It’s Time to Get Rid of Your China Cabinet!

If you are already a minimalist, you probably don’t have one of these, and if you have decided to strive for a minimalist life, then it’s time to think through each piece of furniture you own and its usefulness.

Being a minimalist is about being honest. Removing all the things that mask who you really are. Take a deep breath. Take one step at a time. Often times we aren’t hiding our true selves from other people, but rather, we are hiding our true selves from ourselves.

This means admitting to yourself that no amount of beautifully coordinated serving dishes are going to make you Martha Stewart. And that’s okay.

So, if you have a china cabinet and you are serious about living a minimalist lifestyle, let’s take a serious look at this piece of furniture.

First, ask yourself 2 questions:

  1. Do you actually use anything in your china cabinet?
  2. When? Thanksgiving and Christmas?

So, there is a large piece of furniture sitting in the dining room, full of things that are only used for 2 meals a year? So out of 1095 meals you eat, you use some of what’s in this large piece of furniture for 2 of these meals? And if you have more meals, let’s say, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter. Oh, four?

Four meals.

I want you to think about that. Really, pause and think about that for a minute.

Okay, are 60 seconds up?

Are you starting to see how useful useless the china cabinet is?

Let’s take a detailed look at what is inside this cabinet:

Good China. Let’s look at what goes into using good china: First, it all has to be washed because it’s been a year since it was used last and everything is dusty. Then, people are afraid the children will break them or chip them, so they may not be used when the children are little, and people are often picky about who washes the dishes, for the same reason and end up leaving more work for the hostess. Oh, and they can’t be put in the dishwasher. And if you save them for when the kids are grown, guess what? Grandkids! Well, that didn’t quite work out, did it?  What are your options? Well, if you love your china, what about getting rid of your “everyday” china and just using the “good china”? If you don’t love it and it makes for more stress (hand washing, fear of breaking) then, let it go.

And while we’re on the topic of good china… do you have more than one set? Why? Do you have a set just for Christmas? What about from different parents or grandparents? Do you really think they would want you to be burdened with 4 different sets of dishes that never get used? No. They wouldn’t. Let it go.

Serving bowls. Serving bowls really don’t have a place in a minimalist home. Exception: if they double as mixing bowls or fruit bowls and you actually use them as such. Serving bowls only create more dishes and take up space. Think about it: You wash them because, like the good china, it’s dusty since it hasn’t been used for a while, then you remove the food from a pot or mixing bowl and pour it into the serving bowl and now you have 2 things to wash, dry and put away. Keep life simple- let the serving bowls go.

Platters. If you do entertain, I recommend keeping 1 platter. One that works with setting cookies on, piling veggies for a veggie tray or turkey for your holiday meal, and it should be dishwasher safe. Pick a pattern that works for all seasons. Get rid of the one with the turkey and the ones with snowflakes, just keep the plain one. Do think carefully before you keep it, if you haven’t used it in the last year, let it go. And no, you don’t need to keep the china cabinet for just for one platter.

Teapots and tea cups. If you use it several times a week, keep the teapot. Let the teacups go. Use your coffee cups, there is no need to keep 2 things that accomplish the same purpose.

Dessert dishes. Just use the regular plates. Or use paper plates when you have a crowd over. Let the dessert plates go.

Soup Tureens. Who wants more dishes? Just put the pot of soup on the table! It keeps the soup warmer anyway. Let it go.

Soups bowls. To match the tureen? Let them go along with the tureen. Use your regular bowls instead.

Gravy boats. A bowl and a spoon or ladle work just as well. You can even use a pyrex measuring cup!

Seasonal Salt & Pepper shakers. Don’t justify it. Let them go. You only need one set. One.

Vases. If you want one, keep one. Or just use a mason jar.

Bread baskets. Use a bowl or a plate instead.

Candle holders. If they are seasonal, let them go. If you burn candles regularly, keep a set that works for all times of the year. If you don’t burn candles- let the candle holders go.

Candy bowls. As a real foodie, do you really have candy sitting around?

Relish dishes. Just use a regular bowl. There is no need to have a fancy crystal bowl for olives or pickles.

Chip and salsa platters. Use a large bowl and a small bowl.

Stemware. If you use it, keep it. But only keep the amount you need. If you have 4 of each type of stemware only because one day you may need to have champagne glasses, wine glasses, ice tea glasses, etc. then let them go.

Coffee mugs. I know people can have an excess. Don’t feel guilty getting rid of cute ones from secret sisters, students or co-workers. Keep the ones you enjoy and use. If that means 2 character mugs- keep them, if it means getting rid of all the mismatched mugs and getting some plain white ones- then do it! You have my permission. Only keep what you use. 

Books. Has your china cabinet turned into a bookcase? Refer to here and here and let those books go.

Miscellaneous clutter. China cabinets tend to collect clutter. Simply because they sit in a high traffic area and its only purpose is to store things. It doesn’t take very long before it’s overflowing with items. Weed them out! If the item doesn’t have a home, get rid of it. If it needs to be filed, file it. If it needs to be thrown away, release it! Be brutal.

Lastly, get rid of the piece. No point in having an empty china cabinet. Donate it to a good charity thrift store. If it’s an expensive piece, you can write the donation off on your taxes. I’m all for getting rid of things quickly, so I don’t promote garage sales or online sales. Get rid of it while you have motivation to do so.

Then, take a deep breath and enjoy the nice open space!

Click here for more decluttering inspiration.

About the author, Rachel

Hi there! I’m the Joyful Space Specialist. it’s my desire help others create a joyful space of their own and enjoy their time spent at home.


  1. Anonymous on 02/01/2013 at 7:14 PM

    We are building a new house and did not build a dining room. We have a huge country kitchen that is open to the great room and fireplace. There is a large area (not a separate room) for eating and a bar for the same. We were able to sell an entire dining set and the china cabinet. It felt good. We also are doing so many built-ins that we will eventually sell most of our furniture not used for sitting.
    Great article!


    • Rachel on 02/01/2013 at 7:35 PM

      Good for you Kathryn! Your new house sounds wonderful!

  2. Susan on 02/01/2013 at 8:14 PM

    I downsized to a studio apartment. Imagine what I had to get rid of! A year after moving, I went through my stuff again and cleared out a closet completely. If I hadn’t used it since the move, I didn’t need it.

  3. Cecilia on 04/06/2013 at 7:53 PM

    I understand your argument, but I love my pretty china, and I love dressing up the table with it when I have the honor of cooking for my whole family on Christmas and Thanksgiving. Mine is stored in the lower door portion of a bookshelf/ cupboard in my Living Room. If I had the space a windowed cabinet that I could display pieces and enjoy how pretty my china is and the fact that my sweet husband bought it for me as a gift, I would do it! Bare naked is not always the most attractive. I can minimize in other areas.

    • Christina on 11/05/2015 at 6:09 PM

      I agree. My grandmothers on both sides loved to entertain and had many lovely pieces they collected over their lifetime. I inherited my grandmother’s China and luncheon silver. I also have collected antique silver serving items and Limoges china and tea cups. She entertained during an era when quality mattered. I am honored to own these items and use them for tea or lunch with friends who appreciate them and I reach my children to appreciate their value and to teach fine dining skills. These items connect me to my ancestors and YES, they would care if I got rid of them. It was her dearest wish that someone in the family would use them. Keeping an attractive china cabinet is a fine way to store these items. Some things are worth keeping to maintain traditions and connect the generations.

      • Diana Bellina on 04/01/2017 at 3:36 PM

        I have to agree with you about honoring our family traditions, and the dining.experience is still important! While it may be the current thing to ” get rid ” of family pieces, I feel it is also important to not carelessly discard everything!

      • D. Bird on 04/19/2017 at 8:11 PM

        I agree. My cHina and CRYSTAL are in my attic still wrapped from the day i remived them from my PARENT’s house over twent years ago. I inte to use them but my husband and his family did not believe in using china. I kniw my daughter does not want them but she can do with them as she wishes when i am gone. I may just pull them from the attic and use them for everyday until the set is completely ruined.

    • Kathe on 02/14/2016 at 12:30 PM

      Absolutely. Life needs some elegance and beauty!

      • Amy on 10/30/2017 at 1:10 AM

        Completely agree. Have a friend that hosts her daughter, son in law and grandkids every Friday night and uses her china. Doesn’t care if a piece breaks, she’s making memories!

        Why does being minimalist mean having less elegence. Traditions are good and kids knowing how to set a table, eat properly and be careful with things should be taught to them.

  4. Crystal on 10/06/2013 at 11:19 PM

    In some cases though china is good! We use ours at least once a week on Shabbat and more than that during the holy days and holiday season we do NOT have a china cabinet we keep it on the top shelf of our dish cabinet where we can get to it. I LOVE using my china it’s so pretty and makes me smile every Friday night!!! I know most people don’t use theirs my mom is one of them. When my husband and I were getting everything ready he said to me, if you are not going to use china you may not have it, I’m not having stuff like this in the house we won’t use! well we use it. I have however started going through my kitchen and have already take two boxes full to Salvation Army and everytime my trunk is full and ready to donate it makes my heart happy! Just like my china 😉

  5. Ron B on 03/14/2014 at 10:50 AM

    I sold my antique china cabinet this week. I am free.

    Last year I gave my grandparents china back to my mother which wasn’t fun but I really never used it and rarely looked into my china cabinet. It was short steps from there to not have anything in the cabinet.

    It was time and now I can only wonder what will go next. Maybe the couch. 🙂

  6. Elizabeth on 11/19/2014 at 11:46 AM

    As someone who likes to entertain, I like having serving dishes and I do use them, and my dishware collection is something I have built over years, buying vintage dishes from thrift stores. It is a labor of love, and I bought those things because I wanted to USE things that give me pleasure instead of having a bunch of cheapo mass produced crap (I am not the type to buy fine china, I appreciate it for what it is but honey, I can’t tolerate anything too precious to be used in my home). However, we did just move out the china cabinet because I got rid of so much other stuff that my dishes all fit in the kitchen cabinets.

  7. Karen T. on 01/07/2015 at 4:50 AM

    My mom’s china was (unusually) a simple, creamy white with a scalloped edge, so I kept it and use it every day. I also kept the large serving platter (and use it all the time for cookies, veggies and dip, meat and cheese tray, roast chicken, etc.). One set of wine glasses (which also work for sparkling cider or even juice if we have people over for brunch), otherwise we use plain glasses. I kept my grandma’s Blue Willow teapot, which she used all the time, and it’s on my kitchen counter holding teabags (I drink tea but don’t brew it a pot at a time). That’s it, and everything fits in one large kitchen cupboard. My hubby and I downsized to a small apartment and wouldn’t have room for a china cabinet anyway, which is a GOOD thing!

  8. Seven on 01/27/2015 at 9:28 AM

    I got beautiful tea light holders – three dark green ones and two red ones. They are supposed to be seasonal, but I really don’t care. I like them, and use them all year round.

  9. Meaghan on 02/28/2015 at 10:38 PM

    i love this post. I have wanted to get rid of our fancy dishes for so long. I only registered for them when we got married because I was young and my mom told me to (it’s what people do). Hubby isn’t on boRd totally. We’ve gotten rid of lots already which is a good step. I told him if we don’t get entertaining and using them by our 20th anniversary then they are gone! He’s got 6 years to get using it all.

  10. Cami on 09/16/2015 at 3:29 PM

    Love this! Have been on my minimalist journey for several years now, and it’s incredibly freeing. I got rid of all seasonal things and things I only used a couple times a year. I had to think long and hard about the China, but after realizing it was never being used, was not dishwasher it microwave safe, I decided to let it go. I never buy anything seasonal and my china cabinet went years ago. I have an amazing amount of empty shelves in my cabinets and that is the way I like it. The other day, I walked through a second hand shop and it was incredibly sad how many things were there. We are brainwashed into thinking we have to have all of these items and then they are being sold for a couple of dollars, or they are taking up valuable space in our homes, in our minds, and in our landfills.

    • Rachel on 09/16/2015 at 6:28 PM

      So true Cami!

  11. Maribet on 11/29/2015 at 12:12 AM

    I need a China cabinet 7168301767

  12. WifeandMom on 12/01/2015 at 4:09 PM

    Im the type to get rid of unused things. We don’t have a whole lot of anything. But I love the warmth my China cabinet lends to our home. It has our wedding China and tea pots from grandmothers, vases, our family photo. I love a warm cozy home. I can never arrange it to my liking. But I want my children to remember the warmth of our home. The dishes are not dishes I use daily. They are for Holidays, family dinners and guest . My China cabinet holds warm memories. I’m not sure at this point I feel like I need to justify having it. My reason is I like it. It makes a warm home. Stark walls and rooms are cold and hard. My grandmothers home was the best. Full of family photos and beautiful art, why not decorate a lovely home? No need to be tacky, just cozy. Home!

    • D. Bird on 04/19/2017 at 8:16 PM

      If thwy make you happy then keep every piece.

  13. Stacey on 01/10/2016 at 6:07 PM

    I’m on year ten of decluttering and minimizing and my china cabinet, antique trunk and cherry dresser and a couple totes of Christmas are all that remain. Living in Phx AZ changing seasons from my trunk and china cabinet is a 4 times a year pleasure because all that remains are those things that I truly enjoy. And the 4 times a year ritual forces a whole home review on placements, storage and usefulness.

    • Rachel on 01/12/2016 at 7:35 PM

      That sounds like a great system you have going Stacey!

  14. Louise on 03/16/2016 at 8:35 PM

    You’re freaking me out, Rachel!

    I started my minimalist journey less than a year ago, I am far from perfect, but doing very well. I sold the table/chairs and sideboard from my grandmother’s dining room set just a couple of years ago. It had been in my family since 1929. It was a hard decision; one that I NEVER thought that I could make, but I don’t regret it. The china cabinet is all I have left, and it holds stemware. Lots of stemware. I have been eyeing it for a couple of months, and am leaning towards letting it go. Then today I see your post…

    It won’t be gone today. But it will be very, very soon.

    • Rachel on 03/16/2016 at 11:44 PM

      I have nothing against china cabinets- some people keep them very beautifully! If you love it, keep it- but yeah, if you don’t… It’s ok to let it go. (I don’t mean to guilt though!!)

      • Louise on 03/21/2016 at 1:47 PM

        No no you didn’t guilt me! You were just freaking me out because I had been thinking that exact thing–that I should really sell my china cabinet–and then your post popped up on my phone somehow. I didn’t know it was from 2012, as I just discovered you and your wonderful blog recently !

  15. Donnalee on 04/06/2016 at 7:02 AM

    Wow, didn’t realize,this,post,was that,old,either, last thing on my,mind,then, was,in the,hospital in boston

  16. Katie on 05/05/2016 at 9:36 AM

    Hi Rachel,

    I just came across your blog and love it!

    I inherited my grandparents hutch years ago, which was a bit ridiculous since I live in a small apartment and have no desire to buy a house anytime soon. For awhile there, the hutch was in the spare bedroom with my then boyfriend (now husband’s) desk and computer. It housed a bunch of the tchotchkes I also inherited from my grandparents (which is funny because I have never liked knick-knacks but was guilted into keeping them). I started to get stressed whenever I would go into that room with the hutch taking up the majority of the space. Then I started to resent my family for “making” me keep this stuff that I just didn’t cherish the way they hoped I would. I eventually donated the hutch to the furniture bank and gave the tchotchkes back to my parents. There was some guilt in giving the stuff back, but at the same time if my parents held those things so close to their heart, why don’t they just keep them? It’s been incredibly freeing to let go of those things that were holding me down. Like a weight has been lifted.


    • Rachel on 05/12/2016 at 1:13 PM

      Good for you Katie!!

  17. Corinne on 05/08/2016 at 4:31 PM

    I sold my huge china cabinet and many of the contents, keeping only the things I used regularly. Lacking a place to store those few items (my kitchen/dining nook is regrettably small), I opted to purchase a secondhand sideboard which doubles as an extra food prep surface, and has sliding doors on the storage space, so no need to allow for swinging cabinet doors. It was the perfect solution for my space. The entire room looks so much bigger and the lack of clutter is a huge breath of fresh air.

    • Eileen Pippet on 07/18/2016 at 1:29 PM

      How did you go about selling your china cabinet?

  18. Eileen Pippet on 07/18/2016 at 1:27 PM

    We have an old china cabinet that is in very good condition. This belonged to my mother in law. We do not have the table and chairs that go with the set. We are looking for a place to give away or donate.

  19. Whitney on 08/03/2016 at 2:19 PM

    How do you suggest getting rid of the good China and crystal? My place setting isn’t selling on eBay and the China reseller I contacted isn’t buying it now (or the crystal). Both patterns are still being sold new. Now my mother wants to give me her China, crystal and silver. I haven’t used the China I have in over 5 years. Ugh.

    • Rachel on 08/04/2016 at 2:09 PM

      Maybe a pawn shop or donate to a charity. The charity thrift stores in my area do silent auctions with all the high-end items they receive.

      • Whitney on 08/07/2016 at 7:39 PM

        Thanks – I hadn’t thought about places that could sell it as a set. I’d love to have it make a charity some money.

  20. raye on 09/13/2016 at 8:40 PM

    my niece was honored to take the DISHES and SILVEr, along with the grandmother’s CLOCK, Christmas tree and decorations. It all stayed in the family so my mom was happy and I wasn’t guilted into taking things that I really don’t want because I know myself and that I won’t use them. I’m IN my early 30s And while I absolutely respect and honor that to my grandmother worked hard for these items and cherished them, I just don’t have the same attachment to material things. to each their OWN- it’s your house!

    • raye on 09/13/2016 at 8:46 PM

      I forgot to mention- when I’ve been decluttering and paring down- I’ve been checking with my local women’s shelter. I’ve taken tons of stuff there- everything from kitchen STUFF and FURNITURE to dress clothes to sheets, blankets and towels. They go through a variety of things regularly as they often send things with women when they leave to get them started on their own. It’s out of my house and I don’t think twice about it knowing it’s being put to good use by individuals who need it way more than I do.

  21. LauRa on 02/27/2017 at 12:22 AM

    For the LONGEST time my dining room hUtch Was A waste of space. Then i turned it into a bar and i love it and use it Everyother day!
    Love your blog!

  22. Leah on 03/12/2017 at 11:33 AM

    While i otherwise agree With yOur post, i strongly object to the suggestion that if You need dessert plates, just get disposable Ones. Disposable options in lieu of existing plates is not an ok solution simply for the sake of a minimalist esthetic. NotWithstanding the waste of money (gEtting rid of what you have and then buying the same thing which then Gets thrown in the garbage) and environmental impact, making such a sUggestion will, in fact, encourage your followers To make an unsustainable choice when they had a sustainable option available in the first place. Is this really a goal we want to encourage in a miniMalist lIfeStyle which otherwose coincides well with an environmentally sustainable one?

    • Molly L Kuslikis on 03/23/2017 at 10:10 AM

      I love my China cabinent.I keep my everyday dishes in it along with the platters and big bowls. We use this stuff daily and it adds a touch of elegance to my great room. Our kitchen, dining and family room are all one. I call this piece use able artwork.

  23. kALI on 03/23/2017 at 3:59 PM


  24. Jo-Anne on 04/19/2017 at 10:44 AM

    Sorry it doesn’t nourish me to go too far with minimalism and I am not using mason jars for anything other than food storage, and I will accept a glass with a cartoon character pasted on it before I use a mason jar to drink out of.

    I have minimised all the cut glass and crystal vases when I figured out that I love plain glass vases for minimal bunches of white flowers. A mason jar doesn’t do it for me.

    I keep, and regularly use, miscellaneous minimalistic simple white or glass serving ware or silverware for daily use and entertaining. I have purged the rest.

    I drink everything cold out of my one style of stemware that is suitable for wine, water, juice, soft drink, smoothies and beer.

    I drink anything hot…coffee, tea, soup…from a fine bone china cup and saucer which is part of my one and only eight setting fine bone dinnerware. I prefer to not offer up paper plates unless I am feeding more than 18.

    I am set up to, and often do, ACCOMmODATE ten in this small three bedroom, one bathroom, house so what is minimal/essential to me may seem excessive to others.

    sorry not sorry minimalism doesn’t preclude having style and using the classics.

  25. Mary on 05/27/2017 at 12:28 PM

    This article has prompted me to take a hard look at my home and all the accessories it holds. The first room is the hardly ever used dining room. China cabinet full of hardly ever used China and stemware(serves 8) and a huge table..I recently was gifted a sideboard which I love. My plan for this too is to offer the China and stem ware to my daughter, sell the china cabinet (have a buyer) gift the table to the youngest daughter ((family of 7) who loves to entertain our large family.The sideboard will eventually be refinished will a new coat of paint and will be paired with a recycled smaller table.
    We are moving into a smaller home and it can not accommodate all the stuff that we now have.
    The next room will be the family/living room. I am do over the large coffee table and the matching end tables..
    Loving this move towards minimalist senior final move, free of excess, less cleaning, budget conscience life style.

  26. Melissa @ Melba Says on 05/28/2017 at 3:59 AM

    I love this advice. I grew up in a house where the ‘good china’ came out of the cupboard at Christmas and Easter. All my plates are mismatched and came from a cheapie shop. My favourite platter cost me $5.00 at a 2nd-hand shop!

  27. Stacia on 08/18/2017 at 11:48 AM

    Minimalism has to suit your life, it is not a one size fits all label. I have a china cabinet and I will keep it. Why? because we love to use a pretty table and we do it WAY more than Christmas and Easter. For us, Saint Feast days, birthdays, mom making a gorgeous farm to table meal…all call for the china. It is something that brings us joy in our home. And that is what minimalism is essentially about. Not bowing to arbitrary standards, but to make room for what WE really value and love and what makes our life richer 🙂

  28. Corinne on 08/18/2017 at 1:07 PM

    Last year, the leg fell off my dinner table. It had been a hand-me-down from my parents when I purchased my house 20 years ago. I had glued the legs of the chairs multiple times and was tired of patching the set together. When I got married, my mother had gifted me a huge country china cabinet that was not to my taste. I decided to use the opportunity to unload the entire dining room set, as I don’t even have a dining room, just an eat-in kitchen. The china cabinet was full of my good china, my crystal, my grandmother sterling silver tea set, and collectibles (aka junk) which had been given to me as gifts over the years. Many of the collectible items could not be donated and it felt wrong throwing them out. So I listed them on Kijiji to give away and someone picked them up the same day. Then I sold the buffet and the dining set on the same website. Because I use my china and my crystal and my silver frequently, I needed an alternate storage. I was looking on Kijiji for a replacement and stumbled upon a teak dining set in a retro style from the 1960s with a much smaller buffet and 6 chairs. I managed to declutter over 200 items and substantially upgrade the appearance of my kitchen. It’s easy to keep the area clean now, and it just looks so much nicer!

    • Rachel Jones on 08/22/2017 at 8:45 PM

      Awesome Corinne!!

Leave a Comment