Why a plate display wall works so well:
Groups of vintage plates displayed on a wall are an easy way to add interest and fill up a wall, without having to invest a lot, plus it works with various decorating styles, from cottage to contemporary. Modern plates work too, and there are some amazing melamine trays that would be so easy to hang. Citta Design has some fantastic designs if you decide to go down that route. They’re so light I’d trust 3M Velcro tape too, making the job way easier.
We had a boring wall between the kitchen and dining area that was crying out for some amazing art, but the vintage plate wall served as an affordable design connection for both spaces, each revolving around food as they do (like that deep design theory there?). I love a bit of glam and I’ve been a collector of collections since Scandinavian Family days (that range is still super-expensive by the way) so the idea of building up a long-term collection definitely appealed. Sorry if I get you hooked too.
Ways to hang your plate collection:
There are generally three ways to arrange your plate collection:
- Haphazard: can be messy to look at, but it’s also relaxed if you have a thing about too much structure. Here are some fantastic examples: this one next to a door and this one extending across a corner (image 7 in the slideshow)
- Shaped: various sizes, but grouped in a shape. Here’s some inspiration from a dedicated DIYer: she sourced shapes she liked, and sprayed them all white for continuity.
- Grid: plates with something in common, whether it’s the design/colours/shape, hung in a grid. This is what I went for. I chose simple designs, white/cream primary colour with gold accents. These would look great hung however you like, but because I had so many shapes, a grid seemed logical.
My plan was for a 3×3 grid. Trying to get all the different shapes working in this format wasn’t fun with all their different sizes, add to that the whole “how do I keep these on the wall” without nana-ish looking plate-holders?” issue. No. I don’t trust my expertise with 3M: we’ve had a checkered history with precious things. Lucky for you, you get the benefit of all my mistakes – instructions are below.
Source your plates. I started out buying it all up on Trade Me, branched out to the local op-shops (where I left my number and became known as the “plate lady”), and second-hand stores too (some gems to be found). I was nearly there, and then hit a wall (ha!). I couldn’t find what I was looking for to finish it. Luckily, I remembered Bec! She’s a lovely antenatal group friend who moved away from Wellington and is now a clever vintage hunter. She dug out a few treasures for me (as you do!) and my collection was complete. Totally hit her up for vintage stuff, she can source anything and is super reasonable.
Get some paper, even newspaper will do. Lay each plate on top of paper, draw around each plate. Cut out plate shapes. You don’t even get a pic of that one, its so easy (aka I forgot). Blu-tak/washi tape the plate shapes up onto the wall, having a play with the composition, until you are happy with the overall look. Give it time. Mine stayed on the wall long enough for the resident graffiti artist to make her mark.
Apply these disc plate hangers to the back of each plate**. Such a great find and so cheap. Also an excellent lesson for me in sourcing locally. I was seriously about to pay to ship these from the States via Etsy before I stumbled upon them in a shop literally 10 minutes from my house. So – back to the discs: you basically wet the holder, which has a glue coating on it, smudge the glue with your fingertips a little, and then place it firmly on the plate and wait for it to dry. Different sizes for different weights/sizes of plates. Not rocket science, don’t be scared. The only trick is to not place the disc too high up the plate, otherwise you’ll see the hook once the plate is hung. The discs themselves can be removed from the plate if you suddenly feel the urge to use it as…you know…a plate. You just soak it off in warm water. For a brief time I considered being super-clever and making my own hooks – Pinterest land is full of people doing this with hot glue and paper clips, even duct tape. I however, live in an Earthquake city. Best hand this job over to the proffs I say. And I’m seriously not patient enough.
**these discs are awesome UNLESS you are hanging see-through or milk-glass plates. You do not want to be seeing the yellow holder through the plates. Kinda ruins the look. I still used a milk plate in my display though, because I’m a high-end risk taker, you can spot it top left hang corner in last shot below.
Once plate holders are dry, place plates on top of your paper shapes, and using a pencil, mark through the hook where the nail needs to go. Hammer in nails through each marked dot, then hang plates on wall. Make sure you’re happy with it, then remove plate, rip paper off and put hook on nail again. Thorough instructions huh. Here’s a progress shot:
Hang plates on wall. I’m not lying, mine wasn’t perfect first go: had to make adjustments. The secret really is making sure that the plate hanger hooks are in the right plate, not too low for the plate or too high so that it shows above. You can see I stuffed it up on the top left hand corner one.
And there you have it! Final shot below. The eagle-eyes amongst you will note my plates mysteriously changed. That’s the warning that comes with this project. It’s a bit addictive, especially when you get one with a convex mirror: so good. I’m not done either – will be adding another row to the bottom too. Now tag me in your Instagram pics please, I’d love to see what you do with this @houseofralph #platewalldisplay .