5 Tips For Merging Heirloom China With Modern Registry Items
October 16, 2017
My Mimi never had "everyday" china. For her, every meal was a formal occasion. Lunch, dinner, or dessert – she served guests on the appropriate piece from her own wedding china. My Mimi, always the quintessential Southern Belle.

When she left me her collection, I knew it would be so special someday to serve my guests on those same plates. The only problem: her intricate pattern is a far cry from my more modern taste.
onelove photography

I reached out to Chelle Watson from The Ivy House in Dallas for some advice. She has helped dozens of brides find their style – even when that means merging with another generation.


Pick A Few Pieces
According to Chelle, most brides don't register for a five-piece setting in the same china pattern. So pick your favorite pieces from your grandmother's set to incorporate into your own.

"I try to keep the dinner and bread and butter plates the same. So I'll tell a bride to use her family member's salad plate or dessert plate. It's like paying a little homage to someone special every time you set the table."
Julie Paisley Photography


Find a Color
Pick colors you like from your grandmother's china to incorporate into your own pieces. For instance, if you inherited pieces of "Blue Willow," then find the same blue in solid color pieces or a pattern that speaks to you. Weaving one color throughout multiple patterns or pieces will help bring it all together when you set the table.

Play with Patterns
If boho, rustic, or shabby chic styles appeal to you, then you might want to mix a coordinating pattern. Bring a piece of your Grandmother's china with you to the store. Then hold it up against patterns you like.

According to Chelle, it's a really personal decision. "You have to play with patterns. Go to a specialty shop like The Ivy House, or any department store. You'll have more options and someone to help you pull it all together in a place setting."

The key is finding something you like that complements the pieces you already have. If the china you inherited has a super busy pattern, then find something simple to put with it.
Anna Delores Photography

Consider a Traditional Style
Take a tip from the First Ladies in the White House. If you're preppy - or planning to host formal dinners - consider picking solid white or cream pieces with an accent monogram. A gold or silver monogram will go with everything, or you can choose a coordinating color (see tip above).

Work in your grandmother's salad or dessert plates, cups and saucers, etc. to add pops of color to your traditional setting.
Moss + Isaac


Grab a Charger
Chelle says this is the easiest way to change up a pattern. Chargers are the biggest piece under the place setting, used to pull it all together. (Since they're not used for food, you can find them in almost any material and color.)

"Chargers can be so versatile and inexpensive. Grab a metallic color to bring modernize almost any vintage china pattern." This is a great idea for brides who don't choose to register for their own china patterns.

Chelle put together an amazing place setting with my Mimi's china and the updated pieces I chose. To me, it was more than just picking plates to set the table. It was bringing together generations of women in my family who loved to serve others.

Although I might not ever master her banana pudding recipe, I will be able to serve future guests just like my Mimi. In the South, we call that Modern Tradition.

Style Me Pretty Contributor - Madeline Littrell is a corporate PR strategist and freelance writer. Born and raised in the South, she loves big hair, country music, and chicken fingers. Madeline lives in Dallas with her Sheltie puppy, Tennessee.