Monday, May 3, 2010

My Mismatched Thrift Store China

Growing up I always remember the excitement during the holidays when we would decorate and set up the table for dinner.  It was so much fun to go into the deep dark recesses of normally unused cupboards and carefully take out the fancy china dishes.  We would wipe off the three inch layer of dust and wash everything very carefully by hand before setting the table.  Something about those dishes made those holiday meals taste that much better.

A couple of years ago we moved into our house.  Since we have quite a few family members in the area and the biggest space we have been fortunate to be able to host most holidays at our house.  I remember the first Christmas we hosted.  We had just moved in a few weeks earlier.  We didn't even have a real table yet!  We ended up buying a long folding table and some folding chairs.  I added a pretty tablecloth and it worked quite nicely.  I remember scrounging up various mismatched plates, from the pieces of the set that had managed to survive my college years, added to the set we were given as wedding gifts.  The dishes worked together pretty well because they were all white.  We ended up giving all the kids paper plates because I had run out of real ones.  I felt a great sense of accomplishment at what we had been able to pull together from limited resources especially with the added chaos of unpacking boxes.  I dreamed of future holidays when we would be dusting off our own set of fine china to set the table with.

Flash forward several holidays later.  We now have a real table and chairs though the folding chairs still make their appearance to fill in.  I find myself still setting the table with the same mismatched set of dishes.  I continue to dream of those beautiful place settings but then I look at the price and my little fantasy bubble pops.  I'll be honest, a 12 piece place setting of Noritake China is a bit out of my budget.  Even if I did have the money in hand there would be a huge list of things slightly more important than having a set of pretty dishes, only making an appearance a few times a year.  Little by little I let my dream fade and focused on the idea of having one full set of everyday dishes that at least matched.

Recently however I found my solution!  I now have a beautiful set of china including a lovely platter and I paid less than $20 for the whole thing.  I even purchased it a bit at a time and plan on adding pieces as I find them. On close inspection the plates don't actually match detail for detail but they look beautiful together and I think it adds to their charm.
Yes, my stunning collection was purchased at a thrift store.  More accurately it was purchased at several thrift stores.
I have always been fond of silver rimmed china with muted colors and subtle patterns.  In fact one of the things that had stopped me in the past from trying to build my collection one piece at a time was the fact that I could never decide which pattern I loved the best.  I was also worried about getting half way through my collection only to have it discontinued.  This solves my problem!  I now have an assortment of patterns but most people don't even notice the differences.  I can also add to it at any time without worrying about the pattern not matching.  It kind of makes every plate an accent piece.  My favorite part is that if someone accidentally breaks a plate I can easily replace it for pennies!  Even the kids can use the pretty dishes.  I have no fear of washing my beautiful china in the dishwasher.  It sure makes cleaning up after the holidays easier!

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