Have you ever found yourself at a thrift shop holding a singular piece of flatware that struck your fancy? Hemming and hawing over what you would do with it? Would you spend time collecting that pattern until you had a full set? What happens when a different pattern catches your fancy? What constitutes a full set of flatware anyway?
Decades back, I made peace with these questions. A 19 year old, at the local St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop, pouring over plastic tubs of discarded flatware, trying to decide what to buy for my first apartment. I decided mixing it up was the way to go, because I could not pick a singular pattern. I have been mixing my flatware ever since. That said, along the way, I have come up with some guidelines, that help me achieve a cohesively set table, without creating an overwhelming collection of flatware.
ESTABLISHING YOUR BASE SET
For me, as it is not unheard of for me to invite anywhere from 6-30 people over for dinner, I need a lot of flatware. Tying in random pieces of flatware into a cohesive table setting, means having a base set, or two. A base set being: one pattern, one metal finish, for at least 4 complete place settings (4 spoons, 4 forks, 4 butter knives, at a minimum).
PLURAL OF PATTERNS
Once you have established your base set, it is easy to expand cohesively from there. Layering in different patterns of flatware that have the same metal finish as your base set.
MARRIAGE OF METALS
Everything looks cohesive now, but is it fun? I mix it up by layering in additional metal finishes and materials. The key to setting these disparate flatware items in cohesive way is in the distribution of items as set. Each place setting below is slightly different, but overall reads visually as 'like' place settings. This makes your flatware collection ever expandable and useful.
ADD A SPARK
Keep collecting those random bits of flatware to weave them into your set table. Often times, these random treasures are the remnants of a once beloved 'complete' set of flatware. Maybe part of a wedding registry, that was set to the table for decades, raising and loving a family, fragmented over time. I enjoying the thought that setting them at our table brings with them decades of family wisdom and love.