Make a Date with a Spate of Plates

The dating game and home decor share more than you might think. Trying out an intense paint color, for example, can fill you with the same sort of apprehension as a first or blind date. And once you get the wall color just right, maybe you hedge about accessorizing in the same way you put off one admirer hoping another will make a move.

If you can’t decide what you want in a long-term relationship with your walls, consider an arrangement of plates, platters and/or shallow bowls. Too complex? Here’s a dozen plated idea walls, some hanging tips, and a few shopping links to help you feel like a pro straight out of the gate.

1. Double date


Start simple and play it safe by partnering with another couple. As gorgeous as this chinoiserie mirror is, it would melt into that grasscloth wallpaper without those snappy blue-and-white plates flanking it. They repeat pattern and color and add another texture to the room.

2. Round up the group

There’s comfort in a gathering of like minds. In dating, a group event involving trusted friends makes getting to know someone new a little easier. This plate grouping is a lot like those friends. All elements are varied shapes of cranberry transferware. From the outside in on each side is an oval platter, an oval serving dish, and a round plate. Then front and center is a square platter–the new person–in the same color and style. Arcing the plates over the rectangular painting and distinguished sideboard softens the edges of both pieces and draws the eye upward. See more photos of this home on The Everyday Home.

3. Go with the flow

Speaking of softening edges, the graceful swirl of this arrangement stands in contrast to the box-on-box style of the adjacent cabinet. I like the “formation” as well as plates in all colors, patterns and sizes. In dating, sometimes you just have to hang in there while things develop.

4. Branch out

This arrangement explodes like a split atom, thanks to a careful mix of like and unlike. All the white plates are the same pattern but three sizes–platter, dinner plate, salad plate. The black-rimmed salad plates near the center are identical, while the dinner-size black-and-white plates depict different scenes found in a transferware pattern family. The white wing chairs frame the view and the charcoal gray courtyard wall ups the pow factor. A little like your first frat party, right?

5. Play it straight and narrow

Found on The Budget Decorator
What a cheerful pop of color this line of five plates makes against the all-white walls and cabinets. Notice that the top and bottom plates are different sizes of the same pattern, so the heaviest (translate: largest) was placed at the bottom. In plates as in relationships, lay a solid foundation and build on it.

6. Broaden your horizons

Kati Curtis/Nirmada Interior Architectural Design

Who would we be without others to show us new things? My husband got me to try broccoli, for instance, and animal and vegetable changed my life! Likewise, no two plates in this grouping are remotely similar, and that’s the beauty of it. Color, pattern, shape and size combine to give a plain wall in this neutral bathroom the curated look of a curiosity shop. I like that the entire wall between the window frame and the corner is covered from chair rail to ceiling. See more photos of this home at Kati Curtis Design.

Here’s how I’d plan out such an intricate arrangement:

  • Mark out the dimensions of the wall space with masking tape on a bed or table, then lay in the plates.
  • Keep moving plates around until the fit and the look is right, then snap a photograph of it with my phone.
  • Using the photo as guide, begin building the arrangement on the wall from the bottom up

Choose the hanging hardware for your anxiety level:

  • Wire plate hangers: Four prongs on springs clamp the edges of the plate. On the back is a slot for a picture nail to rest in. Shows a bit, but this is the most secure hanging method.
  • Disc adhesive plate hangers: A circle of adhesive coated material with a hanging ring attached. Wet the fabric, stick it to the plate and allow it to dry. Once hung, invisible. I’ve never used these, but some people swear by them.
  • Command picture-hanging strips: Work well as long as the plate bottom isn’t recessed much. Invisible when hung and leave no marks on wall or plate later when you redecorate. If you’ve recently repainted be sure to give your walls a few weeks to cure or you may find yourself with some broken plates (or a broken clock and picture frame, in my case).

7. Seek safety in numbers

Found on Decoist
The overlap and the slightly irreglar overall shape energize this arrangement. All of the plates are mostly white, so the overall effect adds a sculptural quality to a room of neutrals. Nervous about a new beau? Suggest a venue with crowds–a concert, a movie, a lecture, a play.


8. Expect the unexpected

Plates by Pierre Frey. Found on House to Home
Life doesn’t always follow our plans, and that’s the very thing that makes a good story later. This arrangement is like that story. Each plate is different, but all appear to be by the same artist. The plates are hung assymetrically and remind me of a brainstorming cloud, but the paint “frame” corrals, as if giving shape to the story. In relationships we need to be open to the unexpected and allow it to assume its own shape, within boundaries. That one plate outside the frame? That’s the story title, of course.

9. Stick to the high road

Meredith Corp./One Kings Lane

Varying heights within a space adds to its visual interest, and nowhere is that more important than in a space with high ceilings. These plates not only call attention to the architectural niche in which they’re placed, but they lead the eye up all the way to the elaborate crown moulding. Doesn’t make sense to invest in elaborate trim if no one ever sees it, right? So give the eye a ladder to climb and the spirit will follow.

10. Be yourself

This shabby chic room is unapologetically romantic and relaxed. The plates emphasize the look by repeating accent colors and the pattern of flowers. You need to be you and not someone’s idea of you.

11. Act natural

Gourmet magazine
What all these plates have in common is that they’re leaf-like. They’re also hung in a loosely structured overall leaf-like shape with varied spacing between. The deep blue of the walls and accessories makes them look like leaves spinning in the currents of a pool of water to me. If another person can’t take you as you are, well, you know what to do.

12. Cultivate a sense of humor

Found on AGO: A Girl Obsessed
Does anyone else see these plates as music coming out of that whimsically painted piano? Every one is different and the arrangement sways like the notes of a tune dancing up and down the scale. Only a turquoise piano could play a tune like this one, don’t you think? Likewise, you are the only you. Make no apologies for it, but learn to laugh at the “you” you are.

13. Baker’s dozen tip: Money isn’t everything

Consider inexpensive chargers and some of the beautiful paper plates available. Yes, I said PAPER. There are some pretty snazzy paper plates out there, don’tcha’ know. If your display is in a location visitors won’t get too close to–like over kitchen cabinets or above doorways–paper may give you the look you want for much less moola.


Hang the chargers as you would a breakable plate, but the paper plates should be fine with a few circles of painter’s tape on the back and a good press of the hand. When they start to look haggard, throw out and replace. Or frame them for long-term durability.






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