Wednesday, February 29, 2012

But What Will My Table Wear to the Party? -Building A Collection of Dining and Entertaining Pieces

I've had a handfull of people request that I show examples of table settings, and, though I don't often dabble in elaborate creations, I do enjoy a beautifully-dressed table. I'll give examples of actual full settings in the future, but for starters I want to talk with you about building up a collection of dining and serving pieces that can act as your foundation.

Though I don't go hunting with blinders on, my musket and I do have our sights set on a certain kind of prey. Here are my shopping criteria:

  • Classic style- Like most people, I can't afford to replace my dining collection with the passing trends. So, I avoid trendy pieces and opt for pieces that have stood the test of time. So, it's circular plates over square-shaped ones.
  • Beautiful lines- I know this might sound picky, but I do not believe that all circles are created equal. Well, maybe the actual circle, yes, but how it is placed, and the curves leading to it are not all the same. For example, when I look at a wine glass, I consider how big the rim is compared to the bowl of the glass. I want the width and curve of that bowl to flow beautifully and naturally to the rim. This is an area where beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps you'd opt for something wider and more bulbous, while I'd go for something taller and slimmer. I like to give myself time to compare, and I wait until one of the glasses (or plates, or mugs) convinces me that we were meant to be together. 
  • Versatility- This is crucial. I need my dining pieces to go to bat for me in a variety of ways and settings. My plates need to work for a family weeknight dinner and a formal dinner party. I want my breadbasket to double as a napkin and silverware caddy. My cheeseboard should be able to host a variety of appetizers as well as a cake or a loaf of sourdough. And it's not just function I'm talking about when it comes to versatility. I want my pieces to look good together even when they don't come from the same set. For this reason, almost everything I own is white ceramic, glass, wooden, or some kind of metal. While this might sound boring to you, I assure you it is anything but. The blending of different wood tones and grains, metals and other natural fibers creates a rich palate and is the perfect canvas on which to add whatever flair and color I desire through table linens and other decor. 
Over the next month or two I'll create posts here and there addressing different parts of the table setting ( drinkware, silverware, linens, serverware, etc.) Today you'll get my picks for great dinnerware.

Like I said before, I wanted a set of plates and bowls that would look great for brunch, lunch guests, a fancy dinner, or even a dolled-up pizza night. I have two sets of dishes. One is something very bold and colorful. My plates are a vibrant red and my bowls are all different colors. I got those from Target when I was single and we use them often for casual dinners and lunches when it's just Shawn and me. If it's in the budget, I think having a colorful option is great! I love these picks below (which are both just salad plates, but you get the idea:)
Pottery Barn Talavera Melamine Plates.
Anthropologie Script & Posy Plates 
But on nights that I really cook or when we have company, I have a set of stark white plates that do my bidding. Why white? Because it's my canvas! A painter always starts with a white canvas, and as a food artist (of sorts), I most often want a white background so that my creations can pop off the plate. Only when I serve something like fettucini alfredo do I want a more colorful backdrop, and I almost never dish up a meal with so little color of its own.

Here's what we have in our hutch: 
Crate & Barrel Essential Dinnerware w/ 7" Bowl. Simple, but a beautiful design. We've been thrilled with our pick. We've had these babies for almost 4 years and they still look new! I have to say that one of the reasons we bought this set was because it came with the much larger "buffet plate" instead of the "dinner plate." The larger size made a nice statement at the table, but I still love the set even without the buffet plate which has now been discontinued.
Another favorite set (that we don't own) comes from Pottery Barn. Their "Great White" collection is offered in 4 different styles, and each can easily be dressed up or down. Check it out!
Pottery Barn Great White Traditional Dinnerware. You can opt for a collection that includes the cereal bowl or the more shallow soup bowl. Or get both! I have to say I'm crazy about the shape of these mugs. I prefer them to the ones we have, but mine are still pretty great.
Pretty casual, right? But look how well it supports such a lavish table setting in the next photo!

Some chargers, nice silverware and formal accessories elevate this simple dinnerware to something that's worthy of the Larrabees! (From "Sabrina.")
Just gorgeous. Well, there you have my tips for choosing dinnerware. Happy hunting!


  1. Nice job Janna! Love this post!

  2. Wow!
    Amazing post! Your examples of table settings are really awesome!
    I like this arrangement very much.
    I will share Collection of Dining and Entertaining Pieces with my friends and family. Check out some amazing table decore accessories table decor accessories.