Break Up With Your White Plates, Little By Little

Lauren Joseph
·4 min read

Dinner plates used to be the most reliably constant thing on the table. Purchased from a department store (often by your mother), or off your wedding registry (maybe also chosen by your mother) they were the least interesting thing in your kitchen. Color? The easy answer was almost always a crisp, clean, paper white—except, perhaps, if it was ivory.

But several decades into the era of earthy, speckled ceramics, maybe you've caved for cream. Or, maybe you've taken it one step further and swung for some East Fork Pottery in mocha, amaretto, and toffee shades. Or was it the sherbet '70s tones of the last few years that lured you towards color: tangerine, milky blue, pistachio?

Mid-pandemic, I looked at my assortment of earth tone dishes—mostly purchased piece by piece, slowly edging out the chipped white plates I'd had since college—and thought, “I'm never going back, white.”

But how do you round out a collection of dishes that doesn't exactly match? Well, if at least some portion of your plates are still white, you can use them as the glue of sorts; they'll work fine with any other color on the table, so you needn't toss them just yet. But you can also choose a new neutral to bridge the gaps between any bolder hues: one of those aforementioned East Fork Pottery browns or any other warm neutral would work, but there's no reason you can't build your table around plum or cobalt or butter yellow.

In case you're looking for a little hue inspiration, below are all the colorful plates, bowls, saucers, and cups that I've had my eye on. Plus a few dishes in shades of white, for anyone who isn't quite ready to take the full color plunge.

Try a little smoke

Dusty, smoky colors tend to look better with softer, creamier whites, or grey-toned whites. The star here is the new stoneware from one of our favorite direct-to-consumer kitchen brands, Material: a gorgeous, stony grey-green that looks good with any soft white.

Material Open Bowls, Set of 2

$80.00, Material

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Milbrook Dinner Bowls, Set or 4

$20.00, Bed Bath & Beyond

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Dansk Dotted Platter

$30.00, Amazon

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Porcelain Cereal Bowls, Set of 4

$35.00, Amazon

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Milbrook Dinnerware 16-Piece Setting

Not-so-boring white plates look good with anything.

Upgrade Your Tablescape - Beau Rush Plates - INSET - v2

Not-so-boring white plates look good with anything.
Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Liza Jernow

Come to the bright side

Bright, saturated colors work well with bright whites—and with each other.

Mosser Glass Blue Milk Glass Bowl

$22.00, Coming Soon NY

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French Porcelain Caractère Oval Platter

$62.00, Food52

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Maison Balzac Carafe and Glass Set

$75.00, Coming Soon NY

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Hawthorne Dinner Plate

$20.00, Anthropologie

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Go earthy

If earth tones are your thing, you've likely been wooed by the gorgeous, nutty dishware from East Fork Pottery. The bowl below, a wide, shallow shape called the Coupe, is excellent for serving pasta, salad, or anything deliciously saucy. Any of their brown tones will dazzle alongside less exciting (and less expensive) oatmeal, coffee, or yes—beige—plates.

East Fork Coupe Bowl

$68.00, East Fork

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Vanilla and Earl Grey Pasta Bowls, Set of 4

$35.00, Amazon

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Vietri Incanto Stone Striped Salad Plate

$44.00, One Kings Lane

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Rock Ridge Stoneware Dinner Set, Set of 12

$58.00, Amazon

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East Fork Bitty Bowl

$14.00, East Fork

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Into the deep blue

Mix and match classic blue and white porcelain patterns—or throw in other deep shades and natural patterns, like these marbled melamine plates from Siren Song, for an artier look.

Siren Song Enamel Plates, Woolf, Set of 4

$68.00, Food52

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Kate Spade Charlotte Street North Dinner Plate

$23.00, Amazon

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Dansk Arabesque Pasta Bowl

$24.00, Replacements LTD

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Blue Trim Mug

$4.99.00, Bed Bath & Beyond

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Milbrook Spruce Cereal Bowls, Set of 4

$12.00, Bed Bath & Beyond

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Opposites attract

The pistachio green glasses from Our Place somehow look good with everything—prune-colored plates, a serving dish from La Nouvelle the color of sticky toffee pudding, or for the more color-shy, they serve as a little bit of color against cream plates.

Our Place Drinking Glasses, Set of 4

$50.00, Our Place

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Siren Song Enamel Plates, Baldwin, Set of 4

$68.00, Food52

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La Nouvelle Table, 6-Piece Dinnerware Set

$160.00, Food52

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Heavyweight Melamine Rustic Dinnerware Setting, Set of 12

$37.00, Amazon

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Originally Appeared on Epicurious