Thursday, December 5, 2013

Kitchen island storage and Christmas china

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I did not grow up with the tradition of using Christmas china, but my husband’s family definitely did.  When I was a newlywed, one of the first gifts that I received was a set of 8 place settings of Spode Christmas Tree china. Through the years, my collection has expanded to 16 place settings, and I also have most of the serving pieces, glasses, napkins, and placemats.

This is what Spode’s Christmas Tree looks like – many of the items in the collection can be seen on Amazon here.  This pattern was first sold in 1938, so it is the 75th anniversary this year.

Every year, right after Thanksgiving, I swap out my everyday china for my Spode Christmas china, and use my Christmas china until New Years.  In my old house, I had very little storage space, so the Christmas china was packed away in dish storage containers that were placed on a high shelf. It was such a pain to bring the china out and pack it away that there were years when I used the Christmas china well into late January (I never considered skipping this Christmas season tradition, though)!

When we were planning our kitchen, one of my priorities was to have plenty of storage. In particular, I wanted to have an easily accessible but tucked away storage spot for my Christmas china.

When we were designing the island, my kitchen designer noted that I could capture some of the ‘dead space’ in the kitchen island for storage. As soon as she sketched out the design, I knew it would be the ideal place to store my Christmas china, which I want to be tucked away most of the year, but easily accessible when I do pull it out. 
Here is how the design works.

On any given day, this is what you will see at my kitchen island – three barstools.

Pull the barstools away, and you would never know that behind these panels are two hidden cabinets – push the cabinet door, and the door opens. It’s the perfect place to store those items that aren’t used on a regular basis, but are easily accessible when the need arises; it’s the perfect place to store the Christmas china.

Here is the view when the cabinets are open.  The shelves provide just enough space to accommodate the more casual Spode Christmas tree china, linens, and serving pieces on the left. 

On the top two right shelves, I have the new Christmas china pattern that I received for my birthday this year. It is Noritake Holly and Berry – holly is one of my favorite motifs of the season.  This pattern is a bit dressier and I will use it for holiday entertaining and special occasions.

Now, pulling out the Christmas china is a three minute process. I simply pull away the barstools, pop open the cabinets, take out the Christmas china and put it in the main dish cabinets. Then, I put the everyday china in this space under the kitchen island until the holiday season is over. It works beautifully!

How many of you have special seasonal plates or china?  Maybe it’s a Southern thing?  If so, when do you pull the Christmas china out and put it away, and where do you store your holiday dishes off season?  What pattern do you have?  My family never had a Christmas china tradition, but I must admit that it has become one of my favorite rituals of the holiday season – pulling out the Christmas china and enjoying it all month long. It makes every meal more festive!

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  1. What a wonderful idea for storage! Your kitchen is so beautiful... I love that marble! :) My mother has Spode Christmas Tree and my Nana has Lenox Holiday (I have the salad plates!) It is such fun to enjoy Christmas china each year.

    The Glam Pad

  2. I have been tempted to get holiday china, but then I fear I will never use my 'good' china that I serve Christmas dinner on. I guess what I am saying is that if I got Christmas china, it would be a casual pattern that can be put in the dishwasher, like your Spode Christmas. I would not get dressy Christmas china.

    Interesting post, as always!

  3. Holly VERY smart on the hidden storage. I have the exact same panels and regrettably did not do that, though my kitchen designer had mentioned it and i thought it wasn't necessary since bar stools would always be there....wrong! I have learned there is no such thing as too much storage especially for me who has a total addiction to china and accessories (out of control)!!!!! I have run out of "hiding places" lol.
    I love the idea of seasonal china, I do have Thanksgiving/Christmas plates, the Spode Pheasants/game plates which I love. Fun post!

  4. Holly, appropriate you should have the HOLLY pattern! Beautiful kitchen, too! I have St. Nicholas by Fitz and Floyd and always look forward to using it! Nice post. Thanks, Laura Roe

  5. It is so refreshing to see a young person carrying on the traditions of the past. I always had Christmas China and even Thanksgiving China. I have special dishes for Easter also, not place setting, but serving pieces. It makes the days so meaningful.

  6. You can never have too much storage. Clever of your kitchen designer to think of this unused space. Love the counter stools!

  7. It's very possible that seasonal china is a Southern thing. I know several women with the full spode collection. I went with a Lenox pattern and I could really use special storage space for it. I pull my daily Christmas china out the day after thanksgiving and the decorative china is used to set the table Christmas day. Everything gets washed, polished and stored January 2nd. It's a process, but I think it's worth it.

  8. growing up we had Christmas china as well - Not sure who the maker was but it was service of 12 and each plate was different; representing the 12 days of Christmas. We always loved them as kids and would fight over the different days! I don't think my parents have used them in a few years though.

  9. We "do" the Christmas china, too!! Have a variety so one never knows who shows up on their place mat. It's about FUN! franki

  10. I have the Spode also and we use it as our everyday dishes starting the day after Thanksgiving. I like to mix mine up with cabbage ware, cream ironstone and hand thrown green pottery that I've had for years. Keeps it from looking too matchy matchy. It looks great with plain linens and also with plaids. No, it's not a southern thing.....it's an addiction! I was raised in North Chicago and have more stemware & dish patterns than the White House! I love to set a pretty table. Now when I see something I love, I only buy one item from the collection such as the plates or the bowls or the salad plates. This way I can always add my latest love and not have so many cups and saucers that are so rarely used. And I always buy 14pieces of an item to account for breakage over the years! Don't even get me started on linens......

  11. I have that Spode for everyday and Lenox Holiday for the dining room. I sent my daughter back to college with the Spode too. She and her roommates have enjoyed it as well.

  12. Loved your post! I am in the middle of planning a kitchen renovation; and I'm hoping you can give me some advice. Is your island a lot deeper than a standard cabinet and counter? Or, do you divide the depth of the cabinet with a partition inside? Also, please advise how you manage to keep black scuff marks off the cabinet doors by the counter stools. I am planning to have whitewashed cabinetry; and I don't know to keep it looking clean. With whitewashing, I won't be able to simply give it a new coat of paint over the previous coat, like I have done with white cabinets in the past. Any advice from anyone would be greatly appreciated!

  13. Holly!!

    I adore the Spode Christmas pattern. My mother had it when I was growing up and always set a gorgeous table. So, once I was married, I began collecting it, too. As of Dec 1, I swap it out for my everyday dishes and use it every day. I also added the Bernadaud Grenadiers pattern (the nutcrackers) and use that for more formal meals, such as Christmas Eve. I don't have a lot of storage in my kitchen, so I keep my china pattern in the dining room buffet and my Spode in the original boxes in the basement!

    I think I might like dishes almost as much as shoes!!
    And, of course, how appropriate for you to have a pattern with "holly"!

    Merry merry!
    xoxo Elizabeth

  14. My Thanksgiving china comes out November 1, and I make the switch over on December 1. I love my Johnson Brothers Old Britain Castles Christmas china and hate putting it away on January 1.

  15. I didn't grow up with a Christmas China tradition, though I'm sure my mom would have loved to have some. My hubs started our set as a gift to me one Christmas when our kids were very young. He ordered 4 place settings of Lenox Holiday, and gave strict instructions to me to not open any packages delivered during his work day. :) You can imagine how happy I was to see the lenox outlet return address on a large package delivered one day... We now have 12 place settings that we have collected. We also have Spode Christmas tree for every day use. (Thanks to tj maxx and steinmart sales!) I love this tradition, and hope to help my new daughter- in-law with a collection of her own.

  16. We have Christmas china too! And make the switch as you do: the day after Thanksgiving. We use ours until Epiphany/Twelfth Night though. Our first set of Christmas dishes - Wachtersbach 'Christmas Tree' - was given to us as a Christmas gift the year we were married. It's vibrant and festive, and, given that it's stoneware, we use it everyday. Our main china pattern is Spode ' Stafford'; we mix-and-match the 'White' with the 'Flowers'. Happily, it also has a 'Stafford Holiday Flowers' pattern so we switch out the main 'Flowers' pattern during Christmastime.

    Such a lovely - and memorable - tradition. Every January, my children are sad to see the dishes put away and thrilled to see them come out again in November. It means that Christmas is really coming!

  17. Holly, I inherited the Lenox Christmas pattern, which is very similar to your Spode. My question is, what if I don't like the traditional red and green Christmas decor? I am not sure how to incorporate it into my non-traditional home.

  18. I have Waterford china, 'Holiday Ribbons,' with deep red rim, and flowing gold & green ribbons tied to a clump of Mistletoe. Coming from Oklahoma, where Mistletoe is the official state flower, this is the perfect Christmas china for us! Had inherited Haviland 'Springtime' china from great-grandmother that we use that for Easter and Mother's Day and such. Love getting to use these lovely things and setting a beautiful table.

  19. I live in outer Melbourne here in Australia. I am fortunate to have a huge collection of two sets of Christmas china. The first was Spode Christmas Tree as a wedding gift...40 years ago, and recently Bernaduad nut cracker. Both come out mid December for everyday use....never ceases to thrill...lovely to own such special pieces

  20. love this idea, what is the depth of the shelving? I will be using this on our island

  21. I also received Spode Christmas china for a wedding gift from a very dear family friend. I'm going to bring mine out today. No reason we shouldn't use it for a whole month! Thanks for the reminder to use the good stuff every day! Thanks also for the Amazon link. I wouldn't have thought to look there to add to my collection.

  22. A note from the Midwest- I store my Lenox Holiday china in my dining room buffet until the day after Thanksgiving. Then I display it in my kitchen cabinets with glass doors. It makes me so happy that I do not mind hand washing it during December! My Grandmother had Spode Christmas dishes (absolutely beautiful) and we started using them on Thanksgiving night for our turkey sandwiches.

  23. Having just put away the Christmas China on the basement storage shelves (we use a Dansk Pattern called Nordic Knit), I am extremely envious of your island storage. A severe dish addiction has led us to consider built-ins in the dining room to store the variety of plates & linens that I like to use, but I'm afraid built-ins will make the dining room too informal.


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