I still remember when I found my first blue and white dish.

I was shopping at a yard sale and underneath a stack of ordinary white plates, I saw a hint of blue and white. I don’t remember the pattern or the style or the size, I just remember that in that moment?

I fell in love.

It was as if me and my yard sale shopping self found our people.

I never looked back.

All these yard sale years later, I have a STASH of blue and white everything. Bowls and plates and mini bowls and candlesticks and pitchers and serving pieces.

But how do you put them all together?

How do you mix and match so it looks like you planned it?

No worries.

Come sit by me.

Here are my best tips for mixing and matching patterns on your dining table.

1. Start with a basic color palette

I’m all about blue and white.

But that’s only one color combination on the color palette spectrum. Just like a box of 64 crayons, there are a zillion colors that want to be friends. I typically combine two colors, but you could add in three or four different colors

Here are some of my favorite dish color combinations:

  • blush and gold
  • gold and white
  • coral and blue
  • yellow and blue
  • red and white (I use this at Christmas)
  • black and white
  • cream and white

2. Make sure you have a plain neutral

I can’t stress this enough.

So many times when we are mixing and matching plates we think pattern, pattern, pattern. But truth?

You need a plain colored plate to make the patterns pop.

For example, I found this set of plain diner plates on Amazon and I use it all the time to layer in other more glamorous plates.

It gives the eye a place to rest.

(total aside: this is so true of mixing and matching pillows, too.)

3. Don’t worry if the colors are exactly the same

This is for all the overthinkers out there.

See these two plates? They are slightly different colors and when I layer them you can tell.

There are a zillion colors of blue and white and if you are buying them at yard sales like me? It’s almost impossible to have the exact same blue.

And here’s the thing.

YOU DON’T WANT TO.

If every blue and every white matches up perfectly? Guess what happens? It’s boring and it looks too matchy matchy. You want your plates (and your table settings) to look like you have collected them over the years.

And the best way to get that look?

Mix in slightly different colors of your chosen color palette.

4. Try this reverse tip

One of my best plate matching tips is to reverse the colors.

For example, you have some plates that are mostly blue with a little white. And then you have some plates that are mostly white with a little blue.

It looks so pretty when you combine them.

Take out all your dishes in a certain colorway and see if you can reverse match them.

It looks so pretty when the plates are layered on the table.

5. Look for unusual pieces you can layer into the table setting

The best place to find pieces like this?

Yard sales.

Estate sales.

Your grandmother’s attic.

I found these tiny little blue finger bowls at a yard sale and knew they needed to come home with me. In amazing news, the dishmaker people have invented so many amazing side dishes that are used for the most unusual things. There are butter plate and bread plates and milk pitchers and fruit bowls and demitasse cups and gravy boats and soup tureens.

Most people never use them. That’s why they are easier to find at yard sales. 🙂

6. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough place settings

Do NOT stress about having enough place settings for eight people or 10 people.

You never know how many people are going to show up for dinner.

That’s why sticking to a colorway is so important. If you are going to go with mismatched plates here are a few of my best tips:

  1. You should either have all the plates mismatched or have some sort of pattern to your table setting.
  2. For example, if you have four of the same kind plate, then space those evenly and layer in mismatched pieces.
  3. If you are mismatching plates, it’s a good idea to have them all the same size.
  4. With reverse matching, you can get eight place settings out of a set of four of each kind, just reverse the patterns.

7. Chargers

It’s a good idea to invest in a neutral charger set of 12.

You want to find something that will go with everything, like silver or gold or wicker.

Then you can just change out the dishes and completely change the look of your table.

I like a patterned runner with chargers instead of placemats, but sometimes I’ve created tables with really unusual placemats that I’ve made myself with a monogram or cut out of fabric and frayed the edges.

Here’s one of my most recent tables I set.

You can see that none of the dishes really match.

There are some random pieces on the table.

Even the silverware is a little mismatched.

But yet?

It all works.

The most important tip I can give you?

Have fun.

Truly.

Set a table with creativity.

Set a table with laughter.

Set a table for friends and family to make them feel welcome.

Set a table with love.

And just between us?

It will be the most beautiful table you’ve ever seen. 🙂

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.

Comments

  1. Image for patricia patricia

    I kept my blue willow china (collected at thrift stores, garage sales, antique stores) when we moved into our downsized condo and it's the only china we use. I used to have a few red willow plates I loved to mix in with the blue. Blue and white just makes me happy.

  2. Image for Karen Mary Karen Mary

    Oh, I love this post! (I love table settings!) I gathered over 200 different plates for my daughter's wedding several years ago. Because they were all antique (or looked it) and floral, they looked great together. Most were less than $1 at Goodwill. I splurged on a few for about $3 at antique stores. Today, I use plain white plates at home everyday so I can switch up my table linens and they always match, but in the basement. . . well, there's an abundance of plates, and I love pulling them up for special celebrations! This post will help me set a beautiful special table! Thanks much!

  3. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    Love mixing and matching dishes. It is a inherited trait from my mother-who loved dishes and taught us to mix and match them. You do a fabulous mix and match :) My mom would be proud!

  4. Image for Yvonne Shafer Yvonne Shafer

    Hi KariAnne! I’ve been mixing blue and white tableware since marriage 50 years ago! First, by necessity: later for fun and beauty. I call meals my “blue plate specials.” I add the red or pink for special holidays. eBay and garage are my hunting grounds. We certainly are kindred spirits!

  5. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    My parents gave me a set of Blue Willow ages ago and I love them. I have found different shades of blue dishes but never thought to mix them. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas.

  6. Image for Eloise Fitzsimmons Eloise Fitzsimmons

    Happy Day! I loved your video . I'll be ordering the primer and mascara for sure. I'm a blue and white lover too. I've got garage sale pieces mixed in with expensive pieces that were gifts. Your enthusiasm and great ideas keeps bringing me back. Congrats to those cute little blonde graduates.

  7. Image for Gail Cunningham Gail Cunningham

    Wait wait wait!!! How was the reunion?!!! I hope you had a fantastic time there!!! ALSO, and somewhat unrelated to today's subject: I love your dining room. As a result, I bought that same rug (and your living room rug as well!); I just ordered your dining room drapes last week. My dining room is small: 12' x 12.5' and indirect lighting. I love the color of your walls, but am concerned that going navy on my small room's walls would close it in even further. What do you think, my decor guru, what say you?!!!

  8. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    YOU KNOW I LOVE BLUE AND WHITE! Yeah! Any accent color, well, almost any, will go with it. Got that love from my mother. Have a lot of her dishes and other items. Makes me sooo happy! 😍

    1. Image for Kay Kay

      I love the blue and white table settings. They look very clean and happy. On a personal note, you have changed so much about your appearance, lost so much weight, I wonder if you have ever tried a pink lipstick? I know the red lipstick is what you have considered your go to color, but maybe it is time for a change. When my hair started turning gray, my hairdresser told me that God's way of softening us as we grow older, I liked the way that sounded.

  9. Image for Joy Joy

    Blue and white has always spoken to me! Beautiful job of blending all of the variations together! It looks wonderful and so fun! 💙💙💙

    1. Image for KariAnne KariAnne

      Ruth, Of course! Here’s the link to the rug (affiliate): https://rstyle.me/cz-n/d5sa5ab5nef Let me know if you have any questions! happy day, karianne

  10. Image for Peg Peg

    Love this! Cheers to the sweetest post ending ever. . .creativity, laughter, family, friends and love!! Beautiful, just like you!!! xoxo

  11. Image for Tara @ Stilettos and Shiplap Tara @ Stilettos and Shiplap

    Such great tips!. I've been wanting to get more mismatched dishes but like so many others sort of shy away because I don't want the table to look bi-polar! Love this idea. I've only been collecting white dishes so far but I'm gonna be all daring now and start grabbing up some other beauties.

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