Mixing and matching teaware patterns can have results that please or that cause visual discord. Knowing how to get the right mix and match combination is, therefore, of some importance for a harmonious tea time. Here are 5 ways to get a good result:
1 Buy with Mix-and-Match in Mind
There are several reasons to do this:
- You want a set of fine bone china teawares (or porcelain or even ceramic), but you can only afford a piece here and a piece there, building up your set over time as your budget allows. Knowing that the pattern you’re trying to collect could be discontinued before you get all the pieces, you start out getting pieces in a variety of patterns.
- Your goal is to have an eclectic mix in the first place, so you choose to buy a cup/saucer set in one pattern, a sugar/creamer set in another, and so on, until you have the pieces you want.
- You may already own pieces that have been gifts or inheritances and want to add some that are coordinated with them.
No matter the reason, rather than willy-nilly purchasing this item and that, have a bit of a theme/scheme in mind, which sort of ties in with #3 below. Some options:
- Stick with an era such as Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, or very Modern styles.
- Stay with a particular type of material such as bone china, porcelain, or ceramic, stick with a particular manufacturer, or set a goal to purposely mix it up.
- Buy some connector pieces (glass, white, solid color) to give a visual harmony.
2 Work with What You Have
When it comes to mixing and matching what you already have, you’re pretty much stuck…or are you? Depending on what you have, you could pick and choose, following a few simple guidelines:
- You don’t have to use everything at once – select those pieces that have similar colors and/or patterns. Set aside the “odd duck” teawares (the strange teapot you inherited from a well-meaning maiden aunt, for example).
- Go the opposite way and use only those “odd duck” teawares for that totally Mad Hatter tea time look.
- Use neutrals (white or clear glass) as visual connectors.
- Fit in the “odd duck” pieces here and there, tying in their colors, patterns, or other features that don’t quite go with anything else by adding in some neutrals or ratcheting up that “crazy quilt look” factor. (We found an “odd duck” plate in the crawlspace of our new home (that was built in 1930) and just added it to the mix.)
3 Adopt a Theme/Scheme
This is different from themes like birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. It’s more about visual themes: similar cup sizes and shapes, florals versus geometric versus solids or other patterns, commemoratives, special designs such as cottages, etc. You could even go with a particular color scheme like one of these:
- Primary colors (yellow-red-blue)
- Secondary colors (orange-green-purple)
- Complementary colors (yellow-purple, red-green, blue-orange)
- Pastel colors (pale shades of the above colors)
- Seasonal colors (Spring pale green-yellow-pink-blue-purple, Summer dark green-bright yellow-brilliant blue, Fall orange-brown-gold-deep red, Winter white-icy blue-pale sun yellow)
4 Totally Mix It Up
Throw everything together and tie their disparate colors/patterns together with accessories, tablecloths and napkins, knickknacks, and flowers. It will give your tea table some excitement (as if the anticipation of that wonderful tea flavor and all those delicious delectables weren’t enough).
5 Use the Patterned Teawares as ‘Garnish’
If you have solid-color dishes, toss in (figuratively speaking) a patterned teaware piece or two that you have. It’s sort of like the way you would add a sprig of parsley to visually liven that big casserole of macaroni and cheese. My fine bone china teapot is sometimes the “garnish” on a tea table set with my normal dishwares.
Most importantly, remember that the teacups, teapots, plates, bowls, etc., are the scenery of the play. The tea and treats are the main focus. Cheers!
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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