Week #48 Organized Home Challenge
Storage For China, Glassware & Crystal

This week's challenge is to create an appropriate area for storage for china, along with glassware and crystal, to keep it clean and safe for your use.

fine china

When I refer to china I am using the term to encompass ceramic tableware, porcelain and fine china place settings and sets of serving pieces.

Some people have a couple of sets of china and glassware, including an "everyday" set and also a nicer set reserved for use for special occasions, that you may have received as wedding presents.

No matter whether you have only one set, or many though, you should keep it stored nicely to keep it safe, and also allow you to use it when you want, without it being a big ordeal to get it out for use.

After all, there is no point in owning nice things if you don't occassionally use and enjoy them.


Are you new here? This challenge about storage for china dishes and crystal glassware is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader).

Step 1: Know The Rules For Storage For China, Glassware And Crystal

If you've got your china and glassware in long term storage somewhere in your home (or in a storage unit) now is the time to get it out and store it in your home in a place where you can actually get some use from it.

Storage For China Dishes: General Rules

The most important rule of storage for china is to do it carefully, to avoid chips and scratches. These items can be fragile and should be handled with care.

Here are some general rules of thumb:

  • Don't crowd items together. Instead, leave plenty of room between items so they don't clink together.
  • Always lift items off a stack, don't slide them, since this can cause scratching.
  • Stack smaller items at top, not at the bottom, and make sure the stacks don't go too high (no more than 10 or so plates in a stack, maximum, and less may be better)
  • dinner plate storage chestNote the dividers between the plates for cushioning
    [Click here to purchase plate storage chest]

  • If an item has been repaired keep it at the top of the stack, not lower where there will be more weight on it
  • Because stacked items can easily scratch each other use something to place between each dish in the stack, such as a paper plate, paper towel, coffee filters, or felt plate dividers
  • Cups, bowls and mugs should be stored rim side up, to prevent chipping of this most fragile area
  • Mugs may be stored on hooks to make more room within your shelves, but only if they're not antique and have not had their handles repaired
  • If you must stack bowls together, to protect the rims place something around entire rim as cushion, but ideally mugs, cups and bowls should not be stacked at all, but instead placed next together on shelves, with enough room between each so the sides don't touch
  • To create more shelf space for these unstackable items you can use coated wire racks to add shelving between the shelves to double your shelving space
  • Be careful when storing china items with lids, since these can slide off and fall, especially on high shelves if you store the lid directly on the item itself

Displaying China Plates Safely

wooden plate rackWooden plate rack
[Click here to purchase on Amazon.com]

You can easily stack your china plates in a display which looks quite beautiful. However, if you want to display your plates upright you need to make sure you do so safely, so that it does not scratch or damage the plates in the process.

There are two main ways to display plates upright -- on the wall, or on shelves.

I personally suggest only displaying decorative plates on your wall, because otherwise when your plates are in use your walls look oddly bare, or worse, since you see the empty plate hangers on the wall.

When you display plates upright on shelves you want to make sure they don't fall over and break. Whether you are putting them up directly on the back of the shelf or you are using plate easels, I suggest the extra step of using a dab of museum putty to secure the plate to the shelf or easel, and keep it from falling as easily.

You can also use a plate rack, such as the one shown on the left, above, to display and easily have ready for use your china plates.

Crystal And Glassware Storage Rules

Similar rules apply to the care and storage of glassware and crystal. These items are quite fragile, so they must be handled with great care to keep them safe and looking their best.

Here are some general rules to keep in mind:

under cabinet stemware rackUnder Cabinet Stemware Rack
[Click here to purchase on Amazon.com]

  • The thinner the glass or crystal the more delicate it is
  • The thin protruding shapes from the glassware, such as the stems, handles and spouts are the most fragile parts of all
  • If your glassware or crystal is chipped it is dangerous and should not be used for food or drink consumption
  • Do not crowd the glassware together since it may increase dangers of scratching or breaking
  • Your stemware should be stored upright, on its base, and not stacked, if placed on a shelf, or held upside down in a stemware rack (such as the one shown on the right)
  • If you can't display your crystal, I suggest using special stemware storage chests, designed for champagne flutes, wine glasses, or other special stemware to keep them clean and safe between uses

Long-Term Storage For China And Glassware: Additional Rules To Follow

If you've got to keep your china and crystal in a longer-term storage area for now, make sure you follow these rules to keep it safe and ready for use later once you can store it somewhere more handy:

  • Don't store it in areas with dramatic fluctuations in temperature or humidity (such as the garage or attic) - this can lead to tiny cracks in the glaze that can eventually lead to breakage
  • Pad the bottom of your boxes with bubble wrap, soft cloth or white tissue paper
  • Wrap each piece of china separately in either bubble wrap or white packing paper (not newspaper because the ink may rub off onto the china)
  • Stack only 4-5 plates in any one box
  • Have repaired plates on top of stacks, not the bottom to help prevent rebreakage
  • Do not stack storage boxes on top of one another, and don't stack heavy things on top of these boxes
  • Label your boxes clearly, and put a warning on the top of the box not to stack anything else on top
  • You may want to consider using china storage containers (such as the one shown above), which are designed specifically to have padded sides and bottoms, and to keep your glassware and china from clinking and breaking as it is stored

Step 2: Decide How You Want To Display Or Store Your China And Glassware

china cabinetTraditionally China Is Displayed In Cabinets
[Click Here To View China Cabinets]

Choose An Appropriate Place For Display Or Storage For China And Glasses

To make sure you actually use your china frequently it is best to store it in a convenient location. That means not in the basement in boxes, but some place like in your dining room or in kitchen cabinets.

It is best to store your tableware in the area you'll use it, if possible.

If You Have Too Many Place Settings Or Different Sets You May Want To Get Rid Of Some Of Them

It takes room to properly display or store your china and glassware, and depending on how much space you have you might have more stuff than places for storage. If this is the case you should consider getting rid of some of your least loved tableware.

You could donate it to charity, sell it on eBay for some extra cash, or give it to a loved one.

I myself have struggled with family heirlooms. China and glassware inherited from grandmothers and other family members whom I loved, but the "stuff" itself I did not have room for.

In these instances taking pictures, or saving one plate for display on a wall, may be the solution and parting with the rest. You have to remember that you can love the person and keep their memory alive without having to have the physical objects in your home.

Where There Is Room Displaying Your China While Storing It Is Best

Your tableware is generally a very beautiful item in your home, so why hide it behind closed doors and cabinets if you don't have to? Let your storage for china and glassware be both functional and beautiful at the same time.

I know you've got to work with the space and storage containers you've got, but if you have a choice I would personally suggest displaying your dishware proudly. It is such a fun discussion piece for those coming into your home, and then it makes it even more special to eat from them when there are special occasions.

Step 3: Make Time To Use And Enjoy Your China Serving Sets With Family And Friends

The whole purpose of this Storage For China And Crystal Challenge is to make sure you enjoy the items you already have in your home, especially those which may have cost a lot of money to acquire.

Once you take the time to get everything displayed and stored properly make an effort to actually get the stuff out and used on a regular basis. Even if you're going elsewhere for the big holiday meal this year make time to use your dishes this holiday season as part of a special meal with family or friends. You'll enjoy the use of these beautiful objects and feel proud of your hard work in your home!

Oh yeah, and one final tip. Make sure to rotate which China place settings you use each time so everything in the sets gets the same amount of useage, to create even wear and tear.

Tell Me How This Week's Challenge Is Going For You

I would love to know how this week's Storage For China, Glassware And Crystal Challenge is going for you. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this area of your home below in the comments.

I also love before and after pictures, and would love to see some of yours. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall Of Fame. You've worked hard to get organized, so now here's your chance to show off!

organizing and storing silver challenge

Sneak Peek For Next Week's Challenge

We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the Storage For China, Glassware And Crystal Challenge that we're doing this week. However, I'll tell you we're working on storing silver next week, so you don't have to deal with that now.


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