A Little Vintage Pretty in the Kitchen – Dinner Glasses

I’ve been busy with some challenging and delightful home projects, and I can’t wait to share a few with you!  Today:  dinner glasses.  Vintage.  Charming.  Pretty.  Functional.

Who doesn’t enjoy a little pretty in the kitchen?  I do!  But, it’s got to be practical, organized, functional, stocked….and not break the family budget!

We enjoy using glass at the table, especially a nice table.  I have stone tile floors.  What does that say to you?  Breakage?  Yep.  It happens.  AND….I have little people….so I have definite thoughts on the shape and size of glasses for their little hands.  (Yes, I do give toddlers glasses, too.)  My thoughts on drinking glasses:
  • Little people need little glasses – juice size.
  • They must be heavier at the base than at the top.
  • They should not be completely smooth on the sides, but have some kind of texture which helps with grip.
  • They should not be disproportionately wider at the top than at the bottom, because this makes them easier to tip.
  • A handle on a glass (I’ve learned) is a terribly good thing!
My dinner glass supply was dwindling, and I had not been happy with my last *stuff-mart* purchase of glasses, so I set out to research a good glass – one that met my requirements.  I decided on glasses I had owned before – jelly glasses from Vermont Country Store.  Tres chic?  Not really.  But, practical and holdable, and they meet all my requirements quite nicely.  They were going to be costly since I was down to something like 4 glasses in the cupboard, but I liked that I could replace one or two at a time when a few were broken.
I had my finger poised over the buy-it button, and something (life) kept interrupting the times I was planning to sit down and make my purchase (isn’t that frustrating!!  But in this case, it was the perfect intervention!).  Somewhere in there, I went to our thrift store, not for glasses, but I decided to take a stroll down the glassware aisle anyway since I had been obsessing about dinner glasses it had been on my mind.  I found SO MANY glasses that met my requirements and then some….and for next to nothing.  So, I started thinking….expensive glasses break just as easily as glasses that cost a nickel!  And glassware from the thrift store can easily be replaced without the encumbrance of shipping!

In a wink, I gave myself permission to find my glasses outside of a completely matching set, but I did long for some kind of coordination.  As I was looking at the shelves….and SHELVES of glasses, I began to notice some similarities and some differences.  I began to pull out a few glasses I liked and grouped them together.  What I discovered was that they looked pleasing as a collection, and the eye looks past the pattern differences and settles on the single common theme – clear glass!  Seeking clear glass would give me a vintage, old-fashioned look while providing some cohesiveness – all the glasses would be clear.

I was overjoyed and set about to choose dinner glasses in larger sizes for adults and big kids and smaller sizes for the little people.  What I ended up with is utterly charming right alongside terribly practical and insanely cheap!  

I got my glasses from two thrift stores and spent a total of $5 on all of them.  I was thrilled to have found the most delightful and functional of glassware, meeting all of my ridiculous requirements (and some of them exceeded my requirements….like those little glasses with handles!  My toddler just loves those!)
I even found several of those jelly glasses I was originally looking for – so that was a bonus!

Many of the glasses are older….ahem….excuse me….vintage!  They have a charm all their own, and practically speaking, the actual glass on these is often much thicker and therefore seems much more durable.

Isn’t that a charming delight?  
Inexpensive pretty!!  

I’ll share a secret with you!  If you’re looking to add some collections of items to your kitchen and need a budget friendly way to add pretty and function – go with solid colors as a theme, rather than a pattern.  See how well it works with clear glasses!  And look how great it works when you stick with a white theme in dinnerware!  You’re not restricted to single patterns and exclusive stores and designs, but are free to shop here and there from sales, flea markets, and thrift stores!  As long as you keep your color theme in mind!

This dinnerware collection is mostly representative of other thrifted finds!  On the top shelf is a full set of Ironstone I found at a thrift store – the whole bin for $40!  The rest is from here and there – some modern, some traditional, others vintage – but it all works!  Because it’s all a creamy white!

Don’t you just love how pretty a little vintage can be in the kitchen?  And I’m just smitten with the simplicity of setting a color theme rather than a pattern or brand theme.  It’s unifying and charming all at once.

* .::. *

With all the projects I’ve been working on around here, I can hardly wait to share more!  We repainted the kitchen, repurposed and repainted some old cheap bookshelves for extra storage in the kitchen, and in my bedroom I set up a little sewing & crafting area for myself which I truly can’t wait to show you pictures of!  (There’s more vintage there – I came up with an inexpensive way to decorate with vintage sewing patterns!)  The learning room has gotten a few new project additions, too, and those projects came out so neat (think ugly furniture challenge meets oilcloth!!)!  So much to share!  Stick around!

Thrifting is such a fantastic and frugal way to meet our functional and utilitarian needs….and brings with it a touch of charm as well!  Wouldn’t our grandmothers be proud of us?  They knew how to live frugally!

Share with me!  Have you discovered great ways to answer the needs of your home in thrifty ways?  Ways that add vintage charm and practical usefulness?  If so, I’d be delighted if you’d share and leave me a comment!

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  1. David loves 'smoky grey glasses'
    He even has my friends hunting for him in op shops:)
    Very popular in the 70s not so much pretty as practical. His criteria; they have handles, good bases(so agree with you there) can be used for hot or cold drinks, fit well in the dishwasher, and rarely break on our timber floors, they often bounce. If they break they don't shatter but fragment into a pile.

    Love your colour tip, going to keep that in mind:) We mostly buy our bowls(often breaking) at op shops but I go for more practical, size to fit cereal in and fit in the dishwasher well. but if I had a choice white is my preference.

    Mmm tips; well I used an op shop doona case to make my girls nightgowns

    I love op shop finds, but I'm often practical not always pretty. I'm striving to find my pretty soul.

  2. Jen! You have no idea how helpful this is for me. I am quickly filling my house with more blessed little babies and thus running out of plates, bowls, glasses, and flatware to cover us all for meals. I am always wanting to keep it pretty, but I have no idea how. I am hopeless at home decorating. Your unifying color… brilliant! I almost want to run to the thrift store right now! Thanks for the tip!

  3. We are firm believers in the value of shopping at thrift stores and garage sales. The majority of my books were purchased at Goodwill. My house is furnished in hand-me-downs, except for bookcases 🙂 We use white and blue mason jars for our drinking use, and I have also purchased all my white dinnerware at thrift stores. I also use a lot of Pyrex, for mixing and storing. Can't wait to see your “new” spaces!

  4. I'm right with you, Jen! I love my collection of vintage glasses, and especially the freedom of not fretting whenever one hits the tile (which is often). I am particularly smitten with the handled clear glasses with raised patterns like vines on the sides. So 'handy' for the littles as you mentioned (and even for my not-so-little-but-special needs girl -the handle is so helpful). Pretty and functional, for sure! Looking forward to more of your projects.

  5. I love thrift stores, but have so much trouble trying to find time to seek them out. Do you take your kids when you go? We're constantly in need of glasses and mysteriously we have also been running short of plates lately… not sure where those are going…

    Looking forward to seeing your “new” kitchen! 🙂

  6. What a great idea! I hadn't thought about that as I have recently surveyed my dwindling glass and dinnerware collections. Only…it's not my child that is running off with those (ahem – breaking), it's my husband and brother-in-law! LOL!

  7. Oh, I love you all sharing your tips and thrifted favorites!

    I take my little kids with me to the thrift store only rarely!!! I usually have my oldest babysit, but lately my two oldest children enjoy shopping at the thrift store as well, so we have started taking advantage of days when Daddy is home and available to watch the little people. The big kids can stretch their hard earned dollars at the thrift store as well!

    As far as finding a thrift store, we settled on one that is close to us – about 10 minutes away. It's convenient and they have good prices. Rather than hitting several different thrift stores, I usually just enjoy this one and we find we do very well there! An exception might be if I'm looking for something particular, like the extra glassware. This is usually abundant at every thrift store, so when I saw a little Church-based thrift store on the way home from Mass one day I stopped and was rewarded with more glasses for my stash!

    Happy thrifting everyone!

  8. Love it!! I will have to keep this in mind as glasses will inevitably break over the years…

    We have a local junk shop (it's called Grampa's Attic, and my husband makes comments about how it's a wonder the place hasn't been condemned, it's so crowded with stuff! ;), and I found some old silverware in various pretty patterns… now it's probably not real silver, but anyway, I superglued several pieces into a couple of shadowboxes and hung them on either side of my china cabinet in my dining room. I love the vintage look it gives!

    Another neat thrift find was in the hometown of my mother, where her father still lives. She had given me some old plastic plates with a floral pattern that her mother had used for picnic basket plates. I was there in the town where she grew up, and we went into a thrift store, and lo and behold, there were more of the same exact plates her mother had bought at least 30 years before! So of course, I snatched them up! Thrift stores are so much fun!

  9. We got resturant glasses (from sam's club) when we got married 12 years ago and have only lost one! This was a gret purchase or I guess I should say a gift! I have seen them bonce when they hit the floor instead of breaking. Of course, they don't fit requirement for little ones, but I have lost almost all other glasses they I have bought at garage sales or received as gifts, but these remain. I love them!

  10. Thanks Jen. I love when things are timely. I was just going to order glasses TODAY, when I took a few minutes to catch up on my Google Reader. Instead, dh might hit the thrift store at lunch:)

  11. I just love the way you think! The simplicity of the off-white dishes and all glass is very soothing.

    I always try and buy something I need second hand first, rather than going out and paying top dollar for something new. I think it is being a good steward of our resources. Not to mention, I thouroughly enjoy the challenge.


  12. Wonderful! Your collection of glasses if very similar to ours, netted in the same way. My most recent search has been for tiny glasses, like the ones shrimp coctail used to come in. Cool designs, and the kids love to use them.

    I learned a thrifting tip from a friend long ago, who mostly furnished her home with found or thrifted objects. She kept a running wish list that she carried to garage sales and thrift stores: chandelier, shelf, etc.

    I've taken her lead and keep a mental list. It makes thrifting less overwhelming, and now I can't stand to buy things new when something old, with more character and for much less money, may be found. We have a small amount of cabinet space, and need to be creative in the kitchen. Found: black painted china cabinet; antique buffet/counter that once graced a store and needed some refinishing. Works for homeschooling too; we've found bookshelves, chairs, stacks of vintage classics and a set of My Book House books from garage and library sales.

    Can't wait to see what you've done in the kitchen, as we ponder an inexpensive but dramatic redo here!

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