This guest post is by my friend Julie, who shares her creative idea for replacing her dinnerware on a budget below. Welcome Julie Hoffman to the blog!
When my husband and I got married, we combined all of our kitchen goods. We kept what we liked and donated the rest. We both had an affinity for Corelle dinnerware and serving ware, from previous positive experience with the durability of Corelle. Our home is an open style loft condo in a historic building, with wood floors over 1880s brick. Whenever we would drop a plate or bowl, the dish would shatter into a million pieces, shooting out in a ten foot radius and making it dangerous for anyone or the kitty to walk nearby. We couldn’t be sure if it was our floors, the Corelle was from an outlet or some other reason we kept having trouble.
After the final butter, corn and bowl explosion, I was fed up and ready for a change. We set a budget of $100 for a new set and I started looking. After two weeks of checking Craigslist, thrifting and web searching, I realized that our budget was too low to acquire what we wanted. We wanted a quality, complete set for 8 that was microwave and oven safe. Quality new sets were close to $300 and quality used matching sets were always incomplete. In the third week of being frustrated, I came up with an idea that my husband agreed to.
The new parameters of the search:
- Mismatched plates and bowls, but fitting a theme
- Same measurements as our previous plates
- Microwave and oven safe
- Gently used or new
- Not glass or stoneware.
I kicked off a new search to great success! I made sure to carry a measuring tape and a list of preferred plate and bowl measurements in my wallet, as well as a checklist of how many I already had at home. I wanted 8 dessert plates, 8 salad plates, 8 dinner plates and 8 bowls. Here are my findings:
These first plates remain one of my favorites. Clearly labeled microwave safe. Johnson Brothers designed dinnerware continue to fall within my tastes. They have an extraordinary history of successful china production, even merging with the Wedgwood Group, but later closing in 2003. What a shame! My husband called these “happy-inducing!”
This bowl seems to be serving ware with another purpose, but is fantastic for soup and putting crackers on the edge.
Here are other plates I picked up that fit within the theme:
I found these at an antique shop, but at $6 a plate, these ate up my budget quickly.This one doesn’t seem to “go” with all the rest, so it may be replaced.
After a month of regular thrifting, Goodwill employees would ask me if I had any coupons every time I checked out, which I didn’t understand. Staffers told me that whenever someone donates to Goodwill, the receipt for your donation included a coupon for 50% off one item! I had been bagging up all of my plates as they were replaced in preparation for donating them. I starting bringing at least a bag or two of donations whenever I would go to Goodwill to acquire a coupon. (The coupon requires you to at least donate a full grocery bags’s worth of items in order to receive a coupon.) This coupon really helped us stick to our budget, because I did make a few “happy mistakes” along the way.
I picked these up, packaged four for $8 and paid $4 with the coupon. All plates with gold, silver or platinum on them are not microwave safe. When I brought these home, I was dismayed to learn that the gold glaze (which I thought was just a pretty paint) made them not microwave safe. These Spode plates are so pretty they are still at home and being used, just not in the microwave.
These are also vintage Johnson Brothers, but it is not clear due to age and labeling whether they are microwave safe. I brought these home when I coming down with a cold and didn’t know it yet, so maybe I wasn’t thinking clearly!!
After 2.5 months of thrifting when I have the time, the dinnerware upgrade is mostly complete! We had a few serving pieces made from Corelle that I also replaced. All of these are vintage and not microwave-safe, since we don’t use our serving-ware for reheating/storage. They are divine!
I found these mugs to go with everything else and they are perfect for tea or hot chocolate! The tall one is “Pioneer Woman” branded.Even the kitty got a dining upgrade! This one has 22kt gold on it and makes me happy to look at it twice a day when I feed him! (I don’t think he cares one way or another, but my experience is better!)
We stayed close to budget, making the full set complete for $110. Our previous cabinet plate shelves were old and weakened hand-me-downs, so we did splurge for strong chrome dinner plate shelves from the Container Store. This added a cost to the project of $40. I did look at thrift stores for those, but did not find anything strong enough. I’ve struggled to find bowls that match the theme, so have purchased just plain white ones for now and the two floral ones you see here.
The BEST PART of this project is the happiness upgrade in the kitchen!! When I originally started this, I thought it would be a time-consuming and difficult project that would just yield a functional kitchen. I had NO IDEA how awesome it could be! It is so wonderful to pick out a place setting for your meal based on your mood and what plates you feel like eating off of. My husband LOVES our new dinnerware and feels the same way that I do! Before embarking on this project I researched the idea of mismatched plates and remember a blogger saying they feel “fancy, but not formal” and that “you deserve nice things!” She was right!
Update: Everyone in our extended family has had a tough year and the usual people did not feel like cooking a Thanksgiving meal this year. We volunteered to cook a meal for everyone. You know what that meant? A wonderful excuse to offer a great meal to our loved ones. For the past year, I’ve walked past a gold-rimmed set (not microwave safe!!) in a thrift store that I thought was divine but had no use for. I brought my husband to the thrift store to look at them to see if he would like to treat our family to a formal event with these or a fancy event with our every day ones. He loved these and thought it would be a special treat for our family. The thrift store had priced it at $175 for the full complete set of 12. This set never sold was now priced by the piece. We got the complete set for $50! We added two gravy boats to the set, a vintage gold-rimmed boat ($0.99!) for just this meal (one for each end of the table) and a tall white Wedgwood boat and plate (microwave safe and $4!) for our regular use. We will be using his grandmother’s vintage silverware and vintage napkins at the meal. His grandmother had pink rose décor in her apartment, so here’s hoping we properly honor her memory this year! Wishing abundance and prosperity to you and yours this holiday season!