The joy of mismatched
Why waste time searching for coordinating table settings when you can pick up a host of mismatching vintage china from jumble sales for a unique and effortless collection?
In issue 6 we asked six collectors to share their tips for mismatching vintage china and came up with four ways to focus your style. Here are their thoughts in full…
There really is nothing quite like a cup of tea served in an exquisite bone china tea cup to make you smile. It’s so difficult to pin down exactly why vintage tea ware makes me happy. The shape of the handles are so delicate, the china luxuriously tactile and the variety of intricate designs and rich colours is stunning. Vintage china is stylish, classy and elegant, a combination that will never go out of fashion.
There is no better way to enjoy an array of beautiful patterns all at once than to mismatch tea sets. Exactly how you achieve the desired look is entirely personal and can be based on colour, theme, shape or simply something that pleases you. After long deliberation, the china I have chosen is gloriously feminine and evokes images of balmy summer days spent in the garden enjoying the sounds of birdsong and buzzing bees. I love the soft colour palette, dainty flowers and the shape and proportions of the cups and saucers. As well as linking the pieces together, gold and silver rims bring a feeling of quality and luxury. Simply beautiful.
At this time of year when it is cold and grey outside, styling your table with fresh colours and spring flowers can certainly lift your spirits. Decorations don’t need to be complicated to add the finishing touches to your table. Vintage jugs or teapots filled with bright yellow daffodils, vibrant tulips or sweetly scented freesias complement the designs and colour of the china beautifully. I love coordinating with crocheted doilies, embroidered table cloths and bunting too. There is such an array of vintage china waiting to be found in auction rooms and charity shops, it is great fun putting together your own mismatched sets – so make a day of it and enjoy the treasure hunt!
No one can deny that to find a matching trio is a truly wonderful thing. That said, I find just as much joy when I come across little lost pieces and look forward to finding a partner for them within my growing collection.
Vintage has come to be seen as almost a dirty word recently within the events industry, especially in relation to crockery and china, which is such a shame because I think it can often go beyond the chintzy floral patterns we commonly associate with it (although I love these too!). I am always on the lookout for unusual patterns and colours, and my favourites always tend to be from the Art Deco period: vibrant yellows, oranges and greens. They’re often hand-painted and, with a bit of creativity, they can be presented in a contemporary fashion.
Whilst I can’t deny that one of the most enjoyable parts of my job is experimenting with different pieces to see what fits together style and colour-wise, I think that sometimes throwing caution to the wind and not putting too much thought and attention into what you pair with what can bring results that are just as fantastic.
The trio consists of a square Wellington side plate, a Paragon saucer and a 1950s hand-painted Stanley teacup.
My collection of vintage china is now so extensive that the best way to describe it is ‘eclectic.’ This wasn’t particularly my style when I first started collecting. I had received two full sets from family members and initially it was matching pieces which I was the most interested in. My collection contained matching trios, milk jugs, sugar bowls, cake stands, teapots and so on. Then a temptation crept in to purchase eyecatching single items that I would find.
With my collection I created my business, Gracie Boo Vintage, where I enjoy helping my clients to create a unique setting for their special day. The requests vary from matching sets to co-ordinating mismatched pieces. It tends to be most popular to pull a table setting together with the use of colour, particularly for weddings when the bride already has her own colour scheme in place.
I look to colour when I’m setting a mismatched table. It doesn’t have to be all the same colour, but I am drawn to the tone: I will either stick to a pastel colours with peaches, lilacs and sky or a more vibrant and bold display. I wouldn’ t mix the two together.
Relishing any opportunity to mis-match vintage tea china, I often use colour as a starting point. Mulling over ideas for a 50th wedding anniversary tea party, I discovered the wonder of gold and I’m not just talking gilt trims! Experimenting with colour invites pieces from different eras to create a feast for the eye and a fusion of stories from bygone days: mixing Great Aunt Mabel’s tea plates along with Grandma’s teacup collection. The elegance and richness of using gold as a theme is so dynamic, whilst at the same time somehow gorgeously romantic. Gold looks wonderful mismatched. Subtle and stunning can be achieved mixing various shades of gold or bold and beautiful by contrasting with vivid, vibrant colours.
This striking trio consists of a scallop shape teacup, ornately decorated with a gold lace pattern, unusually on the inside. It’s a dramatic contrast with the stunning, intense teal of the rose saucer and a more subtle shade of gold for the intricately patterned tea plate.
What could be nicer on a lovely spring day than a cup of tea from some pretty vintage china? Rather than serving up on a matching set, mixing cups, saucers and plates can be even more effective and satisfying. I collect vintage china from local charity shops and, because I like to mix and match, it doesn’t matter whether sets are complete or not. I buy single pieces just because they appeal to me.
This lovely springtime vintage combination of violet and green is so pretty. The cup, by Royal Standard, is a beautiful shade of lilac with little violets on the inside – and it is just the most pretty shape and has a lovely, delicate handle. I’ve teamed it with a Royal Vale saucer, which shows a thatched cottage and garden – so nostalgic! The side plate, Greenwood Tree by Royal Albert, continues the lovely lilacs and soft greens. No tea ensemble would be complete without a pretty cake plate – and this one is beautifully decorated in violet and green, just right for a delicious, homebaked Victoria sponge. Now: Earl Grey or Ceylon?
When im not serving tea in our travelling tea room, I’m rummaging around in charity shops, carboot sales and local bric-a-brac stalls for the next dainty cup to serve tea in. Colour, shape and the 1940s are the three things I look for.
I just adore this primrose trio set from our collection. For me it was the pale yellow colour of the china, which gives it almost a sepia look that got my attention. I bought it from a 93-year-old lady in Datchet Village. She was de-cluttering her home and had a stall at our local scout jumble sale. She said it was given to her as a present in 1951, and then proceeded to tell me some fantastic stories about this tea cup set.
Well, at Tea Vintage we mostly mismatch our china for our customers – but I can’t help feeling that this trio is just too pretty to split up and I promised Gladis I would take care of it.
To read the complete feature, pick up a copy of issue six today! Either pop into your local stockists, W.H.Smiths, or order online with free delivery to have a copy posted to the comfort of your own front door. Don’t forget, by subscribing you pay just £6 an issue instead of £8! A perfect treat to ease you into summer!