How To Decorate with Porcelain

by Alice White Walker
a kitchen with blue and white crockery

From kitchen table breakfasts to extravagant soirées, porcelain is a key part of every home. Whether a humble sandwich or an afternoon cup of tea… our everyday rituals can be elevated by a beautiful porcelain plate or teapot.

Yet collections of porcelain, gifted for special occasions like weddings and anniversaries, often spend much of their lives stowed away in cupboards — only coming out to shine at family events or during the holiday season.

But why not let your beloved porcelain take center stage in daily life? China and porcelain of all shapes, sizes, colors and motifs look wonderful when displayed together in a cabinet and there are lots of options for decorating with porcelain. Decoration that’s not just beautiful, but practical, too.

Here, we show you some examples of how porcelain dinnerware can be just as effective off the table as it is on it.

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Have a color scheme

If your china collection is expansive, firstly — lucky you! — and secondly, why not divide it into colors and create mini themes around the house?

Case in point, Maison au Gers (one of the feature interiors in our latest Sept/Oct 21 issue). The couple were huge fans of ceramics and used their enormous collections to great effect throughout their home.

Classic white and blue pieces get a fresh update when grouped together in all different forms, shapes and sizes. Here, this cupboard interior has also been harmoniously painted a dusty blue.

Maison au Gers © living4media / Peter Kooijman, featured in MFCH Sept/Oct 2021

There’s a definite foodie theme in this green and yellow-hued porcelain collection. From jugs and pots to statues, here, practical pieces have been seamlessly mixed with more decorative items.

Maison au Gers © living4media / Peter Kooijman

In this case, neutrals are anything but mundane. Putty, taupe, gray, cream, lavender… this mix of colors, which roughly share the same palette, in different forms like antique sauce boats and soup bowls, is undeniably stylish.

Maison au Gers © living4media / Peter Kooijman

And the mesmerizing openwork baskets and fruit bowls? We are big fans of the work of Bourg-Joly Malicorne — a French artisanal brand that has specialized in this savoir-faire since 1747! You can shop it’s beautifully painted porcelain eggs on our MFCH Boutique!

Bourg-Joly Malicorne © Franck Schmitt, featured in MFCH Mar/Apr 2020

Use it to fill a(n awkward) space

It’s no secret that old country homes often have awkwardly shaped rooms and cubbie holes in unexpected places. In this kitchen, a razor-thin cupboard has had its doors removed and its back and shelves painted to become a rather chic showcase.

Hooks have been added to hang cups and stands integrated to present larger platters. A great combination of display and storage!

Maison au Gers © living4media / Peter Kooijman

At the home of interior designer Aurélien Deleuze, the features of this alcove are enhanced by a wonderfully symmetrical set of cream porcelain. Built up around the interior “steps,” this collection is as artistic as it is functional.

Aurélien Deleuze © Gilles Trillard

Think outside the kitchen

Porcelain doesn’t need to be confined to traditionally domestic areas, like the kitchen or dining room. At Maison au Gers, a set of jugs in various sizes create a charming atmosphere in its Spanish salon.

Not to mention, the colors work wonders against this cherry red paint.

Maison au Gers © living4media / Peter Kooijman

Enhancing bare walls

A key interior design rule? Contrast and complement.

The detail, color and delicate nature of porcelain make for superb contrast to a backdrop of exposed brick, renovated walls or wooden panelling.

Alexandra Equevilly ©Yann Deret, featured in MFCH Sept/Oct 20
Alexandra Equevilly ©Yann Deret, featured in MFCH Sept/Oct 2020

Cupboard fever

Short on space in the kitchen? Make a statement out of storage in a neighboring room. Whether you have an integrated or stand-alone armoire, concentrating your porcelain into one unit is both efficient and pretty – everything you need to dress a table is on hand, and it makes an eye-catching feature around the dining table.

Maison du Charrier © Anne Soulier, featured in MFCH July/Aug 2020
Paula Parkinson © GIlles Trillard, featured in MFCH Jan/Feb 2021

Wall art

Or contrastingly, free your collection from cabinets and cupboards and decorate in the very literal sense of the term! We love how Julie of The French Manoir has styled an elegant dining room look with these matching dinner plates.

a view into a dining room with 6 chairs
The French Manoir © GiHae Kim, featured in MFCH Mar/Apr 2020

Love porcelain? Start your own collection today

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