Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Dishy Dilemma: How To Store Your China

If you love china and pottery, sooner or later you'll be faced with the storage issue. And, if you are like me, not all of your dishes are serving pieces. Some are just for looking. The ones in my library sit behind glass doors; but for dishes I use all the time, I need them handy. And I need them visible, or I'll forget about them until my mother comes to visit and runs a dust mop under the bed and says, "Did you know you had Sculptured Daisy dishes under my bed?"

The least expensive method of dealing with Many Dishes is to hang them, as in this photo from Apartment Therapy.

This grouping is more my style (Country Living)

But I suppose storage can be found anywhere, even under a staircase.

I have been looking for many years for a humongous display case. Of course, that wouldn't solve the problem, because dish fanciers could fill several humongous cases...and have china to spare.

Shelves are an option.

But Dr. Gollum hates hanging shelves, and I can't get in touch with Mr. Tom, so I've been considering an old fashioned dish hanger, and a nail. Why not put dishes down a long hallway?

This wall is united by color and theme. But what if you have a mishmash?
And now we're back to my library.

Open shelves are appealing

I adore this ( Ironstone. And look how a little pitcher has been used for the flatware.

This is beautiful, but it sure wouldn't work for me. I'm cram it to the brim and still have a dish problem.

More shelves

I do have shelves in the pantry, and I've been eyeing them for a while. But I'd have to find a place to store my cookbooks and the jugs and whatnots.

In my mind's eye, I'd arrange the dishes in an orderly fashion.

But I'd end up doing something like this, I wouldn't be able to STOP myself, and before you could say Poppytrail Rooster dishes, my utilitarian idea would fly out the window.

I keep going back to Pottery Barn shelves

My mother has these things, and she sticks them everywhere.

The dishes (and dishes seem to never stop with just a dish--they come with soup bowls and cups and butter dishes) could go into boxes...and then be banished to the attic or garage, or squeezed into a closet.

One time I went to a sale at a dish collector's house, and she had a ton of racks.

And here's how Martha Stewart solved her problem.

While I'm not covering new ground, here are a few storage tips:

  • Add simple shelves
  • Hang dishes
  • Buy metal shelves (but where to put the shelves?)

  • Empty a closet and make your own Dish World

  • Buy padded boxes, fill with china, and scoot under the sofa. If you have vast quantities of these boxes, draw a diagram to make sure you know what's where :-)

  • Make shelves out of concrete blocks and boards (an old idea from the 70s)

  • Weed your dish collection--sell them on Ebay (when pigs fly).

Thanks for visiting today--and please let me know about your storage solutions...and if you buy a new dish, please tell me all about it.


  1. Oh Gollum,
    We - like Martha - have those Gorilla shelving units in the basement to hold all of Scotts MANY MANY MANY collections of china, as well as our stupidly large collection of Pfaltzgraff Heritage Stoneware. I'd love to display it through the house this summer though - so I've been on the hunt for ideas! Thanks so much for this post!

  2. Hey Dish Lady! :) I don't have that problem just yet, but at the rate I am going, I will be eyeing every nook and cranie in my house that I have to spare. I have tons of cabinet space in my kitchen. I also have tons of cabinet space in my second kitchen/Laundry room. I guess this means I don't have to stop shopping for dishes anytime soon huh???? (hehehehe)

    I hope you had a lovely Sunday!

    Donna Marie

  3. Evening, Dear Gollum! Oh, I just love this stuff! I can truly relate with your post! I've even emptied out my laundry room cabinets and have dishes in there! I have dishes stashed away in the builtins in my den. I try so hard to be neat and orderly with my collected dishes, but sometimes I just cram 'em! lol This is so much fun. Thanks again for the Dish Addict Award, it'll be on my blog tomorrow!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  4. oh Gollum, I love your storage blog and dream of having dish pantrie(s)! ... I have an idea for your storage... perhaps you could borrow a wall from your family room and place the gorilla shelving and invisible doors in front. :-) - SherylCanadianGirl

  5. ~~~GREAT COLUMN, GOLLUM GIRL! Had seen many of those super pretty pics (sooo charming, but they sure don't "store" much, do they?). Had a super "dish pantry" added to the house we built in Utah & lovvved it, but alas, even THAT wasn't "big enough"!(DESPITE the fact that I had already gotten rid of oh, 9 or 10 sets or so... lots of wonnnderful V&B ~ and most only used once ~~~ WISH I'd thrown "caution to the wind" and FOUND a way/SPACE to keep them all!). ANYHOOO,thanks! ~~~ this was fun to look at n' of course, it's ALWAYS a delight to read anything you write! XOXO, Linda

  6. Ok, when we all have dish storage like Martha Stewart, we're going to have to start holding meetings... Hi, my name is Isa and I'm a dish-o-holic... LOL!!

    I love open shelving, and the picture of the under the stair storage is wonderful! Those dishes are gorgeous, and I spy with my little eye the telling red knobs of a delicious wolf stove!

    I can't wait to see where your new storage pops up.

    Happy new week, Ms. Gollum!
    xo Isa

  7. Well I have some of mine stored under the bed in those low profile rolling plastic bins, in the covers your mom is so fond of course I forget they're there! I also have all my armoires chok a block full-o-stuff! And the garage has some well as my one large display case all the closets.......This is NOT an easy issue to solve. And Martha probably STILL has a problem!! I bet she's holding out on us, and has some stashed somewhere hidden as well! I betcha!!*winks* Vanna

  8. I guess I'm just too practical. Open shelving means more dusting, and I'm always losing the war on dusting. ;-)

  9. Good Morning Gollum,
    Great post today,as usual. I seem to have dishes everywhere and have often thought of taking all the food products out of our pantry and using it just for dishes, glassware etc.. I love the way Bunny Williams did hers in AN AFFAIR WITH A HOUSE, but then I have all of these china cabinets that would be empty.
    I think the word is out about how much we women love our dishes, I've gotten an unusual amount of emails this past week for dish sales.

    Have a great day.


  10. Come to think of it, storing dishware and Christmas ornaments is a long standing delimma. There's got to be a balance between practical accessibility and display Anyone thinking of a new technique, make sure you patent'll be rich!

  11. These are super storage ideas for China Gollum and I think Sheryl (Cdn. girl) may have another great solution.

    (Myself for years in my Sewing/Crafts room rather than builit-in shelving, I use just zippered clear plastic tiered shelf units (for fabrics, underlinings, etc.) and pocket shoe bags ( for bobbins, glues etc.). They are all suspended from heavy-duty rods. Unfortunately, don't think they would stand the weight of china though.)

  12. Good morning, dear Gollum

    I love your cabinet in the library!

    I've run out of display space, so I have some shelves in the basement storage. But I like to see my dishes!!

    Perhaps I should find a nook or cranny for another cabinet. I have a dream to really gussy up the former pantry. I am using it for dish storage, but it's very utilitarian. I'd love to be able to see my dishes!

    Thank you for the dish addict award. I'll wear it with pride.

  13. Thank you for all the ideas. Some would work for me and others wouldn't. I have then stored in the walk in pantry right now. But I have a small pantry in the hall from the mud room into the kitchen. It now houses baskets, but with the increase of dish addiction I will have to clean out the longerberger and house the dishes.

  14. Hi Gollum! I must say that I like all of your ideas! You know I'm a wall-hanging kind of plate addict. My problem is running out of wall space. However, my daughter has remarried and moved out, so as soon as she comes and gets all of her old stuff (Will that ever happen or will I have to load it up and take it to her?) I will have a whole new room and a whole new closet to fill! Wooo hoooo! Debbie

  15. Whew! It's such a comfort to be around my own kind, the collecting kind. If you notice the picture in my sidebar, you'll see a pinecone cup/saucer...I found it many years ago, never saw another...if anyone spots one...please let Gollum know!

    Twizz, that's a great analogy--storing the Christmas/seasonal stuff is always worrisome. If Martha S hasn't found a solution, it musn't exist.

    D, I only get Viagra emails, lol. Send the dishy stuff my way, girlfriend.

  16. Gollum, I loved this posting. I have a lot of dishes. I want more. But, I am going to have to reconsider what I have in my cabinets currently. I still love to keep more of my dishes close at hand in the cupboards. I may turn a closet into a pantry. Then I'll have more room for dishes in my cupboards. I love to open cupboard doors and see my beautiful dishes and glassware.
    Hugs, Terrie

  17. this is so timely sounds like there are a lot of us with the same problem, where to store the china??? My husband and I were just talking about this. I have 2 sets of christmas dishes that were stored in the garage. I don't like storing them there, they deserve better. I do have a big blank wall in my living room, hmmmm. I think I need to buy a china hutch or some such pretty to display my dishes. I am lucky my husband does enjoy the dishes too. Maybe because he loves to cook he likes to plate his specialties on different dishes. hmmmm, maybe I should buy him a set of woodland dishes for Christmas... Thanks Gollum for all the inspiration, I need to go shopping. Its like 10 degrees below zero, the car better start. Merry Christmas~Jan

  18. Hi there sweet dish lady :)

    Great post and wonderful ideas for my new old house ... hint hint ;)


  19. Michael regarding the Pine Cone Cup 'n Saucer. As my MIL had a great collection of Cups 'n Saucers, the next time I am over at my SIL's I shall definitely go thru them and see if she had one. (Living in the Great White North, who knows she may have.) She also had a passion for Chinaware and it wud be safe to say she wud qualify for your Award. I inherited the flatware (since it was the same as mine) and discovered she had an addiction for dessert forks! :)
    Oh while I am at it, I shall also have a peek for a 'cat in a cup'.

  20. So many ideas, but I can't handle shelves out in the open - too much dusting for me. I'm beginning to think the only solution for me is to add on a dish room! Bet that would go over well here - $$$$ not only for more dishes, but a room as well. Take care and keep thinking of storage solutions for all of us dish collectors. Sally

  21. I love reading your daily menu! Congrats on fixing the commode! And I love sittin' in jammies too! Lol :-)
    Everytime I see your cabinet in the library...I just SWOOOOON!!
    Love all the great storage tips! L~

  22. I'm laughing so hard about that beautiful cabinet with the glass doors! When we moved into this house, I did get a wonderful dish pantry with glass doors. When I started unpacking dishes, I placed them so beautifully in the shelves, but as I continued to unpack the dishes, the cabinets became more and more cluttered, and now, I'm ashamed of them, and wish I hadn't put the glass doors on the cabinets! I'm glad someone else is having the same problem I have with dishes (well, actually with everything!)laurie

  23. Good evening, dear Gollum! At your urging I posted one of my collections. I am still a novice in blogland, but finally got the photos into the post! It's so cold here I fear my tires will freeze to the pavement ... that happened to me once in MN!

  24. Hello Gollum, I love all your ideas for storing dishes, your library is georgous and your pantry would make an excellent space for your dishes, I have been finding dishes all over the place since I started reading your posts on dishes, I forgot all about them.
    I am so happy to hear you are going to get season two, I watched the whole series while in England, you are gonna love it!. I see you are also reading Allison Weir, I love all her books on Henry VIII and also Phillipa Gregory, once you start it's another addiction Gollum!. your new blog dress is so elegant. hugs, Kathy.

  25. Hi there! I thought I had a dish "problem" cause I have about 6-7 sets of dishes...and mainly because of the STORAGE PROBLEM!!!! If I had MY way I would have as many as Martha...and you!!! But, if and when I figure out a new storage place/ solution, you can be sure I will share it with you and blogland!!! Have a great day...or what's left of it:):) Pinky

  26. After seeing those beautiful ideas, I feel I can continue with my plate addiction! I just thought I was running out of room!