HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

Patterns for everyday and china dinnerware

Hi, my head is spinning from thinking about dinnerware. I never registered for dinnerware at our wedding, so am looking now and need perspective from people with more experience than me. I have read all the CH boards related to dinnerware and have made a list of all the recommended brands, from everyday (C&B, William Sonoma, etc.) to porcelain and bone china (Apilco, Pillyvut, C&B china, Mikasa, etc.). Now I don't know what to do. I just love the look of plain white, or plain white with a small detail. Is it crazy to have two sets of all white dinnerware, one for everyday and one in china/porcelain? Or should one be different, like a pattern or color or something? If so, which one - everyday or formal?

I know someone who will be in town this weekend that has a never-used set of the C&B china (I think staccato or white pearl) that she is willing to sell to me for half the cost of new. I'm wondering if I should jump on the chance, but the above thought process is confusing me about what I want. We are young, but we do like to entertain a lot, and I do a few smaller dinners at the table and a few larger dinners buffet style throughout the year. I only imagine that growing over the years, especially as our family grows! Any thoughts on what you would do?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Hi, Velvet:

    This is mostly a matter of personal choice. Like you, I tend to like plainer patterns in white or ivory because they go with most everything.

    My patterns are:

    Mikasa French Countryside (white)
    Williams-Sonoma Belvedere (by Eurosecla, ivory)
    Homer Laughlin china ovals (ivory)
    Lennox Lowell (ivory with gold border)

    I advise, unless you are wealthy, to focus away from the $$$ fine china, toward a good-quality all-around that will work for semi-formal entertaining and everyday and all table decor. Many people who *do* register for the fine stuff get only a few pieces, and then never accumulate more than a handful of placesettings. In my case, I have only enough of the Lennox to do a special dinner for two.

    Between the two C&B beaded patterns, I like the Staccato better. I think the beads on the White Pearl are too close to the center, and might look messy when fouled with food. If you want a beaded pattern look on your table, you might consider even plainer dinnerware paired with a beaded flatware pattern.

    Have fun, you'll know what's right when you see it.

    Aloha,
    Kaleo

    20 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Oh wow, that Lennox is beautiful! Thank you for the thoughts! A question to clarify... when you say a good-quality all-around, does that include china and/or porcelain? Or do you mean stoneware for the all-around set?

      1. re: velvetdc1

        Hi, Velvet:

        Yes, it includes china and porcelain, but it needn't be expensive. My Homer Laughlin, for example, has been classic dinnerware in diners for decades. It is certainly not delicate (the opposite--it's bulletproof), but it still is china.

        I guess what I'm recommending is (again, unless you're wealthy) is not drawing a distinction between "nicer" and "everyday". If you pick a classy, plainer pattern they can be one and the same--that way you can afford better, and more of it. That's the way I'd do it if I was starting all over again. Life's too short to not use your best.

        Also, I handwash everything. If you use a DWer a lot, you might ask for assurances it will hold up (e.g., the gold borders are famous for not holding up).

        Aloha,
        Kaleo

        1. re: kaleokahu

          Dishwashers are fine for dinnerware with gold or platinum decoration and safer than slippery wet hands. To avoid problems with the the dinnerware...smudging etc. Do not touch them until they reach room temperature and do not use the heated drying cycle.

          1. re: Candy

            Hi, Candy:

            Well, that's what they *say*. I'd like to see an A-B comparison of a raised gold border piece that's been put through 500 DW cycles. I'd be amazed if it looks the same as new or hand-washed.

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            1. re: kaleokahu

              Well Kaleo, if the dishwasher is so damaging to metal trimmer china why would Wedgwood, Royal Doulton et al enclose samples of dishwasher detergent or coupons with their china? In the past, up until the '60s The glazing was different and I would not put something like my mother's or grandmother's china in the dishwasher, that is asking for trouble. I stand by what I said, just don't touch it until it is room temp. I've been in the table top and kitchen business for 40+ years.

              1. re: Candy

                Hi, Candy:

                I'm not being dismissive of your experience, or disputing what the makers say. And I'm conceptually OK with most modern china doing OK in the DW.

                I'm just skeptical that raised metal borders will fare very well, long-term, in the abrasive and caustic environment of modern DWs. The borders on my Lennox Lowell appear to my sight and touch not to be overglazed, but perhaps you know differently.

                "...why would Wedgwood, Royal Doulton et al enclose samples of dishwasher detergent or coupons with their china?"

                Um, to sell china to people with DWs, I presume. Do you know what detergent these manufacturers recommend? If it is one of the "kindler/gentler" (read: expensive yet less effective) brands, it doesn't exactly allay my concerns or run counter to my advice to hand wash this type of china.

                I'd still like to see A-B photos showing no ill effects from all that caustic and abrasive detergent after 500 cycles.

                Aloha,
                Kaleo

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  I use Royal Worcester Evesham every day. It has a gold rim. The only problem is that the dishes produced prior to the past 10 years has a fading problem. Gold rims are intact. The current production now has a glaze on top of the decal and it is no longer a problem. The big problem, to me, is that it is no longer available in the US unless one buys on e-Bay or Replacements etc. I also use a Royal Doulton pattern with a platinum rim and I've used it frequently and no problem with the rims etc.

                  I still contend that wet slippery hands in a sink is much more prone to breaking.

                  1. re: Candy

                    Hi, Candy:

                    Thanks. Not to argue, but Evesham is not a raised border like Lennox Lowell, is it?

                    Don't get me started about Replacements, Inc. Everything I've looked at there is extremely expensive. I need a few more Eurosecla footed cereal bowls (aka W-S Belvedere) in cream, and RI wants $43.99 apiece.

                    Aloha,
                    Kaleo

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Kaleo,
                      When I started purchasing pieces to replace my Wedgwood Wellesley, I bought a few from Replacements, Inc.
                      Once Ebay came into the picture, I completed my set, and more, at a much much better price than Replacements.
                      I see that your Eurosecla is pretty rare there, but it's worth checking now and then.

                      1. re: kitchengardengal

                        What I like about Replacements is that their condition ratings (and attendant discounts for less than perfection) are reliable. eBay is a crapshoot, unless you are familiar with the seller and the seller is consistent and reliable.

                        I've paid some pretty high prices on eBay ... just depends on whether anyone else is excited about the same stuff. Replacements does adjust to the market. If they have to discount because the inventory is sitting, that becomes the starting price next time. (At least that has been my observation.)

                        I find their prices to be generally reasonable, and I'm happy to pay them for things I can't find locally. In some cases, their prices beat what I can find locally from certain dealers.

                        1. re: foiegras

                          My problem with the Wedgwood Wellesley was that even though my ex and I were antique shop hounds, I rarely, very rarely found my Wedgwood at one. Maybe three pieces in ten years. I got a few discounted, slightly flawed items from Replacements, and dozens of plates, bowls, serving ware items from eBay. As I said up thread, I got all that stuff in the early days of eBay, and have been using it for years.
                          I looked last night, and if I wanted more of my pattern, that's where I'd get it. Apparently nobody else wants it, cause it's going for dirt cheap.
                          The original pieces I had were my mother's wedding China, and we used them for every day dishes. The set was in pretty bad shape when I got married, and Mother gave what was left of the Wedgwood to me. It's kind of nice to use the same dishes your whole entire life. I've lived in half a dozen states, more houses than I can count offhand, but always had my good old dishes.

                          1. re: foiegras

                            My experience with Replacements and Ebay is the same. I was looking to fill in some steak knives, (discontinued pattern) once. The ones I found on Ebay kept getting bid up for more than they were worth. I went to Replacements, got exactly what I wanted (including quality) for less money and no hassle.

                          2. re: kitchengardengal

                            Hi, kitchengardengal:

                            Replacements has a big presence on eBay, too. They run the same photos on their auctions as on their website. Pretty much the same prices, too.

                            I recently replaced my flatware with a threaded Continental pattern called Ricci Ascot. By watching Amazon (of all places), I amassed 10 new 5-piece place settings for less than ONE would have cost from Replacements.

                            I think Replacements' only value would be for finding obscure, discontinued pattern pieces.

                            I have daily searches programmed for both 'Eurosecla' and "Belvedere'

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              I have to use Replacements to replace my everyday pattern now. I did buy coffee mugs on ebay a number of years ago, but whenever I have looked recently, I haven't seen the pattern offered.

                              I also had a bad experience a few years ago with a seller, and I haven't been back to ebay since.

                          3. re: kaleokahu

                            No. Royal Worcester Evesham does not have a raised border. It has a gold rim and the pattern is different fruits and vegetables. The veggies with the fruit, ear of corn, green olives on a tooth pick etc, were more popular in the mid 60's and 70's.

                            I've no quarrel with Replacements, I used to sell them discontinued china patterns which were collecting dust in the store's basement. Their pricing was fair. They recently offered me a good sum for my Frank Smith Lion salt spoons. When Wallace acquired the pattern they discontinued some pieces and the salt spoons are rare. That said, I always check e-Bay first when looking for table top items. There are some good deals t be had.

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              I looked to see the Belvedere pattern on the Replacements site, it IS very pricey. It's absolutely undecorated. Would you say the quality is superior?

                              1. re: BangorDin

                                Hi, BD:

                                No, I don't think the quality is all that special. W-S featured this for awhile in many colors, and I believe it was made in Portugal by Eurosecla.

                                I just need a few more of the "cereal" bowls in cream because they match (and fit) my Homer Laughlin ovals so well.

                                The odd thing is: you can find the colored Belvedere cereal bowls all over for around $5-$10, but the ones I need seem always to be >$35.

                                Aloha,
                                Kaleo

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  I use vintage Russel Wright Iroquois Casual 8" serving bowls as pasta bowls. The variation in value/pricing among the different colors is pretty stunning ... I buy the colors that are the more reasonable prices. Maybe one day I'll find a clueless dealer selling one of the rare colors ...

                              2. re: kaleokahu

                                Yes, Ebay. I've been selling vintage dinnerware on ebay for a fraction of replacements, inc.

                    2. re: kaleokahu

                      I think this is a good idea ... I would just say, leave your options open. Try buying the everyday first, entertain with it, see how you feel. Maybe it would feel festive to bring out another set of dishes for company.

                      I have way more than 4 patterns ... clearly I think variety is the spice of life ;)

                      Also recommend buying only what you really love. If you really love the 1/2 price pattern, great ... but it's worth full price to have what you really wanted.

                2. I used to have both everyday and formal dinnerware, plus Christmas china. About 6 years ago I needed something simpler, sort of in between, for a Thanksgiving dinner party with rustic decor. I scored a bunch of plain white porcelain from Pier 1. I liked it so much that I used it again at Christmas for a formal dinner, on cheap blue glass chargers from Target.

                  Long story short, I never put it away, and now it's the only thing I use, ever. It goes out to the lanai for poolside dining, and on our dining room table for formal dinners.

                  I've added to it with different serving pieces (hello, Costco and Target!) over time. I'm completely sold on it's versatility. Last holiday season I paired it with silver ribbons and ruby red glass ornaments (again, discount stores). I've got some whimsical fish platters in bright pool colors that work with it, too. I haven't found anything yet that's better.

                  My advice is simple. Choose a nice bright white porcelain (coupe styling is more modern, if you prefer) with a minimal or no design. Use it all the time. Porcelain can be pretty tough, you know. In 6 years, I've broken 1 salad plate. And it goes in the DW, every damn day, without showing the eventual crazing and scuff marks that stoneware gets.

                  1. I think the Crate & Barrel White Pearl bone china is beautiful. Why wouldn't you buy it? If you want to, you could use it for every day, or you could reserve it for more formal occasions. This would be entirely your choice.

                    I bought myself, after many years of wanting, a set of Wedgwood white bone china. I love it! I do save it for guests, but I love pulling it out and setting it on a figured or colorful tablecloth. It is dishwashable (important to me) and so lightweight.

                    With the newer pattern from C & B, I imagine the plates are the more fashionable, larger, size. And I note that you have the option of buying coffee mugs as well. To me the product looks very good, and if you like it, I'd buy it a bargain price.

                    If it isn't what you really want, then no, I wouldn't unless you feel you won't be able to get other bone china like that for a long, long time.

                    21 Replies
                    1. re: sueatmo

                      I just took a look at both the C&B patterns. Sue is right, they're lovely. I'd echo what she said, that they'd work as well for everyday as for formal dinners.

                      Whatever you decide, you're certainly on the right track with all white. It's timeless, classic, and if you ever want another look, you don't need to replace it, but can add pieces of one or more additional patterns, or even flea market finds, to change it up.

                      1. re: sueatmo

                        I agree with Sue, too. That White Pearl is gorgeous! I've been using my mother's Wedgwood Wellesley creamware for everyday dishes lately, and if I didn't love those so much, that White Pearl would be in my kitchen tomorrow.

                        In the past year or two, there have been other posts about white dishes, and I've seen some that are pretty, some that are... meh... but I've been spoiled by the Wedgwood and never saw any other set that caught my eye like this White Pearl pattern.

                        Can I have your friend's number if you don't want them? :-P

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          Just wondering in anyone has Wedgewood Night and Day and if you like it. I find it really appealing, but I wonder if very plain white china would remain more appealing over the years.

                          http://www1.bloomingdales.com/shop/pr...

                          1. re: soccermom13

                            I prefer plain white for several reasons. Nothing else moves as easily from casual to formal. Nothing else focuses attention on the food like unadorned white. Nothing else can fit so easily into every season and every occasion. A lot has already been written here about the ways we change up our white dinnerware to keep it fresh. I'll add that my own experience is that after 7 years of everyday and special occasion use, I still enjoy mine and would not swap it for another. I've not been able to say that of any other dinnerware I've owned.

                            That's why, for a lifetime set of everyday dishes, IMO plain white is the way I'd go. China or porcelain is a matter of choice, both are durable and retain their luster.

                            I like your Wedgewood. It's very appealing. Clean, crisp, this is my happy zone. Set imaginary tables with it and with plain white in your head. Or go to Macy's, grab a dinner plate of Day & Night along with a plain dinner plate. Go to the table linens (don't forget the colorful seasonal ones) and play around, imagining different table settings. Have fun. You'll figure out what you like best. :-)

                            ETA - Your Wedgewood should easily transition from casual to formal. That can be tough to pull off. :-)

                            1. re: soccermom13

                              Julia Child often used the Johnson Brother Willow Blue pattern on set. I have the same one, it is busy, but I am not tired of it yet. It's been 25 years.

                              1. re: soccermom13

                                If that's the pattern that speaks to you, I think you should get it.

                                I've had Wedgwood Strawberry & Vine bowls for probably more than 20 years. I probably don't notice the pattern much at this point, but I've certainly never gotten tired of it.

                                1. re: foiegras

                                  Foisgras, Ruthie, and Duffy--Thanks for your responses. Yesterday I think I might have found the pattern of my dreams---It's Villeroy Boch's Anmut:
                                  http://www1.bloomingdales.com/shop/pr...

                                  I would get only dinner plates, salad plates, mugs, and rice bowls. At some point I would probably cave in and also get the rimmed soup bowls and the small fruit/sauce dishes.

                                  My only concern is that the largish rims on the plates leave only a smallish un-rimmed area in the center of the plate for food. But I really want to serve smaller portions so this may not be a problem.

                                  Comments, anyone? This is a BIG decision...

                                  Thanks.

                                  1. re: soccermom13

                                    BEAUTIFUL! I think you'll love the versatility of all-white. They look a lot like my everyday dinnerware, Cafe Blanc by Dansk. Your V&B is bone china; mine is porcelain.

                                     
                                     
                                    1. re: soccermom13

                                      Hi soccermom13,

                                      First thing I noticed was how beautiful the shapes are. REALLY perfect, IMO. Then I noticed that they look a lot like my Pier One Luminous porcelain, but with more consistent curves in the shapes. Really, they're quite lovely. I coveted them the moment I saw them. How disloyal is that? Like falling for my Dude's twin brother.

                                      My dinner plates are large at 11", which leaves plenty of room for food. The larger size is not uncommon in modern dinner plates; yours may be the same.

                                      I love that B&V pattern, did I mention that? They're really pretty.

                                       
                                      1. re: soccermom13

                                        I like a nice rim, myself ... very helpful if you're eating spaghetti or other pasta on a plate instead of in a pasta bowl because hey, someone hasn't run the dishwasher.

                                        1. re: foiegras

                                          So true, foiegras. So true.

                                          After years of watching Seinfeld I no longer know how to make a small salad. The wide rim on my dinner plates helps me keep my Big Salad under control. Those things will overrun a plate if you don't watch them.

                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                            My husband's salad goes in one of the oval serving bowls to our everyday dishes, mine in a rimmed soup bowl, when the salad is a side dish.

                                            1. re: masha

                                              <when the salad is a side dish.>

                                              If you can fit a big salad (main dish, duh) into a soup plate, you're a better woman than I am.

                                        2. re: soccermom13

                                          Love it. The finish looks beautiful. We have a Villeroy and Boch store in the neighbourhood, I am always wandering in. I think the surface for food is fine, leaves room for second helpings. You could also get some rectangular white plates for sandwiches and soup which I see often in restaurants these days. I have wanted to get a white set for quite awhile and the finish and glaze is what I like on certain sets. I had looked into restaurant white dishes for awhile but would have had to get many more place settings than needed. You can never go wrong with white.

                                          1. re: Ruthie789

                                            Everyone,
                                            Thanks for these very helpful responses. Now I just have to watch for sales and pull the trigger.
                                            Thanks again.

                                            1. re: soccermom13

                                              Hi, soccermom:

                                              I think you've made a wise choice. Despite being plain, this pattern is sophisticated and quite well-proportioned. It will dress up and down very subtly, and never be out of place.

                                              You might check prices at the V&B outlet: http://www.villeroy-boch.com/shop/cat...

                                              Aloha,
                                              Kaleo

                                            2. re: Ruthie789

                                              You could also supplement your nice dishes with some Steelite, restaurant quality for everyday use. I like the various types of serving plates,that they have.

                                            3. re: soccermom13

                                              I deliberately bought dishes that left a relatively small serving space. Eating alone, I only use the lunch plates any more, not the dinner ones.

                                              Those are beautiful and elegant. I like the two bowls.

                                              1. re: lagatta

                                                Thanks, Kaleo, for the tip on the VB outlet. I have it bookmarked.

                                                Ruthie---I had to look up Steelite! Are you referring to the white serving pieces that look classic and durable? I also learned that Bloomingdales carries their own brand (Hudson Park) and I may get some of their less expensive serving pieces which look very similar in color/finish to the Villeroy Boch Anmut.

                                                Lagatta--Thanks for the vote of confidence on the relatively small space for food (because of the larger rims). And I really like the Anmut bowls too, especially the rice bowl which I think will be very useful for the kinds of food I cook.

                                                1. re: soccermom13

                                                  Yes the Steelite is classic and durable as well they hold the heat very well. I had some soup bowls and gave them to my niece, I wish that I had kept them.

                                              2. re: soccermom13

                                                I have the Anmut pattern too. I bought dinner and salad plates a few years ago when I decided to upgrade my dishes. I am very happy with my purchase. They are durable and beautiful. I didn't like the soup bowls, but I found that Macy's hotel collection soup bowls match very well, and are a better size/shape for us. I don't love the Anmut or Macy's mugs, so I am still looking for a matching smaller mug. Any suggestions?

                                        3. I bought plain white Corelle years ago and am still using it. It is made from tempered glass. It does not break easily. You can drop it on a tile floor and most of the time, it will not break. Occasionally it hits just right (or just wrong) and shatters into a zillion pieces, like auto glass.

                                          I would not buy something that breaks if I can buy something that will not.

                                          1. Made a MAJOR find of Fiestaware at a yard sale about 2 years ago. WAY more than I would normally spend... $50. BUT came home with TWELVE place settings... dinner pplates, salad/sandwich plates, soup/cereal bowls and mugs... PLUS 6 extra bowls and a few serving pieces. Most was "jewel tone" stuff but a few pastels. NO chips and any wear of pastel pieces... ya have to REALLY look for.

                                            Haven't borken/cracked/chipped a piece yet!

                                            1 Reply