All in the mix

These days, the best dressed dining tables don't match.

A beautifully laid table is a considered art. One that goes far beyond the simple placing of perfectly matched plates, bowls, and serveware or coordinating crystal glasses. And one that can be elevated by mixing in vintage finds. From a platter you found trawling through local markets to an heirloom china set handed down through generations, it’s the pieces with a little history that will bring depth, character, and charm to a table or dresser display.

Start by sourcing your china, whether that may be from a local antique shop, an old box tucked away in the attic, or well-known haunts like the Newark or Kempton antiques fairs. It’s a task former fashion editor turned collectibles dealer, Sasha Wilkins, is an expert on as the owner of antiques business @foundbysashawilkins. ‘Be open-minded when you don’t recognise the name on the reverse of a piece,’ Sasha recommends. ‘While storied makers like Wedgwood, Spode, and Royal Worcester are still household names, there were hundreds – if not thousands – of now defunct potteries producing beautiful pieces in England during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The most important thing is that you like it.’


Lucinda Chambers, the co-founder of lifestyle brand Collagerie (@collagerie), agrees. As the former fashion director of Vogue for over 30 years, Lucinda has an eye for shape, colour, and pattern. ‘I try to make up what I lack in the culinary department with a visual table. I’m a big collector of ceramics, so they all tend to come out. I make each place setting individual, so no two are the same. The more you mix, the greater the impact – I often lay mismatching plates one on top of the other.’ 

Once you have collected your chosen pieces, you can begin styling. Mismatch large and small scale patterns and layer various styles and patinas. ‘Try a geometric border next to a floral pattern, or an engraving of a castle,’ suggests Sasha. Lucinda pulls her selection together with her choice of tablecloths. ‘I layer them up and have one runner going down the middle,’ she says, ‘it can be just a length of patterned fabric, but it’s the glue that holds all the patterns and textures together.’ Just be mindful to ‘select a limited colour palette to ensure a unifying theme between old and new,’ advises Neptune stylist Meaghan Hunter. ‘And, crucially, don’t hold back. The more you bring together different styles, the more cohesion across your arrangement.’

 It seems then, the best approach to mixing your china is to style confidently, particularly when the contrast between vintage and new is so poignant.

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