The 10 Best Dinnerware Sets
10. BonJour Fruitful Nectar
9. Rachel Ray Ikat Collection
8. Gibson Soho Lounge
7. Corelle Impressions Watercolors
6. Melange Nantucket Weave
5. Lorren Home Trends Rosalia
4. Noritake Crestwood Platinum
3. Gibson Elite
2. AmazonBasics 18-Piece
1. Corelle Square Splendor
Dinnerware: Where Form Meets Function At The Table
The dinnerware in your home is hugely influenced by your sense of style, your culinary preferences, and by the ways you and your family prepare and share a meal. However it's important to be aware that the the dinnerware in a home also influences decor and style, food choices, and the very process of dining.
Whether you choose dinnerware that is elegant and decorative or simple and utilitarian, or you seek a blending of form and function, the plates, bowls, cups, and saucers set upon your table or up there on display in the China cabinet are going to play a major part in your life, so choose them carefully.
Before we discuss the two major categories of dinnerware, which can be divided into that which is informed by aesthetics and that which is informed by use, let's talk briefly about dinnerware in a more general sense.
In order to be considered a complete table setting, a dinnerware set must have at least three pieces: a main plate, a side dish for bread or salad, and a bowl. Most dinnerware sets also have accompanying mugs and saucers, many have additional plates for deserts or specialty items, and comprehensive dinnerware sets also have serving dishes and platters, large serving bowls, salt and pepper shakers, and so forth.
There are dinnerware sets that call to mind a lavish Victorian table and there are those styled to evoke the elegant simplicity of a Southwestern ranch. Careful inspection will reveal that the distinctions of each set have as much to do with shape as they do with color and pattern, though these are the elements you'll most often first identify when admiring dinnerware.
Keep in mind that one style of plate is never inherently better than any other; the circumstances dictate the suitability of a dinnerware set. A thin plate with scalloped edges might look right at home on a table set for a holiday feast, yet that same plate might look painfully out of place on a picnic table at a summer barbecue, for example. And a given dinnerware set may look great in an advertisement, but if it won't look great in your home due to its size, colors, or any other factor, then it's simply the wrong choice.
Dinnerware As Decoration
Decorative dinnerware can serve in two capacities: first, it can be arranged on shelves or in a China cabinet to serve a purely aesthetic function. Elegant dinnerware looks great on display and can help anchor a dining room, a space that is traditionally difficult to decorate.
Likewise dinnerware can serve as a practical decoration when laid out on the table, enhancing the visual appeal of a meal while also simply serving to help people dine. Decorative dinnerware sets have their drawbacks, though, and it's worth considering several of them prior to making a potentially expensive purchase.
The more specific the style of a dinnerware set, the less latitude you will have with the rest of the decor of a room or table. You can't well pair a bunch of dinnerware with a delicate floral motif with a platter of hamburgers or hotdogs any more than you can serve foie gras on a thick, solid colored plate without raising the eyebrows of your discerning guests.
That said, there are many dinnerware sets that manage to look great as decoration without assuming such a specific aesthetic as to be limited in the type of cuisine served upon them or by the decor of the room or house in which they are displayed. In general, the fewer colors included in a dinnerware set, the more versatile it is. Thus you will find many high quality dinnerware sets that are predominately white with simple patterns around the trim in demure colors like pale blue, silver, or black.
A decorative element or two is likewise often acceptable, such as an emblem or pattern at the center of the plate, but when in doubt, avoid dinnerware sets that are fully covered with colors and/or patterns. Or rather avoid them if you are unwilling to buy two complete sets, as that's always the easiest solution to the conundrum of choosing the "right" dinnerware.
Dinnerware For Everyday Use
If you want a set of dinnerware that looks good enough to use for most occasions, including the fancier holiday meal or dinner party event, yet which you won't mind (or fear) using every single day, then simpler is always better. Simpler and stronger, of course.
Most decent dinnerware sets today feature plates, cups, and bowls that are both dishwasher safe and microwave safe. This is because manufacturers know that the average person doesn't want to hand wash their plates, and because microwaving is one of most common ways of heating food. Unless you see a set without these attributes that you just can't live without, don't even consider any dinnerware not rated as such.
Then simply think about it practically: do you eat a salad every night? Then by all means get a set with a dedicated salad plate. But also consider a simpler set without a salad plate but with a bowl, which works just fine for holding salad; after all, it's rather unlikely you'll often need a bowl at the same time as you're using your plates, unless you and your family love soup.
Do you have kids? Then choose a set where all similar items, e.g. the main plates or the mugs, look identical. Some sets have a few different patterns, and are much harder to make do with once a piece or two are broken.
And if you're still having trouble, just stick with plain white dinnerware, which is easy to dress up or down and is always in style.