I’ve been wanting to share my plate wall with you guys for months now but I’ve never been able to get any good photos. My dining room is north facing and there is a big tree in front of the only window which kills the light all year round. I was hoping that with the leaves off the tree and all the white snow outside that I might be able to get a few good shots, but nope. Still dark. Oh well, so they aren’t fabulous pics. After some major photo editing I’ve decided to post them anyway because I really do love this family history plate wall!
Family History Plate Wall
I’ve been collecting plates and dishes from my family for over 15 years. There is just something special to me about holding something that my ancestors once held in their hands. There’s a sweet little connection there. Each plate has a story and each person who owned it has one too.
My first plates were gifts from my husband’s grandmother on our wedding day.
Grandma had inherited the dishes from her mother, my husband’s Great Grandma Josie. There were only a few pieces of Josie’s china left from the decades of use but Grandma kept them safe and near her heart. On our wedding day she presented me with her precious treasure because she knew I would love the yellow and blues in the floral pattern. For a little background I’ve got to tell you, Grandma gave odd gifts. So at first I wasn’t sure what to do with the random number of dishes. Over the years Grandma’s stories touched my heart. The plates became precious.
Of all the gifts I ever received from Rose, those dishes will always be my favorite.
Another special dish on the wall is the silver one on the far left.
When Rose died, all the granddaughters received a piece of silver from Grandma’s collection. That silver dish was my inheritance. I let it stay a little tarnished because it reminds me of the authentic, spritely, and imperfect woman who once loved it. The way the silver catches the sun makes me brightens up the whole room.
My paternal grandmother gave me the small yellow platter.
No, your eyes aren’t fooling you, that’s George and Martha Washington hand painted on the trim!
My grandmother had this plate in her built in all my life. It belonged to my Great Great Grandma Hy. I never knew Grandma Hy, but I’ve always felt a special connection with her. I don’t know if it’s because I live here in her mountain valley surrounded by her relatives or if we are kindred spirits. When I was a new mother and we had first moved into the valley I met Burnice’s nephew, Art. Cousin Art loved his aunt very much. He told me how he stayed with her during a tough time when his family member was in the hospital. He told me about her wonderful cooking, about how she made him feel like he was something “awful special”, and about her happy eyes. I remember a day I was struggling, my husband was out of town and I was feeling beyond overwhelmed. He popped by just to tell me how proud of me my grandma would be. How very much like her I had become. I still cry just thinking about it. It was like she wanted me to know that I was doing better than I thought and oh how I needed that!
Grandma Hy’s platter is chipped and in sad condition but I don’t care. It is priceless to me.
My collection of family plates is still small, I’ve got two more lines to hunt dishes down from. To fill in the gaps I’ve added dishes from my own story. These filler dishes were bought or given to me at different phases throughout my life. Some are from thrift stores and one has even been spray painted. (I know, but I just can’t help myself!) A few of them have graced the walls of every place we’ve ever called home. They add color and depth.
I made the chalkboard plate from a dollar store platter. Each month I decorate it with the birthdays of our family. Those little names remind me of the future. I have no doubt that the women who owned my plates before me would be so proud of the children who have come after. I wish I could see their faces, but I know they see mine.
Bee’s birthday is this month.
Her grandmothers would adore her. She is strong, creative, smart, and loving, just like them.
On the far right of the wall hangs an odd pewter fish with a special little story.
To be quite frank, when we opened this wedding gift I about fell off my chair! Who in their right mind gives newlyweds a pewter tuna? The answer is my husband’s teenage best bud’s mom. She was the coolest lady who had major personality. She thought the plate was a hoot so she gave it to us for our wedding. Several years later, she passed away from cancer. This fun loving woman had a big hand in who my husband became and I am so grateful. The fishy platter reminds me daily to live my life to the fullest and deepest because you just never know how many days you have left. I adore that hideously ugly fish with all my heart.
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Now back to the post…
I’ve found 2 methods for hanging plates that work great for me.
- The 1st method is using Command Strips to attach the plates to the wall. I use these to adhere odd sized plates and platters. They are inexpensive, easy to use, and don’t hurt the dishes. Command Strips are basically velcro pieces with sticky backing. There is a little tab that you pull to release the strip from the wall when you want to move them.
- The 2nd method is using metal plate hangers like THIS.
You hammer a hook and nail into the wall and then attach the plate hanger to your plate by stretching the wire and hooking it on the edges of the dish. There are several different sizes so you can hang a range of plates. I like these for plates I want to occasionally take down and use. The hangers pop off without hurting the plates and then you can put them right back on when you are done.
There are other ways to hang plates, I’ve seen people glue pop can tabs to the back of plates but that causes damage. There are also adhesive plate hangers, but I’ve never tried that kind so I don’t have any thoughts on them. The two methods above have worked great for me. I’ve only lost one plate so far and the kid that dropped it fessed up so forgive and forget, right?
Plate Wall Tips:
There are hundreds of ways you can create a plate wall and I don’t believe there is one right way to do it. Don’t feel tied to design rules. Create what makes you happy and hang the plates that you love!
After you’ve gathered all you plates it’s time to get them hung. Arrange your plates on the floor until you get the look you are after and take a pic on your phone for reference. Grab some paper to make a template then trace the plates and cut them out. Hang the paper plates on the wall with painter’s tape, that way you can play around with different spacing until you get it how you want it. Then hang them up! It takes some time to make it feel right but it really isn’t a difficult project. It does help to have 2 people for extra hands and eyes.
My family history plate wall is bright, quirky, and fun… kind of like their owners.
It makes me happy to see those plates and think of the stories behind them. I hope my little wall inspires you to pull your old dishes out of the box in the basement and put them to use in your home. Display them on shelves, hang them in a place of honor, and celebrate the lives who made you who you are.
“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”