What you choose to eat your meals on, is an investment that will impact you everyday. It may be a daunting challenge, but with a little research and careful contemplation, your dinnerware can be an attractive and effective addition to your kitchen and dining room. With luck, your dinnerware set will make it through kitchen renovations, moves, or other major home renovations and changes.
Use this guide to help you determine what you need and want out of your dinnerware.
Dinnerware Materials: Durability and maintenance are key factors to consider when selecting your dinnerware materials. Don’t let preconceptions or set-in-stone rules dictate the dinnerware material in your home. Instead, rely on your personal preferences and needs at home.
Bone China: Bone china is known for its milky white yet slightly translucent finish. Perfect for formal china or everyday use, bone china dinnerware is unusually strong and resistant to chipping despite its light and delicate appearance. Porcelain: With its characteristic lustrous glow, porcelain is a dinnerware material traditionally used for formal dinnerware sets, but its durability also allows for everyday use. Ironstone: Ironstone is an exceptionally strong and more casual stoneware alternative to porcelain dinnerware. Stoneware: Stoneware is a traditionally more rustic and casual material alternative to porcelain. It is characterized by its heft, extreme durability, and opaque finish. If you are looking for a bullet-proof dinnerware material, this is as close as you can get. Earthenware: Earthenware is probably one of the most popular choices for everyday use. It tends to have a more natural and relaxed appearance to it. Earthenware tends to be less expensive than stoneware, and therefore less durable. While earthenware can be produced thin like porcelain and bone china, it is also more prone to chips and cracks. Bamboo: A more recently developed alternative to traditional plastic or disposable dinnerware, bamboo is a highly renewable and environmentally friendly dinnerware choice. Perfect for picnics or outdoor dining, it’s inexpensive, lightweight, and actually can be reusable or disposable depending on your preference. Unfortunately, bamboo dinnerware is not suitable for a dishwasher.
Table Setting Essentials: Casual dinnerware is most often sold in sets which will include a dinner plate, a salad plate, a bowl, and a glass or mug per place setting. More extensive sets may also include a bread and butter plate, and teacup and saucer in a place setting. While there are no required number of place settings, consider the number of seats at your dining table, how often you plan to have guests over to dinner, and the amount of storage available in your kitchen when deciding how many place settings you will purchase. Casual Dinnerware: Everyday dinnerware needs to stand the test of time as well as the everyday abuses of a household. Consider a set that is dishwasher and microwave-safe, in order to make the maintenance and care as easy as possible. If your casual dinnerware set is to be the only set that you purchase, consider a simple white or off-white set that can be used for everyday, as well as for more formal occasions. It’s easy to add bold decorative accents in order to spice up a table setting.
Formal Dinnerware: Formal dinnerware is usually the supplementary set to casual dinnerware and is in no way required. It is becoming more common to only own a single set of dinnerware used for both formal and casual occasions. However, if you choose to own a secondary formal dinnerware set, it is more likely to be sold by the place setting. In addition to a standard place setting, a formal place setting may also include a rim soup bowl, a charger place, an accent plate, as well as an additional mug. Since this set will be used less frequently than your primary everyday set, have fun selecting a bold pattern and design. These plates will be used for celebrations, so pick a festive pattern that’s up to the task.
Dinnerware Care: All materials and styles of dinnerware may be different, so it’s important to check whether or not your particular set is dishwasher-safe or microwave-safe. Hand-washing is always smart with fine or delicate china. And dinnerware with any metallic details should be kept out of the microwave.
Consider how you will store your dinnerware pieces and sets. Plate racks are great for everyday dinnerware storage and can prevent scratching or other damage incurred by stacking plates. For formal china, china cabinets or dining hutches can safely display your pieces, while padded storage containers can easily be put away and out of sight.