How to Organize Your China Collection
For as fun and rewarding as collecting chinaware can be, keeping a large collection organized is no easy feat. "Storage space can always create a challenge when collecting china," says Claire Perry of M. Lavender Interiors. "Also, the delicate nature of china means that certain precautions must be taken to prevent damage." Along with making space to carefully store fragile pieces of chinaware, collectors have the added task of also making sure their china is easy to access. "If you can find spots to put the pieces that are easier to access, you are more likely to use it," says Julie Kleiner of Massucco Warner. "If you have a large collection, store the specific pieces that you're most likely to use, as close to your kitchen or dining room as possible, if not within."
Interested in learning more about how to organize your plates, cups, and servingware? We asked a few interior designer friends to share their advice and this is what they had to say.
Organize by pattern.
If you plan on storing your chinaware in a designated space, like a butler's pantry, Maggie Griffin of Maggie Griffin Design suggests organizing your collections by pattern. "Place heavy stacks of plates on lower shelves, followed by lighter glassware up top, and medium-sized serving pieces and beverage servers in the middle," she explains. "A little organization can make pulling together your tabletop quick and fun!"
Organize by function.
Instead of organizing your china by set or pattern, Roger Higgins of R. Higgins Interiors recommends mixing things up and displaying all of your dinner plates together—no matter the pattern. "Do the same with salad plates, cups and saucers, et cetera," he advises. "When it comes time to host, you can analyze your options for the size and pieces you need rather than choosing by set or pattern. It makes for a fun mix-and-match setting instead of one that's overly match-y."
Organize servingware separately.
When it comes to organizing the servingware in your china collection, such as bowls, beverage pots, and gravy boats, Kleiner says it's smartest to store like items together on a designated shelf. "Just remember not to stack serving bowls on top of one another, as it may damage fine details," she warns. "Also, anything large or heavy, like serving platters, shouldn't be stacked, because pulling one out will be a bother."
Organize as a decorative display.
If you have an empty wall and a small assortment of china that you love, Perry suggests turning it into a decorative display. "You can create a decorative wall feature using plate hangers," she explains. "Interesting china brings color and depth to an accent wall, and provides a great opportunity to incorporate the surrounding landscape or other themes that complement the interior or exterior environment."
Store rarely-used china in padded storage bags.
If you have a great deal of china that you're keeping because it's sentimental or just not practical to use, Kleiner recommends securely storing them out of plain sight in padded storage bags ($39.99 for four, containerstore.com). "Look for padded storage bags that have space for labeling on the face," she advises. "It's important to label them since these completely hide the china and you don't want to have to open each bag every time you set the table."