Shabby Chic Decorating With Mix-and-Match Vintage Dinnerware

Shabby Chic Blue-and-White Dishes


When I was a young girl, I learned that new brides not only take on one man for the rest of their lives, but commit to a china pattern as well. Which can be a great thing, as a bride can register her intended dishware pattern and then wedding guests will buy it for her.

Well, almost 40 years later, I still haven't settled on a specific china pattern. Sure, I've had a brief fling here and there with some classic dishware designs but have never made a real commitment. I love them all! Who can settle for just one pattern?

As a china pattern is a reflection of who you are, my mix and match collection of dishware reflects the way my mind works. And with the current decorating trend of shabby chic, I find that my taste is not really out of style.

I've learned that mixing and matching dishware can work. Of course, certain patterns and color combinations work better than others.Here are some tips on mixing and matching china patterns for an appealing shabby-chic look.

Everything Goes With White

Many, if not most, china patterns include white. If you have a set of plain white dishes, you can intersperse them with other, printed designs. White works to unify a group of mixed-design plates in several colors.

I like transferware, particularly reproductions of Victorian styles. I also have some old vintage dishware in ornate designs, often in a single a color printed on a white background. If every piece of transferware is different, set the table with one white plate, then a transferware plate, then a white plate, and so on.

You can also use a large white dinner plate or server with a transferware plate on top.

Blue-and-White China

There are lots of blue and white china patterns. From spongeware to Flow Blue to Blue Willow, a blue-and-white color combination is pure and pretty as the sky on a sunny day.

Although I am inordinately fond of blue and white dishware, I never use my Flow Blue. It is too old and valuable to use even on a holiday. If one of my 130 year old plates was broken at a party, I'd be crushed. Not wanting a dinner party to end in violence, I keep my Flow Blue for decorative purposes only.

But the other blue and white dishes get along famously, especially if mixed with white dishware. Blue and white works with a shabby-chic style as well as with traditional styles.

Blue and Brown Dishware

Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of brown dishes, including some plain brown as well as brown and white transferware.

I think that blue and brown look lovely together. I even enjoy looking at my blue and brown bowls piled up in the cupboard. Sometimes all brown can seem a bit dismal, and all blue can be a bit much, but the two work well together and balance one another out.

Shabby chic with blue and brown dishes
Shabby chic with blue and brown dishes | Source

Other Ideas for Mix-and-Match Shabby Chic

Once you get started, there is no end to the variety of groupings when you mix and match vintage or vintage style dishes. Here are some of the combinations that I like. Of course, you can probably find other combinations of your own.

  • Pink and green go well together in spring and make an excellent color combination for an Easter dinner or lunch. On the first day of spring, I line my open hutch with pink and green dishes to celebrate the season. Pink and green seems to work well in summer too.
  • Green and brown are my dishware choices for Fall, on the hutch or on the table: brown for the trunks of the trees, and green for the last green of summer.
  • Green and cranberry look nice at Christmas, as green and red are a traditional Christmas combination. I like to use a white lace tablecloth because it reminds me of snow.
  • If all your green and cranberry transferware looks a bit much on one table, temper it with the addition of those plain white plates mentioned earlier. And let's face it, Christmas decorating is all a bit over the top, so why not go all the way and take it to the table!
  • Mix and match depression glass. I love Depression glass; it looks so pretty and delicate for a lunch or tea. Just like the rest of the collection, my Depression glass is a varied combination of colors, but mostly green and pink. I think that the pink and green Depression glass works well with other pink and green dishes.

Mixed Depression Glass


Mixing and Matching Dishes Saves Money

Buying an entire set of dishes can be quite expensive. You can center on a particular theme, such as:

Blue and white

Cranberry and white

Brown and purple

Brown and green

Brown and blue

Green and brown

or various patterns in one color combination. That way, you can pick up items that you like for bargain prices at thrift stores, antique shops, discount stores like Ross or T J Maxx, and flea markers.

For a little while, having all those mismatched dishes made me feel like less of a woman, as if I never really grew up, and could never make a decision. Well, okay, that's me. If I haven't grown up by now, it's not going to happen.

Mixing and Matching the Old and the New

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Comments 2 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Dolores,

Loved your photos of your beautiful mix and match dishes. I have sets of china from my grandmother, my mother, my husband's grandmother plus a set I bought and that we still use. I have other partial sets handed down through the family, so obviously I have never had much need to purchase dishes. If I did not have all of this, I think that I would go your route on choosing dishes. Thrift shops have such pretty selections and mixing and matching would be so much fun.

I had to laugh about your statement of growing up. Aren't we all kids at heart? Haha! Up votes and will share.

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States Author

Hi, Peggy - thank you very much! There is a local high end consignment shop that I love to visit. They have so many beautiful dishes - I find it so hard to turn away. But enough is enough. My son's beloved loves some of the old stuff. I sneak some off with her when she visits - the son wants to be minimalist. Phooey. (Whoops, there is the child again)

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