I love heirlooms. I love their stories, their histories, and their patina. Some of my heirlooms are valuable, but mostly, they are just sentimental. I think it is important that heirlooms are used and that they are part of everyday life; at a minimum they should be visibly on display. I think using or displaying them ensures their sentimentality; my hope is that my children will remember using my grandmother’s carnival glass butter dish and that it will be even more special because we used it too. They will have their own memories to pass along with the dish. Displaying and using heirlooms not only keeps them relevant, but it also helps them seem current and fresh too.
That’s right, heirlooms do not have to equal “stuffy antiques that sit on a shelf and collect dust”.
To prove it to you, I’m starting a series on heirlooms. I’ll feature a few of my favorite sentimental things and will tell you how I use them, and I’d love to feature some of your special treasures too.
First in the series: a few heirloom plates and platters.
This past weekend, I checked an item off of my Home To Do List: I hung a small collection of plates and platters in my dining room.
This was not the arrangement of assorted metal platters I originally had in mind, but most of my vintage and heirloom brass, silver, and bronze platters were circle-shaped. And, instead of the stunning effect below, I was ending up with something that more or less resembled a large snowman.
Luckily, I don’t suffer from a shortage of platters and plates. I am forever finding them at thrift stores and garage sales and in my grandmas’ cabinets. So, I grabbed these oyster plates and a piece of blue willow to round out my silver. Every room needs a little blue willow, right?
In the end, I’m so pleased with this little arrangement. A few plates handed down from my grandmother, two I recently picked up thrifting, and one that was a thoughtful bridesmaid gift. It is a mix of old and new, of sentimental and heirloom pieces, and that’s the curated effect I am after.
Tips for Hanging and Arranging Plates and Platters
If you decide to tackle an arrangement like this in your own home, here are a few tips.
1. Test your arrangement on the floor. Lay everything out on the floor before you put a nail in the wall.
2. Pick a focal plate/point. The focal plate does not have to be dead center, but it should be close to the middle of the arrangement. In my arrangement, the large silver platter is the focal point. I hung this platter first, and its placement anchored the others.
3. Work up/down and left/right from your focal point. I’m a traditionalist, so I tend to use symmetry as my guide. The images that inspire me are also balanced. That said, I’ve seen some great abstract and more asymmetrical arrangements. Either way, you’ll want to work out from your focal point.
4. Mix it up! Sure, a great collection of white plates artfully hung on a wall will always be tres chic. That said, don’t be afraid to mix styles and patterns of plates, or to mix pictures and other art with the arrangement. If you’re uncertain, take a look at the images below.
Whether they’re working together or apart, James Farmer and Maggie Griffin are experts and arranging plates and platters. (We all grew up in the same, small Georgia town. Maybe this is a local, Hawkinsville-bred talent, one that I’ve hopefully learned too?)
Here are a few more that inspire me too.