Have your chai cocktail in a floral tea cup at Washington's Fancy Radish restaurant. Picture: Fancy Radish
Have your chai cocktail in a floral tea cup at Washington's Fancy Radish restaurant. Picture: Fancy Radish

Vintage tableware is making a comeback and we couldn't be happier

By Jura Koncius Time of article published Apr 14, 2019

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Washington - At dinner tables and restaurants across the globe, vintage plates, even the flowery variety often dismissed as "granny china," are making a comeback.

There's a move to homier place settings featuring mix-and-match dishes and flatware. The look is all over Instagram and Pinterest, where posts show delicate pink cherry-blossom plates and blue transferware with pastoral scenes gracing meals at the swankiest bistros and hippest lofts.

Granny's stuff never looked so good.

"The big white plate has had a heck of a run," says Clark Wolf, a nationally known restaurant consultant based in New York and California, who explains that the rage for white plates originated in 1980s California. "It's probably not going anywhere, but it has some new friends and some old friends."

Couples are changing the assortment of china they are registering for. "People are mixing and matching more," says Alyssa Longobucco, style and planning editor at the Knot, a wedding website and marketplace. "Couples want their home to feel unique, and they like things that have history. They want something more than going to a big-box store and buying 50 pieces of white china."

Food is served on an assortment of vintage plates at St. Anselm in Washington. Picture: Corry Arnold

She cites a renewed interest in family history. "Five or 10 years ago," she says, "you would hear 'I'm me and I'm modern and I don't want any of that froufrou, old-world stuff.' Now they want middle ground." 

Sets of formal china generally haven't been in demand recently, and, as formal entertaining has waned, many downsizing baby boomers have gotten rid of theirs. But tablescapes using older dishes are making a comeback in homes as well.

"It's more homey to mix up your china, especially if you have 10 people over for dinner and you don't have 10 of everything," says Liz Curtis, chief executive and founder of Table + Teaspoon, a nationwide tableware rental service. 

She is introducing six new tableware packages in the next few months, and three will focus on pattern play. "The table setting sets the tone for the evening," says Curtis, who encourages customers to mix in family pieces with rentals. "If your guests walk in and it looks like you spent time curating the table, it makes them think they are having an elevated experience."

The Washington Post

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