Whether you’re buying your first set of dinnerware or just feel like treating yourself to something new, you want dishes that you’ll be happy to look at every day for many years to come. Here’s how to make the best pick.
1. Figure out how much you want to spend
A budget helps you focus so you don’t waste time looking at dishes you really can’t afford. Peruse ads to see what’s on sale. Even if your budget is modest, you’ll have many choices in your price range. Buy the best quality you can afford. Also think about how many you need: Is it just for immediate family or big holiday get-togethers, too?
2. Consider the size of your kitchen cabinets
Before you start shopping, get out your measuring tape. Since dishes come in different shapes and sizes, your cabinets must be able to comfortably fit them, and a standard-size cabinet may be too shallow for oversized plates. They should also fit in your microwave and dishwasher.
3. Make sure it fills your needs
Not every dish is suitable to be used in every appliance so check that the plates you’re considering are safe for the oven, microwave and dishwasher.
4. Think material
Dishes come in many materials, but not all are suitable for casual dining. Skip the bone china and instead choose stoneware, earthenware, ironstone, porcelain or go with colourful Fiestaware, made of glazed ceramic.
“I’ve had some for 15 years,” says Sharon Flatley, of Flatley Design in Dallas. “It’s durable, microwave- and dishwasher-safe and works with everything.”
5. Embrace the power of white dinnerware
A classic bright white plate can easily go from a casual lunch to a more formal dinner. It’s like a blank canvas — you can create a different look and mood for your table every time you set it. “White dishes will always be popular,” says Flatley. “You can mix anything with them, and they work well year-round. I inherited pink porcelain dishes from my mother and those work great with my white ironstone dishes.”
6. Decide if a set or open stock is a better fit
Dishes are sold in sets or individually, which is referred to as open stock. A typical set contains 16 pieces — four dinner plates, four salad plates, four soup/cereal bowls and four coffee/tea mugs. Buying a set is a good value but if you don’t think you’ll ever use the mugs but prefer more salad plates, for example, you’re better off buying open stock to get exactly what you want.