Beauty and the Budget

Beauty and the Budget: Project Plates

How many of you have moved into a rented space during your graduate school journey and instantly found yourself a bit depressed by the stark white walls around you?  How many of you have drooled over Pottery Barn catalogue wall displays and then ended up in tears when you saw the price tags? OK, that is a bit extreme, but if you have come close, know that you are not alone!  Continuing on through the dining room/living room, our next beauty on a budget project involves an easy solution to instant wall decor.

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy vintage plates and saucers.  There is so much charm and beauty to be found in old chipped pieces of porcelain.   To quickly fix our white wall dilemma, I started searching for some flea market finds that would do the trick.  I found three of the plates above at the Gloucester Green market in Oxford and they were £2 each.  I found the fourth plate (bottom one) at a local charity shop for only 99p.  Finding fun vintage dinner ware is almost always easy, as it will be at pretty much every yard sale / charity shop / flea market that you find, and it is also always incredibly cheap.  Usually there will only be one or two of the set and thus it sells for pennies.  You have to embrace the theme “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”  If you haven’t done that before, let yourself be creative and go for it!  Don’t try too hard at visualizing the plate on the wall and don’t let yourself put too much thought into it.  If you like a pattern or a color, just grab it and build the others to match the same color family.  It doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to match exactly, just keep the same theme or pattern or color family going on.  The key is finding pieces you like and that would work well together. I’d say start with 4 in a hanging and if you find more plates to add later, then go for it.

The next few steps are incredibly easy.

  1. Buy some plate hangers that fit the plate sizes.  They usually sell in small, medium and large.  If you are hanging a platter, you can buy a little disc that sticks to the back of the platter and has a small ring to hang from, called an invisible disc adhesive plate hanger.  (UK-Boswells-£1.19 each/ Ebay UK)  (US-any large craft store, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc.)
  2. Slip the hanger around the plate.
  3. Arranging the plates can seem daunting, but don’t let it stress you.  Just start with the largest plate and place the others around it.  The spacing doesn’t have to be perfect, just try to keep around 3” between each plate to be most pleasing to the eyes.  Try placing them on the floor first to arrange them and then move to the wall. (You can take Martha’s suggestion and cut out paper to mimic the plate and then tape it on the wall first to get a better idea of your layout.)
  4. Plates are nice to be viewed at eye level, so keep that in mind when hanging.  I needed to fill a full wall in our dining nook so I opted to hang them a bit higher than eye level when seated.   I hope to add some more plates to the collection soon, so I left room to travel down the wall.
  5. Hang and viola!  You have beautiful wall decor and no empty pocketbook.


Here are some favorites I found online that might inspire you as you are working on your plate arrangement.

Stay tuned as we will feature guest posts with several more DIY wall decor ideas for cheap.  And for all of you who aren’t allowed to hang with nails or do anything else to puncture the walls in your rented spaces, don’t worry, we’ve got some ideas for you coming up too!


5 thoughts on “Beauty and the Budget: Project Plates

  1. This is awesome, Mimi! I love what you’ve done with your dining nook, and I also love your other examples. Now all those plates at the flea market take on new meaning. Thank you!

  2. I love this look and am working on my own plate collection. I plan to hang them above our dining table as well. It is amazing what a little color and/or pattern can do to cream cinderblock walls! Thanks!

  3. Having just recently seen these beauties in person (!!) I can honestly say, awesome job, MC. Your home is welcoming, classy, and lived-in in the best of ways. Couldn’t have asked for any thing better. much love! L

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