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Decorating with Ironstone

See how decorating with ironstone can be simple and pleasing to the eye. This classic dishware is not only useful, but it’s also beautiful!

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Pinterest graphic with text overlay "easy decor ideas ironstone" with ironstone pieces in the background to show how to decorate with ironstone.

decorating with ironstone

Can you remember when you first started to love ironstone? Or maybe you are just now getting interested in it?

My love for ironstone came within the first two years of being married over 37 years ago. Hubby and I moved in with my father-in-law just weeks after his wife of almost 30 years had died from a long battle with cancer.

My hubby thought it would be a good idea to help his dad go through the grief and I completely agreed.

While we lived there, we used a certain ironstone pitcher for iced tea each night with dinner. Hubby’s family had used it at the dinner table for as many years as he could remember and he isn’t sure where it came from. There is speculation that it came from his grandmother.

You can see it on the dining table in the image below. It’s the one on the right and towards the front of the image. And it’s a big one! It holds almost a full gallon of iced tea!

That started my collection of these beautiful pieces. Although I have found many pieces to add to the collection, they could never mean as much as this pitcher.

Full view of dining room showing ironstone dishes and other spring home decor.

why is it called ironstone?

We can talk more about my ironstone pitcher collection in another post and I can show you more of that pitcher then.

Today, let’s chat about decorating with ironstone. But first, let me say that we use our ironstone every day!

Ironstone is really durable. In fact, that is why it is called ironstone! It is strong and durable like iron even though it doesn’t contain iron. It was first created in the early 1800s and is glazed earthenware that was patented by Charles James Mason.

Most pieces are stamped on the bottom but not all pieces have the stamp. It’s often a heavy piece that feels solid. It’s hard to describe but once you have handled a few ironstone pieces, you can tell whether or not it is the real deal.

See those ironstone soup tureens on the buffet in the back of our dining room? That’s what we will take a look at today!

Ironstone tureens in the background with dining table in the foreground with ironstone pitchers.

ironstone razor/toothbrush holder

Ok, I know I said we would take a look at the tureens but first let’s peek at this little gem! This is a razor or toothbrush holder. Sorry, I didn’t get an image of the inside of this unique piece – I will try to remember to snap one the next time we talk about decorating with ironstone!

This little vintage goodie was found at a farmer’s sale in Federalsburg, Maryland. We attend each August. For the most part, it’s old-time farm equipment and steam engine farming equipment that is displayed.

But they also have vendors who sell their vintage goodies. This piece called my name from the other side of the cornfield aisle! It was only $2. Omgoodness, that just made my day!

Close up view of an ironstone razor and tootbrush dish.

vintage ironstone serving tureens

These little beauties can be found at auctions and vintage shops & markets. They are often missing their lids and sometimes come with lids that don’t belong to the bottom section!

Missing and mismatched lids don’t bother me one bit! They are all lovely to me! We have used these pieces for special occasions as serving dishes. Golly, I’ve had my daily salad for lunch in them!

When decorating with a collection of ironstone, it’s a good idea to group them in odd numbers. Groups of threes and fives work well. But so does just one by itself.

My taste lends itself toward asymmetry with balance like you see on top of this antique sideboard. Having pieces to matchy-match and equal on both sides seems a bit perfect for my taste. The curated look is what I aim for in our home.

ironstone soup tureen

This is the most recent ironstone soup tureen added to my collection. The depth of the dish got my attention right away! Most of these tureens are shallow.

Close up of an antique ironstone soup tureen serving dish sitting on top of a vintage book.

soup tureen or serving dish

By the way, I. have seen these dishes called soup tureens, vegetable dishes and serving dishes. Maybe there is a proper name for them – I use the terms interchangeably.

The crackling on this one is so delicate looking! Isn’t it funny how we see age, crackling, and defects on a dish as desirable but we look at our own aging faces in the mirror and don’t have the same thoughts??

Let’s change that ok? The next time you look in the mirror and see wrinkles, crackling, and age spots instead of seeing them as a negative, see them as marks of beauty.

Just like we see in the soup tureen, deal? Deal!

Close up of an antique ironstone soup tureen used to decorate with ironstone.

ironstone pitchers

Just for fun, I added a few images of some of our ironstone pitchers. We will take a better look at these next time!

Ironstone milk paint

Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint has a paint color called Ironstone and I have used it several times to paint pieces in our home. This high chair is painted in Ironstone milk paint and more recently, this little Longaberger basket.

Truth be known, I first bought Ironstone milk paint purely because of the name!

Painted Longaberger basket with a Fiddle plant inside painted in Ironstone milk paint by Miss Mustard Seed's milk paint.
Antique high chair painted in an ironstone color, antique sideboard with ironstone serving dishes all to show how to decorate with ironstone.

shopping for ironstone on Etsy

Etsy is a great place to shop for ironstone. You can read the reviews of each shop and ask questions about the piece before you buy it. Etsy has a huge selection of ironstone pieces but I just strolled through the antique ironstone tureens to see what is available. I also checked out some of the razor/toothbrush holders.

Hope you enjoy looking at these gorgeous pieces – maybe you will start or add them to your own collection!

Click on any of the images below to shop on Etsy for these beautiful and useful pieces!

BTW, the little tureen sitting on the stack of red books is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! I might have to get that one for my ironstone collection!

Use the links below to purchase ironstone pieces for your home! You are helping to support this blog and all the decorating inspiration we offer here! Thanks so much!😊

more inspiring posts!

Feel free to click on the images below to see more of our ironstone collection. Look for more posts in the coming months about my collection!

Pin the image below to your home decor and decorating boards! Just click the pin button at the top left corner!

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22 Comments

  1. I was shopping Goodwill when I spied an ironstone chamber pot. Before I could get to it a young woman picked it up. I asked her if she knew what it was and she said yes, an old soup tureen. I told her no and explained! She hastily sat it down and I now use it for my cat food dish!

    1. Omgoodness that is the best story ever!!! I’m so glad she set it back down so you could grab it! It’s so funny the things we love to decorate with. A few years ago, I acquired an ironstone ‘slop pot.’ It was used to collect food scraps for the day and then thrown out to the pigs. Mine is currently holding a bunch of dried lavendar. I’ll try to remember to share it in my next ironstone post! 😊

    2. I love ironstone. I have many soup tureen. The more crazing on my pieces the better. I don’t mind it. It let’s me know it was loved

      1. We agree on the cracking! It’s all character and I love it too!😊

  2. Ironstone is irresistible! Pretty AND practicable. You can’t beat that combo! I enjoyed your post, Cindy. Thanks for all of the links — it’s amazing how many different designs there are!

    1. Karen, I couldn’t agree more! Ironstone is classic and that’s one of the reasons I love it! Thanks for stopping by!🥰

  3. Gorgeous! I love Ironstone. Hugs to you, my friend.

    1. We’re in good company! Have a great week Renae!

  4. Gosh I just LOVE ironstone. I started collecting it about 20 years ago and haven’t stopped since. It still continues to be one of the things that consistently sells in my booth. Like you, I use it every day. Pitchers and platters get the most use. I love that you and Steve lived with his father for a time after his wife passed from cancer. That’s real life – sad, messy and beautiful at the same time. Thank you for sharing your life, ironstone collection and thoughts with us.

    1. We’ve sold a couple of ironstone pieces since opening our booth biz five years ago, but it’s hard to sell them because I don’t want to let them go! Thanks for stopping by and reading the post Anna! Your support means so much to me 🥰

  5. You have a lovely ironstone collection, Cindy! I only recently discovered this joy and bought my first thrifted tureen a couple of weeks ago. I see a thing coming…

    1. You will love collecting these pieces! The tureens are all a bit different but also similar. That’s one of the things I love about collecting them🥰

  6. What a stunning Ironstone collection!! It’s so beautiful. I love all the cracks and glazing…probably even more than ones that done’t have them! I love how you have them displayed and styled…so pretty!

    1. Thank you, Rachel! I’m kinda partial to the cracks and character too!😊

  7. I luuuuurve ironstone! Well, I love all kinds of dishes and servingware, but ironstone is so versatile and friendly- it makes a great statement on its own, but it plays well with other dishes too! You have a beautiful collection!

    1. I have a weakness for antique dishes but I usually only purchase ironstone. I wouldn’t have the space for all of the dishes I love!😊

  8. Hey Cindy! I have been collecting white dishes for a while but recently started collecting ironstone! Thanks for the info, it’s very helpful as a new collector! Your soup tureens are lovely! Can’t wait to see more! Donna

    1. White dishes can often blend in with ironstone. I’ll be sharing some white dishes that aren’t ironstone but work well with my collection in a future post. Happy hunting Donna!

  9. As a fellow ironstone collector, I loved this post Cindy.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge of ironstone.
    My grandmother was an antique dealer in Pennsylvania and taught me
    all about ironstone. I am fortunate to have many of her pieces today.

    1. What treasures you have from your grandmother! I would love to have your grandmother’s ironstone knowledge!

  10. Cindy, this is such a beautiful collection. I love reading that you lived with your father in law, I am sure that you were a great comfort to him while he was grieving his wife. How wonderful to have this pitcher to use day to day.

    1. We were blessed to spend time with him during that sad time. And having the pitcher from my hubby’s mom is so special 🥰

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