Looking for simple ideas on how to mix and match plates without overthinking it? Here are my best plate-matching tips.
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?
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?
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:
- You should either have all the plates mismatched or have some sort of pattern to your table setting.
- For example, if you have four of the same kind plate, then space those evenly and layer in mismatched pieces.
- If you are mismatching plates, it’s a good idea to have them all the same size.
- With reverse matching, you can get eight place settings out of a set of four of each kind, just reverse the patterns.
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.
// table runner //
// table runner //
Here’s one of the 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.
It all works.
The most important tip I can give you?
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. 🙂
disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post