guide to dinnerware

Unless you’re me—who says things like, “I prefer my plating to look professional” in reference to even the most basic of home cooked meals—dinnerware isn’t something you think about too often. Recently, I’ve been trying to come up with a good formula for my ever-expanding dinnerware collection.

I’ll be perfectly content with basic, white pieces but then go crazy when I see a beautiful, handmade tagine on Real Girl’s Kitchen. If I were to buy every cool piece of dinnerware or every unique serving dish I come across, I would A) be totally broke and B) basically be a hoarder who stores their random plates in inappropriate places.

All of this might sound crazy and you might think that you’ll never have to think about what to serve your food on. But, guess what! You will. I’d like to believe that everyone who reads my blog eats from plates and will inevitably have to buy them. Yes, I am the Miranda Priestly of your dining room.

So, anyway, the solution is simple! Why not just look at your dinnerware selections (and everything else for that matter) as you would your clothing? You want to splurge on high-quality basics and add in some unique details as your budget affords it.

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Your basic pieces will be the backbone of your collection. You’ll use them for everything from a simple lunch to a formal dinner party. Keeping this in mind, they should be durable, simple, and should probably be white.

Even with these relatively neutral pieces, there is still room to incorporate your personal style–romantic, classic, modern, etc. 

For durability’s sake, I recommend picking pieces made from porcelain, bone china, or stoneware. I understand that budgets aren’t huge when you’re just starting out. Luckily, there are some similar styles at IKEA. However, keep in mind that those expensive, high-quality pieces will amortize as they can quite literally last a lifetime. 

TIP: Even if you don’t think you will need service for eight, I recommend going ahead and getting more than you need in case something breaks!

For basic dinnerware, the following stores have some great options:
Pottery Barn
Crate & Barrel (try CB2 for more affordable pieces!)
Sur La Table
Mud Australia (a pretty big splurge, but excellent quality)



I love having these pieces to pull out when hosting different themed dinners. Your basic white pieces will typically work with any desired look or theme. So, focus on collecting unique, detailed accent pieces over the long-term.

Rather than buying an entire set of printed dishes for that one Moroccan dinner you’re planning, focus on little pieces like chargers, bread plates, salad plates, and small bowls.

Just like wardrobe accent pieces, it’s smart to save rather than splurge more often than not. I mean… if you find something cool while traveling or an antique piece that you love then maybe consider splurging. But for rotational accent pieces, stick to a budget since you might get sick of them eventually.

TIP: When choosing these pieces, think about your personal style or the specific theme you’re going for. In general, I like details that are Moroccan-inspired or nautical so I gravitate toward those things. Do you like graphic prints? Global? Quirky? Vintage? Beachy? If you’re more minimalist, try something like this.

Here are some good places to look for accent pieces:
The Little Market
One Kings Lane
Fishs Eddy
Zara Home
Global Table
World Market

These ideas should get you started when it comes to your dinnerware. Keep your eyes out for more posts like these, with topics ranging from cookware to furniture to decor pieces and more.


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