“Dust off your favorite pieces of china and silver and use them,” says Sara Ward, owner of Sara Kathryn’s in Fayetteville, who advises her clients to mix and match their old and new finds when entertaining. “I focus on the home as a personal retreat, and I encourage my clients to make their own heavens, regardless of square footage or budgets.” She has centered her store on creating a gracious lifestyle, and she encourages her customers to mix and match old and new finds to amass unique collections. An example of this is Ward’s own tablescape, complete with her personal set of hand-painted antique porcelain, crystal and silver.
Her love of antiques began with her mother, who was the key inspiration for Sara’s store, and many of the porcelain and crystal pieces were handed down from her. “My mother was a talented artist, avid reader, master gardener and a passionate collector of antiques,” Ward says. “I shared her interests from very early in my life, and she was extremely supportive of my decision to open my shop.”
Antique porcelain plates and servers in pink, blue and cream floral motifs anchor the tabletop setting, and establish the color scheme. Originally produced between the late 1700s until 1930, primarily in Europe and Japan, porcelain’s distinguishing characteristic is its degree of translucency. “The translucent quality is obtained from the type of clay and minerals that form the paste used in its production,” Ward explains. “Some of my clients like to focus on collecting a favorite image, such as scenic or figural, while others look for a particular motif, like flora or fauna, game birds or fish.”
To complement her assortment of plates, Ward mixes in vintage crystal. The wine and champagne glasses are etched with botanical patterns that pick up the floral motif, while the cake stand is trimmed in color. “Some of my favorite pieces include the cranberry-color rimmed cake stand and the set of crystal knife rests from Sweden in the shape of fish,” she says. “They are a perfect example of unique pieces that aren’t replicated today.”
The silver cutlery is a collection in itself, and Ward stresses how easy it is to find one or two pieces at antique stores, resale shops and even garage sales. “Often people are searching for an entire set of silver, which can be difficult to find and quite expensive,” she says. “It’s fun and easy to pick up one or two utensils when you come across them and create a personal assortment.”
Ward also incorporates unusual shapes like jardinières, cachepots and tankards, which she finds add charm to one’s overall collection. “I encourage people to reinvent uses for these treasures, and don’t hide them away in a cabinet,” she says. “For my table, I’ve used pitchers as vases and cake plates for petit fours. Also, crystal goblets are great votive holders, and small crystal compotes are the perfect size for serving hors d’oeuvres.”
When compiled together on a pristine table with fresh flowers, these items that were pleasing alone gain a greater sense of purpose and style, notes Ward, adding that their shared historic value creates a one-of-a-kind dining experience. “No sense in keeping beautiful items locked away,” Ward says. “They were made to be used and enjoyed.”