I find that, as the daffodils and grape hyacinths appear, my own need for hibernation begins to wane. It is exciting to feel spring in the air and entertaining is always something I want to do when coming out of the winter slumber, leading me fairly swiftly to the china cupboard.
I have a slight problem with overbuying china, glass and all the stuff that goes on the table, including unusual condiments brought back from far-flung places. My stock of table linens, though, is quite low and I am working on improving this. I have just purchased 12 D Porthault voile napkins with pink scalloped edges – an Ebay find. While on this virtual shopping trip, I went from Ebay to 1stdibs, where I splurged on a set of six beautiful hand-painted ‘Izmir’ plates by Laboratorio Paravicini for Cabana magazine. These are the sorts of things I love buying – those extra plates that you do not really need but that look fabulous with cheese and salad. They are quite rustic and seem to suit that course. They also work well outside, as they are a slightly heavier weight.
I have mentioned it before, but Summerill & Bishop always gets my heart rate up. Its linens are divine – my favourite is the ‘Bernadette’s Falling Flower’ design and the cloths with words scrawled over them, which form a fabulous abstract pattern on the table. I have also recently discovered Angela Wickstead, who shows her linens via her Instagram account (@angela_wickstead). The colours are glorious and all are bespoke. Take a look and fall into a sweet shop of tabletop options (orders can be placed through [email protected]). She also has candles to finish off the look.
The Conran Shop has a china room where you can order services, and fabulous glass and tableware throughout the store. I adore Carlo Moretti’s tumblers and the charming plates by Ceramiche Fasano with vegetables painted on them. Who can resist a painted radish or pea pod on the spring table?
For glasses, Alex Eagle has some of the most desirable, from her own-brand Venetian glasses with coloured rims to the beautiful Giberto Venezia hexagonal green tumblers. Venetian tumblers can be very fine and, when they are, they make good wine glasses, I think.
Antique shops on Lillie Road, SW6, such as M Charpentier and Maison Artefact, always have good pieces, as does Gardiner and Gardiner, if you are anywhere near Inverness. In fact, there is such a slew of beautiful things that the real problem is storage. In my flat, I created a deep enough jamb in the space between the kitchen and the dining room to make shelves for glasses. Alternatively, get a proper china cupboard. The one pictured above, at my mother’s house, was made for her by William Yeoward and, unlike built-in furniture, has moved with her. Blanc d’Ivoire (blancdivoire.com) is another good source, as is Decorative Collective for something old.