In this post: Do you collect teacups? If you’re looking for tea cup display ideas, here are some unusual ways to display vintage tea cups and saucers in your home.⇒
Do you remember your first crush?
Mine was a boy in kindergarten whom I vaguely remember, but my first home decor crush I recall quite clearly. It was early in our marriage when I developed a thing for teacups. It may have had something to do with our travels to the Cotswolds but as likely as not, it was also something I could collect that was easily affordable.
Long before we had the money to buy furniture for our home, I began collecting teacups in my travels overseas or on weekend forays to local antique markets. They could be carried back on an airplane if necessary and gave me purpose when scouring the vintage shops nearby. I also found them to be exceptionally beautiful.
But displaying them became a bit of a challenge, since much of this collecting took place before we had furniture.
At the same time, while I absolutely adore vintage decor, I’m very cognizant of wanting it to look updated and fresh. So the looks you’ll find here are not your grandma’s teacups, placed on doilies around her living room. Quite the contrary, my mission has been to present my tea cup collection in a more modern fashion. Read on for tips on how to do that.
Displaying Teacups in Your Home
For many years, the default choice for showcasing tea cups was in a china cabinet or hutch near the dining room table. The layout was typically uninspired, with the collected pieces lined up like soldiers, evenly spaced, with no creativity or individuality given to the display.
Sure, attention was sometimes paid to the color selections, but when it came to formation, rarely did a display go much further than tilting the cup down into the saucer or hanging it by its handle on a rack made for this purpose.
If you want to present your china cups in a cabinet or hutch, a more updated display takes advantage of lots of layering and mixing and matching, which has the added benefit of providing a great deal more storage. Stack plates and saucers in tall bundles and layer cups, as well, with the patterns peeking over the edge.
I love collecting mix and match pieces in similar colors but completely different patterns.
I enjoy the way they look when grouped together but I take some liberties in organizing the presentation. Some are double stacked, while others show the saucer standing and facing out. Still others are nested in a casual heap and some show the tea cup tilted to expose the bottom flourish.
The key is to have fun when grouping them in this way.
But there are so many more options beyond the china cabinet and I’d like to explore some of those in today’s post.
If you haven’t finished furnishing but you’d like to display your collection, another great option is to gather the items in a large basket. Line the bottom with a pretty linen tablecloth and layer in your teacups and saucers too.
Pay attention to the color distribution and use patterns that complement each other.
I tend to favor English florals or delicate French china patterns, so the colors are soft and feminine. You can tuck in fresh flowers or even use faux, and place your arrangement on a table or counter.
A second option is to nest your teacups in rows and place them inside a pretty tray. The one I’ve used above is a linen tray which offers a lovely relaxed backdrop for the white porcelain. This is infinitely more updated than a wall hanging display case and you can select your tray size according to the quantity you own. If you have very special cups, I’d take care to play your tray in a location where it won’t be jostled to keep your pieces in good condition.
Tiered Dessert Stand
If you prefer to use your tea cups when you host an event, they lend themselves perfectly to a tiered dessert stand. You can start by selecting a simple pedestal cake stand, then place a dinner plate as your first layer. Use a teacup as a riser in the center of the plate and top it with a salad dish.
Continue building with another tea cup, then a bread plate or saucer and finally a demitasse cup. Add sweets or fruit to serve to your guests, or even finger sandwiches if you’re hosting tea time.
Encircle the bottom with empty teacups to be used as dessert cups. I love to use vintage teacups in my presentations, especially floral pieces in soft colors.
Beyond Table Surfaces
Perhaps the most unique way I’ve displayed my teacups is attached to a vintage crystal chandelier that once belonged to my grandmother.
I tell the whole story of its provenance in ONE OF MY FIRST POSTS, but the short version is that I had my teacups and other trinkets wired to the chandelier.
It’s a wonderful conversation piece that always sparks lively banter and it has been with us since long before we had furniture to house our china sets. These days it hangs in our butler’s pantry and is absolutely perfect for the space.
A display idea I love is using three dimensional wall hangings in addition to art and placing teacups on shelves and sconces is a creative way to feature them.
In OUR FRENCH COUNTRY LIBRARY I have two gilded sconces with a mirror between them and I keep pretty cups on the tiny sconce shelves.
I use tea cups with gold trim to work with the gilt sconces and they make a lovely perch for my most precious teacups.
Keep It Rustic
I can hardly think of a more charming planter for a potted primrose than a Royal Albert teacup? I use china mugs for tiny floral arrangements and group these florals together on a rustic wood tray.
In fact, pairing fine china with raw vintage wood is the best way I know of to keep your displays looking modern. In the opening photo of this post, you can see how I’ve styled an entryway vignette using rustic chic accessories and pretty bone china teacups. It takes the fussy stiffness out of the display and looks oh-so-chic instead.
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Sometimes I display not only teacups, but also books about taking tea. The ritual of making and pouring a cup of tea is a delightful one and these books are as pretty as the porcelain itself. Two of my favorites are The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea and Tea and Sympathy.
On a plate stand at the foot of the sofa I’ve added teacups in varied china patterns. The gentle florals work well with my color palette and the mix with varied cake plates adds another touch of interest. I also mix in soup bowls, as they maintain the same spirit.
The plate stand can be positioned in so many different places, from decorating a sideboard to embellishing a small table, although I do favor keeping it on the floor since it looks less traditional and uptight.
If your collection is not as developed as you might like, or you simply can’t get enough, find artwork that celebrates the imagery of teacups. Here I layer a few teacup watercolors along my mantel, as a backdrop to a cup dangling like an ornament off a tree branch on the surface.
A Few More Ideas
- Arrange a nested teacup “wreath” in a large round bowl.
- Create teacup candles with melted wax. If you don’t want to ruin the teacup, simply use it as a votive.
- Hang a teacup with a plant in a macrame plant hanger.
- Use teacups in a drawer to hold small items like paper clips and thumbtacks.
- Use a tea cup as a scoop in a large glass canister.
- Place teacups atop a multi-armed candelabra.
- Glue a set of teacups to a burlap backdrop in a frame for the wall.
There is just something about teacups that I find so charming. They suggest a real gentility that is so appealing and often they are simply quite exquisite.
Just as a crush should be!
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