The shabby-chic look has invaded the rental market, with companies exclusively dedicated to mismatched vintage china and tableware popping up across the country. Why is the style on the rise? “Mismatched china can add character to a corporate environment and set an event apart from the standard white-plates-in-a-hotel-ballroom look,” says Kathy Le Backes of the Vintage Table Company in Los Angeles. “For guests, it conjures up a sense of nostalgia and personal connection. I’m always hearing people at events say things like, ‘My grandma had that same china pattern!’”
Most of these new vintage-specific rental operations have an inventory that includes glassware and serving pieces in addition to plates, but bear in mind that quantities may be limited, as the owners continually build up their collections, which usually range between 200 and 500 settings. And because the pieces are sourced from estates, thrift stores, and flea markets, complete matching place settings typically aren’t an option.
“Clients often see a certain pattern on my Web site and think I have 50 more of the same plate, but usually I just have that one,” Le Backes says. “It’s important to be into the mismatched look if you want to use a vintage rental company.”