Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Guest Post: More Than Meets the Plate

 Happy Tablescape Thursday!
Today's post is by guest Julie Shuford 

Fine china! It is a world like no other, filled with endless possibilities. Anyone who has gone through the buying and decision making process, is well aware of the various considerations and options there are when deciding which pattern and type of fine china is right for you. While we are sure you have a style of your own, and one that speaks volumes when entertaining and decorating with your serve ware and dishes, we hope this article leaves you with an even greater understanding and appreciation of those dazzling plates you selected. For those of you in the fine china market, we believe you will benefit just as much, or even more from this piece. Please join us in taking a closer look at the various types of fine china, and how to select the right fine china for you! Believe it or not, it can, and should be, easy and fun!
Let's get started with a brief tutorial. There are four primary types of dinnerware. You are probably well aware of the most common material our lovely fine china is typically made of, porcelain. Porcelain, which can also be referred to as bone china, is the highest quality of ceramic dinnerware. Since the clay is so hard, it can be thinned out to make the higher end fine china settings. A few personal favorites include manufacturers Bernardaud, Mottahedeh and Herend.
Mottahedeh's Blue Lace and Imperial Blue (A-MA-ZING!!)

Another type of formal china material, and quite an amazing one, is unrefined earthenware. While it has never been "out of style", it is has been trending up with new bridal registries, with brands such as Vietri, Gien, and Arte Italica- to name a few. China made of unrefined earthen ware is fired at a low temperature and requires a glaze to seal it, making it impermeable. This often leaves the china with a patina-like finish- usually most noticeable on the bottom of the plate. The patina tends to add a bit of character and uniqueness to each piece.
Below is a picture of Vietri's Incanto, which is a beautiful example of unrefined earthenware.
Have you seen Father of the Bride?! Then you've seen an example, or at least heard, of the next china material on our list. Coming in at number three, is refined earthenware. Spode is perhaps one of the most popular china manufacturers of all time, and is made of refined earthenware. It is mentioned in Father of the Bride, as the bride-to-be's china registry selection of choice!
Refined earthenware has been around for a very long time, dating all the way back to the late 1700s. And while it lends itself to the look of fine china, it is comparatively less expensive than porcelain and unrefined earthenware. Because of the lower cost, many people use it as their everyday dinnerware.
Pictured below is Spode's Woodland dinnerware - a classic example of refined earthenware.
The final material on our review of the most desired fine china material is stoneware. Stoneware dinnerware is not as common and most often the material selected to make heavier duty cooking appliances, like crocks. Just like porcelain, stoneware clay is also vitrified during firing, but stoneware clay is not as refined as porcelain clay. While all of the different types of china have their best sellers, stoneware has some amazing patterns as well. In fact, stoneware china manufacturer, Juliska, is the top selling china manufacturer for Bering's Hardware- which is the leading retailer of fine china in Houston, TX. It is a favorite for new brides, as well as customers who already have their formal china setting. It is so popular because of its price point, along with its functionality and mix ability with other patterns.
Just like Juliska, another aesthetically pleasing, yet functional pattern of choice is Casa Fina. Both are machine washable and again, elegant enough to use for formal occasions, yet simple enough for everyday use.
Here is a stoneware example, Juliska's Berry & Thread Pattern:
In closing, you really can't go wrong with any of the four materials. In fact, deciding on one of four materials you prefer is most likely the easy part! Narrowing down a sea of beautiful china patterns- now that is hard to do! But of course, fun!

For more beautiful table settings, please Between Naps On The Porch.

About the Author

Julie Shuford is the Marketing Manager for Bering's Hardware in Houston, TX. Julie is a girl's girl who loves a good sale, a long run, and time with her husband and new baby boy. Bering's Hardware is a unique retail store that provides everything from hardware to fine china and housekeeping products to grilling products.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Secretary of Interiors

About a week ago I purchased this 1940's Maple Chippendale style Secretary in Mill Valley for only $150.00.   An unbelievable steal of a deal.  I love the color, glass pane doors,bow front drawers,claw feet and finial top.

We purchased it for the vacation home in Russian River.  The current plan is to place it in a corner the great room.

I wasted no time staging the piece above in the 3rd bedroom which will be converted into a formal dining room.  I found a nice brass candelabra table lamp that would work great on the desk top.
Inspiration Photos:
Architectural Digest Magazine
A similar Chippendale style secretary but with flat front drawers fits perfectly in this traditional master bedroom.  Notice the brass candelabra table lamp?
Traditional Home Magazine
 Another beautiful secretary with a trellis pane pattern(also with a brass candelabra lamp) is an excellent compliment to the living room.

 The History Of The Secretary Desk
The term “Secretaire” is a French term for a type of bureau desk in  translation a ‘secretary’. Like a bureau, it has a drop front that pulls  out to reveal a writing surface, small drawers and pigeonholes. Its  front, however, is usually disguised as a drawer which, when let down,  is supported on semicircular brass slides known as quadrants.[Complete Story]