One of the most frequent questions I get is, “How do you store your, er, collection?”  If this is asked in person, it’s usually accompanied by slightly quizzical look, assessing the likelihood that I might actually be crazy-cakes. So it is with some trepidation that I reveal the ins-and-outs. Let’s take the plunge, shall we? Join me in my deepest, darkest secrets of tableware storage.

The biggest space-hog is glassware, particularly antique or delicate vintage stems. I like it to be accessible, and if that can’t be managed, portable without risk to the glasses when in transit. 

In the Cape, I have a large, purpose-built hutch in the dining room.  I change out the display in the centre seasonally. Right now it’s sporting its summer theme of oyster plates and hand-painted Limoges dessert plates with a sea creatures motif.  

The cabinets to the left and right house most of my Venetian glass. I had extra shelves built over time, so as not to waste any space.

The previous owners had installed a rather dreadful somewhat dated wet-bar arrangement in one corner, just between the dining room and kitchen. We left it, as it’s an ugly-but-usefull unit. I keep Depression and modern glassware in it.

Overflow goes into a closet in the adjoining family room into which we had shelves installed.  I use a lot of the Household Essentials fabric storage boxes in a variety of sizes. They come flat, and you can quickly assemble them by dropping the sturdy fabric-covered cardboard base into the bottom. The fronts are clear so you can see what’s inside. The ones for glassware have upright cardboard dividers, not awfully robust, but sufficient to keep the glasses from clinking against one another, which is all that is required. The kids and I use these to move tableware between houses when borrowing amongst ourselves for special occasions. 

As you can see from the picture, I keep compotes and serving pieces on the top shelf in the closet, and store placemats on one of the shelves. I also keep one of each napkin in there, so I can plan table combinations without disturbing the entire stack of napkins, which are kept in the drawers in the cabinet in the dining room. I keep runners and tablecloths folded on a shelf in the linen cupboard in the laundry room.

The bulk of my collection is in Canada, as it’s our permanent home. We had a butler’s pantry installed in a large hallway that runs between the kitchen to the right and the dining room to the left.

In each of the four cabinets, I put large serving pieces on the top, stemware on the next two shelves, soup bowls on the next shelf down and the heavier stacks of plates on the bottom shelf. The cabinets are counter-depth so they go back quite a way. I need a step stool to access the top two shelves. Once or twice a year I pull a table into the centre of the area and unload the glasses one shelf at a time, wipe them all out, clean the shelves and return them. The doors shut fairly firmly, and I’ve put a strip of plexiglass down the inside of the seam where the doors meet, BUT…

… the dogs share the space. Churchill is the goofball rolling on his back. Burton is to his right and Taylor is scratching her ear. Golden Retrievers are absolutely wonderful dogs. And they’re very hairy. An inevitable amount of dust and hair gets kicked up over time, so dusting just comes with owning a lot of glassware. You can also see an ikea cabinet just to the right of Churchill. It came with nice wooden shelves, but I had 3/8″ tempered glass shelves made for it, as I like the effect of the lighted cabinet. I keep a lot of my modern, everyday glasses in there. 


This is the modern version available today. It’s the Liatorp bookcase from IKEA. It comes in white or grey, with all glass doors, or with the solid bottom half shown above. We installed one in our youngest daughter’s house for use as a pantry cupboard and it’s marvellous. Glenn trimmed out the baseboard so it sits flush against the wall and it looks built-in. Very sturdy and lots of shelves. The doors even have soft-close hinges. Not bad for $300!

For a more country-rustic look, the Cremone cabinet from Pier 1 is lovely. The doors fasten with an iron-look rod arrangement. You twist the handle and the rod releases from the catch at the top and bottom of the door on the right. It comes with four adjustable shelves, as well as the bottom, fixed shelf.  It’s a bit more pricey than the IKEA unit, running about $900 (average between Canadian and US pricing). Pier 1 often have good sales, so keep an eye out if you’re interested.

I keep my napkins and runners in the drawers in the butler’s pantry, and hang tablecloths in an armoire upstairs. I don’t have a lot of different cutlery, and what I do have I like to store where I can readily get my hands on it. The sturdy wooden trays are easy to lift out and take to the table. In the Cape I use the World Market cutlery trays. I’m lucky enough to have lots of drawers in the kitchen in the Cape and most of the cutlery fits in there. Oh yes – I also keep napkin rings and place card holders in drawers in the kitchen. I don’t have a huge number of those, so they’re fairly easily contained.

I change out the china in the kitchen seasonally. I’ve got a large pantry cupboard just to the right of the kitchen island, handy to the dishwasher.  That’s where I store plates, bowls, small pitchers, condiment bowls, etc.  I have another cupboard on the other side of the kitchen where we keep mugs, in a cupboard just above the coffee makers.

The last stop is the basement, where I keep the rest of the off-season china and glassware. You can see some extra storage boxes, not yet assembled, on the top shelf of the centre section. The flat, wide containers are mugs and cups. I try to keep things organized by season, but am not always successful. Whenever I change out the kitchen china, there is a bit of a reorganization required and boxes get moved around to keep them largely within colour ways. Christmas is to the left and that’s pretty consistent. Moving right I strive to keep together black/white & clear, blues, then greens/rusts. 

That’s it! The big reveal.  Nuts or not, collecting tableware is my thing 🙂  I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour!

I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.