Hanging Decorative Plates Hanging Decorative Plates

Q: I have a beautiful Italian platter that was my grandmother's. I never use it because I'm afraid it will break, and yet the colors and style would fit perfectly in my dining room. I'd like to hang it from the wall, but I'm unsure how to do this, or how secure it will be. Any ideas?

A: As long as you're not living on the San Andreas Fault, you should be able to hang even a heavy plate or platter from the wall and enjoy it for years without fear of it falling.

And well you should. You don't want to move into the retirement home thinking, "If only I'd enjoyed that platter...." We should take proper care of our belongings, but the beautiful things we have we should enjoy, especially if they also have sentimental value.

But there's a design-savvy reason to use things other than framed pictures for decoration. If you hang the platter, or arrange the Mexican baskets on top of the bookshelf, or hang the antique quilt on the wall, you'll break out of the expected. A room with a painting hanging on each wall runs the risk of looking static and old-fashioned. Hanging other items instead can break up the usual patterns.

The dining room is a great place to use "plate-art," because any tableware, by its nature, fits in with the decor.

Start by finding heavy-duty plate hangers, which you should be able to buy in any well-stocked home supplies store. These are spring-loaded, so that they grasp the edges of the plate firmly. For a heavier plate, choose one that grasps the entire rim of the plate, not just one or two spots.

Next, lay out the plate on a piece of plain brown paper (a paper bag will work fine). Draw the outline of the plate on the paper, and cut it out. This way, you can tape the outline in the spot on the wall where you think you may hang the plate, and see how it looks. It may look smaller than you'd expected, or the shape of it may need some work. You can then consider hanging other items alongside the plate.

As with any redecorating project, try living with it - in this case, with the cutout - for a few days to see if you like the placement. Then try it on another wall, or a little further up, or down.

Hanging plates offers an interesting 3-dimensional look to a room, and has versatility, because you can group them however you like. If you have more than one plate, you can form an arch over a doorway, or use them as a border along the top of the wall.

Once you decide on the placement, make sure you like the wall color with the color of the plate. This may be the time to consider re-painting the wall with something that will set off the color of the plate. Try a wall color that picks up a strong color in the detail work on the platter.

Just to be on the safe side, consider hanging the platter above a piece of furniture, to reduce the chances of someone inadvertently knocking it down.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design.

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