How to Arrange a China Cabinet

How to arrange a china cabinet

Offering a flourish of sophistication and the ability to keep your finest crockery on display, a china cabinet is the perfect piece of furniture in any home. Despite being available in a variety of shapes and sizes, china cabinets all possess the same purpose. But if you’re unfamiliar with this item of furniture or simply don’t know how best to arrange it, Crown French Furniture has all the answers.


In this guide, we explain what a china cabinet is, where they’re traditionally situated in the home and what you can put inside one, as well as tips on how you can display certain items in your china cabinet.

What is a china cabinet?

Traditionally built from solid wood with transparent glass panels, a china cabinet is an elegant item of furniture that is utilised for displaying fine china and other items of crockery. Although similar to display cabinets, china cabinets typically only have glass panels at the front, whereas some display cabinets may have them at the sides. This is a unique design that is purposed to direct the viewer’s attention to the front of the cabinet and at the fine china within rather than any other section of the cabinet.

A China cabinet full of crockery displayed in a dining room.

Where to put a china cabinet

A china cabinet is often best displayed in the corner of a living room or dining room. Not usually intended to be the centrepiece of a room, these elegant items tend to modestly reside to the side of a window or fireplace. However, if a china cabinet would suit the style of different areas of the home such as the hallway or a bedroom, it may also work within these areas instead.

What to put in a china cabinet besides china

As the name suggests, the intention of china cabinets is to display fine china. But that’s not to say you couldn’t use it for other items. For example, you could consider other types of crockery such as dinner plates, decorative bowls, gold or silverware, dishes or tea sets.


Other items you could display in a china cabinet also include:

  • Awards
  • Books
  • Candles
  • Framed pictures
  • Heirlooms
  • Ornaments

How to display a tea set in a china cabinet

If you want to use your china display cabinet for its intended purpose, you may be interested to learn how best to display plates and other crockery sets within it. You should start by removing everything from the cabinet and plan out how and where you intend on placing each item.

Starting at the top and working your way down, look to place larger items at the top and smaller items at the bottom. A traditional tea set will usually include a teapot, milk jug, cups and saucers and a sugar bowl. For any particularly large items, display them at the top as the centrepiece of the cabinet with the milk jug, sugar bowl and other items around it. Then, for the teapot, consider placing it at the centre of your tea set on a lower level before setting out the cups and saucers around it.

How to stand plates up in a china cabinet

Alongside a tea set, you may decide to display other similar items. For example, this could include tall glasses, vases and ornaments that suit the style of china already in the cabinet. Plates are also common components in a china cabinet, and they can work well to fill up space and add more colour and variation to the appearance. However, it could be more visually pleasing to display them standing up, making it easier for people to see them.


To stand plates up in a china cabinet, there are two main options: using decorative display plate stands or leaning them against the back of each level. Although both are worth considering, leaning plates against the back can be effective providing it can be done safely and you have enough plates for the look to work. You can then put them at the back of each level of the cabinet to show a consistent pattern. Alternatively, if you only have a few plates or a set in varying sizes, you could use decorative display plate stands to utilise them as your centrepiece on the top level of your cabinet or set them out around key areas.

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