The Right Way to Organize Your China Collection, According to the Experts
For as fun and rewarding as collecting chinaware can be, keeping a large trove organized is no easy feat. 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. Although the pieces are delicate, half the point of china is to use it—so storing it somewhere near the kitchen or dining room increases frequency of use.
"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."
Although it may seem like a daunting task, there are plenty of ways to organize your china collection in a way that looks elevated, while still ensuring it's safe and accessible.
Take Out Your Collection
Start any organizational project by assessing what you have. Remove your china from its current spot and see if there's any opportunities for downsizing (a broken plate, a set that's outgrown your current style, or a scratched dish, for example). Once know you what pieces are in your arsenal, you can find an organizing solution that works for you.
Organize By Pattern
Most chinaware comes in a set, so storing by pattern is a natural option. This makes it easy if you're planning to use a certain design for a dinner party or need to access your holiday china. "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," says Maggie Griffin of Maggie Griffin Design. "A little organization can make pulling together your tabletop quick and fun."
Organize by Function
Instead of separating your china by set or pattern, conserve space by displaying all of your dinner plates together—no matter the pattern. "Do the same with salad plates, cups and saucers, et cetera," says Roger Higgins of R. Higgins Interiors. "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."
Keep Servingware Separate
When organizing the servingware in your collection, such as beverage pots, gravy boats, and serving platters, it's smartest to store these pieces together in a designated area. Many servingware items will only be needed for special occasions—like during the holidays—so you don't want them cluttering up a space you visit frequently to grab a plate here or a cup there.
Stack Your China
Stacking china is hard to avoid, especially for collectors who have a lot of it. "If you have the space, stacking china loose in a hutch is great to remind you to start using it," says Ben Soreff, professional organizer at House to Home Organizing. "Dust can be an issue, so either make sure the cabinet or hutch is clean, plus make a habit of dusting every so often." If you do choose to stack your china, place a china-safe paper or thin foam in between each piece to avoid scratches.
Set Up a Decorative Display
If you have an empty hutch or wall with built-in storage, set aside a small assortment of china you love. Not only does this conserve storage space elsewhere, but it also allows you to show off some of your pieces.
Alternatively, go vertical. "You can create a decorative wall feature using plate hangers," Perry says. "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 China in Padded Bags
Store sentimental china or very fine pieces that are rarely used securely out of plain sight. "Look for padded storage bags that have space for labeling on the face," Kleiner says. "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."