Many hosts are opting for casual mix-and-match tableware that can be used every day

Once upon a time, people used to keep two sets of tableware. There was the set that graced the dinner table every day. And then there was the one that came out of its storage cupboard only for special occasions: the “good” china that dressed up a holiday table or was used for honoured guests.

Now that our lifestyles have become more casual, and dinner parties often take place in the kitchen, many of us have decided that one set of tableware fits all occasions.

“More and more people are not using holiday tableware,” says Cameron MacDonald, manger at Pointe Claire Nursery Maison. “Often, it’s not in people’s budgets to have more than one set of tableware. And some people, if they live in condos, just don’t have the storage space.”

PCN Maison, which sources and stocks unusual, high-quality housewares, carries several lines of what MacDonald calls “table essentials.”

“These are things you use on a daily basis – cutlery, linens, place settings, glassware,” he says. And yes, they’re beautiful.

Consider, for instance, a line of tableware by New York-based Canvas Home. The Shell Bisque collection, sold in separate pieces, is available in three neutral colours: white, taupe and a soft robin’s-egg blue. The pieces include a dinner plate, soup bowl, bread plate, mug and pasta bowl. Adjunct pieces – pitchers and salad bowls – are also available. Each full place setting sells for $100. “If you have small children, these are probably not your everyday dishes,” MacDonald says. “But otherwise, it’s a perfect set for mixing and matching.”

If heftier tableware is required, Canvas Home’s Tinware Collection, consists of pieces that resemble traditional enamelled-metal pieces (think dishes you’d take camping), crafted in solid stoneware.

The same company produces a line of flatware that retails for $115 per five-piece place setting. Finishes include copper-plated, stainless steel, matte black and gold-coloured titanium-plated.

MacDonald says the company’s offerings are designed to create an eclectic look, popularized by style mavens such as Martha Stewart. “People really like that look right now,” he says.

Good linens – napkins, placemats and tablecloths – also are more casual. Now Designs, a Vancouver-based company, offers a line of linens that can be used every day or on special occasions. “We keep the Now Designs line and have to replenish it regularly,” says MacDonald. “People want bang for the buck, and these are products they can use all the time.” The neutral or pastel colours also permit a mix-and-match approach to setting a table, he adds.

“Now Designs does a great job of cross-merchandising their collections through colours and textures,” he says. “They coordinate them to look as if they belong together.”

The company’s line of exquisite patterned bowls can be added to other casual place settings. “People use them to look as if they’ve picked them up at flea markets as vintage pieces,” says MacDonald.

Glassware has also gone casual. Stemless wine glasses are perfect for casual dinner parties as are chunky goblets, which MacDonald says confer a “bohemian look.”

While the trend in entertaining is toward a casual and practical mix-and-match look, beauty still reigns at the table. People want tableware they’ll use year-round, says MacDonald. “They want good quality products that look great and last.”


PCN Maison

Plaza Pointe Claire

261 St. Jean Blvd., Pointe Claire