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Vintage Dinnerware: A Love Story

Dinnerware is a tricky thing to choose, especially for particular (aka picky) people. For me, it’s been a difficult search for something that goes with my kitchen and dining décor and looks good when plated, but is available at an accessible price point. There are lots of “okay” options out there, but not many that fit my personal aesthetic. It has me wondering sometimes if it’s worth it to launch my own dinnerware line, ha!

Over the last decade, I have cycled through 90s hand-me-down dishes, mismatched modern plates and most recently a bland set of cream-colored dishes that I over-confidently bought as a set of 12. Along the way, I thought I had found the perfect dishes at Crate & Barrel, but bad reviews about poor quality shattered my dreams, and then again at Simon Pearce, just to weep at the price tag.

I finally had a moment of clarity when I realized I should revisit my heirloom roots for inspiration: growing up, my mother exclusively used blue and white Spode dishes in our home (and still does), and her mother, whose style I worship, uses a Nikko print, blue and white dinnerware set. Around the same time, I purchased the Maman cookbook, and for anyone who has read the book or visited their café locations, you know that antique blue and white dishware is their aesthetic. I was inspired.

So, I set out on my own mission to build a vintage blue and white dinnerware set. But, rather than buy a whole set, I’ve decided I want a mismatched collection like Maman's so I can enjoy the many varieties and prints of the past.

As I got started on my journey, I quickly realized three things:

1. It is cheaper to hunt for vintage pieces locally at thrift stores, antique shops and Facebook Marketplace. Etsy is a great source, of course, but you need to be committed to the hunt to find good deals with affordable shipping (and have the wherewithal to place enough faith in the seller to properly package these delicate items!).

2. At least in South Florida, the majority of vintage dishes available to buy in person are…red and white. I began to build a one-of-a-kind, red and white dinnerware collection, but of course along the way, I continue to find blue and white dishes – especially French ones – that I simply can’t resist (I mean, when an antique dish you’ve been eyeing for three months goes on sale, it was meant to be, right?). As a result, I am slowly building not one, but two, tableware sets.

3. Building a unique dinnerware collection involving vintage dishes takes lots of time and patience!

Here are some photos of my collection to date:

Not everyone is a fan of eating off of old plates. Concerns about lead poisoning are real and proper testing should be done where possible – just remember that most lead tests won’t turn back positive results unless paint is peeping through the glaze. For anyone who wants the buy-new, looks-old feel, I’ve also provided links to some beautiful options that might spark your fancy.


Happy nesting!


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