Style at Home: Table makeover: What’s old is new again

Mary Carol Garrity
Special to The Detroit News

  It’s time for a jail break. It’s time for the vintage china dishes, silver serving pieces and old glassware to bust out of our china cabinets, where they have been held in solitary confinement far too long, and finally take their rightful place on our tables.

It’s time for the vintage china dishes, silver serving pieces and old glassware to bust out of our china cabinets. (Mary Carol Garrity/TNS)


In my book, two of the best things in life are antiques and dishes. So you can imagine how crazy I am about tableware from days gone by. Old silverware, plates, goblets and trays not only have timelessly classic styling, they have a story to tell. They take a table from generic to personal, and give you a way to not only celebrate the past, but to add a new chapter to the story.

So, why aren’t we all using our vintage and antique tableware? One of the reasons we hear a lot is people think their patterns are too dated. Maybe you remember how Grandma used the china on her table, and it’s just not your look. Or you can’t imagine a way to give these old pieces new energy, to help them assume a brand new personality. If so, all you need is a table makeover!

When Donna, a member of our visual design team, is creating inspiration tables at the store, she often features the vintage and antique china we carry. As she is styling the tables, she says people stop and marvel at how completely different the old beauties look when they are put with new table elements. Donna says people often share their stories about the china, silver and glassware they never use. Then she shows them how to see these familiar friends with new eye.

We encourage people to bring in a place setting of their china so we can do a makeover. What happens when you pair your plates with a new tablecloth or napkins? Or slip in an unusual charger? Are there other dish patterns you can mix in, like a salad plate with a contemporary pattern or a white dinner plate with an interesting edge? How about finishing the place setting with colored goblets? Or a sweet cut glass dish?

Use your imagination when trying to find new ways to incorporate your vintage pieces into your daily life. I like to plant paper white bulbs in antique celery jars to give my home some spring cheer during the dark winter months. Old glasses and bowls can hold office supplies. Trays can be used to host decorative displays. Dishes can become artwork. Platters can corral your mail. Toothpick holders can become vases for petite bouquets or tea lights.

This coming year, resolve to open the doors of your china cabinet and set free all the beauties inside. Invite them to your table, where they can warm your heart every day and be a part of a new chapter.


This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at