When decorating your home, look for places where you can layer colors and textures to create a space that is visually interesting as well as comfortable. The china cabinet is one such place. Yes, it can display your heirloom china just as easily as it can display your curated collection of vintage French pitchers. Your china cabinet isn't just a piece of utilitarian furniture; it's an integral part of your overall design scheme to tie the space together.
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Clearing the Decks
The first step in a china cabinet display project is clearing it out. As you remove the items, carefully consider if the items will go back in the cabinet or not. Dispose of broken items and donate all usable items that you no longer want. Dust the shelves, clean the glass doors and clean the inside of the drawers, if any.
A Fresh Start
Before you start working on a new hutch display, think about your needs and wants. If the china cabinet is in a formal dining room, the display should match the tone of the room. If the cabinet is in a combination dining and living area or in the kitchen, the display can be more relaxed and casual. Think about what dishes you want displayed behind the glass doors and the other items that can be stashed behind the cabinet's closed doors.
A Formal Cabinet
When displaying dishes and other treasured baubles on the upper shelves in a formal china cabinet, centrally place the larger items first in the back for greater visual impact. These items could be vintage pitchers in matching bowls, ornate serving dishes or decorative vases. Step back and evaluate what is missing but add items deliberately. Display an elegant plate on a plate stand and complement it with a matching tea cup and saucer. Add greater emphasis to your large and/or decorative pieces by placing them in the center of the cabinet. Put plate settings and serving bowls on the left- and right-hand shelves.
A Relaxed Cabinet
Create displays in china cabinets that match their relaxed and casual surroundings. Display serving dishes or your nicest vintage plates on plate stands on the top shelf. Stacks of dishes, bowls and cups go on the second and third shelves. Balance out the everyday dinnerware with unexpected pieces such as a ceramic pitcher or a textural elements such as a twine ball tucked artfully in a corner and wicker balls under a glass or wire cloche. Use drawers, if you have them, to store extra napkins and tablecloths.
A China-less Cabinet
Create stylish and functional displays for those china-less cabinets. Transform your cabinet into the children's cabinet with decorative baskets, made of wicker or metal, to corral and conceal school papers, art supplies and toys. Create a shabby chic or French country display by showcasing a collection of enamelware, French pitchers or pottery made by a local artisan.
For the Holidays
Incorporate the china cabinet as part of your holiday or seasonal decorating. Display Santa-shaped hot cocoa mugs and decorative plates alongside the china at Christmas. Go all out at Halloween and temporarily replace everyday dishes with pumpkins made of burlap, stuffed artificial ravens, black cat figurines and your own carved or painted pumpkins. Take care not to cram too many items into the cabinet to prevent it from looking cluttered instead of curated.