Making the Dining Room

Yup, that’s my chandelier in the trash. It’s ready after a few decades of lighting the way, to move on. With new lighting in place in the dining room, I thought about giving the old chandelier new life in another room. The fixture worked and was in decent shape, although missing a small crystal here or there. It just needed to be cleaned and relocated. I held onto it for a little while until it became apparent to me that it wasn’t going to be hung elsewhere in the house. Instead, it morphed into an ongoing reminder of a project although well-intended, was probably not meant to be. So, I tossed it.

Decluttering Nostalgia

When it comes to decluttering, not everything in the dining room may be attached to easy decisions. If you have a formal dining room, it may be the home to family heirlooms like silver, china, crystal, and all the special occasion pieces. China passed down through generations certainly holds sentimental value for so many people. In many instances, it doesn’t hold much more value than that. If you’re ready to let go and hoping to make a few dollars, check out online auction and sales sites. Packing and shipping can be costly due to the fragility and weight if you take the DIY route, so if the yield is worth the effort, go ahead and sell. Browse local consignment shops for pricing, too. Sometimes they are more inclined to accept formal dinnerware just before the holiday season, and you may have better luck selling at that time of year.

The dining room is typically home to silver flatware, tea sets or serving pieces, and very often it’s not known if the pieces are sterling silver. If the piece is stamped with ‘sterling’ or ‘925’, it’s sterling silver. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a stamp at all, so it’s best to consult a professional appraiser when in doubt.

Storing Plates and Platters

Special occasion china and serving platters require a little extra effort to ensure their protection. Place a coffee filter, thin paper plate or a paper towel between each plate to prevent scratching. There are lots of dinnerware storage options, zipped, soft-sided boxes and containers, that encase an entire set. Stemware is of course, fragile, and should be stored upright on its base or hung upside down on a rack. Get rid of anything that is chipped or cracked. This might sound like common sense, but even an expensive piece of china or crystal will have no value if its damaged and poses a danger when using it to consume food or drink.

In a hutch, breakaway, sideboard or buffet (there are lots of names for this piece of furniture) there are often large boxy spaces to use for storage. This may be an ideal place to use a stacking shelf. It instantly provides another surface, essentially doubling the available shelf space. It also helps to distribute the weight of place settings or serving platters which can get a little heavy.

To store table linens, either fold to fit the storage space, placing tissue paper between the folds to keep wrinkles at bay, or hang in a closet on a drapery hanger or one with non-slip coating. Not long ago, I weeded out my own inventory of tablecloths. As a new bride, I had received many beautiful tablecloths, some lovingly hand embroidered. Over the years, one or another of these beauties adorned my dining room table, especially for special occasions and family gatherings. They played host to many a holiday meal and endured numerous spills and stains. With sweet memories, it was time to part with several of them. It was easy to let go knowing they witnessed a growing family and shared with us the happy times and the sad. They enjoyed a life well-lived; they have stories to tell and secrets to keep-stains and all.