3 Expert Tips To Choose Decorative Plates

Sometimes, all you need is a plate to put your food on. Other times, you're looking for something with a bit more pizzazz! Whether you're hosting a party, need your food to look good in pictures, or are just looking for something a little bit more elevated for home dinners, decorative plates are definitely for you! Let's look at what you need to know.

What material is best for my decorative plates?

Decorative plates come in many materials - many more than usual dining plates, as decor often has a chance to be more abstract and experimental than normal cookware. Here are some of the most popular materials you'll see, and what might be a good occasion for each.

  • Porcelain and Ceramic: These smooth, glassy, yet opaque materials are easy to clean. Porcelain can be thinner and more delicate, while ceramic is more commonly available (and likely dishwasher-safe). These are good choices for modern, minimalist designs, and if you'd like your decorative plates to be practical as well as beautiful.
White Porcelain Decorative Plate
Old Fashioned Red Porcelain Decorative Plate
Floral Porcelain Decorative Plate in Blue
Ceramic Contemporary Decorative Plate and Gold
Swirled Ceramic Decorative Plate in Blue
Red and Black Ceramic Decorative Plate
  • Glass and Crystal: Because these are both clear materials, you'll find that they catch light in the most gorgeous, prismatic ways. If you're looking to add sparkle to your tablescape, these pieces are ideal.

  • Metal and Wire: With metal and wire, you start to get into slightly more avant-garde and artsy pieces. This means that metal - such as aluminum or copper - and wire pieces are great if you're looking to give off an eclectic modern vibe. Note, however, that they may not be the most functional decorative plates.

Glass Decorative Plate in Blue
Gold Glass Christmas Decorative Plate
Blue Glass Decorative Plate
Long Rustic Metal Decorative Plate
Round Metal Decorative Plate Set
Gold Leaf Metal Decorative Plate
  • Wood: Wood, whether it's sealed or it's raw, can give a rugged, natural look effortlessly to any room! However, unless it's very well sealed, you'll want to use decorative wooden plates mainly for dry objects or foods, not for anything that is overly damp. They're a good idea for fruit bowls and to use for decorative organization.

  • Marble and Stoneware: These heavy materials can add class and stateliness to any room. Because of their weight, they're a good call for decorative plates that stay in one place - making them slightly less versatile. Use them for purely decorative purposes, or for extremely static use such as long-term organization or service.

Marble Round Decorative Plate Set
Carved Marble Decorative Plate
Rustic Wood Decorative Plate
Light Wood Leaf Decorative Plate
Green Leaves Stoneware Decorative Plate
Brown Leaf Stoneware Decorative Plate

What are the best styles and shapes of decorative plates?

Because decorative plates aren't usually limited to merely functional styles and shapes, they can come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and styles. From circles and squares to more specialized versions, like oblong ovals, rounded squares, and more, decorative plates (as all art) can come in many forms.

When you're looking for a specific shape and style of decorative plate, consider the following:

  • What would you like for your home to feel like?

From blue and white chinoiserie to stark, all-black plates, decorative plates can feel traditional, edgy, or neutral. If you'd like something more classic, select a round plate with a floral or landscape design; if you're going for a more minimalistic, design-forward feel, selecting a bold geometric design or a textured plate in a neutral color is a good idea.

  • What other colors and shapes do you have in your room?

Step back and look at the edges and lines already incorporated in your home. Are there mostly soft and rounded edges, such as fluffy couches, round rugs, and circular clocks? If this is the case, selecting rounded decorative plates is a good idea, such as circles, ovals, or rounded squares. If there are lots of hard lines in your home, such as rectangular tables or bare window frames, select an angular plate: a long rectangle or a square, for example, to complement your home's existing feel.

Glam Decorative Plate in Matte Gold
Small Colorful Ceramic Decorative Plate Set
Unique Brown Decorative Plate
Simple Glass Decorative Bowl
Round Glass Colorful Decorative Bowl
Antique Round Glass Decorative Bowl

Do decorative plates have to be purely decorative?

If you have a minimalistic home, a smaller budget, or are just a practical person, you might be wondering: What's the point of decorative plates? After all, if they don't serve a purpose other than just being pretty, do you need them at all?

Fortunately, there are types of decorative plates that are both decorative and functional. Large platters, for example, can be used as fruit trays, breakfast-in-bed trays, and more! Others - particularly decorative plates with large rims - are cumbersome to display or frame, so it makes much more sense to use them.

Generally, when you're looking for decorative plates that you plan on using as well, you should look for the following:

  • Size: If the plate is too large or small, you'll have a hard time filling it! Functional, beautiful plates should likely be no smaller than 6" and no larger than 18".

  • Texture: Many decorative plates are extremely sculptural, built in the shape of flowers or abstract art. With others, the pattern is simply painted on. For a more functional feel, go for a smooth platter, with the decoration protected behind sealant.

  • Material: There are a wide number of materials that are great for decorative plates, as we mentioned above! However, for the most practical, functional application, choose a plate made from a ceramic, melamine, or glass: in other words, the same materials you'd expect to use for regular dining plates. That way, they're the same feel, you know they're food-safe, and they might even be dishwasher-safe.

Lily is a modern designer with great appreciation for sleek architecture, a love for art in its many forms, and a passion for sharing her experience with people. If you’re looking for advice on how to modernize your old-fashioned place or make your new restaurant a visual blast, she’s definitely the one to ask.