

The dinner plates and demitasse cups & saucers are pre-WWII. The plates are Turin (Bavarian), and the cups are Tressemane & Vogt (T&V, Limoges, France). I purchased them a few years ago at the estate sale of a retired physician/antiques collector.

The salad plates were a thrifty find -- six for $4 at a local charity thrift shop. There's no backstamp, so I don't know the maker or pattern. The gold rims are a bit worn. Still, with their stylized floral pattern (accented with a butterfly), I think the plates seem fresh and appealing.

The little ceramic bunnies are also thrifted.

The contemporary glass napkin ring has a cylinder that acts as a vase (for fresh flowers or silk). I inserted yellow "Carefree Sunshine" no-spray rose buds.

I also used the yellow roses in the centerpiece, along with pinkish-red no-spray roses and azalea cuttings. I kept the arrangements low, but added a bit of height to the one in the middle by placing a footed bon-bon dish on the shell-shaped silverplated tray.

The other containers are silverplated gravy boats, a bread tray, and the base of a covered vegetable dish. I used small pieces of water-soaked oasis (in all but the center tray) to anchor the azalea cuttings. The azaleas provide a structure to hold the short stems of the roses in place. There's enough water in the shallow containers to keep the flowers fresh for at least a day or two.

A closer view of the demitasse cup & saucer.

The stemware and candleholders are Fostoria's classic "American" pattern (1915-82). It's easy to see how "American" remained popular for so many decades. The faceted design captures and reflects light and color beautifully.

The silverplated flatware is "Eternally Yours," (1941-73). The pattern was produced by 1847 Rogers Bros., a division of the International Silver Company.

I used my favorite set of salt & pepper shakers today. They're by Mikasa. Speaking of Mikasa, I just won six place settings of Mikasa's "Daylight" china in a giveaway hosted by Marlis of Creative Journeys! You can read about it HERE. Marlis has set a truly gorgeous Easter table with her own Daylight china HERE! Nicely done!

Thank you Marlis, Mikasa, and, as always, thank you to Susan of Between Naps on the Porch for hosting Tablescape Thursdays. Please visit Susan and all talented participants.

I hope you have a very Happy Easter!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Unparalleled Versatility of Whiteness!

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?