Freshening Up with Ironstone

Sometimes, it's just time for a change. For about 20 years, I have been accumulating a collection of red transferware dishes. And after we moved into our home in New England, I painted some built-in cabinets (which are in the kitchen's dining area and flank the doorway to the family room) a fabulous barn red color that really set off the dishes. Sadly, I didn't take a "before" picture of them with the transferware.

Close-up of one of my dishes...a pretty collection of five large bowls.

But once I painted the family room sage green, I didn't like the jarring contrast between the bolder barn red and the gentle green beyond. And eventually, I just yearned for a complete change.

I began by removing all the red transferware and storing it. Then I began to pull any and all white serving pieces out of my cupboards. And things began to take shape. I covered the cabinets with various paint swatches and finally decided on a color somewhere between mud brown and caramel. I love it! So fresh and updated!

Any difference in color between those two photos is simply due to the distance they are from the light coming in the sliding glass doors.

About 50% of the dishes and crockery I already owned. I searched consignment stores, antique shops, and thrift stores for a few pieces to complete the look. So easy! And so easy to do economically! Of the pieces I purchased, very few cost more than $10, with many just $5 or less. I discovered that I'm really drawn to dishes with lids and anything that isn't stark white. And the best part is that now I have a great collection of all-purpose white serving pieces for any meal!

When doing a grouping of ironstone/white dishes, it is more visually interesting if you use a variety of shades of white and even add in a bit of texture, like this summery glass filled with vintage flatware.

Some of my favorite sources for these pieces are:
Thoreauly Antiques in Concord, Massachusetts (love that place!)
Twin Elm Farm in Peterborough, New Hampshire (always find a treasure there!)
Concord Antiques Gallery in Concord, New Hampshire (and a big shout out for the paint advice from the awesome stylist who works there!)
Kohl's line of Fontina dishes, which are my everyday dishes. Some of the serving pieces are displayed here.

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