Oh, what a rabbit hole that turned out to be!
I started by gazing at some white dishes I've loved for as long as I can remember -- Nantucket Basket by Wedgewood. They're simple but interesting, and they remind me of wonderful Nantucket vacations. I realized I like rounded shapes, not square, and I like texture. And I like things that feel sort of comfy and homey, not super modern.
It's good to have clarity about one's goals and preferences, you know.
I came across these "Cowgirl Lace" white dishes, designed by Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, whose blog I've followed since before she was a big Food Network Star. I love the name, Cowgirl Lace, and the detail is so pretty! These are available from Walmart for just $44 for a set of 4 place settings! Good news, bargain. Bad news - reviews say they chip really easily and show marks instantly. Darn. Sorry, Ree, I'm looking for something a bit more durable.
I think these are Emma from Pottery Barn. (Pssst... they're on sale right now.) Love the simple but striking dot detail and these were a strong contender. But reading the reviews shut down that option... lots of poor reviews for durability, marking, chipping easily.
I did take a detour to read about durability. Stoneware and earthenware are apparently the least durable -- they are fired just once, generally a bit more porous. Porcelain and bone china get higher marks for durability because they are fired more than once. Funny -- stoneware sounds like it should be more durable, and porcelain sounds like it will be more delicate, doesn't it? But it turns out that the reverse is true. And that's proven true with my own experience. The stoneware dishes I've used over the years have had gorgeous rich color, but have chipped easily. I started thinking I should be looking for white porcelain.
I did hesitate over this Napoli set by Pottery Barn. I just love the edges on the bowl and salad plate. Can't you see that bowl heaped with juicy red strawberries? But these are stoneware which gave me pause, and they're sort of expensive. Maybe I'll keep my eye on PB and buy a bowl or two if they go on sale.
Martha Stewart has some pretty white dish sets at Macy's. This set is called Belle Mead -- and it's porcelain. I like the plate and bowl, and like that they're different patterns. But I don't need mugs or particularly like these, and you can't buy them open stock to just get the plates. So, no. (But if you like them, they're on sale right now AND Macy's has an extra 25% off promotion going on.)
I did a big swoon when I saw this photo of dishes from Casa de Perrin. (And Perin is my maiden name so it sort of caught my attention.) Turns out the company is a china rental company in Los Angeles, so I guess they buy pretty china, mix and match it, and rent it for weddings and events. Maybe if I spent the next few years collecting pretty white plates I'd end up with an assortment like this. But I'm looking for more immediate gratification.
Another gorgeous set, yes? It's White Perle Stoneware by Lenox. Maybe other people have stoneware and no durability issues, but after what I read, it's putting me off. Still, they're pretty. (And they come in a few different colors, if you're interested.)
Are you getting the idea that I saw a ton of white dishes I liked? Look at these, a random shot from a collector of vintage linens. I have no clue what the patterns are but they sure look pretty.
So what did I do? Well, I looked and looked. And read reviews. And looked some more. And then it dawned on me that the answer was obvious. Get the ones I loved from the beginning.
Yep, Nantucket Basket. I found them on sale for a good price, even. They were not the cheapest option, but I figure if I've loved them for 30 years, chances are I'll love them for another 30. They make me smile just looking at the pictures.
So they will be at my door any day now, and I'll be dining in style.
Oh my. Do I need a new tablecloth? Perhaps I should christen them with a champagne opening to their first meal? Hmm, do my champagne glasses measure up? Should I shop for new ones? Just kidding. I think I'm done with the online shopping for quite a while.
I'm going to go sit at the front door and wait for the UPS man now.