Mismatched With Love

March 25, 2011   //  Posted in: Dining Room, Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  10 responses

I blame it on “Friends”. Rachel and Monica had that colorful apartment with the colorful kitchen with mismatched chairs. I liked it. It stuck with me; I like the unexpected combination of mismatched “sets” and, after being either gifted or acquiring random plates and bowls here and there, I embraced it.

Embracing the unexpected and bringing home unwanted, left-behind sale dinnerware..

Instead of aspiring to own a matching dinnerware set (all too often I’ve been tempted to drop several hundred dollars on a flawless and trendy set at Crate & Barrel), I made the decision to mix it up. I’m not going crazy and doing everything mismatchy; my silverware is matched, the salt + pepper shakers, mixing bowls, and glasses are parts of simplified sets, but the dishes being mixed adds a little happiness to my kitchen.

Here’s why:

  1. Anyone I’ve ever known who had spent money on a dinnerware set (whether it be fancy china or not) is angry when one breaks. And that’s inevitable, especially when you have kids. I think my mom’s still upset over the one or two or 15 pieces my sister, Dad, and I broke over the years. If one of mine breaks, it’s OK. Really. It’s not part of a set, it’s just a bowl that I picked up because it was on sale and I liked the design of.
  2. If you splurge or are gifted a nice dinnerware set, maybe you want to save it for special occassions. This is weird – just own plates and bowls you can use everyday. I like mine because I’m collecting both rough, more durable pieces (like the mismatched Fiestaware pieces I found a garage sale) and the more dainty pieces, like a lacy plate from Anthropologie that maybe my grandma would be content eating off of for Christmas dinner. (I even took a lacy bowl too, so she’ll have a complete “set”)
  3. Finally, like comfort food, there’s something to be said for matching your bowl or plate to your mood. Now you think I’m crazy, but hear me out. Mac and cheese after a hard day’s work tastes better out of my big green bowl than the yellow bowl (the cheese blends in), and my peanut butter cup ice cream tastes better out of my Anthropologie heart bowl when I’m in a funk. I can’t explain it, I’m just effected by it. Offering guests to choose their dinner plate kind of makes the meal a little more… customized. Kind of like letting your guests choose their own wine glass. Are you in the mood for a small square blue plate? Or a chunky one with birds painted on it?

Heart bowl from Anthropologie.

It also makes me happy that the collection is displayed on the open shelves that we installed (you can read about that over here and here).

My latest additions have been from Anthropologie and Marshall’s. And I think the Marshall’s finds were really outcasted by Anthropologie due to quality control; the paint on the edge of the bowl is just shy of perfect. I obviously don’t care.

See that the coral pink edge doesn't precisely marry up with the black detail? Fail. Send it to Marshall's.

I also must say, it’s really nice to pick up a single new plate or bowl once in awhile, and a much easier expense to stomach if it’s something you just need to have at a moment’s notice.

It’s still a small collection for now, but it’s possible that this could spiral out of control easily.

  • Rachel
    5 years ago - Reply

    oooh i’ve always wanted to do that! i’d like to find you a spoon rest! it’s been my goal since you moved in to the house! just getting over to the places i want to look has been my obstacle! (little kids in an area of a store that is selling dishes is a tough combo!) hope you don’t already have one! but if you do, i’ll find something else i suppose!

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      I actually found one! It was on sale at Anthro (surprise, surprise) and has some really pretty detail. I’ll remember to send you a picture of it soon.

  • Cait @ Hernando House
    5 years ago - Reply

    I like the idea of intentionally mismatched dishes :)

  • Fred @ One Project Closer
    5 years ago - Reply

    Love it… I think this is an excellent idea for adding zing to your dinner settings… especially if you have an otherwise neutral setup. The plates, bowls, and saucers can become the attraction!

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      Thanks Cait and Fred!

  • jane maloney
    5 years ago - Reply

    I am doing this for a girl for her wedding. It’s a great idea. I have been making different sets with different colors. So I have a plate, a salad plate, a bowl and a mug with different patterns but all of the patterns might have red in them. Then I did a green set, a blue set, a yellow set and so on. It looks great. Nothing matches but each set coordinates. Thanks for the idea,.

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      Fun! I love that idea, Jane. And I bet she will too! It’s a fun collection to add to when I find something different or cute (or on sale).

  • jane maloney
    4 years ago - Reply

    I finished finding all of the mismatched dishes for my friends shower. My goal was to find all of the dishes on sale so I searched all the sale sections of different stores. Most of them I found at T.J. Max, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Marshalls and Pier One. While I was looking for dishes I kept seeing wine glasses that coordinated with the place setting colors so I added wine glasses too. All of the wine glasses are different too. It was a fun project and thanks again for the idea.

    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      Jane – I saw your friend’s wonderful place settings in an email she sent me! The collection turned out wonderfully + it’s obvious you put a lot of work into finding everything. Those shops are among my top picks for good deals too!

  • Annie
    3 years ago - Reply

    Everything matching too perfectly is boring… I’m slowing trading in my matched sets for a special, mixed collection. Reminds me of being a kid and having my special plate and bowl.

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