Setting Your Table with Thrift Store Goods

Text: Mary Greene |  Photos: Danielle Gaebel

 October 2010 “Farm to Plate” fundraising dinner held outside at a private residence in Sullivan County, NY shows the elegant country look of mis-matched china. The tableware was provided by dinner hosts and by Lisa’s Not Just Antiques! in Honesdale, PA

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Part of country living is cultivating a knack for living economically without compromising on style and elegance. Another country notion is that old is as good—sometimes better—than new. Put these two together and you have a recipe for a whole new look in your dining room.
If you are just starting out and want a set of dishes for special occasions or for every day, it can be a creative adventure to find a mis-matched set at your local antique stores. This may also appeal to retired homeowners who are simplifying, or folks who are just plain tired of the dishware they’ve been relying on for years.
The first rule in acquiring such a set of dishes is patience. It’s not like ordering on line or cruising the aisles at Crate & Barrel. You need to connect with your taste preferences as well. Do you like white china? Are you into colors and patterns? Do you like delicate plates or are you a more earthy type? Once you have a vision of what you are after, it’s time to begin the search. A little research into various design styles will help you get oriented as well.
Start at your favorite antique store that you know carries housewares. Begin with a few plates, glasses and bowls that match your vision. Thereafter you can collect anytime you are out and about, always searching for that special platter, vase or tea pot that will bring it all together. Don’t hesitate to speak to store owners about what you are looking for. They are knowledgeable and happy to advise you.
Old table linens are the perfect offset for your new/old china. Special candlesticks, salt and pepper holders, gravy bowls and the like can complete the look of your tablescape. Again, put some thought into unifying your table through color, design and style. But don’t overthink it—the best way to do this sort of shopping is to follow your intuition. And have fun!

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