Once the preserve of buttoned-up interiors, plate walls are now seen as a creative way to bring a splash of colour, texture and pattern to your home.T
Once the preserve of buttoned-up interiors, plate walls are now seen as a creative way to bring a splash of colour, texture and pattern to your home.
The key to avoiding fusty collections of ceramics is to display contemporary, informal pieces with playfulness.
‘The beauty of handmade ceramics is their imperfection,’ says Elicyon’s Charu Gandhi, who is using wall-hung glazed tiles in her latest project.
‘All pottery shows small flaws that tell a story of being spun on the wheel, shaped by hand and fired in the kiln — making each piece unique,’ she says. Here’s how to get the look…
Plate it up: A wall display works well in a bathroom. Inset, Villa Bologna Pottery’s Scroll design
Deciding where to hang a plate collection and in what way depends on personal taste. ‘For a classic look, symmetry is important, as is choosing an appropriate location,’ says Sophie Edwards, owner of Villa Bologna Pottery.
‘Plates look good when hung in a kitchen or dining room because they have natural context there. Historically, more valuable decorative ones would be displayed, so using highly decorated pieces is a good option.’
They look effective hung generously and in freeform across a central wall, or, off-centre and in smaller areas — either side of a window in a vertical row, or on a wall between doors.
Hang small collections at eye level and avoid hanging larger groups in grid formation as this can look austere. Instead, mix it up for a relaxed feel.
‘Displaying a series featuring different motifs is a lovely approach,’ says Charu. ‘Personally, I like to mix different colours, shapes and sizes.’
Don’t overlook less obvious places. Hanging plates around alcoves or fireplaces, landings, cloakrooms, corners and either side of mirrors can bring groupings alive.
To source pieces, try antique fairs such as Ardingly in West Sussex, and Kempton in Surrey, vintage stores and specialists such as Gavin Houghton and Rachael Cocker. Bettina Ceramica’s ceramic coats of arms and holy water stoups also look chic.
Try mixing Villa Bologna’s Stripes dinner plates, £28, with its Scroll side plates, £22, for an updated take.
Recipe for success
A striking result is all in the hang, which means putting in the prep. Measure your space then recreate the dimensions on the floor, laying out plates to finesse an arrangement.
Next, using a tape measure, mark out the chosen grouping on the wall.
For a bohemian look, start by hanging the largest pieces in the middle or towards the bottom of your space, then work outwards until you have a perfectly imperfect arrangement.
Leaving different-sized spaces between plates will look less contrived and make them easier to hang. When it comes to fixing plates to walls, there are several options.
For a fuss-free, invisible look, go for Disc Plate Hangers for Walls, £3, Amazon, a strong self-adhesive disc with hook which sticks to the back of the plate.
Or try classic wire-spring plate display hangers, also available online.
Decorative options include resting plates on plaster brackets, but double up with another hanging method to prevent accidental knocks.
‘Plates can be used on a daily basis,’ concludes Sophie Edwards, ‘yet they are also often passed down the generations and carry a wealth of tradition.’
The perfect excuse to let your walls do the talking.
In the round
The popularity of Mediterranean ceramics has prompted the rise in ceramics collections. Lifestyle store Summerill & Bishop has tapped into the trend with its latest table linens, which have patterns taken from traditional Portuguese Azulejos tiles.
To mark the launch, the exterior of its West London shop is studded with many blue-and-white vintage plates from charity shops, which will eventually be made into cake stands and returned.
That European spirit has been given a contemporary twist at Villa Bologna Pottery, too. Sophie Edwards and her husband Rowley have breathed new life into the heritage brand born in Malta in 1924.
‘There is nothing more nostalgic, creative and sustainable than handmade ceramics,’ says Sophie.
‘I also love that collections of hung plates can look either eccentric or traditional. I particularly enjoy them hanging symmetrically in pairs either side of a doorway.’