This is the classic question of minimalists everywhere: “How many (fill-in-the-bank) is the right number?” 

  • Probably less than I currently own.
  • Probably more than one per person.
  • So how many?!

Do you entertain?  We are more likely to meet someone in a restaurant than we are to have them in our home.  Therefore we don’t need many dishes.  How about you?

Do you have a dishwasher?  If you do, then you need enough dishes so that you’re not running partial washer loads – that would waste water.  We don’t have a dishwasher, therefore we don’t need nearly as many dishes.  How about you?

Do you wash dishes after every meal? I am more likely to wash dishes once a day, therefore having enough dishes to go three meals before washing is ideal for me.  How about you?

Do you love dishes?  I do.  I love a wide variety of shapes and sizes and I am often drawn to delicate patterns and vivid colors, and I love an eclectic combination of patterns far more than a set.  This means I have more dishes than I need.

*A materialist will have ALL the dishes, and different sets for different seasons plus casual/formal indoor/outdoor dishes.

*A minimalist will have one per person – less if possible.

*Both tend to place an over-emphasis on stuff.

***Simplicity is having only what you need and what you love.

I don’t have nearly as many dishes as I used to, but many of them are far more beautiful than the ones I used to use.  This is all about quality over quantity for me.  I’ve found the sweet spot that works for me and I’m here to help you find what works for you.

Start with two place settings per person.

Gone are the days of having a special glass for every kind of drink served in your home.

Wow, the marketers really got us on that one, didn’t they? lol! In tiny house living we are much more creative and flexible. Never mind the “right” glass… what’s your favorite glass? Automatically donate any plastic drink ware and recycle any cracked or chipped glasses and choose your favorite travel mug instead of keeping a cabinet full of them. Watch the video and then make your selections, moving the rest to the donate box. Then clean out the kitchen cabinet and return only your favorites.  I suggest three per person.

Start with two glasses per person.


Take a look at your flatware and choose your favorites,

…then add the rest to the donation box, and clean out the drawer or containers.

  • Again, don’t allow marketing to lock you into ideas of formal and casual, or make you feel that you have to keep sets or pieces you don’t use just for the sake of some notion about “value”.
  • If you have grandmother’s silver, take that out and access the situation. Choose the pieces you appreciate and enjoy, choose the pieces that feel somehow special and allow the rest to go to the donation box or give to family or friends.
  • You’ll end up setting a table where each element has meaning and function, and that will be a delight for the senses.

I choose miss-matched silver pieces, some from my family, and some I happened upon at a lovely antique mall where my Austrian and I had a great time exploring all the different patterns and choosing the individual items we liked the best. Using these beautiful knives, forks, and spoons is so special because they are each beautiful, and because of the memories we have of picking them out and enjoying them together in our tiny house.

These beautiful details remind us that living in a tiny house is a purposeful choice, and not a sacrifice.

Start with three sets of flatware per person – and keep extra spoons.

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Here are a few tips for purchasing dinnerware, glasses, and flatware:


Photo Oct 28, 6 56 05 PMClassic Fiesta-ware has the look of hand thrown pottery (without the artisan price) and there are LOTS of fantastic colors to choose from. My sister-in-law chose these in a variety of colors and her table always looks gorgeous. These are sold per place-setting allowing you to purchase only the number you need and allowing you to mix and match for lots of lovely colors at the table. The price seems to vary a bit per color, but the gorgeous cobalt blue comes in at $28 for the place setting and the color choices are spectacular. There are a variety of Fiesta Jumbo Cup, 18 oz, Slate mug shapes available as well. These can also be found in antique shops as Fiesta has been making beautiful kitchenware since 1936. Talk about an American classic!

$$ BUDGET FRIENDLY TIP: Visit thrift & antique stores and mix and match some interesting china patterns. You may save some money over purchasing new plates, and end up with a more interesting table.

add the flatware…


$$ BUDGET FRIENDLY TIP: We found a booth in an antique market that sold silver-plate flatware by the piece, and there were only $2 each. We had so much fun digging through the bins and finding the patterns we liked best! Now we use this lovely miss-matched silver-plate flatware all the time and enjoy it. Forget notions of “formal” and “casual” – that’s just savy marketing. Chose your favorites.

now add the glasses..

$$ BUDGET FRIENDLY TIP: We tend to buy glassware at thrift stores. My Austrian has a knack for finding beautiful blown glasses – the wonkier the better – and we usually pay less than a dollar per glass. None of them match, but each one is beautiful in it’s own way. If we happen to break one, we know it’s not a big loss. Take the time to visit your local thrift stores. While you’re at it – take a few boxes of things from your home to donate.

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Consider this:

  • You’ll have much less to take care of.
  • You’ll reset your personal sense of what you need.
  • You’ll find that your kitchen feels much more spacious.
  • You won’t miss anything you’ve gotten rid of.
  • You’ll feel lighter.


Photo Oct 25, 6 44 00 PM