Opening Up My Cabinets

Life has been so incredibly frantic and crazy busy as of late (hence why this post is going up so late- currently typing from my car in between meetings!)  One things that happens to me when life gets like this is that I find myself desperate to streamline the “things” in my life.  Too much stuff taking up space physically and mentally just adds to the clutter of life.   As of late I’ve wanted to streamline my casual tableware- I currently have such a mish-mash of stuff and I hate it.

What’s hard is editing out things that have emotional significance- hand-me-downs from family, coffee mugs that remind you of times past and stuff that is too new to toss but create no joy in your life (I think I need to read Marie Kondo’s book STAT). So I’m opening up my cabinets (some more embarrassing than others) and trying to find a way to clean them up and make things simpler visually (I find that when things are tidy visually, my mind feels calmer!)

This is my “nice” cabinet- vintage glassware, items from my line with Jill Rosenwald, my wedding china (maybe used twice in 12 years) and some heirloom Herend dessert plates from my other in law.  This cabinet doesn’t bother me so much, but really I could put my nice china in storage until the day I have a formal dining room to create some more room.
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My glassware- we have like 6 different types of wine glasses- collected over time from photoshoots and replacing some broken ones with new styles we wanted to try. Oh, and my nice wine glasses we got for our wedding that we are too scared to use because we break things a lot and breaking a $35 glass is very different than a $5 one!  I still love my French blue opaline glasses I got for a song at a flea market, even though I rarely actually use them- they make me happy in my glass cabinets. But I want to find one style wine glass and stick to it!

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This is the really ugly cabinet- so many random white dishes, ugly joke cereal bowls we got like 13 years ago that we just never have gotten rid of all this time (whyyyyyy?) and various little tidbit bowls and old, scratched melamine plates that desperately need replacing.

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YIKES.  Our coffee mug/ bottle/ drinking glass cabinet. This stresses me out.  I need to find another spot for bottles and neaten this up with some matching coffee mugs (I’ll have to keep a couple sentimental ones plus Andrew will hoard his “special ones”….so this will be hard!)  We need to get rid of free/gifted glasses and get a complete set of drinking glasses.

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Here’s my ideal plan!

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  1.  We have C&B’s Staccato plates,bowls and mugs we got for our wedding which I still like, but I also am loving this Williams Sonoma set that reminds me of Parisian bistros. The mugs are bigger too which is better.
  2. I replaced all my mismatched silverware with a matte gold bamboo set from Williams Sonoma when it went on sale (now discontinued) and I am so happy I bit the bullet and did it. This one is similar (although actual GOLD, whoa) This style is great for fancy or casual dinners.
  3. Andrew loves these C&B glasses. So I won’t fight it because they are fine. I also love the look of the stemless version too!
  4. Of course, I will keep my JR plates (and mugs and bowls) of my own design. They also would look great combined with the WS set above for company.
  5. I really need new monogrammed napkins.  Adding cloth napkins to a plain setting makes everything feel slightly more special.
  6. I like these slim, light glasses for water/ drinks from Williams Sonoma.
  7. I ADORE my C&B champagne coupes. They stay!
  8. I just ordered these melamine plates from Q Squared.  Feeding my current blue and white obsession further.
  9. I saw these acrylic tumblers in C&B the other day and love them! Adorable and perfect for kids and eating outside.
  10. Cute paper napkins for dinners on the patio.



53 comments

    1. Yes! I have the Marta glasses, also. Everyone always comments on them because they feel so wonderful in your hands. I have yet to break one and I’ve had them for 5 years. Love them!

    2. Yes! Another vote for Marta barware. I ordered two boxes (8 ct) of both the coolers and double old-fashioneds when we bought our house 6 years ago to have a few extras tucked away in case of breakage, and have only hit the extras twice. They’re surprisingly sturdy for such delicate glasses. Plus, I love that the dof’s are perfect for cocktails and as casual wine glasses…even the occasional garden arrangement. Love ’em.

  1. I used to stare at my unused beautiful dishes and glassware as well and then i just started using it all! It was so expensive (mostly all wedding gifts) and you know what? it feels great to have a gin and tonic in a nice heavy Waterford glass on a saturday in june. I use my china plates on a thursday night for dinner if i feel like it – and my crystal sugar and creamer are now used daily. I stopped ‘saving’ it for a holiday. I still pull out all the stops for Thanksgiving but for every day just something now and then! it makes me so happy to eat dinner on a beautiful plate and if it breaks…it breaks!

    1. Just want to echo this philosophy. I hope I break every dish and crystal glass before I die, because then I know I will have really lived.

      1. $10 wine tastes even better in my Waterford. I eat off my china, drink out of my crystal, and use my silver.

        After my mother passed away, my dad started using their ‘special’ china because life is too short not to use the good stuff.

        *only thing I really don’t use so much is my crystal decanters because booze flows pretty quickly around here!

      2. Ditto. We use our sterling silver, antique Tiffany and Limoges china for every day and LOVE it. I got rid of the “every day” stuff. period. And it all goes in the dishwasher too(Except he knifes). Life is too short. I figured it will all outlive me anyway. Highly recommend!

      3. love…love…love…and I thought this about reading this blog….use it and whatever it is wear it too!!!!!!

    2. I couldn’t agree more. I use it all. I throw our sterling in the dishwasher and use it as our “every day”. It becomes even lovelier with use.

      Erin, don’t squirrel away your good stuff. Enjoy it!

      1. agree with all these sentiments! I purchased a full set for 16 waterford wine glasses, dessert wine, tumblers etc for a song at the local auction clearing house. All with stickers still on them. Someone had saved them for best after purchasing them at great expense… and they cost me $10/ glass. Use your good things! You don’t want to be the person that never did and it’s all sold off for a song after you’re gone.

  2. We have Limoges china. From Limoges. We use our fancy china every day, every meal. Same with the silver. It’s silver. It gets used at every meal, so it doesn’t tarnish. Sure it’s nice to do “fancy,” but we do it with the nice tablecloth, the aged wine, the level of food. Nobody switches out their furniture for guests. You do as nice as you can, and you enjoy it–yourself–every day. Same at the table. It’s what’s IN the plate that makes it special.
    That said, we had a kid for many years (who grew up!!! the nerve!!!) and had special plastic for that one. But that’s a small detail. It will pass. Too quickly, I might add.

  3. With my first, I had the baby bottles lined up in the cupboard for so long and then when the second came along, I used a very nice cloth lined basket that I put them all in, and let me tell you, it was a game changer. When they were dry, I just tossed them in the basket and then pulled the basket out when I needed one. Mine did happen to be in a lower kitchen shelf so perhaps that made it more of an issue for me but thought I would at least mention it. No more trying to line those bottles up nice so I didn’t see the “chaos” when I opened the cupboard. Love your blog!

    1. Same for me–it also works for the zippy cups which will follow the bottles! And then the big plastic cups that older kids and teens like for drinks ??

    2. For my third, I also swapped the bottles to two nice fabric lined baskets in a lower cabinet. One for the bottles, the other for the littler pieces, like caps and nipples. The trick is to find one kind of bottle and stick with it, so there is no searching for matching parts. So much easier than accidentally knocking down the entire line of bottles. We use the same approach for sippy cups too.

  4. No reason to feel bad about passing along items that you no longer like/use/make you happy. Pack them up in a box for Goodwill & rest assured someone else will put them to good use!

    Coffee mugs or other sentimental items I want to keep but not have in rotation everyday get repurposed to spare change cups in hubby’s closet or pen holders in office cabinet.

  5. I did the same thing on my blog with organizing kitchen drawers – they are scarier than cabinets! I color coded all my cloth napkins and it brought me way too much joy! It was totally cathartic to chuck all that unused stuff so you can actually see what you need/want. Great post!

  6. I LOVE dishes…really nice “fine china” dishes and the cheap ones that are “cute” that you sometimes find at Ikea, etc. I often think of paring down and have a little – but I still have so much – a lot of it used maybe once a year and too much that has not been used in quite some time. My mom’s wedding china is in plastic bins in my attic, my grandmother’s in another box, and my mom’s Waterford might as well never be unpacked because at this point, I don’t think we can replace anything that breaks. Perhaps as you refine your collection you can blog about the approach you employ to get to your ideal plan. I know what I might like to have, I just do not know how to follow through with getting to the final destination. (unless the destination includes one of those butler pantries like you find in the mansions of Newport. You know, the kind that are bigger than most bedrooms. IF that happens, I can just buy more dishes)

  7. I want to echo those that say – use the nice stuff! We pull out our wedding china and silver and crystal for special occasions…but we have broadened our definition of special occasion. Not just for holidays! First/last day of school, big work project is done, summer solstice, student loan is paid off, someone lost a tooth, someone is home from sleep away camp, landed a new client, etc. We find a way to use our nice stuff at least twice/month as a way of marking life events. Use it! And if it breaks, oh well.

    Also – we sit down to dinner in our dining room every night with music and real napkins. Our boys are 8 and 11 and we’ve done it from day 1 with them. It puts some structure around meal time being defined family time and a distinct part of the day. One of the smartest parenting moves we’ve ever made. (Don’t worry, we’ve made tons of stupid moves. Minecraft on the iPad, I’m looking at you.)

  8. I’ve used my beautiful wedding china MAYBE 10x since I got married. In 1994. The coffee cups w/saucers and some of the plates, a set of 12, haven’t been touched since first washed. Again, 1994. Having witnessed my mom having to sell my grandmothers’ and great aunt’s china for a song, and then try to give her own well-used fine china away when downsizing to a condo … I’m on the fence about even keeping mine. Either I sell it all now, or I start using it daily and destroying it slowly in my dishwasher. This makes me sad, but like you it causes stress and brain clutter to see it taking up cabinet space for no apparent reason. I’m pretty sure neither of my two sons will ever want it. : (

  9. I bought those slim water glasses from Williams-Sonoma for my guest bedrooms and I LOVE them. They feel so delicate but have made it through more than a few recently tipsy guests trying to hydrate in the middle of the night.

    I also will never regret the day I bought 16 place settings of nice (not super fancy), white china from Crate and Barrel and tossed out everything else. Food looks fantastic on it, it makes parties and setting the table so much simpler, and now I splurge on fancy tablecloths instead.

  10. I wish every bride would reconsider expensive wedding china – it mostly sits and collects dust.
    Mine is Rosenthal and can’t even go in the dishwasher – I use it Thanksgiving, Christmas and any other special occasion, but it’s basically useless. My neighbor has this gorgeous Versace wedding china, so beautiful and very expensive – she’s used it twice!

    I buy cheap china for everyday use and when I get tired of it, then I toss it or give it to Goodwill.
    In the old days it got trashed at weddings – where I am from we have a custom that before the bride and groom get married they have a joint party and every guest brings old china and smashes it in front of the door (we believe “shards bring luck”). The couple then cleans up the shards together. Smashing old china is liberating! :-)

  11. The baby bottle cabinet is going to get worse before it gets better :)
    The plates/cups/plastic utensils- and it’s like the socks in the dryer- pieces just go missing.

  12. I too have recently taken my good wedding china out of storage . After 30 years of marriage and using it only a couple of times I decided that life is too short not to use beautiful things every day. I loved it then and I still love it now so why not use it if it makes me happy.

  13. From someone who has been married “forever” and loves china and silver: just use it! I don’t mind the occasional hand washing of nicer pieces because using them with friends/family gives everyone much pleasure. The nice stuff breaks the monotony. A wise hostess told me she routinely changed her dishes, with the idea that you wouldn’t wear the same dress three times a day for years on end so why not look at your plates in the same way. PS Buy extra wine glasses and keep them stored…when we went to replace broken glasses at WS they were no longer in stock. (Same with plates, similar but not what we bought.)

  14. Every five years or so I give my cabinets a major overhaul. Hate mismatched items. For water /juice etc I bought a couple sets of Luigi Bormioli classico glasses at Bloomingdale’s last Fall. Tall, slender and not too delicate. After years of collecting Fiestaware, both new and vintage, I sold them off and bought plain white dinnerware from C&B. Love them. They go with anything and food looks great on them. I love using Mason jars for storage; cereal, pasta, flour etc. I have some vintage and new ones and they’re much nicer than plastic.

  15. And one more thing, Anthropologie has some gorgeous glassware/wine glasses.. Gilded Rim, Gilded Monogram, Glimmer Wrapped, cute Margeaux White Wine Glass etc

  16. I have made peace with my mug/kid cup/plastic cup cabinet–it’s just the way it is in this season. With three kids, it’s true it will get worse before it gets better. And we let the baby play with our Master’s cups–keeps him happy while I make dinner!

  17. !) USE THE GOOD STUFF!! Life is too damn short to have “stuff” hanging around you don’t use.
    2) we ended up getting stemless wineglasses that we use for EVERYTHING. Just bought 3 dozen, and they do wine, juice, water, whatever. Then bought another dozen exactly the same shape in plastic, for the kids to use. Having said that, we do have some nice stemware for ‘formal’ events (champagne, wine) but honestly, the ease of one-glass-fits-all cannot be underestimated!!

  18. Maybe lots of people have already told you this- but I am new to your blog and dish obsessed- I LOVE the dishes you created- Kudos! As for using sterling every day- it’s definitely the way to go- and the knives have no trouble in the dishwasher. There is no point to stainless steel utensils if you have sterling. (Our sterling has been in daily use since 1930- given to my FIL’s parents as an engagement present- then passed to my FIL and then to us when we married in 1994.)

  19. i hope you look back at this post one day and say to yourself… “did i really do a post on OCD’ing on what the inside of my cabinets look like?” get over it… get your head out of your cabinets and let it go…

  20. Can we talk about the coffee mugs please? I speak from experience. Unless you have people over for dinner and are self conscious about your “special” coffee mugs – having a sentimental set that is a hodge podge and a matched set for sake of matching takes up a lot of space. May I suggest setting a space limit (you currently have 1 1/2 shelves of coffee mugs), filling that space with what you love and calling it a day. Life’s too short girl!!!!

  21. So funny, my husband also has those plastic cups from The Masters tournament! I keep trying to get rid of them, and they somehow keep resurfacing! Apparently #sacred.

  22. I love all of your new choices! We recently moved into the forever house and I got rid of our wedding everyday china, glasses, mugs, flatware, glassware – we just didn’t like it anymore and it had seen better times after nearly 15 years of marriage. It was so freeing getting rid of all of that stuff and I found someone who was outfitting their first apartment who came over and picked it all up! One thing I learned from my mother in law – use your good stuff! She has Herend in her cupboard along with Williams-Sonoma and all get used daily. She also uses her silver daily, along with her nice stainless. I have found myself doing the same thing and I’m delighted with the way my Kate Spade Charlotte Street blue and white mixes with my Mottehedah Tobacco Leaf. It makes me so happy because I truly love that china and want to use it all the time. Sure, we break a piece now and then but I just put it on my birthday list or go over to replacements limited. It’s just stuff, and I did read Marie Kondo’s book. You will love it! Thanks for such a wonderful blog!

  23. Love this post Erin- I feel exactly the same way!
    I’m planning on doing a China
    Closet purge in both kitchen and dining room too!
    I have same Herend pattern in
    Rust color and finally bought
    armoire to display it !
    Now I’m thinking plain white WS
    for everyday use.
    My daughter is teenager so we have water bottles galore- everything from Camelback to
    Swell. And don’t even get me started on
    My mug obsession!

  24. As I live in a very small house and have merchandising experience, I am big on maximizing my space. I had extra shelves made for my cabinets and keep all the same size items by shelf. You can fit a lot more in and looks neater too.

  25. I love your new mix, Erin! One thing I would add: a big stack of Duralex Gigogne tumblers. They come in a couple of sizes and are clear and stackable. They are glass but super durable. Perfect training cups for toddlers learning to drink from real cups (as they are small so don’t hold too much liquid and get heavy), but I have also been known to use them for everything from juice to champagne. They are very inexpensive, and take up very little space. I bought 20 in each size, and use them every day and for parties.

  26. The Picardie glassware from WS is also very durable and comes in many sizes.

    Maybe it is a Southern thing, but we typically register for fine and everyday china, and the “everyday” is nice china, just not bone china. Mine is Spode Blue Italian, used daily, and has held up well other than some chipped plates, which I replace occasionally.

  27. We use our wedding china everyday, our daughter now 12 has always used it too. I am anti storing things, it stresses me out to have things lurking in the basement.

  28. Erin,

    I just did some napkins for a charity luncheon where I had to decorate a table and I downloaded a monogram file I liked off of Anna Bove Embroidery:
    Here’s the link to that exact Pagoda one on that napkin (which I just used for a client’s guest room shams in an emerald color and it came out oh so gorgeous!)
    http://www.annaboveembroidery.com/monodreamfont-combo.html

    Anyway, I bought some plain white hemstitch napkins at Dillard’s (Southern Living Brand—now on sale!) and had my monogram shop do them for me. They turned out so pretty!

    http://www.dillards.com/p/southern-living-hem-stitched-cotton-table-linens/505168845

    Anyway, more leg work (which you may not have the time for with Henry!) but overall a great result for a bit less money.

  29. I don’t own fancy china or sterling but if I did I hope I would be like so many of your readers and use it every day. I have a thing for textiles and for years we have only used cloth napkins- for breakfast, lunch, snacks, whatever. We have a drawer full for every day, and they just go in with whatever’s in the wash. It’s better for the environment than paper and feels just a little more special . Table linens are fun to collect and easy to find on sale. My children used to enjoy choosing which ones to use when it was their turn to set the table. Oh, and no ironing, life’s too short to iron napkins.- except for Thanksgiving ;-)

  30. I echo what the others have said about using your good stuff.

    My mom now uses her sterling and china at least once a week for Saturday or Sunday night dinners. I got married two years ago and recently brought my Waterford and china home. Within 4 weeks not one but FOUR Waterford wine glasses and champagne flutes had been broken! Yikes! But, life’s too short to not enjoy this stuff. I’m just going to replace a couple per year and be more careful. I’m going to try to use my mom’s approach and do a fancy dinner once a week.

    Also, for every day ware, we ended up doing china but in a simpler pattern (white with a hint of basket weave aroudn the edges) . It was Lenox but not really very pricey for China. I’m so glad we did that as it’s elegant and durable.

  31. I honestly don’t get having good wedding china and not using it. Grew up having a fancy set that mom never used…what’s the point? It seems like a waste of a present. People got you a gift to enjoy not take up space unused. Use it and show appreciation for the gift! Or buy something you will love using and ditch that.

    And I know you won’t believe me but your cabinets are not that disorganized. I am also a neat freak but those are not bad! I’ve seen bad lol. But totally understand needing things in order to cut down on your own stress level. I’ve been feeling that way lately due to house remodeling but couldn’t quite pinpoint it until I read this. Thank you for articulating this!

  32. So good of you to fling open your cabinet doors and open this discussion. Your cabinets look great! After 30 years of marriage with most of our beautiful wedding things still in our possession, plus many more sets of more casual china and glassware added over the years as my tastes have changed, I do understand your desire to edit and revise. However, if you can, please do USE your pretty wedding china. Keep it right on the shelves in your kitchen for easy access. At the same time, don’t ever feel bad about passing on something that you don’t absolutely love or use. One day those bottles and sippy cups will be replaced with an ever-encroaching collection of university stadium cups, etc., brought home by your college-age child, who just may ask you to “save” them until he has his own place!

  33. I got the C&B tour glasses for my wedding and am obsessed! :) I also like knowing that they are easily replaceable and won’t break the bank if I break one (or a bunch of them!)

  34. I use all my “nice” Villeroy & Boch dishes, but I’m so sick of them after 25 years that I’m replacing everything with multi-color Fiestaware. Waterford gets used every day. Silver mostly sits in its bags.

    Does anyone want to buy 35-year-old set of Spode Christmas Tree (England), plus every single serving piece and glassware? Mistake. BIG mistake. HUGE.

  35. Please use the nice stuff. OH broke a wine glass and a flute recently (Waterford – seems to be a theme with your readers!), but I’d much rather drink wine from nice glasses and break a few than drink from ikea glasses. Personal preference, nothing wrong with ikea, but if you have it, use it.
    If you enjoy keeping the stuff for decoration, then accept that and don’t stress about it, but otherwise use them for the intended purpose.
    I remember a couple of Erma Bombek stories of things kept for best that disintegrate and never get used. I still struggle with this and just threw out three bottles of cocktail mixers from the back of a cupboard because I was saving them and they went off in 2010! But I’m getting better.

  36. I just inherited my great grandparents’ china. It scares me, but I’ve been using it! (It helps that it was already a partial set with some dings when I got it.)

    Question – any chance you’ll be selling those anthro ikat bowls? I have a set and one of them broke! I’d love to purchase some reinforcements. ;)

  37. Thanks for keeping it real as always, Erin! It made me feel so much better about our mismatched glasses and dishes. The only difference between the appearance of our cabinets is that the bottles for our babe rarely make it from the drying rack to the cabinet, so there are no worries here about organization. Kudos to you for keeping them out of sight!

  38. This post continues to resonate with me. Since you posted, I’ve been inspired to organize all of my kitchen cabinets and drawers and make them pretty to open. I even went through my junk drawer and simplified all the crap I don’t need (and organized the whole damn thing). I know it’s not exactly what you posted about, but I’m getting at all my ignored spaces thanks to you!!

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