At dinner tables and restaurants across North America and even Europe, vintage and antique dishes, even the flowery variety once referred to as “granny's china”, is making a huge comeback.
In modern families, the dinner table has become known as the homy, comfy spot to sit after a long day at the office or school. Place settings that feature mix-and-match dishes - especially with a retro graphic or theme - provide that sense of country kitchen comfort.
All over Instagram and Pinterest posts show everything from pink cherry blossom plates paired with blue transferware landscape scenes, to sleek, mid-century modern Rosenthal pieces mixed with TG Green's classic Cornishware. Altogether the effect is one that is is comfortable, unique and ... downright homey.
I tell you, your Granny’s stuff never looked so good!
“The big white plate has had a heck of a run,” says Clark Wolfe, a well-known restaurant consultant based out of New York City and California. Wolfe explains the rage for white plates that originated in 1980s California, while “it’s probably not going anywhere", has made some new friends - er, well shall we say - older - friends in recent years.
Even Wedding Registries show soon-to-be couples are often registering for vintage and antique china patterns. Again, the idea is people want their homes to feel unique and reflect their personal aesthetic. They also enjoy the history associated with vintage and antique pieces and patterns. People want to create their tablescape in the same way they choose tile for the bathroom wall or the flooring for the kitchen. The trend is toward something more than going to a big-box store and buying a box of matching dishes of often dubious content, quality and durability.
Unique table settings of Wide Open Eats.
And the big-box stores are trying to meet this demand opting for inventory that looks time-worn and historic. Just check out the latest offerings in tableware from Pier 1, Anthropologie, Bloomingdale’s, or Macy’s.
At many upscale restaurants and bistros the table settings reflect the interiors. As Rose Previte, co-owner of Maydan, tells us “midcentury modern meets the Middle East. at her estqblishment” Maydan's home page states "Grandma's Cooking is the inspiration for Rose Previte's Middle Eastern Restaurant". So, it only makes sense to present the culinary delights on Grandma's dishes, or at least ones she might have used.
Previte is far from alone in her thinking. Cozy bistros, bakeries and bars stack vintage plates and barware as decorative elements. If you look closely you can often find the buttermilk biscuits offered on a 1940's flowered platter and your chicken soup ladled into a rustic bowl picked up from a vintage shop like mine, Buy from Groovy.
Desserts on flowery china plates and a vintage platter at Elle in Washington’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)
So, don't be too hasty about getting rid of an heirloom china set. Not only is the quality there in that crafted tableware, there is also family history behind it. Especially during the war years, many moms saved ration coupons for literally months to have enough to be able to purchase something as decadent as a single dinner plate.
So, consider adding to your inherited service rather than tossing it away and purchasing new.
Groovy is the owner of the online vintage department store BuyfromGroovy at www.buyfromgroovy.com and also sells within the Etsy marketplace as BuyfromGroovy where her shop is typically an Etsy Top 1% performer in its market niche.