I had a bunch of different ideas about how I wanted to decorate my beloved turret window. I wanted something fun but not over the top, architecturally appropriate but still cool. One of the ideas (based on seeing it popping up more and more on my many feeds) was decorative wall plates! Of course the ones I was looking at were over $100 a pop because even with “a trend” that is primed to be SO AFFORDABLE, I have a gift (or curse) of still making it expensive. But y’all it doesn’t have to be! And it can bring a ton of personality and life into your space no matter your style. There’s a reason variations of this look have been around forever. Let’s get into it…
It’s Affordable! (If You Want It To Be)
Let’s talk about why it can be almost ridiculously affordable. First, you might have some beautiful old plates hiding on a top shelf of a cupboard, in an attic or basement, or even in your garage or family storage unit. It doesn’t get more affordable than FREE. The only thing you will probably need to buy (if you aren’t just leaning them again the wall) are plate hangers. I love the idea of this one because it basically puts a hanger on the back of your plate. No visible wires! But a classic plate hanger is also great. To each their own. In the photo above it looks like designer Ayse Archer-Coité used both types so there really are no rules.
But maybe you’re like, “Jess, I simply can’t put one more hole into my wall.” To that, I have a very easy solution…the plate stand. Look how great and simple that plate looks in the shelving nook. I love how it ties in the greens and beiges of the space. Plus it adds the perfect amount of pattern! If you need a couple of stand recs, I really like this brass one and this iron one.
Hold on. We need to talk more about the affordability. If you’ve ever been to a flea market or thrift store you know there are almost an infinite amount of great looking plates. It will likely take some digging but the deals you can score are priceless.
Now to be fair I don’t know if the plates in the photo above are vintage but they make this kitchen look so much more interesting, layered, and inviting. It’s got some soul, baby.
While we LOVE vintage plates, buying new ones that might better fit your style is still a great option because there are so many affordable plates in bigger box stores too. Again, these small plates in this laundry room could easily be vintage but for the sake of my argument (and the fact that they look more on the modern side), newer-looking plates can also have a ton of fun visual impact. I now can’t imagine this room without them.
A Great Way To Display Family Heirlooms
Okay, so not only is it the most affordable option to go searching through unused family heirloom dinnerware, but displaying them adds such a special and meaningly element to your home. Aren’t the best homes filled with storied pieces??
I know that the tricky part can be finding heirlooms that work with your style. I know I don’t have a lot of those pieces. But if you have wedding china that you are too afraid to use but love, get a few pieces out and throw it up on your wall! Or for easier access, lean some on a shelf.
The moral of the story with this trend is to look at what you have first, then go shopping. We obviously recommend thrifting or buying from artists first:)
Unexpected Placement – Mix It Up!
One very fun thing about this “trend” is that the possibilities are endless when it comes to placement and configurations. As shown above, in Alvin Wayne’s dining nook, he used those great modern plates and hung them in a diamond shape (which is no surprise given that this man is an absolute gem:)). Oh, and notice the variation in plate sizes for more dimension. Unexpected/3-D art, people!
Ah, I love a little off-centered quirk! This baby gallery wall moment is so sweet but also kinda breaks some design rules which is why it’s so great.
Now, this collection over the door is likely a set given how the white borders on the plates align. But you definitely don’t need a perfectly matching collection to create something this cool. I love the rectangle layout and the difference in plate size and shapes. Point being you can have fun with your plate configurations.
Can Add Humor And Whimsy To Any Room
For me, this is my favorite part of this trend and what makes it “new” again. Traditionally, I am VERY particular about typography in art. Look, if you have a “live, laugh, love” sign in your home or something of the sort, that is TOTALLY fine. Personally, I go for typography that’s a bit more ironic or humorous. I want to say “edgy” but that sounds extremely obnoxious…but it’s not not true… In the photo above, I love the simplicity of the two red-rimmed plates side by side next to the sink. Also, that plate location is awesome. These ones aren’t particularly “ironic or humorous” but they are simple and not “too cute” if you know what I mean.
Now, the middle plate on the right above the door is right up my typography alley. It looks like a beautiful blue patterned plate but then you take a second look and it says, “FUCK YEAH” in the center. I think the real trick with plates and typography is for them to look cool they need to also look handmade/painted. But that’s my preference:)
I promise that I’m not advocating exclusively for you to display curse words on your plates! I also think that wonderful florals, animals, fun faces, etc are perfect for adding whimsy to an otherwise minimal or traditional style home. I love how the plates in the photo above not only add color and dimension but add a ton of playfulness (well maybe the roosters are in first place but they are a close second).
By no means would I consider this room “too traditional”. But hold up your finger to take those two plates out…not as fun right?? They just add that final touch of “I don’t take myself too seriously” that I really think is wonderful.
Adds Color, Pattern, Shape, And Dimension
If you thought you could get through an EHD post that didn’t talk about the importance of color, pattern, shape, and dimension (or texture), I hate to tell you that you were wrong. It’s just SO important! And honestly, plates are an easy-breezy way to add all of those elements to your room. Look at that sweet pop of green and pattern on that vintage plate. It’s another type of art that helps to keep things visually interesting.
And give me a break with how creative this plate display is! It brings your eye up and adds a ton of color and dimension that isn’t at eye level which doesn’t make it too overwhelming. It’s just fun. This border-style display was the one that I was considering the most in my turret above the moulding. Who knows maybe I’ll throw a plate or two up there for the final final reveal:)
An Awesome Collection Looks Awesome
There is A LOT of visual power in collections. See this home tour for further proof. So if you love the idea of wall plates, consider really going for it! As shown in Gwyneth Paltrow’s stunning kitchen, the impact of all those blue and white plates is incredible.
This is also a great way to display a full set of family heirloom dinnerware or even wedding china! This way you can choose to use them only on special occasions but enjoy looking at them every day. How wonderful is Louise Roe‘s collection above??
Ok so this one is a small collection but I am nearly obsessed with those large handpainted platters on the self. Well actually I’m obsessed with this whole kitchen but I digress. This kitchen really toes the line between modern and cozy traditional. I think that’s why it’s so visually stimulating. But having those colorful, playful plates (and other dinnerware) really helps to balance the modern lines/elements and makes it a kitchen I desperately want to be in! Are you “team display plates” yet??
Well if you are here are some of my favorites that I found online! But please don’t sleep on a thrift store, your wallet will thank you:)
1. Blossom Hand-Painted Ceramic Fruit Plate | 2. Bird Watching Platter | 3. Ceramic Cabbage Charger | 4. Elokuun Varjot Plate | 5. August Wren Dinner Plate | 6. Neptune’s Voyage Vide Poche Plate | 7. Casa Nuno Blue and White Dinner Plate (set of 2) | 8. For You Plate | 9. Reese Side Plate | 10. Hand-Painted Italian Campagna Plate | 11. Large Ceramic Plate | 12. Floral and Gold Dish | 13. Decorative Plate | 14. Haveli Dessert Plate | 15. Ceramic Dessert Plate
So thoughts? How many of you have plates on your walls or shelves? Big collections displayed? Any funny ones? Are you now considering playing with placement? Do you even like this idea? Let’s talk!