Guest Post: Beautify Tableware on a Budget

While I am busy finishing up my master bedroom makeover, I thought I’d share a guest post that reader Jakob Barry submitted. Take it away, Jakob.


If you’re looking to enhance the setting when having a festive meal or simple dinner for two, beautifying the tableware may be the key.

That’s because, though there are all kinds of techniques for developing an atmosphere when it comes to sitting down and enjoying a wholesome get-together, the table and its contents can sometimes be an issue.

How so? It often occurs that various foods don’t look appetizing enough in common bowls or plates that come with generic sets of dishes. In fact, some foods can look downright repulsive because of what they are served in, which means guests are more likely to be drawn towards food in alternative vessels. That being the case, sprucing up the tableware with a different kind of look and variety can produce a more positive experience for everyone.

This by no means suggests you should urgently run out to buy a new set of china or expensive crockery at a local artisan shop. On the contrary, an entire set of tableware, whether it’s the dishes, just the serving ware, or both, can be branded on a budget from various off-the-beaten-track places to form a unique environment that is far from boring and full of character.

Where To Search

Yard, garage, or tag sales, are great places to search for a personal treasure trove of special tableware. I always enjoy dropping in on one and taking a look at all the fascinating items from somebody’s life, which they are ready to part with. A sudden creative instinct usually kicks in and I begin discerning what could be given a new lease on life and repurposed. When it comes to tableware, there’s always at least one appropriate item.


Thrift stores are another hot spot for finding distinctive ceramics and other inexpensive pieces. There will be less haggling than at a yard sale, but if it’s a true thrift store and not a high priced decoy, the cost for many items should be reasonable.

Meanwhile attics, storage rooms, and other similar spots in family homes can be goldmines for antiques and family heirlooms which haven’t seen the light of day in years. The previous generation may have put them away because they fell into disuse or were leftover from a larger set that didn’t survive the test of time. Nevertheless, once they are uncovered and placed on the table they are subtle, but worthy, additions to the ambiance.

What To Look For

Once you’ve decided where to search there are a few things to ponder so you know what best suits your needs. For instance, consider some of the foods, dips, or dressings you like to make that may be staples at your meals and how they will be received in the bowls, jars, and platters you may be selecting. Size, shape, and color could each make or break a decision.

I’ve found salads with dark green leaves or shredded beets can look better in a deeper colored bowl than a white one or that when it comes to fish a lighter color platter brings out the texture. At the same, time this is all very subjective.

What matters most is to remember that while presentation says a lot, personal touch is what truly makes a setting special. It’s the key to hunting for the perfect, affordable tableware that can turn all your festive meals or quiet dinners with the family up a notch.

Jakob Barry is a home improvement journalist for He blogs about topics like 10 Banned Home Renovations for pros across the US.

Thanks, Jakob. I love to keep my eyes open for different place settings and serving options for my table. I’ll be back in a few days with an update on my bedroom makeover. I hope you are all enjoying your summer.


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