Displaying Plates

When a friend emailed me for ideas on displaying a rather large collection of vintage plates she inherited from a relative, she had only one rule: "I don't want to stand them up in an old granny hutch." Fine. Try hanging them!

Hanging plates is a traditional way of displaying decorative dinnerware or serveware and has been seen in many cultures, from European to Asian. Centuries ago, elaborate displays of plates in a home was a sign of wealth and high social status. Hanging plates these days, however, can make a bold statement in a simple way. Whether your tastes are traditional or modern, you can bring an interesting twist to a room through plate display. It is also an effective, and often inexpensive, way to fill large expanses of blank wall space in an interior, adding texture, dimension, pattern and colour.

Plate hanging is not just for the kitchen or dining room, either. As shown in the images below, displays of plates in unexpected rooms, such as hallways, living rooms (even bedrooms) can lend a lot of impact. Before beginning, gather the plates you want to hang and be sure to draw a diagram of how you want the plates to look. To be extra safe, trace the plates onto a roll of brown craft paper and cut them out, then arrange the paper cutouts onto the wall to see what the end result might look like. (The pictures were taken from Southern Accents, Country Living, House Beautiful, Living Etc., and Martha Stewart Living.)
This is a very traditional display of English transferware, with emphasis on symmetry and balance. The monochromatic tone of the plates blends beautifully with the neutrals in the room. The look is semi-formal English Country.
An assortment of plates in varrying shapes and sizes emphasizes the height of the wall in this hallway, adding to the dramatic dimensions of the space.If you've got it, flaunt it! This blue-and-white Chinese porcelain looks extravagant displayed on a King George II style display mirror in a master bedroom. Its tone contrasts beautifully with the pale yellows in the room, adding impact and giving the wall a definite symmetry and focus.
These inexpensive plates bring a bold touch of pattern and colour to a dark teal wall, their bright green hue giving the room a bit of punch. When mixed with framed pictures and three-dimensional wall-hangings the plates act as artwork, as good as any botanical print.
A mix of round blue plates and square tiles arranged in a symmetrical display over a fireplace adds a subtle touch of formality to this otherwise casual country living room. The blend of shapes and patterns adds interest.A wall-mounted wooden dish rack plays host to a collection of solid green and white plates. The spare use of pattern, the mix of sizes and shapes, and the one lone blue plate give the vignette a calming, minimalist feel with a quirky edge. Bring a three dimensional look to the display of hanging plates by mounting them on blocks of wood. Cut small blocks of wood in varrying depths (so that a multi-level effect is attained) and then screw blocks of wood into the wall. Glue the plates on so that an overlapping look is created. Use only inexpensive, decorative plates for this since you are unlikely to unstick them from their wood blocks. Above, the shapes and patterns are mixed, which adds to the 3D effect, but the palette is monochromatic.The same three-dimensional technique was used here, but the patterns, colours and sizes are wildly different, giving a bright, vibrant collage effect.If wall space is limited and you must use a hutch to display your plates, try painting the inside a bold hue. Arrange the plates in artful stacks to show off their patterns. Here, one pattern is used but you could mix and match, separating various types by shelf or by similarities in tone or style: all teacups on one shelf, all plates on another, etc.


Carmie - the Single Nester said...

I am terrible at plate hanging. I just can't seem to get them all straight. Martha had a product on her show last week or two weeks ago that seemed incredible - disc hangers or something like that.

Ailsa said...

Wow, that last pic with the brown transferware in the drab-y coloured hutch is almost a carbon copy of mine! So the orange inside paint colour is a stroke of genius. I have been looking for a way to incorporate that scrumptuous tangerine colour, so now I have it!
Thanks Andrew.


Carmie, try doing to the cutouts first. It bolsters confidence that what you're going to do will be beautiful! Also, don't hesitate to ask for help! Ailsa, I'm glad I provided a solution to your colour problem! :-)

Nadine C. said...

I have plates hanging in my bathroom! I found a beautiful Limoges plate with an owl on it at Brimfield and it goes great with the green (Martha Stewart paint, of course) in my bathroom. Don't you miss Southern Accents?