around the house: tearoom china

09.16.11 | tearoom china

Tuesday I met a friend for a “farewell” outing (she is moving shortly). Now, our usual outings consist of thrifting, antiquing, knitting, geeking out about sewing or vintage fashion, and finding a good tea room for lunch. Usually a combination of the above. On this particular day, we were short on time, so a quick trip to the thrift shop down the street and lunch at a new-to-me tearoom was in order.

09.16.11 | tearoom china

One of our favorite spots to rummage at the thrift shop is the stacks of china. I, of course, am always secretly hoping to hit it “big” with a complete set of a pretty china pattern. I only have what I’d call practical dishware—no real pretty pieces to use for the occasional gatherings (or elaborate dinner parties I dream up but never host…). But of course finding the mythical set of china (in appealing—not boring—colors!), is proving a bit harder than I anticipated. So while sorting through the piles of cute, but mismatched china and lamenting the fact that I can’t find my dream set, my friend said I should just start amassing all the pretty odds and ends I find. Sort of a “tearoom china” set. I’m sure if you visited a number of tearooms you’ve run across the one with the charmingly mismatched antique and vintage china. Those are usually my favorites sorts of places, so I thought: why hadn’t this occurred to me sooner?!

09.16.11 | tearoom china

Later that day I spent some time digging out a small stack of vintage saucers I had thrifted last year and used a few here and there for holding things (but never for their intended use). I also added a couple of pretty tea cups I found that day at the thrift store. So here’s to the beginning of my “tearoom china” set! (So far all had for the princely sum of a little less than $5.) I’m seeing it the sort that I shan’t be afraid to use on a regular basis, and supplementing with standard white china plates and such as needed. Now just to find a place to store this…

Do you find the idea of mismatched vintage china sets endearingly charming? Or does it make you want to run from the room screaming? What is your favorite set of china (even just a dream set!)?

September 16, 2011 · 55 lovely thoughts
posted in around the house · tags: , ,

Peter September 16, 2011 at 11:10

Run. From. Room. ;)


puppyloveprincess September 16, 2011 at 11:12

i LOVE tea. and i really love mismatched tea sets. the trick is to make sure the colors are harmonious (not matchy-matchy, just somehow harmonious.) it ends up looking and feeling creative, whimsical and…pretty! yours look lovely!


paisleyapron September 16, 2011 at 11:15

Beautiful idea. All the ladies I know that amass collections of china hoard individual teacups and saucers and plates…none matching the other. As a collection it can be stunning. Plus your guests for tea can choose their “favorite.” It also helps people who don’t know what to get you for your birthday or Christmas…they can gift you a teacup and saucer!


Naomi~ September 16, 2011 at 11:17

I find mismatched china absolutely darling and I do the same myself. I don’t have a large collection yet, as I wait until something really catches my eye – but it is a mix of some modern pieces I love and those I found from thrift stores and estate sales.

I think the start of your set is just beautiful – the colours and patterns are gorgeous – especially the plate in the first photo with the little bird!

The only dilemma I found with having a mismatched set, as silly as it is, is trying to work out what sort of teapot, creamer and sugar holder to get! I already have a few teapots that work well independently with some of the cups – but overall as a large group they don’t. You’d think with the wide variety of patterns in the cups and saucers it would work – but it seems to clash in a bad way. I’m thinking perhaps something white. Like a neutral to tie it all together – but not a plain looking one though – something all fancy, but white.

Perhaps a cute little teapot holder made with lovely colours or a small cluster of flowers tied onto the teapot somehow can add a small pop of colour to go with the rest of the “set”?

I look forward to the day when my daughter’s old enough to actually want tea parties! It will give a great excuse to finally host one (not that excuses are ever needed…but trying to have a tea party gathering with an excitable 19 month old is a tad difficult).


Mela September 16, 2011 at 11:18

I don’t drink tea but collect tea cups. Weird? Not so much. They are beautiful. I fell in love with them after finding them at all the local charity/thrift shops. I have started a collection and hope to have quite the set by the time I move back to the States.


Peter September 16, 2011 at 11:20

Just to clarify, I DO think mismatched china can be charming, I am just in major decluttering mode and the thought of all that dinnerware just makes me crazy. It truly is dainty and very sweet and I do enjoy tea. There’s just so MUCH of it out there….


Miranda September 16, 2011 at 11:21

I love mix-matched china. We served coffee and tea in them at my wedding this year. I tend to use mix-matched Fiestaware at home, rather than china though, because I love Fiestaware so much :-) and I don’t have to worry about my husband microwaving it.

We do have a really beautiful matched set of proper formal Lennox china that was a wedding gift from a friend.


Corinne September 16, 2011 at 11:29

Be still my heart! As a young married person everyone gave me a precious tea cup for birthdays, Christmas, gifts. Then started the teapots. That was a while ago. Someday I will feature them in a collections post, there are many. I am a tea drinker and use them. It is a touch of civility to me in a very busy and tension filled world. I set a tea tray every afternoon possible at about 3 pm, my need to take a break time. A mis-matched collection is wonderful because all those orphan pieces will now find a new home and be used and admired. Great idea.


Gail Ann Thompson September 16, 2011 at 11:29

Perhaps I’m not one to talk, as I have a good set of china given to me by my parents. I like it, but would I have chosen it for myself?? Now that is the question, isn’t it? Mix and match , a tea- room set, does sound delightful. If you could choose a single element, one unifying colour, pattern, or theme, it might add to your enjoyment of it. ALSO YOU KNOW ~ Just as soon as you have 10 place setting that please you, a full set complete with serving pieces will offer itself to you for $63.


Olivia September 16, 2011 at 11:35

For me the cups and saucers have to match. However, if you didn’t have one matching set just random sets of cups and saucers…. that makes it more exciting. :) I love china! I collect it and put it in my hope chest.
the pieces you picked up are so dainty and pretty


Marie September 16, 2011 at 11:35

I’m a big fan of mismatched china sets and I’m in the process of trying to convince my boyfriend to give it a go! You’ve got some lovely pieces there ;o)


martha September 16, 2011 at 11:39

We use mis-matched china, for the most part. Most of it is late 50s, early 60s pieces that I’ve found here and there. My husband laughed the last time I brought home four plates I had been hoping to find for years, but they’ve quickly become his favorites. And at 50 cents a piece, who can complain too much?!
However, I did find an entire set of transferware dishes on craigslist. And my sister sold her wedding china (I still gasp at this!!!) at her garage sale, so keep hunting! You’ll find your lovely set.


Emilie September 16, 2011 at 12:05

You just got me thinking about elaborate fancy-dress dinner parties and equally elegant afternoon tea gatherings. You know, with a little cake caddy with cute cookies and cakes. And of course some matched OR mismatched china sets! If this ever happened, I don’t think I would care too much if the dishware matched or not.*Dream*
In the meantime, I’ve got my eye on my grandmother’s china sets. Maybe she’ll get the hint that my collection is wanting (I should say my *non-existant* collection).


Amy September 16, 2011 at 12:14

I always wanted to collect a set of mismatched china for just the same reasons. I thought it would be cute to serve guests with unique plates and tea cups and such. But then I got married and got a matching set of porcelain and now I can’t imagine finding room for anything else in my kitchen. My porcelain is a solid white that would go well with any china, so maybe one of these days I’ll pick up the idea again.


Faith September 16, 2011 at 12:18

I have to confess that my personal passion in terms of crockery is the 1930s – I love the dainty but not at all twee patterns and the wonderful colours. My mother is amazing at finding things like this – including the most amazing, vividly patterned cake stand a few years past for only a couple of pounds that we then sold for a reasonable profit at an antique fair – but I can never find anything!

As for mismatched crockery, I’m all for it! I’m putting together my wedding registry at the moment and family members (primarily from my fiance’s side as they don’t ‘get’ me at all) are bemoaning my lack of a complete dinner service. But it’s just not me! And, to be honest, I’m not going to put down a boring modern service when I might find a vintage one at any moment ;)


Fiona - Straight Talking Mama September 16, 2011 at 12:21

Maybe I’ve been lucky to find a couple of sets of china I look, but I’m too much of a matchy matchy person for mismatched china. But after seeing Peter’s reply maybe it’s because I would end up with more and more and more stuff, so I set a barrier for myself. For instance, I found a set of sherry glasses I like for my cocktail cabinet, before i know it I now have 4 sets of different glasses of the same design, there’s no hope for a hoarder, so maybe that’s why I don’t like mismatched ;o)


Stephanie September 16, 2011 at 12:25

What a great idea! I’m not much of a tea drinker but my great grandma collected tea cups and when she passed this summer I got to take a one home. They are quite darling to look at. I love the idea of a set of adorably mismatched tea cups.


Frances September 16, 2011 at 12:32

I love mismatched tea sets… and not just for tea! You can never have too many random small boxes/bowls/cups lying around – there’s always something they can hold! I hadn’t thought of using teacups/saucers for that before now though. Thanks for the inspiration!


Katie September 16, 2011 at 12:35

I love mismatched china sets! I always thought that is what I would end up with, and had started collecting random cups and saucers, and a few sizes of plates here and there. But this summer, right after my husband and I got married, his grandmother gave us her *entire* set of fine china! It’s a setting for 12 people (we can only fit 4 people at our tiny table right now!), and is in perfect condition! It’s very pretty: off-white with a small flower border and gold gilded edges. So my current plan is to continue with the mismatched set to use every day, and Grandma M.’s beautiful vintage china set for when we “entertain”…at least one set of parents at a time, or something. :)


Ella September 16, 2011 at 12:47

I have been collecting china tea cups for years, both matching and individual items. I use them for different occasions. For something more formal I use the matching sets, although it is always hard to find a whole matching set if you want more than, say, 6 people. If i’m having the girls over for tea and cake I’ll use the mismatched ones, because they are so cute and fun! And each person can choose their favourite one! I always have my afternoon tea out of a different one everyday so they all get used equally and none of them feel left out. It makes tea just that bit more fun! I’ve just started twittering a tea cup picture a day too. Well, not ‘a day’. I don’t have that many tea cups:!/LostArtOfEating

Anyway, sorry for the long post btw. Love love love your blog! A new add to my regular reading list :)


Vicky September 16, 2011 at 12:50

I adore the idea! I’ve admired my grandmother’s tea cup collection (all mismatched) for years. She recently spilt it up and passed it down to both my sister and I. In addition to the ones that were passed down to her, she’s added several of her own over the years. At 91 she has traveled abroad over 30 times and has acquired pieces from all over the world. I intend on continuing the tradition and added my first tea cup just a few weeks ago. It was from a local thrift and not form some far away place but, it’s a start. I’m so glad to hear that other people like to collect them as well. Thanks for sharing!


Nene September 16, 2011 at 12:57

I love it! I collect Swedish 50′s and 60′s dinner ware in complimentary patterns since it’s so hard or extremely expensive to buy a full set. I love the effect. A lot of the things are made with the same clientele in mind so the colors match and the patterns are from the same artists.

I had a lot of different tea cups before I got a full set as a birthday gift. Now I content myself with my plates. :)


Floors Of Gold September 16, 2011 at 13:06

Beautiful idea! I have been thinking of doing this very thing! :)


Marcy September 16, 2011 at 13:20

I am not much for tea, but I really want to collect beautiful wooden chairs for my future seats-10 dinner table. This is an ongoing discussion with the husband, but we are in an apartment right now with just two chairs at our dinner table so I have time to gather persuasive images.

For a bridal shower, the bride asked each guest to bring a cup and saucer, so she has all these beautiful tea cups picked out by her closest friends, but each cup matches a saucer, although that would make it a little harder to store for someone semi-OCD like me because I’d want everything in order. The downside is that the sets vary wildly, wheresa you probably have a style preference so there will be some cohesion.


Tanit-Isis September 16, 2011 at 13:44

I like the idea, but my husband, who likes everything sleek and modern and matching, would go nuts.

I actually have a somewhat vintage set from my grandma… It’s really too nice to ever use, though, whih sucks. Maybe when my kid are bigger…


Brandy Layton September 16, 2011 at 13:51

I love tea, I used to have a fantastic mismatched set, my friend loved it so much. I was broker than a joke when her wedding came around that I gifted this to her for her home. She lovingly uses them and displays them beautifully in her home. Now with kiddos and moving around, I just do not want to try. When I open my bed and breakfast when my kids are grown, I will have a tea room!


Jennifer Lawrence September 16, 2011 at 14:29

I absolutely love mismatched china tea sets! I have a local cupcakery and tea room close to my house which I visit far too much (hehe!) and they don’t have a single matching cup or saucer! But that’s why I love it in there so much, it reminds me of my grandma’s tea sets and it just feels really homely! I’m currently starting my own collection and I find that eBay is a great place to find lovely cups and saucers!


Kris September 16, 2011 at 14:34

I actually collect pretty teacups from all over. I mainly collect those with matching saucers, though, and use them for display. I wish I had a pretty glass-front cabinet to put them in so they didn’t get quite so dusty!

My current favourite is a gold-rimmed Anchor tea cup and saucer. The thrift shop I was in had a bunch, as well as a tea pot and creamer set, but I picked the one in the best shape and just got it. They were asking a lot for the pieces, which is pretty standard where I am.

I really need to start using them..


Marmielu September 16, 2011 at 15:01

How pretty! You know I have my little stash, but mostly the cups and saucers match. I do like the idea of mismatched, though. It’s cosy. I have started coveting mismatched Fiesta ware. Of course, I only have one matching cup and saucer that I won in a blog giveaway several years ago. You know, I think the factory may be in WV. That is something you, your sister and I should check into. But think – can you see your father’s face when I spring that idea on him? lol


Paige September 16, 2011 at 15:15

That’s a smart friend you have! It’s always the most obvious idea we never think about, isn’t it?

When we got married, my mother in law convinced me to register for china because she claimed we would use it for holidays, etc. Now, it’s only been 2 years since the wedding, but guess what sits around in boxes? The china set. It’s pretty, but I honestly don’t think it was a practical choice for us. Glad to hear you’ll actually be using yours! :-)


Tasha September 16, 2011 at 16:33

Absolutely charming indeed! I can swing both ways. I can appreciate everything matched and perfect and proper, but I also love the quaint and cozy feeling of mismatched and ‘homey’ items. China is actually one thing I am completely lacking in! I think because I’ve never been able to decide what I’d want.

Have you heard of EllynAnne Geisel? I bought her Kitchen Linen Book several years ago and it changed my perspective on putting together items in the kitchen and decorating for meals, get-togethers and parties (not that we have many occasions to host!). She really opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking about and appreciating the beauty in using vintage linens and new ways to use them. And I think it goes beyond linens, including the dishes, silverware, decorations, and everything you put into hostessing (and your mindset I’d go so far as to say!).

Anyway rambling aside, I think your tearoom china set is a great idea! And I love that quilted tablecloth, too! A wonderful combo.


Sarah September 16, 2011 at 17:02

Yesterday I went out antiquing and saw an AMAZING china set I fell in love with! But at $6 for just a teacup, and gosh knows how much for the plates, I couldn’t afford it. I did post a picture of it to my latest blog entry though, just to remind me of it and how lovely it would be to have something like that someday. Until then I’ve got my funky fiestaware and it makes me happy to see all the colors come together. :)


Anita September 16, 2011 at 17:04

I love the idea of mis-matched china! I inherited a set of Limoges (pink roses on white bone china trimmed in gold) from my mother, who inherited it from hers, and it is one of my prized possessions.

I live in the DC area, and seem to stumble upon sets fairly regularly. The last one I saw was blue and white, and around $250 for eight five piece place settings. The serving pieces were all priced individually. if you’d like me to keep an eye open when I am out and send you a picture if I find something, I would be happy to!


YYZ September 16, 2011 at 18:17

I LOVE the mis-matched look, particularly when it involves vintage bits & bobs. It reminds me of the charming style I admire so much in England. Think of Lobster & Swan– Jeska would totally have mis-matched sets and they would look gorgeous!

Enjoy the fun of collecting!


Anne September 16, 2011 at 18:38

I love the idea, I have several sets of so-called collector’s cups, which have never belonged to a set and were given as presents to young girls here in Germany.
On your lovely pictures the teacups are placed on some sort of quilted tablecloths or runners… could you possibly post some more pictures of these? They would go with my mismatched china as well if I could make them…. please?


Eileen September 16, 2011 at 18:54

Woo hoo. I’m glad that you are going to roll with this idea. I think I’ll follow suit! Haven’t had a chance to rummage around up here yet but I’ll be sure to report back to you with anything I find. I miss you already!


Tina C. September 16, 2011 at 19:14

I got super lucky a few years back, I’d stopped by a thrift store for some random reason with my then boyfriend (now husband) and we found a huge set of china (I can’t remember exactly, but I think it was service for 10 or 12) that I adored (sango contemporary 6504, if you want to google image it) the entire set was $29. I grabbed them even though my boyfriend/husband thought I was crazy!


Kylie September 16, 2011 at 20:18

I LOVE mismatched vintage china sets! One of my favourite cafes has them up on the wall for decoration – so pretty :)


Katie September 17, 2011 at 00:15

A friend of mine that got married last weekend had Alice in Wonderland as her theme. As part of the reception decor, she purchased a bunch of mismatched tea cups and saucers to hold nuts and mints at the tables. I thought they worked really well theme and would do the same at home if I needed to buy more dishes.


Shineun September 17, 2011 at 03:23

I love mismatched vintage china sets! I am collecting them as well so I can have one of my own. Good luck to finding many treasures to your set! = D


Sherry September 17, 2011 at 04:31

I love mismatched china! I went through a period of buying it about 10 years ago, and ended up gathering several sets from the 50′s with roses on them – I still love them today – so go for it I say!


Alli September 17, 2011 at 06:21

I have a teapot, saucers and cups that are Japanese china tea set that my granny gave to me. It was the gift that my grandad gave her when they got engaged at the beginning of WW2. I feel very honored that she gave something so special to me. I adore it- it’s beautiful.


sarah September 17, 2011 at 08:34

I love china: any sort matching or not, we have a lovely dusky pink set with gold edging that was my great grandmothers which I love.
recently I spotted an Alice in wonderland giant tea cup with vintage styling which I’m dying to own, the small problem is that I very rarely drink tea :( although it’s that big that I don’t think no one will mind if I drink hot chocolate out of it instead!!


Lisette September 17, 2011 at 09:02

Not exactly fine china but I am awaiting the day I discover a full Pyrex set with the flamingo pink stripe. Unlikely, but maybe someday! I am also looking for real china to match a ballet pink tea set I have which is shaped like elephants.


Stevey September 17, 2011 at 17:56

There is just too much lovely china out there to stick with one complete set, isn’t there???
I have a set though, neutral, in white. It has to act as link between all the other cups and saucers.
The biggest problem is storing a collection. I don’t want them to be hidden in a cupboard, even if I use them. So I made room in a bookcase to showcase my favourite of the month. That is always a nice reminder, like: isn’t it time for a cup of tea, yet???


Noelle September 17, 2011 at 18:57

You, thrifting goddess, inspire me so much. The china is lovely!
I’m so envious of you living with all these lovely thrift stores all around you. I only have a few, and the vintage pickings are very slim! When I go to the city, however, I go crazy.
You inspired me to start my own vintage clothing blog! :)


Stacey September 17, 2011 at 22:13

I love your china collection, it’s so pretty. Have always loved tea sets ever since I got one as a little girl (it was plastic but still I loved it) and have always wanted one as a grown up but never got one as they are really expensive. So I love this idea of collecting mismatched ones as I sometimes find the full matching sets a bit to matchy matchy. And I just realised that i have the start of a little collection my self with a cup saucer and teapot for one and a milk jug in the shape of a cow that pours milk out of it’s mouth that my nan gave me. Thanks so much for the inspiration :)


Ann September 17, 2011 at 22:57

What a lovely idea! Mismatch gives it a sort of carefree sophistication. I was lucky enough to receive loads of china as wedding gifts, in my chosen pattern Royal Doulton Old Country Roses, an oldie but a goodie.


jax black September 18, 2011 at 13:10

I have a large collection of mis match china…all nasty, lol :) as its very modern, lots of mugs with silly things writen on them…but i used to have a beautiful bone china tea set with pink roses on it, sadly husbands don’t normally apprieciate pretty so it dissapperd over the years…but you have me thinking and im sure my ex mother-in-law (still my best friend) has one hidden away :)
if not i’m gonna start collecting mismatched china too, staring this week with one for my work desk.


Sarah September 18, 2011 at 15:56

I do have a few random cup-and-saucer sets given by friends, which I use for tea when I have the time to actually sit down and enjoy it! (Otherwise the tea goes into my favorite big coffee mug that says “Tecumseh”, which is a maker of lawn mower engines! Hey, it has the best handle….) Anyway, I am very blessed to have my Grandma Edith’s complete china service for 12! She passed it onto me when she moved in 2007, at which time I boxed it up for my hope chest. It was with great joy that I unpacked it last year after getting married, and had the added blessing of her hutch to put it in. :) The pattern is “bridal lace”, a white on white flower design with silver borders. I don’t use it as much as I could, but am trying to pull out the serving pieces, even for everyday use, as life is too short to hold stuff for those never-arriving, super-special-days! Enjoy your new collection, Casey, and by the way, it looked beautiful on the quilt! :)


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