Simplify Your Dining Room (Because Yeah, I Used to Buy the Seasonal Dishes Too)

Jun 8, 2016 | 17 comments

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Yesterday I received an email from One Kings Lane (a favorite site of mine) with a super enticing headline. It said, “Watermelon plates! Seahorse platters! And more Vietri tableware.” I can’t explain why I was so enthralled but I was, and I was enthralled immediately. I actually thought to myself, “Watermelon plates? Seahorse platters? Oh! I need those for summer. Those will be so cute.” and I clicked the email open.

I CLICKED THE EMAIL OPEN. WTH was I thinking? As soon as I opened the email I saw this:  

I caught myself trying to justify the purchases.

Inside my head I was reasoning, “Those seahorse plates will look so cute by the pool!” only we don’t live in Florida anymore and we no longer have a pool. I even said, “Well, maybe I can just use them for a summer barbecue!” only to remember that we are traveling to Florida and West Virginia this summer and it makes zero sense to pack up dishes for a quick vacation.

Finally, I had to convince myself to click away from the One Kings Lane site, delete the email, and step away from the keyboard for a few minutes. I had to remind myself this is the kind of ridiculous impulse purchase I swore I was going to stop making. 

I used to be that person.

I used to have special dishes for each season and other special dishes for holidays. I had special mugs and heart-shaped dishes for Valentine’s Days; bowls and serving platters I only used on Halloween; utensils and dinnerware I only used at Thanksgiving; and dinnerware and special mugs I only used at Christmas. It went on, and on, and on.

It was maddening.

I wondered why I was always out of space in my kitchen and pantry.

I would scour Pinterest like a mad woman looking for life hacks or organization tips to help me squeeze every single inch of space out of my cabinets. I would realign shelves constantly so that every possible inch of space was used, I added shelves as necessary, I added baskets, I used command strips on the cabinet doors to hold lids, and I even hung a piece of sheet metal on the wall (prettily, of course) and magnetized my spices so I could keep them on the sheet metal. I did that last thing because it freed up counter and drawer space for more stuff.

It was insane and I was overwhelmed.

I got rid of all of it. As soon as I did I realized I had tons of free space! I also stopped stocking up on food that we didn’t need. I bought groceries only for the meals I had planned for and a few healthy snacks. Yes, it meant I stopped at the grocery store more frequently but it also meant I had less stress, overwhelm, and fatigue at home. You don’t realize how much having stuff can make you feel exhausted until you don’t have that stuff anymore.

The point to all of this is that there is more than one way to skin a cat (by which I mean change out your table decor without owning 4 – 6 sets of dishes). 

Here’s how I do it now…

I wrote a list. Actually, I made multiple lists.

I sat down one day and made a few lists. In case y’all don’t know this about me, I love lists. I list every-freakin-thing so I did what I do best and I wrote lists. On those lists I made a note of every holiday and every special occasion. It was pretty extensive because it included holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, seasons,  Then, next to those dates I wrote the colors that I felt corresponded to those events.

This was my basic list template (sign up today and you can download a copy of it along with my other free-for-you resources):  

I Searched for Patterns

Once I had my lists written out I searched through the list of colors to see where colors overlapped one another. For example, Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, 4th of July, His Birthday, House Warming, Promotion, Summer, and Fall could all use red; Easter, Her Birthday, Bridal Shower, Baby Shower, and Spring could all use pretty much any pastel color I wanted; St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, Anniversaries, Graduation, Promotion, Retirement, Fall, and Winter could all use gold. 

I Bought Linens

I tried to narrow it down to 3 – 4 colors. Once I did that, I bought table linens (tablecloths, runners, cloth napkins, etc) in each of those colors. Anything else (seasonal, etc) was tossed or donated. 

I suddenly went from having about 10 sets of various linens to 3. 

I Bought Simple Chargers and Serveware

I bought 8 charging plates (buy more if you need them) and I use them for every special occasion. I bought them in silver because silver is fancy enough to be special but neutral enough to go with all of my linens. I mean, think about it. Silver/Red, Silver/Blue, Silver/Pink, Silver/Green, Silver/Gold, they all coordinate well. Didn’t they even make a Christmas song about Silver and Gold? I’m pretty sure they did. I remember singing it.

I did the same with my serveware.  All of my serveware is either white or silver. I know it sounds boring but it isn’t. I promise.

I Bought White Dinnerware

One thing I learned from downsizing my dining / kitchen space is that when I own less stuff I’m able to invest in better stuff. That’s what I did with my regular dinnerware. I don’t even really want to tell you how much I spent on my white dishes but I’ll tell you this – they are my everyday and my special day dishes so I am getting my money’s worth out of them. 

The set I bought is just casual enough to work on a regular Tuesday evening but they are decorative enough to feel fancy at Christmas. 

I just no longer saw the need to own a billion plates of all colors, designs, and themes (sorry One Kings Lane for not buying in to your watermelon plates!)

I Learned the Importance of Centerpieces

Y’all, this is where it all comes together! My linens are neutral and my dishes are all either white or silver so I have learned to really capitalize on centerpieces to make a table come together during the seasons or during special occasions.

During the spring and summer I’ll put out low glass vases of fresh flowers. During the Fall I’ll fill a large vase or bowl with pine cones (cleaned, of course) and autumn leaves. If I’ve baked I might even put a tower of themed cupcakes or sugar cookies on the table because the frosting and decorations really make it look pretty. For Christmas I’ve learned to use a nutcracker or two and a lot of extra beautiful bulbs. 

I even found a tutorial once that uses Christmas bulbs as a place card holder. That was really cute!

Here is a little home inspiration for you to show you what I mean (picture from Crate and Barrel):

Crate and Barrel Dining Room

Now, if I can only decide on a new dining room table I’ll be all set.  

It’s been a struggle trying to decide between oval vs rectangle, dark wood vs light wood, wood vs metal vs glass, 4-seats vs 6-seats, 4-seats with a leaf. Ugh, the decisions!!!

Learn how to simplify your dining room. It's easy, I promise!