From flatware to glassware to dainty plates and even napkins- a favorite thing to do when setting a table is using vintage. It is a way to add charm and interest- and also bring a bit of history to the setting. But what if you don’t have a matching set?
Or have several patterns of silver or stemware that don’t necessarily look alike? Can you mix and mingle them and make it work?
That is what we are talking about today.
Method to the madness Q & A
First stop in a thrift store? Almost always the first place I go is to the housewares to sift through the stacks of china, shelves full of glassware and trays of vintage flatware. It is like there is a blinking beacon shining on those shelves.
What do you buy? I have been known to bring home stacks of floral covered china, simple white stoneware and delicious gold rimmed glasses, 7 different napkins and 11 pieces of mismatched tarnished silver . All from the same thrift store in one stop.
Singles or Sets? I don’t always find a set of something- I will buy a single piece as quickly as a set- and often find the prettiest look is in the mix.
Dings or damage? If I love it- it doesn’t matter.
Modern? Vintage? Both? Yes. Yes. & Yes.
Long tables with everything matching on repeat? I LOVE long formal matched place settings on the table so much. And you know what I love just as much as everything lined up and matching in a row? Everything mismatched and mingled.
Mixing Or matching?
One of my recent favorite finds was a set of gold and rosewood flatware.
I was searching for different elements to use in my book Inspired Gatherings- and happened to bump into a whole bag full of these beautiful vintage flatware pieces. I noticed that while there were quite a few pieces – there were not matching full sets for all of the settings – so would they work for the tables I was setting for the book?
Tip: It is all in the mix – not the match. Don’t overlook an incomplete set that you love- use other complimentary pieces along with them
I knew that I could use other gold flatware that I had on had to mix with these beauties to create a full setting- and so, they came home with me and fast became some of my favorites.
Less than Perfect
One thing I have learned over the years is to not pass up something that you love simply because it has damage or is incomplete.
Tip: Imperfection can be interesting and beautiful. If a piece has crazing or staining but you love it even so- bring it home.
This blue transferware platter is a favorite find. It was just a few dollars because it has crazing, old yellowing stains and a chip. I loved it even so. Some of my absolute favorite elements are ones that are discounted because of old scratches, crazing, worn transfer or missing gilding. While perfect is always beautiful- I sometimes find that the imperfect is where the heart goes.
Some of my favorites. I love little misfit pieces as much as I love that whole shelf full of pieces that go together. There is just something about that one random monogrammed dish or silver trophy that speaks to me as well as the mix of single brass candlesticks together.
Tip: Bring home those misfits. All together- they tell a story.
I always bring home those misfits that I love. They talk on their own- but when mingled with other misfits on a shelf or a table- they are telling an interesting story.
I remember when we would go to my grandparents house for Thanksgiving every year and I would start at all those pretty dishes. The floral covered ones that were from Japan and were my great-grandmothers that then became my grandmothers and that now are sitting in my china cabinet.
Tip: Using those family heirloom pieces not only brings back memories- it also creates memories for the next generation.
My grandmothers floral plates & etched stemware are some of my favorites to mingle and when I bring them out – I always think of her.
That is one of the reasons why using vintage from family everyday is such a treat. It is a tie to the past – it brings back memories and moments and creates new ones that the younger generations will remember someday.
Linens & Hankies & Tea towels
Did you know that some of my favorite linens to mix on the table are often vintage tea towels, old tablecloths that have been repurposed and delicate vintage handkerchiefs?
Yes. This one in my book- one of my absolute favorites. It is a large hankie with pretty edge details- and it works wonderfully as a napkin.
Tip: Napkins aren’t just napkins. Think outside the box and use those linens you love even if they once served a different purpose.
Linens are another thing that you don’t always find a whole set of. I kind of think they are like socks – and somewhere along the way there are some that get lost in the wash. The good news is that you can also easily mix different colors and styles and create a beautiful look.
It is all in the Details
One of the things I always look for are elements that have a unique or interesting detail.
Tip: Add one item to your table setting that has ‘detailed details.’ Not every item on the table needs to be richly or intricately detailed- just make sure there is one to add that interest.
Monograms on flatware? I will buy every piece no matter what the monogram is. I just love that detail on the table.
Etchings on stemware? Get in my cart.
And that is exactly what happened when I found these.
I was shopping the Re-store looking for a farm table, old chairs and different elements I could use for the book- and I walked past a cabinet filled with these delicious etched glasses. Even better? They were marked $4 each- but were also 50% off and so- a steal. I mixed them with newer gold coupe glasses and called it good.
While I don’t wear all my favorite clothes at one time or use all my favorites on the table together- I love to include something with exquisite detail- like the stemware. A perfect finishing touch.
By the Book
I am not a by the book decorator and surprise- I am not a by the book entertainer either. I don’t even know if I have the books on those things haha. I believe that if something makes you happy- then it is perfect.
I think the Best tip for creating and styling your own tables- is to do just that. If you like 87 different types of place setting elements- go for it. Want to mix new plates in with vintage? Why not?
You might be surprised to know that one of my favorite blush plates in Inspired Gatherings was not vintage but brand new.
The point is- just do what you love and it will come together beautifully. And speaking of being ‘by the book’ if you haven’t yet bought my new book Inspired Gatherings (why not? haha) You can find much more inspiration and tips in the pages- and stay tuned for another fun Giveaway celebrating my book coming your way next week – and stay tuned for more fun that I hope you will get involved with as well.
Happy summer entertaining all.