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I want a china closet

bpath Oh Sophie
March 9, 2019

I love china. I have a couple of sets, I plan to abscond with a couple of my mom's, too. Just kidding, she offered them to me. But so much of it is where it is inconvenient, or even inaccessible. My mom designed some great built-ins in her dining room to store her tableware (and she has a lot of it), but THIS I love. It's showcased, but only for the homeowner. So when she takes bits out, the gaps don't show. And, you could have very different sets without jarring your decor, since these are "for your eyes only" until you want to bring them out. The description calls it "like a jewelry case", Partly because of one thing I love but wonder about: the shelves are wrapped in black velvet. While that's nice for showcasing and for cushioning, will all the cat hair and pollen find their way into the closet and onto the shelves?

IdaClair, this is in University Park. Be a dear and go knock on their door for me? ;)

I'd like another closet for seasonal decorating bits like vases, objets, etc. I'd just like to open the door every now and then and "visit" the things that spark joy, even out of season.

Comments (45)

  • Martha Scott

    I'd rather have a Butler's Pantry --

    Sadly, this is NOT mine!

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    Can we have both?

    My grandmother had a breakfast room that looked like a butler's pantry, with her dishes there, similar to your picture, Martha. The good China was in the dining room in the china cabinet. I have her China and her buffet, but not the China cabinet, so the China is in the buffet "behind closed doors", alas.

  • IdaClaire

    Love both of these! And sure... I'll go check it out in person for you, bpath! (If only ...)

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    Ida, I saw it in D Home, a D Magazine publication. I went to SMU and used to love strolling through University Park, among some really charming homes. It used to be almost affordable, guess it's out of range now.

  • DLM2000-GW

    That's a gorgeous china closet, chandelier and all! I have a dish pantry rather than a china closet and it's not outfitted quite as elegantly - same purpose, different neighborhood ;-)

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    Ooh, nice. How wide is it?

  • DLM2000-GW

    grrrr this stupid website is driving me nuts - can't post anything from my phone, have to get up, get my laptop, find the post......

    It's 42" wide.

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    Sorry to make you work! I can't post from my phone, either, don't know why. I used to!

  • beaglesdoitbetter

    I have a pantry with dishes plus a china cabinet with dishes but I find it still isn't enough space. I think I'd fill that closet up very quickly! I need a dish room, I guess (b/c obviously I can't buy less dishes!)

  • cherryfizz

    My sister's friend had one in her living room with glass doors and it was beautiful. She had family china pieces from the 1800's. I always wanted to do it but I only have 3 small closets in my house. I have a lot of tea cups and saucers and china pieces that I would love to have out but they are in a dedicated kitchen cabinet that I could really use for food storeage. My brother said his friend has a curio cabinet that he is getting rid of that he will get for me.

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    I imagine that homeowner opening her china closet--of course the light is on a pressure switch that illuminates as soon as you crack the door open--and smiling at the sparkling contents, and crooning "come to me, my pretties". There's storage and then there's an experience.

    I think if I had one that was visible all the time, I'd worry about "staging" it. Surely that photograph was staged, but I'm sure it's lovely even when it's not staged.

  • Fun2BHere

    I'll take any of those! So many of my patterns are relegated to cabinets in the garage. I've been thinking about reworking my step-in pantry to hold dishes on one side. I could switch them out seasonally. I know we would use the various patterns more often if they were more visible. Hmmm...that might be my summer project.

  • beaglesdoitbetter

    I should re-work mine to make better use of space. Maybe I'll start a thread. I wonder if I could get my shelves lined in velvet, LOL. And get rid of my DH toaster oven which kind of takes away from the China closet vibe :(

  • DLM2000-GW

    Beagles I had those same spice houses!!! I remember getting them - what was it, one a month?

  • Rose Pekelnicky

    Beagles, I love the lazy susan

  • PRO

    China queen here. I store all of what won't fit in my kitchen cabinets (which is most of it!) in a corner cabinet we custom built for a TV when what is now our breakfast room, was a small TV room. It was built to hold a large TV when the tubes were very, very deep. Last summer, I had a door made for a small section of the built-in bookcases which were built at the same time, as I had "outgrown" my cabinet.

    The "room" you have pictured reminds me of the Sevres Room in the Museum Nissim de Comondo in Paris. The room and that amazing china just took my breath away! It's a fabulous "small" house museum that one should go see if in Paris.

    I have collected pictures over the years of my dream china storage situation. It's not going to happen, but I have kept those pictures.

    One I particularly like is Bunny Williams' china pantry. This is a woman who rivals me for china (she has more money and more space, but I could give her a run for her money!).

    Then there is Suzanne Rheinstein's fabulous butler's pantry. There are pull-outs in many of her bottom cabinets, for dishes.

    And then there are these fabulous old butler's pantries. I die!

    This one is my favorite. I love the way the cabinet doors slide, avoiding open door sticking out in a small room. This is a classic butler's pantry - the kind that were put in houses built in the 1920's and 30's. I'd kill for one like this!

    Then, of course, there are the "silver rooms" the many grand houses had. It was a locked room with all the house silver on shelves. I would like the shelves with silver cloth. I can't find any pictures of these, but I remember seeing one in a foreign movie. Oh be still my heart! And of course, such houses had a butler to keep all the silver polished (always the job of the butler - house staff not trusted as he was).

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    Oh, Anglo and all, you all have me swooning over china storage. I like anything that allows one of the plates to stand up behind the others, so that it isn't just a stack of plates. I guess I should make an idea book.

    Anglo, in that last picture, what is the brass pipe with an elbow on the right?

  • Fori

    it's a light fixture. Squint to see the other elbow.

  • PRO

    Fori, you have far better eyes than I do! I had no idea what it was - was too busy swooning over all those cabinets!

  • pennydesign

    That's so pretty....of course the diy-er in me wonders why you can't achieve the same look with a china cabinet...paint the shelves black and the back gold...certainly would be very pretty.

    I'm about 25 mins from University Park. I'll go check it out.

    And yes, they're demolishing a lot of the lovely homes in that area in order to build new. So sad.

  • blfenton

    My downfall isn't china but rather platters. I need a china cabinet just for platters.

    @Idaclaire - when you knock on that door to view the walk-in china pantry, would you mind asking the homeowner to turn on the chandelier and then take a picture. I want to see the room in all its sparkling glory.

  • Faron79

    What in the world do you need all that stuff for!!?! You'll never use 10% of it!! ;-)

    And besides..... Insurance-regulations bar me from going near stuff like that LOL!!!

    ......and don't any of you DARE question a Man's (or Woman's) penchant for "buying another tool/whatever". ;-). ;-)


  • bpath Oh Sophie

    And besides..... Insurance-regulations bar me from going near stuff like that LOL!!!

    Faron, that's exactly why we need it, for our resident "bull in a china shop" lol

    Blfenton, I'm in for all of it. I especially love "bits", the platters, bowls, salt and peppers, and tea or snack sets, those little sets of, say, luncheon plates, cups and saucers (though I personally USE a mug), creamers, sugar bowls. The only reason I have just a few is that I have no place to keep them. I have a few hanging on the wall, and a few that I need to get hanging methods for. But if I had that China closet, with gorgeous subtle wallpaper, and a chandelier for goodness sake, well...

  • blfenton

    Yes, the luncheon plates with a complimenting (not matching) platter for cookies or cut-up bars. I have china mugs that also compliment the whole table outfit and the cream/sugar sets.

  • l pinkmountain

    Those kitchens are so dated, they need to be opened up and have open shelving installed . . . (she says sarcastically). I can totally get that someone may not understand the joys of dishware . . . BUT . . . I have come to love mine. One needs to be relatively stable since moving dishware all the time is labor intensive, so I didn't want it in my younger days when I was moving from funky apt. to funky apt. One needs to be stable enough to enjoy eating sit-down dinners, even occasionally entertaining. It helps to have a husband who is willing to help with the dishes . . . I think I might reach a point where I would feel it was overkill, but three or four sets at least, are nice. I can dress my table up seasonally in different ways. And since we are messy eaters and I have to wash the table linens weekly, I have a slightly different look to my dining table every week or so by rotating linens and dishes. I love it. It makes mealtime special, and for me, fun. A chance to do something creative.

    If you do like dishware, the current minimalist trend means you can pick up all kinds of lovely things for a song at antique shops and Goodwill. But current trends in minimal home furnishings means it's hard to find places to store stuff in the rotation. But then you can pick up a china cabinet for a song too . . .

  • writersblock

    But then you can pick up a china cabinet for a song too . . .

    Ironically, this is no longer true in my area due to the @#$@# chalk paint. Five years ago there were lots of china cabinets languishing in local thrifts, but now they've all been snatched up and cottage-ified by local would-be furniture sellers. I was looking recently for a *very* small one for a friend who just bought a ~700 sf 1940 house, and found one that would have been perfect, except that the beautiful old mahogany finish had about 17 layers of chalk paint on it now, including all the hardware, and had been distressed, to boot. Not satisfied with that, they'd gotten rid of the muntins on the upper doors and applied psuedo-antique pseudo-French advertising decals to the glass.

    And of course they were charging a huge premium for what they'd done to it. It's been the same way with crystal chandeliers. In the early condo boom in S FL, every dining room had a very small Spanish-made brass chandelier with (ugh) smoked crystals. But they did clean up beautifully if you like a traditional chandelier, and new chandelier crystals weren't expensive.

    For a long time you could find those in any second-hand store for a song, but then the woman who invented the teacup chandelier bought them all up (and put in a standing order for any more that came in later) so she could glue crockery all over them and resell them. Now the carcass with the original wiring and missing lots of parts sells for nearly $300.

  • alex9179

    I would love a dish room. At the end of January, we moved back into our house after renovations were far enough along to be able to bathe. I put away a bunch of glassware and dishes yesterday, after reading this thread. I may have a problem, haha. I thought that I allowed a lot of space but I'm definitely going to get a china cabinet for my dining room to rotate displaying them.

    Cabinets, of the size and style I like, are in short supply and usually priced at a premium. Sometimes I just want to settle but I've vowed to be patient with the hunt because I want to love each piece that comes into the house.

    I don't have any complete sets and collected the pieces I knew I'd use. Dinner and luncheon plates, bowls, and serve ware make up the bulk. I enjoy using the little berry bowls for sorbet and ice cream. Well, I will enjoy using them when we have kitchen sinks installed!

  • l pinkmountain

    Yes, in an urban area near where I live, they have a painted furniture store. Most of it is benign, as they seem to realize that it is not always the best solution for every piece. So one does have to know the right places to hit up for the good finds. I'm amazed at the fabulous pieces some lucky folks I know have picked up on the curb . . . Since I have more than enough furniture I don't go to auctions, but I know that's a fascinating hunt too. When I was younger my mother hauled us to all kinds of auctions in remote places. I was always fascinated by the "mixed boxes" of ancient household and tchotcke things. I was too young to realize I was witnessing the end of an era. This was back when MCM was not an antique revival trend and before the first coming of the "shabby chic" and "country" trends.

  • Faron79

    Lol!!!!! $-+&_$#-chalk-paint!! Glad I'm not the only one who thinks that..... ;-)

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    Pennydesign, it's in Bluffview; I'm not sure my walking ever took me that far from Hillcrest Avenue, so I probably never saw it. I'm really enjoying the D Home magazine (DH picked it up at an airport club lounge, I think).

    Alex, that's a great idea to use the china cabinet for seasonal display of an entire set. Alas, I have room for the buffet but not a china cabinet.

  • oldbat2be

    Apologies if this has already been addressed but my concern with 'open storage' (and shelving) is what the heck does the space look like when you are using the primary props?

    For pasta, we ALWAYS use the second tall bowl from the lower left.

    Fine if the door is closed but what if the door is not and all bowls are used?

    Just giving people tours through our home and pointing to empty spaces makes me cringe!

  • pennydesign

    Seconded about the chalk paint...although I would add more ^%%#$%^^&

    My local CL has some decent stuff still, but I'm blown away by the "refinished" stuff...it seems to be one particular person who has a whole bunch of turquoise paint they've found somewhere...

  • PRO

    I've never been a big fan of china vegetable bowls and gravy boats - I have silver for that. Platters? Again, mainly silver. These pieces in china run a huge risk of breakage.

    About 16 years ago, I decided to change my everyday dishes and get a new pattern. The new pattern I chose was Royal Copenhagen's Tranquebar Blue. It had been my late MIL's everyday pattern and we'd inherited a few chipped plates I put in an antique corner cupboard that was now in my library but had been in my MIL's DR, filled with Tranquebar. No one sees the chips in a cupboard!

    I quickly discovered that Tranquebar had been discontinued the same year my MIL died. Irony... She did love her Tranquebar! So I turned to eBay. I knew my MIL had a LOT of Tranquebar - lots of specialty pieces - but I had no idea how many different pieces had been made. Luckily, I discovered a Xeroxed-copy of a Tranquebar catalog from Royal Copenhagen on eBay. Now, I not only know all the pieces made, but I know their actual style numbers. Tranquebar, like Herend, is all about the "numbers", not what the piece is called as they made many different sizes/styles of each piece.

    I had great fun for many months, collecting Tranquebar. I ended up with 12 place-settings of dinner plates, salad plates, flat rimmed soup plates. I have fewer b&b as I rarely use them everyday. Also, cups and saucers - not used daily anymore and they take up so much room. I never could find cereal bowls so bought some white ones from K-Mart that go quite well with the Tranquebar.

    So, what did I buy? A mustard pot, a jam pot, breakfast tray size cream & sugar and 2 cup teapot, regular teapot and regular cream & sugar, sandwich plates, cake plates, soup tureens (I have two - one on my breakfast room table that has its stand, and one in the cupboard), a trivet (very useful for a teapot - no drips on the placemat or table!), one ashtray which I use as a spoon rest next to the stove - perfect size!). I also have a couple of double-handled soup bowls and saucers, and 2 egg cups. I missed out on a covered muffin dish (for a breakfast tray) and have never seen another on offer again on eBay in all these years.

    I would have much more, but the antique cupboard is once again filled to the brim with Tranquebar, and so is the kitchen cabinet that holds my everyday dishes! I'd love to have room for luncheon plates and more cups and saucers (I think I have 6 of those).

    What is a mystery is what happened to all my MIL's Tranquebar. When my MIL died 19 years ago, my FIL told my husband and his sister that he wanted them to clean out the entire house (think of a 5000 sq ft house with full basement and huge 3rd floor full attic!), leaving only what was on display or being used regularly. My husband would drive down from Maine for the weekend, and he and his sister would go through a room - sometimes two. It took months to do this. So when FIL died 13 months later, much was gone already. When we came to arrange for what we were getting to be picked up by the movers, my SIL had already removed what she was taking, and the Tranquebar was all gone except for those few chipped pieces. We assumed she had taken it. Not a problem - she was the daughter. She denies she has it and said my husband took it - that it had all been broken. Now I know that's not true - less than 2 months before FIL died, he hosted a 60th family birthday dinner for my husband and there was lots of Tranquebar for the table.

    So, who got the Tranquebar? I'm suspicious that my SIL allowed the live-in housekeeper to take it - she allowed her to take a LOT of things - things which my husband was supposed to have gotten. She's probably sold it all on eBay - don't picture this woman cherishing it. A mystery that will remain unsolved...

    Oh - that mustard pot and jam pot. Do I use them? I did when my husband was still alive. I know usually eat on a plate in front of the TV - far too lonely to sit at the table by myself and look at that empty chair. But they do look pretty in that cupboard!

  • l pinkmountain

    Depending on how much you use, you just nudge a few stacks over and fill in the empty spots, or else you don't use it all and it doesn't look bare. I realize not everyone is going to want that much china, but for those of us who love it, well we either indulge ourselves or dream of doing so.

  • oldbat2be

    anglophilia - The china closets you posted are gorgeous, but here is my favorite, if one has the space:

  • DLM2000-GW

    Oh my, oldbat - that is gorgeous!

  • PRO

    But that's a plain old "pantry" for food etc, with just a few shelves for display on either side! For those of us with a serious china addiction, this would never suffice!

  • Debby

    And here I am purging cupboards to get rid of all excess dishes that I rarely, if ever, use.

  • chocolatesnap

    I purged my china closet when we last moved four years ago--now I have already refilled those empty spaces, and then some! Apparently, there is a china "hole" in my heart that must always be filled to excess.

  • pennydesign

    I suppose it's a bit like shoes? Once, I bought a pair that were insanely beautiful, knowing I would never wear them...but they were SOOOO pretty.

    (Don't worry, they were insanely marked down)

    I love the one that oldbat2be posted--what a great use of space!

  • tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

    If I were to design my house over again, my dining room would have 2 closets, though probably not walk-ins. One would be a china/dish closet and the other would be a table linen closet with drawers and a place to hang tablecloths. If only I had known then what I really needed...

  • PRO

    My inlaw’s had 2 closets in their DR. One was for silver, one for various china. They also had a butler’s pantry with tons of storage. Oh, how I lived that house,

    When we lived in LA, there was the most marvelous linen closet on the 2nd floor. It had deep , tall shelves for blankets, shallow drawers for placemats and napkins, shelves for bed linen, and a special place for tablecloths that were on a roller. Oh, how I adored that closet! When I visited the house many years later, I was horrified to discover it gone - they used that space to add a double shower to the bathroom behind it. It already had a single one plus a tub! Just broke my heart...

  • Fun2BHere

    I have a closet that's fitted with tablecloth rollers on the bottom. Unfortunately, I only have round tables which use tablecloths that won't fit on the rollers. :-(

  • oldbat2be

    Anglo - I was suggesting that the interior of the space be used for a china collection:) The exterior as shown is only for display. Your inlaws' linen closet sounds amazing; I can just picture the tablecloths on rollers.

    Currently, I store some tablecloths (folded) in one of our linen closets and others on hangers in the front hall closet. Usually the round ones are on hangers (i.e., in folded triangles) vs. the rectangular or square ones which can be more easily folded.

    tishtoshnm - I am interested in hearing more about how you would design storage for your tablecloths!

  • Oakley

    I'm sure some of you are familiar with Between Naps on the Porch but this lady has so much china it's amazing. Some is always on display on her back porch, and she keeps the rest in Ikea shelves in the garage.

    I swear she buys new china once a month, at least. Funny thing is, she never mentions entertaining very much.

    Fun website though & such a sweet lady.

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