There’s a great British tradition of collecting plates.
My mum used to do it, buying one from every seaside resort we ever visited on holiday, capturing memories in a way that had far more impact than picking out a postcard.
Once home, these plates would be dutifully added to the wobbly rows creeping across the living room wall.
Later, she joined a plate club which produced a monthly series inspired by Dickens and it all got a bit out of hand.
Like generations of women who displayed their ‘best china’ on a sideboard, she cherished her collection, seeing them as classier than hanging prints or pictures on the wall.
I, meanwhile, like many, thought plate-hanging was a bit naff and old-fashioned.
But how the tables have turned.
For now I boast my own collection of ornamental plates and I’m far from alone because displaying your chic crockery has become the ultimate interiors trend.
Serving up a little elegance: Actress Gwyneth Paltrow displays £6,500 of Hermes plates, bowls and dishes in her designer home
Feeling dishy: Colour-coded crockery worth £15,000 adorns the impressive dish room that is the pride and joy of Kris Jenner
Kris Jenner seen leaving a hotel on September 11, 2021 in New York City
Just look at Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner’s jaw-dropping ‘dish room’, filled with £15,000 of colour-coded crockery, including a Gucci teapot with matching teacups.
Or Gwyneth Paltrow’s dedicated plate wall, shelves heaving with around £6,500 of blue and white Hermes.
Whether they get used or not is almost beside the point. This is all about the aesthetic.
It started during the first lockdown with ‘tablescaping’, the art of laying a gorgeous table, as many of us searched for inventive ways to be distracted from the rolling news of doom.
Spending so much time at home made us look at domestic items that we usually take for granted in a different way.
All lit up: Striking effect on the wall at Homewood Hotel near Bath
It was only a small step then to take the plates off the table and give them pride of place on our walls.
Plus plates can be inexpensive and incredibly pretty — little ready-made artworks available everywhere.
Throw in popular period dramas such as Bridgerton, which have us indulging a new-found love for all things prints and chintz, and that’s how trends get made. So move over gallery wall — where multiple pictures are hung closely together — it’s all about the plate wall.
Part of the appeal is that plates come in all manners of colours and sizes meaning that, no matter what your taste or space requirements are, you can find something that suits. You can hang them in rows, columns or clusters — grouping by size, colour or pattern — on any wall of your choosing.
Fine dining: Chinoiserie chic adorns this stylish room
Personally, I love the idea of putting them somewhere unexpected such as a downstairs loo or even in the shower! And while the likes of Gwynnie can afford to splash out thousands on dish decoration, this is a trend that’s eminently achievable for those on all budgets.
With the market in antique porcelain at a historic low, there is no need to spend hundreds of pounds on designer crockery because charity shops have a surfeit of plates and saucers — the more flower-strewn and gilt-edged the better.
On the High Street, Anthropologie regularly stocks all manner of dish decadence, Emma Bridgewater has made a whole business out of jolly polka-dotted crocks — or check out Eleanor Bowmer’s bone china cake plates at John Lewis.
No need for wallpaper: Riot of colour above side table
But if you did want something a bit more couture, then some of my favourite looks include the work of Canadian artist Maggie Hall, who adds provocative statements to cute second-hand finds.
Meanwhile, the serene blue and white of Royal Copenhagen services are classic and timeless, and the quirky cabbage and artichoke platters from Bordallo Pinheiro are just plain fun.
However, my absolute obsessionis for Italian design atelier Fornasetti.
And since 2005, one year after I started as Editor in Chief of ELLE Decoration, I have been fortunate enough to be gifted a limited edition annual Calendar plate from the brand.
Refined: Health and beauty shop Mila London
Each one is uniquely themed for the year in question, but always designed in the house’s trademark black and white with a touch of gold.
They are artworks that just happen to be in porcelain, the continuation of a tradition started more than 50 years ago by the brand’s founder, Piero Fornasetti.
The first plate I received, I hung on the wall above my desk. I had never owned anything quite like it before — and I thought it was exquisite.
A year later, a pair of plates was equally pleasing. But as the years rolled on, display became an issue, not least because they needed to be regularly re-hung if symmetry was to be a continuing factor.
Sweet dreams: Homeware store with some tasty side dishes
Now, I am trying to find the perfect place for them at home.
After all, such plates are no good to anyone hidden away.
So, if you have any pretty plates languishing unseen in a cupboard, why not honour them on your wall instead, or if room permits, a dedicated open dresser.
You will get far more enjoyment out of them — and you can always pull one off the wall if an extra guest pops by for dinner!