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5 Tips for Adding Blue and White Ceramics to Your Home

Blue and white looks sharp no matter where it’s found. A classic color combination in home décor, blue and white kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms have a timeless appeal. I’ve always been a fan of blue and white (and have the Pinterest board to prove it), and I am not alone. Blue and white ceramics rank consistently as top sellers for a variety of homes and uses. So what are some great ways to incorporate blue and white ceramics into your home décor?

Here are five tips for instant blue and white style.

blue and white ceramics

Use unexpected containers

Instead of a change jar, why not make coins look like part of your design with a blue and white ceramic bowl? Arranged on an end table, bowls or serving platters also hold everything from candles to a miniature rock garden. I even have a friend who considers this platter her “remote control keeper.”

Mix style with functionality

I think when it comes to blue and white ceramics the more uses, the better. A large blue and white pitcher is the perfect example. Use it to hold ice water, wine, or fresh squeezed mimosas for a weekend brunch. It can be a dramatic centerpiece (empty or full) on a dinner table, or hold a bouquet of fresh flowers on a kitchen sill or countertop. A mix of rustic and modern, pitchers like this are perfect in almost every home.

Go for the walls

Hang blue and white plates, shallow bowls, and serving platters when not in use in your kitchen or dining room. I’ve even seen wallpaper patterned with blue and white ceramics for a two-dimensional take on this idea.

Make snacks attractive

Food just tastes better when it’s presented well, so create appetizing snack options on your kitchen or dining table with carefully chosen ceramics. Blue and white platters hold mini snack bags of trail mix, nuts, or other healthy options for on-the-go bites while a large blue and white bowl brimming with fresh fruit makes it hard to resist.

Mix patterns

Keeping in the same color palette lets you explore fun textures and patterns. In the bedroom, mix a striped carpet with a printed duvet or chair, adding a feeling of depth and luxury to the room. A blue and white ceramic lamp or two, cozy throws, and eclectic pillows further the pattern play.

What’s your favorite use of blue and white decor? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Shop Blue and White Ceramics here.

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Blue and White Mexican Pottery for All Seasons


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Whether it’s hot or cold outside, blue and white Mexican pottery is always a great compliment to the season. What are your favorites?

Blue and white Mexican pottery platters for fall

As temperatures drop, platters become essential for entertaining. Football games and Thanksgiving beg for platters full of delicious, hot dishes. The handles on this blue and white Mexican serving dish make it ideal for transporting that turkey or roast to the table so that everyone can enjoy the bounty. Smaller platters handle breads, vegetables, and other sides to complete the feast.

Blue and white Mexican pottery mugs for winter

Brrrrr, it’s cold outside. Time for a mug of hot chocolate! And what could be better than Gorky’s signature oversized blue and white mug after playing in the snow? Even where the temperatures aren’t frightful, blue and white Mexican pottery mugs provide some cheer for this festive season.

large blue and white mug

Blue and white Mexican pottery planters for spring

Finally, here comes the sun! Get ready to welcome warmer temperatures with some greenery inside and out. Start your seedlings in a small blue and white planter covered with plastic; you’ll be ready to plant as soon as the ground thaws. Green houseplants that stay inside year around look even more lush against these colors. Think of it as spring cleaning with less cleaning.

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Blue and white Mexican pottery vases for summer

Flowers hit their peak in the summer months, whether tulips early in the season or roses into the fall. Blue and white vases bring a cool, fresh note to your home. Instead of giant bouquets, try simple arrangements with just a few blooms in the slim blue and white Mexican vase.tulips_striped_vase

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Which Blue and White Vase Celebrates Spring the Best?

I always like to have some fresh flowers in the Emilia Ceramics Showroom, especially now that spring is here. And it often turns out that I use one of many blue and white vases to display these bouquets. The only question is, which vase to use when? Add in tall blue and white ginger jars, the options only grow. Here’s a roundup of flowers and vases to best celebrate spring. Which are your favorites?

Smaller blooms with sturdy stalks do best in short round vases. Think muscari (grape hyacinths) and anemones; they will lean gracefully to balance the vase shape. Blue and white vases are a good choice here to compliment the bold hues of these vivid flowers.

blue and white round vase

For long-stem flowers such as tulips and daffodils, tall column vases are ideal. The shape echoes how these plants naturally grow, supporting the bursts of red, yellow, and orange. Tall vases are also a good pick for mixed bouquets, particularly when in a complimentary color to the flowers themselves.

Spring also means that bulbs are finally blooming. Medium curved vases set off paperwhites and the long-lasting ranunculus beautifully. Another pleasure of the season are bulb vases where you can grow the flowers in a sunny window. Just make sure these vases have adequate drainage for best results.

paperwhites

ranunculus

Finally, large blooms require large statement vases. Tall blue and white ginger jars pair with freesia and forsythia, enhancing the yellow flowers. Large format vases also do well with other branches, such as pussy willow, and dried arrangements.

blue and white vaseblue and white pitcher

For a more casual flower arrangement, pitchers are an excellent choice. Place a blue and white pitcher on your table for spring holidays or tuck it into an unexpected nook for a seasonal splash of color.

Muscari image courtesy Jean-Jacques Boujot.

Paperwhite image courtesy billums.

Ranunculus image courtesy hurley.k.e.

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Spring into the Season with Pottery Wall Planters

pottery wall plantersWhen I was a little girl, I remember spending hours in my grandmother’s garden whenever we would drive to visit her in Illinois. My favorite time was spring, when lily of the valley was in bloom. A bit earlier there’d be crocuses, then summer meant roses galore. She also had a lovely vertical garden, with hanging planters filled with strawberries and other trailing vines. I very much wanted to be taller so that I could get at those fruits!

Even though I no longer live in the Midwest, I still have a deep love for growing things. And planters allow that to happen, even here in my San Francisco apartment. Pottery wall planters are great for small gardens and porches or patios alike. They add color and depth to larger gardens too, allowing vines to cascade freely and those delicious strawberries to grow out of reach of curious children. Trust me on this one.

Planters are also great this time of year as a way to acclimate indoor plants to move back outside for the warm months. They can sit outside to catch the sun, but come back inside to avoid any frost. Once April rolls around, a cluster of blue and white planters is the perfect backdrop for the bright green shoots of flowers or vegetables. Much like blue and white vases, blue and white planters go with most decorating schemes and make any plant look even better. It’s fun to play with different shapes and sizes, mixing square planters with round and oval planters in similar patterns.

pottery wall planterblue and white planterblue and white planter

No matter the color or shape of your planter, make sure that you plants have enough space for their roots to grow. A pot-bound plant in an unhappy plant. Filling the bottom of your planter with gravel or pot shards is another good way to ensure drainage (and happy plants).

What will you fill your planters with this season? Do you prefer pottery wall planters, small planters, large planters, or another kind of planter entirely? Leave a comment below with your favorite plants and planters; I’m looking to expand out from orchids and spider plants this year.

blue and white planters

Pottery wall planter image via Pinterest.

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Inspiration for Fellow Vase Lovers

If you’re like me, you find it hard to resist a good vase. Trying to figure out a way to justify adding to your vase collection? Check out these ways to use everything from a black and white striped vase to metal and glass vases in your home.

Rustic vases and kitchens go hand in hand. These Tuscan vases are absolutely lovely, and the creamers would make great bud vases.

Paper blooms or dried flowers make for long-lasting arrangements. Definitely the perfect way to keep your favorite vases on view for weeks at a time. I feel some DIY coming on…

paper flowers
I’m a huge fan of graphic patterns and bold colors. This striped blue vase remains one of my favorites (it was my first piece from Emilia Ceramics). I love this vase so much that it’s a fixture in my apartment, both empty and full of flowers.

striped blue vase with flowers
Crisp and slightly formal, a black and white striped vase dresses up any room. Or go with chevrons for a bit more flair.

black and white stripe vaseblack and white vase

I love the grouping of these simple metal vases and bright blooms.

metal vases
Spring blooms like these hyacinths look lovely in these colorful glass forcing vases. I can see these vases making a beautiful display even when not filled with flowers.

glass forcing vases
Looking for more vases? Check out the Emilia Ceramics Vases board on Pinterest and pin your favorites.

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Emilia Ceramics Now on #Houzz and #Dominomag

There are few things better than a site full of gorgeous, inspirational home design photos. Houzz is a perpetual favorite and I couldn’t be more excited about the relaunch of Domino. And now, among the photos of fabulous interiors that range from DIY to professionally designed, you’ll find some familiar ceramics. That’s right, Emilia Ceramics is part of the marketplaces for both Houzz and Domino, allowing us to share some of our favorite pieces with a wider audience.Houzz

I’ve long been a fan of Houzz. With all those photos of homes in almost every style imaginable it’s an addictive and informative hub of home décor. I was definitely excited when Houzz reached out to see if Emilia Ceramics would like to be part of their selection of curated products that users can buy directly from the site. The collection features many favorites from our Mexican artists Gorky Gonzalez and Talavera Vazquez, along with Richard Esteban’s fabulous French polka dot mugs.

striped planter

polka dot mugs
What’s great about Houzz in particular is that the site suggests wonderful pieces to complete a room, from a garden patio to lux kitchen to cozy living room. It’s ideal for getting a diverse point of view from sources you may have never heard of before.

Domino is another old friend that I’m happy to see again. The magazine’s relaunch in 2013 was met with joy from the design following they had gathered during their initial 2005 to 2009 tenure. Domino’s articles are super informative — think a range from how to throw a cocktail party in an hour to DIY an IKEA staple into a customized wardrobe — and the lists of decorating essentials are definitely drool-worthy. Black and white and chic; I couldn’t agree more!


I also enjoy the new feature that allows you to directly shop pieces from the story, like in this profile of Nick Olsen’s New York apartment. Totally easy, totally brilliant.

The Emilia Ceramics collection at Domino offers a wider range of ceramics from France, Italy, and Mexico. Talavera Vazquez’s small blue striped vase has proved a favorite since being featured in the 2013 holiday issue. As with Houzz, I look forward to seeing photos of how people use these pieces in their own homes. It’s always inspiring!

blue striped vase with flowers

 

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From Blue and White Planters to Rustic Pitchers: Our Favorite Registry Picks

I love working with couples on their registries, seeing how excited they get about picking out beautiful ceramics together and then hearing about how they use their pieces after the wedding. Couples like Bethany and Martin use their ceramics daily, whether it’s a vase holding fresh flowers on the kitchen table, a pottery wall planter gracing the back deck, or one of Richard Esteban’s playful polka dot bowls filled with yogurt for breakfast.

blue and white serving bowl
jennie's_gogoAlong the same line, I recently visited my cousin’s house and loved seeing the collection of colorful Gorky mugs and bowls (photo on the right) she received from her Emilia Ceramics Gift Registry. She and her husband use these everyday, thinking of the friends who gave them and the event they celebrated — that’s what I consider the perfect wedding gift!

In recent blog posts, I’ve talked about ideas for where to register as well as unique gifts that people can give a special couple. Today I’m looking at registries from a slightly different angle, diving into the lists of some of the wonderful couples currently registered at Emilia Ceramics.

Sheena and Blake love blue and white as well as statement pieces with Tuscan charm. Their choices of serving platters and a wine bottle holder point to people who love to entertain. Blair and Christopher have a broad ceramic selection that ranges from big to small: an extra large casserole by Richard Esteban, long rooster platter by Gorky Gonzalez, intricate spoon rest, and even a colorful mini plate.

wine bottle holder
extra large casserole dishJen and Kristina love rustic white pieces from France and striped planters. The white pitcher below (sorry — it was one-of-a-kind and has already been purchased for them : ) and serving dishes contrast beautifully with the orange and yellow of their other favorite ceramics.

chalk white pitcher

Most registries contain serving pieces for entertaining – platters, pitchers, bowls – as well as practical statement pieces like vases and utensil holders. For those with a green thumb, a blue and white planter usually is on the list, and if the happy couple has any kind of yard, pottery wall planters as well. And pieces like the Amor platter are perfect for celebrating love. The range of big to small pieces also is perfect for helping guests pick the right gift for their price range.

blue and white planter

What ceramics do you think should be on every registry? Leave a comment and let us know!

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The Guide to Going “Off Registry”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s unfortunate, but not every engaged couple knows about the Emilia Ceramics Gift Registry. They don’t realize they could register for functional, beautiful ceramics that their guests will love to buy for them and they will love to use… for years and years and years to come. Now I understand that not everyone feels quite so passionately about the fact that Emilia Ceramics make the best wedding gifts, but I’m also not the only one who thinks they do. I know more than a few other die-hard Emilia Ceramics fans (you know who you are) who always buy Emilia Ceramics wedding gifts even when the engaged couple has not registered with us.

For those who believe that handmade, hand-painted ceramics make the perfect wedding gift, I recommend looking at a couples’ registry (or at their kitchen/home if that’s possible). You’re looking for the holes in their registries (maybe they overlooked serving platters or vases) and also wanting to get a sense of their style preferences. With a little background research, it’s easy to find a one-of-a-kind Emilia Ceramics piece that will fit their aesthetic and quickly become a cherished part of their new life together. Here are a few examples of thoughtful, meaningful wedding gifts that may be “off-registry” but are definitely on-track.

1. Lovers of White. They’ve registered for plain white plates, bowls, and mugs. But you know these people and they aren’t boring, so you want to give them a gift that’s simple and sophisticated, with a touch of color that will really show up in that sea of white. How about the Limoni 2 Liter Pitcher or Oval Platter? One of my new favorites is the Large Serving Bowl – Flores y Frutas. Another great, grown-up gift is Tuscia’s Blue Leaf Vase. These pieces all compliment a white palette really well, without overwhelming it.

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oval_limoni_closeuplarge_salad_bowl_1large_salad_bowl
blue_leaf_vase

2. Moving into a New Home. It used to be that marriage was synonymous with making a new home together. Of course that’s not always the case anymore, but when it is, take advantage and give a statement piece that the couple can put in just the right place and build a whole room around. Of course, if you go this route you really should know their style and not just be choosing your favorite statement piece. Some great examples of striking gifts with tons of personality are the Extra Large Blue Floral Tibor, the Pablo Picasso Vase, the Palermo Lamp, and the Frutta Venezia Canister.

new_blue_white_tiborblue vase

palermo_lamp_3new_frutta_canister
3. Entertainers. You know this couple loves to entertain and while they registered for cooking, baking, and barbecuing supplies, they seemed to miss the serving platters and bowls that make a party work. Hone in on their color pallet… Blue and white? Choose one of these great Mexican bowls and platters: La Azteca Oval Serving Dish, El Mar Serving Plate, or the Large Round Platter – Flores Azules.

oval blue and white serving plateel_mar

blue and white platterAre they more into the earthy, jewel tones? Richard Esteban has them covered with the Large Petal Platter in Butter Yellow, Fish Platter in Burnt Honey, or the Large Cheese Plate in Barn Red.

butter_yellow_petal_platterfish_platter_yellow_5

barn_red_cheese_plate
4. Who knows?! Whether it’s an old friend you haven’t seen in years or a coworker you just met, sometimes you have to buy a wedding gift for a couple you really don’t know very well. These gift ideas are sure bets for just about anyone. It’s still a good idea to look at what else they’ve registered for so you can match colors, styles, and get a sense of their needs. But in general, you can’t go wrong with these 5 gift ideas:

  1. Amor Platter: The name says it all. This platter evokes love and it’s shape makes it great for serving appetizers or dessert.
  2. Burnt Orange Striped Vase – Especial: Everyone loves this vase. Everyone.
  3. Tuscan Fruit Oval Platter: An Italian classic that can be hung on the wall or used to serve appetizers and main dishes.
  4. Large Love Birds Bowl: Yup, Love Birds… need I say more?!
  5. Small Cherry Pitcher: The voluptuous shape of this pitcher and beautifully painted pattern make it unique, yet universally loved. Great for serving drinks, displaying fresh cut flowers, or just plain looking good.

long_platter_couplespecial_vase_orange_stripe

tuscan_fruit_oval_platterlove_birds_bowl_1little_cherry_pitcherWhat’s your favorite, go-to wedding gift from Emilia Ceramics? Leave us a comment below to let us know.

Also, if you’re ever having trouble finding the right gift, don’t hesitate to call or email us with questions. We’re here to help and love the challenge of finding just the right gift!

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Blue and White Planters: Fashionable Chic for Your Plants

Trend alert! Indigo is back (did it ever really leave?) as a color for inside the home. Elle Decor’s roundup of these blue home accessories highlights lots of blue and white for everything from rugs to walls to plates. Timeless chic indeed.

blue and white planterBut why should your table have all the fun? Accessorizing your houseplants can be another blue and white plantereasy way to freshen up a room. The simplest solution is to hide terracotta pots in cachepots or another more decorated planter. So bring on the blue and white planters for a stylish update for your favorite ferns and flowers, both indoors and outside.

Of course, not all blue and white planters are fashion-forward. Graphic prints like chevrons or stripes are playful and bold. More intricate patterning adds subtle sophistication. There’s also the option of mixing different solid colored planters together to make your own blue and white display in a window or on a patio. The blue planters by Richard Esteban embody quintessential French charm and look stunning paired with the designs of the Mexican artists at Talavera Vazquez. Voilà: globe-trotting, fashionable plants.

 

 

 

 

teal blue planter

But don’t limit yourself to to flat surfaces. Pottery wall planters help take your color scheme up, up, up; use them to accessorize any outdoor space with fashionable results. And for those of you with a black thumb, don’t despair: blue and white vases are the perfect home for a weekly bouquet, adding a green note that doesn’t need to last and last.

zigzag blue and white planter

How do you feel about indigo as décor? What do you put in your blue and white planters? Have tips for the best plants for pottery wall planters? Leave a comment and let us know; then make sure to check out our blue and white board on Pinterest.

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Favorite Vases for Summer Blooms


August flowers range depending on where you live, but late summer means that baby’s breath, carnations, freesias, gardenias, chrysanthemums, and camellias are adding color to gardens across the country. Of course, these blossoms look great indoors as well as outdoors. But what vases look best with which blooms? This is the question.

Recently flower, a magazine dedicated to all things floral, covered the coolness and lasting appeal of blue and white vases. Inspired by their findings, here are some of my go-to vases as summer winds down.

Long and lean vases

tall vase

Lilies look lovely in a long, narrow vase. Set off their vivid colors with a deceptively simple vase that supports their long stalks. The striking purple of monkshood would look stunning in the patterned black and white vase by Talavera Vazquez. This vase shape is also essential for a rose bouquet or an arrangement of snapdragons.

Short and round vases

striped blue vase

Better suited for smaller flowers and spilling displays, round vases look great with chrysanthemums, camellias, or even a bunch of carnations. I like how they hold a mixed bouquet or just a few flowers with equal grace.

Black and white striped vases

black and white striped vaseBlack and white vases are a long-standing classic. No wonder they look lovely with late summer blooms, the stripes adding a touch of contemporary style. A tall black and white striped vase also is ideal for sunflowers or a simple dried arrangement of greenery that will last all season long. When empty, mix a black and white striped vase with other patterned vases for a stunning sideboard arrangement.

Patterned and colorful vases

colorful vase

These vases look beautiful with or without flowers. A large colorful vase adds personality to a mantel, side table, or shelf. In the fall, use a colorful vase to set off a monochromatic flower arrangement; white blooms look particularly gorgeous. For a simpler color scheme, a striped blue vase effortlessly compliments most bouquets. Smaller patterned vases also are excellent as a small room accent, whether the bathroom or living room.

patterned vase

What are your favorite vase shapes for late summer flowers? And for those with and without gardens of their own, what flowers do you use in your home this time of year?

Flower image courtesy of nosha.

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Blue Monday: A Photo Essay

Blue and white. This color combination invokes the sea, summers in Greece, island living, as well as refined taste and timeless elegance. Popular with decorators the world over, blue and white accents are an excellent way to get ready for hot summer days. Try blue and white bowls, blue and white vases full of flowers, or even refresh your morning coffee routine with a new blue coffee mug. Here are some favorite uses of this fabulous color combination to keep the vibe cool inside as the temperatures rise outside.

Blue and white bowls are perfect for serving or decorating.

blue and white bowlblue and white bowl

Blue and white accent pillows quickly transform a bedroom or living room.

 

Blue and white pitchers handle sangria or fresh orange juice with stylish ease.

blue pitcher

blue and white pitcherblue and white pitcher

Before the heat of the day sets in, blue and white cups make morning coffee and tea taste even better.

blue and white cup and saucer

Illuminate rooms with blue and white lamps.

blue and white lampblue and white chevron lamp

Blue plates make for appealing food presentation, no matter the meal.

blue plate

blue plate

Show off fresh flowers from your garden with blue and white vases. Or make them beautiful outdoors with blue and white planters.

Blue and White Striped Vase

blue and white vase

blue and white planter

What ways do you like to use blue and white? Check out our blue and white Pinterest board for more uses of this timeless color combination and get into a summer mood.

Blue and white umbrella image courtesy of eli-sabeth.tumblr.com via Emilia Ceramics on Pinterest.

Blue and white vases on table image courtesy of chinoiseriechic.blogspot.com via Emilia Ceramics on Pinterest.

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Looking for No-Fool Decorating Ideas? Try Some Blue and White!

decorating with blue and white

April 1 is known as a day of pranks and tricks. Having worked with a host of designers and decorators, I have a few tricks of my own when it comes to making a space look its best. From a grouping of blue and white vases or black and white jars, to a well placed black and white stripe lamp, transforming a room is often as easy as choosing the right accessories or the perfect coat of paint. What room in your home could use a decorating transformation?

decorating with blue and white

 

Here are a few ideas to get you started with blue and white.

Living Room

This space should exude welcome and comfort, especially if you like to entertain. Add fresh flowers for an easy and seasonal transformation; the blooms will soften and enliven the entire room. Use an eye-catching blue and white vase or other bold color to pack some punch. For year-round color, group blue and white vases of various sizes on a sideboard or shelf. Tired of your sofa and chairs? Refresh them with chic pillows in graphic patterns of various sizes. The resulting texture and color will make the room feel entirely different.

Bathroom

Small rooms are perfect for playing with bold colors. Choose a boldly patterned wallpaper for the entire space for a startling design transformation, like the map below. If wallpaper isn’t your favorite, similar effects can be achieved with paint in a rich jewel tone or other saturated color.
Add some lux to shelving with black and white jars to hold all your essentials. Unusual soap dishes and toothbrush holders are other ways to quickly inject new personality into the space.

Kitchen

Black and white is a perennial favorite for kitchens because the color combination is clean and chic. Black coffee mugs, a black ceramic vase, or other black accessories invoke this palette without much effort. Painting or staining cabinets is another way to transform a kitchen’s look, though it involves a bit more time and planning. If you have exposed shelving, hide things like canned goods with (Martha Stewart approved) cabinet curtains, while leaving your beautiful pieces exposed.

Bedroom

A black and white stripe lamp injects a modern feel to a bedside table, while blue and white feels more serene. Either way, you’ll feel more relaxed with diffused light coming from multiple sources than a glaring overhead light source. If you’re looking for a more dramatic overhaul, consider hanging tapestry fabric along one wall; the result will add old-world charm, color, and warmth to the space. Or put some wallpaper on the ceiling for a totally different feel. Changing details like drawer pulls, curtains, or bedspreads also make a huge difference with little effort.

 

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Add Instant Sophistication with Italian Blue and White Ceramics

blue and white pitcherBlue and white is a popular color combination, though not all blue and white ceramics have the same feel. I think the flexibility of blue and white explains the combo’s success since it can adapt so easily to any decorating style. For example, blue and white ceramics from Mexico have a quite contemporary feel while Italian blue and white ceramics feel more subtle and refined. Feeling overwhelmed with all the blue and white options out there? Trying to find the perfect blue and white vase or serving tray? Here are some easy ways to pick the pieces that are right for you.shades of blue

First, think about the blue shades that you gravitate towards. Rich cobalt or a lighter slate? Turquoise or teal? Navy blue or sky blue? Peacock blue or periwinkle? If you already have a blue in your decorating scheme, look for something like a blue and white vase in a complimenting shade. Blue is wonderful in that not everything needs to exactly match, but try to group hues together that have similar tonal qualities for the best look. Wikipedia has at least 61 pages devoted to different shades of blue – you’re sure to find at least one that you like!

Italian blue and white lamp

Next think about the blue and white balance. More white or cream, like with most Italian blue and white ceramics, tends to read as more refined and sophisticated. Do you want blue and white mugs that are mostly blue with a touch of white or the reverse? Mixing dominant colors with your blue and white ceramics and home accessories is a good way to keep things textured and balanced. Think white plates on blue chargers with a blue and white pitcher holding water or wine at dinner. Or a blue and white lamp as an accent light in the bedroom or den.

Blue Striped Vase by Talavera Vazquez

Of course, patterning is another factor when adding blue and white home décor. Do you tend to mix prints and patterns or stick with a single motif? Prefer mostly solid colors with some subtle accenting textures? I recommend additions like a blue and white serving platter – the color combination makes food really pop, no matter how ornamented or plain the platter is itself. The same goes for blue and white mugs, plates, and bowls. I tend to mix patterned pieces with solid colors, but there are endless interesting ways to combine dinnerware that will reflect your own unique, individual style.

Italian blue and white mug

Do you prefer blue and white ceramics from Italy, Mexico, France or somewhere else? How do you use these pieces to create sophistication in your home? Check out our blue and white decorating ideas on Pinterest, then leave a comment below and let us know.

Shades of blue image courtesy of Booyabazooka.

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Vases for Your Valentine from Around the World

Stuck on what to give your Valentine this year? The saying goes “say it with flowers.” Roses might be cliché, but they are certainly a traditional standby. Tulips are another colorful winter flower, as are daisies, irises, stargazer lilies, and orchids. No matter the flowers you pick, you’ll need the right vase to show off those blooms to full advantage. I think giving a vase with a bouquet is a great way to make a lasting statement beyond when the flowers themselves droop and die.

Of course, choosing the proper vase is its own task. It’s important to choose a vase that suits the flowers – a large vase might be ideal for roses or lilies, but dwarf delicate sprays of orchids. A big round vase balances a massive varied bouquet, but overwhelms a simple arrangement. Style is another key consideration – will the delicate flourishes of Italian vases be more appealing or the graphic boldness of a Mexican vase more appropriate?

With vases available from all parts of the world, it’s important to think about the style of your recipient. Do they tend towards minimalism and clean lines? If so, a solid colored vase with sleek styling, like this big round vase, is a good choice.

For those with a more ornate sensibility, a fancy vase with intricate patterning makes sense. The hand painting on vases from Italy makes them perfect for display even without flowers. I love this large vase with Tuscan fruits and curving handle detailing.

Color palettes also change with location. Mexican vases often have bright colors that really pop. An exception to this norm are vases by Capelo, whose soft colors are dreamlike and extremely touchable. His one of a kind Hawaiian vase with floral motifs and sloping sides makes a statement without taking up much space.

The Mexican vases by Talavera Vazquez, on the other hand, use rich cobalt, deep black, vibrant green, or burnt orange for their striped, zig-zag, and patterned vases. French vases by Richard Esteban also use deep colors, though his vases tend to use solid-colored glazes instead of patterning.

 

Will you give flowers and a fancy vase this year for Valentine’s Day? Have another go-to gift? Leave a comment and let us know!

Rose image courtesy of “KIUKO”.

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Contemporary Blue and White Ceramics with Mexican Flair

blue and white cups and saucersBlue and white is certainly one of the most classically chic color combinations. Think Wedgwood or the Hope Diamond. But classic doesn’t need to mean “stuffy.” Just take a look at blue and white ceramics by Mexican artists like Talavera Vazquez and Gorky Gonzalez. Blue and white mugs, planters, vases, bowls, pitchers, and lamps never looked so chic!

The Gogo collection by Gorky’s son is a great example of this contemporary treatment. These blue and white cups and saucers have modern sensibility without looking over-designed. The Gogo long platter and oval serving dish are other blue and white ceramics that bring some flair and fun to any meal or party.

Graphic executions of blue and white, like the chevron zig zags on Vazquez’s blue and white ginger jars, are another fusion of modern and tradition. Ginger jars are beautiful accents for the home, and these designs are definitely not stuck in the past.

blue and white ginger jar

blue and white vaseI particularly like the zig zag and stripes of blue and white ceramics for plants. Cheerful and eye-catching, it’s no wonder that these blue and white planters and vases are consistent bestsellers. I think they are a fabulous foil for greenery. For example, this blue and white striped vase is stunning whether filled with a bouquet or sitting empty on a shelf, while this smaller blue and white vase accents a counter or desktop beautifully.

More typical floral motifs get an updated feel by these Mexican artists as well. The playful borders on Gorky’s blue and white dinner plates mix and match with ease, complimenting serving trays and blue and white bowls. The blue and white salad bowl by Talavera Vazquez is the perfect backdrop for your greens (much like blue and white planters and vases, now that I think about it). Solid-colored pieces put the focus more on form, highlighting the modern shapes of these blue and white bowls and plates.blue and white ceramics

Mexican flair also comes with Vazquez’s blue and white lamp bases. Truly a fusion of design and function, these blue and white lamps add a modern decorative touch along with accent lighting. Use them as a reading lamp, flanking a bed, or simply another light source for your living room.blue and white lamp base

What are your favorite blue and white ceramics? What do you think about these contemporary twists on such a classic color combination? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Guest Blogger Bethany: Six Months Later with New Pottery

Martin and I got married this past May and it’s been quite the whirlwind before, during, and since. Our wedding was lovely, filled with laughter, family, and close friends. Getting to Iceland for the honeymoon was fraught with travel delays and missed flights but absolutely worth it in the end. And then we were back home, with a list of thank you notes to write and “normal” life to resume.

Of course, many of my favorite gifts came from our wedding registry at Emilia Ceramics. As I said in my earlier post, figuring out the mysteries of wedding registries was one of the more stressful aspects of getting married. Using the resulting French coffee bowls and other pieces of new pottery, however, is a breeze.

We threw a reception for our San Francisco friends in July and I was incredibly glad to have the platters and bowls for all the food. I think we incorporated almost every new piece of pottery we’d received for the meat, cheese, and desserts to accompany the champagne. The results looked just as good as they tasted and it was a great way to break in our new ceramics.

The best part though is having things we can use everyday. I see the polka dot bowls whenever I open the cabinet and they never fail to make me smile. These hold my yogurt in the morning, soup at lunch, and the occasional (ok, frequent) ice cream sundae as a reward for diligent studying. Even though I’m more of a tea drinker, I still like to use the French coffee bowls when I sit down to write. As a graduate student in English literature and part time writer and editor, having the perfect vessel for my beverage of choice makes all the difference. My favorite bowl has a few drips of glaze inside and they all have subtle variations in the glaze; I love it that each French coffee bowl is truly unique.

Even when we’re not entertaining, we also use the blue and white salad bowl made by Talavera Vazquez to hold fruit on the table. Other serving platters have made appearances at dinner parties and I’m looking forward to the holidays to have even more occasions to use them.

I dropped by the Emilia Ceramics pop-up shop in Palo Alto the other day (when Emily asked if I’d be willing to write a follow-up post) and I fell in love all over again with the polka dot mugs, espresso cups, and other pieces of new pottery on offer there. Even if we’re done with the wedding registry, I already have some ideas what will be on my Christmas list this year!

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Ceramic Canisters: Practical Kitchen Decoration

Ceramic canisters have been used to organize everything from pasta and flour to medicines and special remedies for centuries. While I’m certainly glad we no longer need to rely on Renaissance-era medicine, I do like the idea of making storage beautiful as well as functional. Here are my top 5 ways to use ceramic canisters in your kitchen:

  1. Inject Style into Dry Good Storage. Flour, sugar, pasta, and other heavy-use items can be a pain to pull out of a cabinet or pantry every time you need them. Save yourself time by keeping these staple dry goods on the counter in ceramic canisters. The ever-popular spaghetti ceramic canister by Tuscia d’Arte is a great example (and doesn’t have to be limited to noodle storage). A variety of sizes keeps the counter interesting and can save you space.
  2. Add Floral Accents. A tall vase filled with dried or fresh flowers is a surefire way to cheer the cook throughout the day. In the fall, I love dried grasses or decorative branches in keeping with the season. Place your vase on top of the fridge or use it as a centerpiece on the kitchen table. This way the flowers don’t get in the way of cooking. I like how striking a blue vase can be even when empty, but take into consideration your kitchen’s color scheme when choosing the perfect option. Another idea for a hefty bouquet is to use a utensil holder as a vase.
  3. Keep the Wine Handy. A wine bottle holder is another kind of ceramic canister that has more than one use in the kitchen. Perfect for holding tonight’s bottle, it’s also ideal as a utensil holder for your favorite tools. The zig zag pattern on this ceramic wine bottle holder hits a modern note for a fresh looking kitchen.
  4. Don’t Forget Other Drink Options. Small ceramic canisters or even ginger jars are great ways to keep your coffee or tea on the counter with no one the wiser. I love the rooster on this ceramic canister; he’s definitely ready to help you face the day, no matter if you’re a morning person or not. The floral motifs on these ceramic canisters by Capelo also look great with a grouping of three (one each for coffee, tea, and sugar).
  5. Repurpose History. Ginger jars were a way to ship and store spices, herbs, and other trade goods (including ginger) in China for centuries, but today they’re valued mostly for their decorative properties. Still, a large blue and white ginger jar can add flair to your kitchen or dining room. Use it to store anything from dog treats to your shopping bags (depending on where it is in the room) or as a tall vase.

With all their varied uses, it’s no wonder that ceramic canisters make a functional and stylish gift no matter the occasion. How do you use ceramic canisters in your kitchen? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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Get Personal with the Blue and White Ceramics that Fit Your Style

Do you love the appeal of blue and white ceramics but not sure where to begin when it comes to your home? This color combination is hugely popular for decorating, so it’s really no surprise that the options for blue dinnerware, white dishes, and blue and white serving plates appear to be endless. Broadly speaking you can find blue and white ceramics that fall into the following four categories. Pick the one that suits your aesthetic best and let that guide your choices from blue dishes to white ceramic serving platters.

Abstract Designs

Stripes, zigzags, chevrons, polka dots, and other abstract motifs can feel truly contemporary yet have a timeless appeal. For example, a blue and white ceramic vase makes a great centerpiece for your table, complimenting your serving plates and dinnerware. Geometric designs like the El Mar pattern on this ceramic serving platter have a softer organic feel and set off food to perfection. Pieces with textured patterns, like this teal blue serving platter by Richard Esteban, are also attractive and functional.

Floral Motifs

From small, delicate blooms to bold blossoms, flower patterns are quite popular for blue and white ceramics. Classic and timeless, you can use a singular pattern for these blue and white ceramics or create an entire garden of patterns on your table. Some examples are the blue Las Flores design that edges white dishes and bowls and the abstract floral motifs of this blue and white salad bowl. Another idea? A blue and white pitcher with leaves – it looks great filled with a drink or fresh flowers.

Animals

Whimsical and fun, animal designs can bring a bit of the unexpected to your dining. Choose birds, fish, roosters, or another favorite to enliven your meals. I find that animal serving plates are always a hit as there’s a surprise revealed when all the food is gone.

Handpainted animals ensure plenty of personality as no two are exactly like, such as with this playful blue and white fish serving bowl.

Solid Colors

Of course, patterns aren’t for everyone. But that doesn’t mean white dishes or solid blue dinnerware need to be boring. Pick unique shapes like this long blue serving plate or modern espresso cups. Layering a blue dinner plate with white ceramic dishes of various sizes also gives depth to your place settings. Think too about mixing different shades of blue, from pale celadon to deep indigo. No matter the shade, your delicious meal will certainly stand out.

What blue and white ceramics are your favorites for the table? Do you use blue dinner plates, white serving bowls, or a mixture of these colors? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Vase Arrangements to Celebrate the Season

It’s starting to get chilly, leaves are turning, and the pumpkins are starting to arrive – it must be fall. But as the weather cools off and summer blooms disappear, what will you put in your vases? Fall decorating embraces jewel tones, branches, and fruits of the season, making it easy to create stunning vase centerpieces for your table and other arrangements throughout your home. All it takes are some colorful vases and creativity. Here are some tips to get your started:

Go big for dramatic effect. The entryway is an ideal place for a tall ceramic vase with a show-stopping arrangement, like this example from the Norwich Bulletin. Use a large vase on a side table and start with some branches, perhaps from your own yard. Incorporate grasses, large scale blooms, or even faux greenery for an arrangement that will last all season long. A tall ceramic vase also is ideal for the mantel or a shelf in your living room.

Be messy. Vase centerpieces that are too perfect don’t fit the natural feel of fall. Think about how plants actually grow and use that as a guide for your floral arrangements. Whether it’s a single branch with berries or an entire bouquet with chrysanthemums, yarrow, rose hips, and zinnias, play with levels and depth for a vase that’s visually interesting.

Use leaves. Why not take advantage of the colors right outside your home? Plenty of centerpieces feature leaves, which can then be scattered out across the entire surface of your dining table or sideboard. You can also create a dry leaf arrangement in a small vase for living room accent. Pick a blue ceramic vase to really highlight what’s inside.

Embrace color. The rich, warm colors of fall – russet reds, golden yellow, deep brown, dark green, and a spectrum of orange – give plenty of scope for beautiful vases. When arranging your flowers, group similar colored blooms together to give a feeling of unity in a mixed color bouquet. Another option is to stick with a monochromatic arrangement that compliments your décor. Also think about an autumn colored pitcher instead of a vase for a more rustic look.

Don’t forget the beauty of simplicity. A bunch of dried decorative grasses or wheat can be the perfect use for a tall ceramic vase with no other ornamentation. If you have vases throughout your home, mix elaborate displays with more simple arrangements for better texture and depth.

Add fruits of the season. Nuts, berries, pumpkins, apples, even grapes are the perfect addition to your seasonal vase display. For example, display these pumpkin peppers instead of flowers for a creative touch to any space.

Happy fall decorating!

Crabapple vase image courtesy of panga_ua.

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Decorating Trend Alert! Stripe Painted Vases for Every Style

With stripes as a big fashion trend, it’s no surprise that housewares have followed suit. Stripe painted vases, tea towels, glassware, and other accessories have popped up seemingly everywhere. Whether thick or thin, this is a decorating trend that can adapt to any home style. Let’s look at some examples from Talavera Vazquez to DIY projects; what fits your aesthetic the best?

Large shapes, small stripes

Playing with mixed patterns is a way to keep a room playful and lively. This apartment featured on House Crush shows personality and style; the large multicolored stripe painted vase anchors an eclectic living room with bold magenta carpet and patterned pillows galore. Even when empty on a shelf next to a stack of books (bonus points for complimenting colors), like in fashion designer Liz Lange’s living room, interesting shapes with fine stripes draw the eye.

Blue and white

Nautical? Yes. Serene? Yes. Graphic, bold, and eye-catching? Yes, yes, and yes! The stripe painted vases by Talavera Vazquez are all these things, whether it’s the large blue and white striped Especial vase or a smaller cylinder shaped stripe painted vase. I love the rich cobalt and how the handpainted stripes have deep and lighter bands, giving these vases unexpected dimensionality. (Talavera Vazquez also has these stripe painted vases in black and white if that’s your color scheme of choice.) Designer Samantha Todhunter also features a spectacular blue and white vase on the styling section of her site, which she dubs “Morocco Modern.”

Glass

Shape, color, transparency – with glass, it’s easy to have options. Narrow and frosted at the top, striped in the middle, and dark at the bottom, this vase by D.L. & Co. is perfect for a single bloom. Other straight-sided vases by this company featured on Fashions and Home play with jewel tones and stripes that run up and down, not around the vase.

Mixed materials

Of course, stripe painted vases don’t just have to be glass or ceramic. Why not something like this creative stucco on glass combo with stripes in grey, white, and yellow featured on Nook & Sea? Other ideas might be ribbon-wrapped or even vases made entirely from recycled paper, leading us to the last category…

DIY

Have some neon spray paint, a glass vase, and some masking tape? Then you’re ready for this great stripe painted neon vase DIY from Refinery29. Even if you don’t like neon colors, this project would be fun in silver, gold, or really any color that strikes your fancy. It’s a great way to reuse a blah glass vase that you never use anymore.

What kind of stripe painted vase do you love? Talavera Vazquez blue and white? Glass patterns? Or is there something missing from this list? Leave a comment and let us know.

Grey, white, and yellow vase image courtesy of Nook & Sea.

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Summertime Zig Zag Pattern Love

There’s something very summery about the zig zag, especially blue and white zig zags, which remind me of the ocean (like waves) and Mexico itself (where it always feels like summer). While I was visiting Talavera Vazquez recently, I couldn’t help noticing all the zig zags: From tall vases to pieces destined to become ceramic table lamps, chevrons are one of their favorite patterns to paint… And I couldn’t be happier. So in addition to all the other fun patterns and designs I couldn’t resist, I added even more blue and white, orange and white, as well as black and white zig zag ginger jars to my stock! Perhaps it’s because Talavera Vazquez was my last stop in Mexico, but I still can’t seem to get their creative zig zags out of my head!

The classic and popular large blue and white ginger jars are an obviously place to start. With the addition of extra large blue and white ginger jars that measure 21 inches tall, these are statement pieces that work well indoors or outdoors. The artists at Talavera Vazquez make even taller ginger jars, which are truly massive (not to mention heavy). Customers regularly buy black and white zig zag jars, and I think it’s because the clean lines and bold pattern make them elegantly modern.

These ginger jars (or tibores in Spanish) are so popular that I started working with the artists to turn them into ceramic table lamps a few years ago. The blue and white lamp (whether stripe or zig zag) sheds light beautifully next to a bed or as a living room accent. One of my personal favorites is the burnt orange and white zig zag pattern lamp. The contemporary color adds warmth (along with the glow of the light itself) to any space, large or small.

But while blue and white ginger jars and lamps are popular, I think zig zags add something unexpected to plants. From tall vases with stunning blooms to a playful planter, these bright and bold ceramics are great indoor accents. Looking at all the vases in the studio, it’s difficult to narrow in on the ideal blue vase. There’s the blue striped vase and the intricately patterned blue and white Cristina vase, both with graceful curves. Another tall vase is the narrow Paloma, a blue vase with slim elegance. All of these look fantastic filled with flowers or empty on a shelf or table, no matter the season. I’ve given up trying to choose the perfect one, enjoying the personality of each.

With planters, the round zig zag pattern has returned, along with a charming sunflower pattern, stripes, and other geometric patterns. Drainage holes ensure function, not just fun with these planters, giving your porch, window, patio, or garden a special kick this summer. Why not make your plants as fashionable as you are?

What zig zag pattern uses are your favorites? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Vase Design Trends: Color, Size, and More

What’s your favorite vase like? Is it a tall ceramic vase? A colorful vase with a pattern or design? Is it glass, metal, ceramic, or some other kind of material? Did you buy it or make it? Looking at current trends in home design, vases are becoming more than just a receptacle for flowers but a way to make a design impact, whether empty or full.

I’ll not be so bold as to say these are THE vase design trends for 2012, but here are some vase types I’ve noticed recently in home design. Which of them fit your design aesthetic?

  • Unusual vessels. Mason jars were the start and now more containers (whether or not created expressly as a vase) are holding bouquets, branches, and buds. From a vase that is also a wireless router to hanging test tubes on the wall for single blooms, what counts as a vase is only limited by your imagination.
  • Glass. Clear glass vases can be dressed up with leaves, ribbons, or even jelly beans (like this colorful spring flower arrangement). But instead of sticking with transparent glass, why not choose unique and bold Murano glass vases or mercury glass vases? I love the silver sheen that mercury glass has, making it perfect for a centerpiece vase.
  • Unexpected places (and sizes). A miniature vase in the bathroom, on the kitchen counter, or even an end table of a bedroom can instantly bring some warmth to even the starkest space. This Stockholm apartment shows the power that a well-placed vase or planter can have. I also see more extreme sizes, particularly with huge, stunning tall ceramic vases that look perfect on a mantle or tabletop. The best part of these centerpiece vases is that they are still beautiful even when you leave them empty.
  • Colorful vases. This is where ceramic vases really shine. Solid colors from pastels to bold blue ceramic vases add a striking note to any room’s color scheme. Patterns like stripes, zig zags, or other motifs make for attention-grabbing graphic vases. Pictures, floral motifs, or other colorful vase designs make these pieces you’ll keep on display all the time.

What other vase trends have you noticed this year? What are your favorite vases like? Post a comment and let us know!

Test tube vase image courtesy of SOCIALisBETTER.

Mercury glass vases image courtesy of Design Darling.

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Adventures in Wedding Registries by Guest Blogger Bethany, Bride-to-Be

I’m getting married next month and it’s been quite an adventure. From finding the dress to deciding on invitations to picking a honeymoon destination (Iceland), weddings are a series of decisions that never seem to end up until the big day (and not even then!). In the midst of all this preparation are wedding registries. Do you just look at the knot.com? Pick your favorite stores? What should you even use a wedding registry for? These were all questions I had.

My fiancé Martin and I struggled with where to register for quite some time. We didn’t like the commercial feel of so many wedding-related details, particularly registries. The long list of “must have” items most big box stores present as essential to a wedding registry felt tacky and unnecessary. Since we’re both adults that live together, we already have things like towels, pots, and pans. With my huge family, however, some kind of wedding registry was needed to avoid question overload.

I’d gotten a great blue striped vase from Emilia Ceramics last year and was super excited to find out about their wedding registry option. It felt much better – we’re not people who use fine china, but do like to entertain. Working with Emily was super easy too. I got to shop online, Martin approved my choices (and added some more pieces), and soon we had a registry that was filled with unique ceramics instead of crystal and china that would just stay in boxes. With our tiny San Francisco apartment, we don’t really have room for things that we don’t actively use.

Visiting the pop-up shop in Palo Alto in January also helped with our selection process (and gave me lots of things to covet). I hadn’t realized how huge the gran taza really is or the scale of some of the vases. We also got super excited about the new French pieces with polka dots – they’re totally our style.

While we registered with two other places to give a variety of options for our friends and family around the country, working with Emily was by far the most positive experience. A certain department store (which will remain nameless) had people who said they couldn’t help us and were quite rude. Not a good first impression at all! The whole experience made us never want to go shopping again. Since then, I’ve heard a whole list of horror stories revolving around registries and am firmly convinced that where to register is just as important as other factors in the wedding (and one that carries its own particular kind of stress). My advice for anyone looking for where to register: go with places you like, keep it simple, and focus on what you really want or need (not what the sales clerks say you should have).

I’m being disciplined and not looking at what’s been purchased from any of my wedding registries, but I’m hoping to use our gorgeous new ceramics when we get back from our honeymoon next month. They’re definitely something that feels like the right way to remember such a special day.

Photos of Bethany and Martin courtesy of Quotidian Photography.

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Everyone’s Favorite Striped Vase: The Especial

I’ve recently joined Pinterest and am amazed at how many people love the stripe painted vases of Talavera Vazquez just as much as I do. The biggest stand-out is the Especial stripe vase in blue and white. Completely modern, yet with a timeless curve, what is it about this vase that makes everyone love it?

The colors of this stripe painted vase are definitely a strong point. With crisp black and white, rich blue and white, or warm burnt orange and white, there’s an Especial vase to fit every decorating scheme. The stripes are actually a continuous hand painted spiral that wraps around the vase, giving it a wonderfully smooth line that looks good from all angles.

The shape of the vase also plays a big part in its allure. The gentle curves that flair up at the top lend both functionality and style to the vase. In fact, the sculptural appeal makes the Especial stripe painted vase striking even without flowers; it’s an eye-catching accent on a bookcase or side table.

Of course, the narrowing at the top is perfect for keeping bouquets aligned just the way you want them. The large format of the Especial vase means it looks lovely with big flowers. Sunflowers and tulips are some of my favorites. Yellow forsythia or pussy willow branches are another great fit since this vase won’t easily topple over and it’s tall enough to balance long branches.

Sometimes though, a smaller stripe-painted vase is needed. Talavera Vazquez makes a whole range of smaller vases with this striking spiral pattern. Small flower arrangements look stunning in the blue and white round vase or a small stripe painted vase. The classic cylinder shape of the striped simple vase is perfect for flowers, toothbrushes, or pens on a desktop.

Large or small, stripe painted vases are easy to love with the range of shapes and colors by Talavera Vazquez. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

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Chevrons and Zig Zags: Designs with Staying Power

Lilies on Chevron
Bold, graphic, and classy, the zig zag pattern and chevron craze is definitely not just a 2011 phenomenon. From shower curtains to rugs, and pillows to chevron ceramics, (like lamps and flower vases), there are many ways to incorporate this great print into your life and home in a way that doesn’t feel trendy. Here are some of my favorites:

Chevrons in your hands: The many iPhone cases out there are truly staggering, but these great zig zag, stripe, and other patterned cases featured on Look Linger Love are a class above. You can even get them personalized! How’s that for stylish and unique?

Zig Zags on the wall: I saw this clever chevron wall treatment featured on Made By Girl as Jen transitions to apartment living. Even if it’s a rental, why not invest in a statement with great wallpaper (there are so many removable options on the market now) or a stunning accent wall? Green Your Decor has a fabulous list of other places to make chevrons vertical: curtains, shower curtains, and even paintings are flexible ways to enliven a space large or small.

Chevrons good enough to eat: That’s right, edible zig zags are here. This pattern looks stunning on a modern wedding cake by My Sweet and Saucy. The grey on white is subtle, the overall effect clean.

Illuminating zig zags: Why let the walls have all the fun? A zig zag ceramic table lamp, like this black and white lamp by Talavera Vazquez, is a fun and practical piece. Whether by the bed or in the living room, you’ll literally enlighten your current décor. If chevrons are too much, try a striped ceramic table lamp or a patterned blue and white lamp.

DIY chevrons: My newest blog discovery, The House of the Smiths has a lot of great DIY tutorials, and I love this one about making a chevron rug perfect for spring. Who knew zig zags could be “beachy”?! Like to knit? This Missoni-inspired chevron pattern by Zakka Life is fun for a scarf or blanket. With a stencil or tape, you can make almost anything chevron.

Zig zag patterned home décor: Whether a large blue zig zag ginger jar or chevron blue vase, I love combining the boldness of zig zags with the subtlety of blue and white. Chevron pillows, chairs, and rugs represent great textile versions of this combination, like these examples by Platinum Blonde Life. Chevron tall vases, zig zag wine bottle holders, ceramic canisters, and even planters are all ways big and small to join the fun.

What’s your favorite way to use chevron or zig zag patterns? Leave a comment and let us know.

Yellow chevron image courtesy of maureen lunn.

iPhone case image courtesy of Look Linger Love.

Chevron cake image courtesy of My Sweet and Saucy.

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Blog Round Up: Ceramic Vases

There’s nothing like a bouquet of fresh flowers to instantly brighten a room. Of course, choosing the right vase can make or break a floral arrangement, from a dramatic centerpiece vase to small accents with bud vases. The best vases also hold their own when empty, adding a decorative punch to any room in the home.

Since everyone’s talking about the holidays, let’s not forget that vases make great gifts — people can always use another interesting shape or size in their collection. Colorful vases or plain, they are definitely a design staple. So to continue our blog round up series on great design in 2011, let’s look at who else loves vases in all their gorgeous forms.

Stripes. Black and white stripes are definitely a hallmark of 2011, coming off the runway and into the home. Design Muse called it “jailbird chic,” while The Swell Life suggested using black and white striped accents to decorate for Halloween (love it!). Of course, stripes don’t have to just be black and white – one of my favorite pieces is the blue striped vase by Talavera Vazquez. It’s definitely a centerpiece vase, holding its own whether empty or full of sunflowers, tulips, or roses.

Shape. Curved, linear, or squat, the variety of vase shapes is matched only by the variety of flowers to put in them. DesignLike featured both short and tall ceramic vases in their review of the best handmade pieces to use at home and give as gifts. Elle Decor loved the simplicity of the blue striped simple vase – it’s great for a small bouquet and doubles beautifully as a toothbrush or pen holder. If you’re into interestingly shaped vases, the round Paloma vase is a great addition to any vase collection. This blue ceramic vase lends itself well to flowers that spill out over the rim, like daisies or mixed wildflowers.

Decorative Prowess. Of course, vase centerpieces have long been a decorating staple. Use bold pieces like tall ceramic vases to create an attractive table for a dinner party or everyday sophistication. Atmosphere Interior Design talks about vases as a stylish kind of “chachka”, something worth displaying or collecting. The Morsel Designs loves blue as a dominating decorating color, featuring blue and white vases filled with blue hyacinths.

Speaking of blue and white, I couldn’t agree more with guest writer Mackenzie from Design Darling when she talked on Look Linger Love about the great combination of navy blue and hot pink — not to mention the fact that she featured the Emilia Ceramics blue zigzag vase and blue striped vase as the perfect additions to this decorating scheme.

I know that I’ll be giving some gorgeous vases this year as gifts, now just to decide which ones!

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We’re into Blue! Are You?

What’s the most popular color in the world? A recent post on Apartment Therapy describes a survey conducted by Dulux paints to learn what colors people love and hate. The big winner? You guessed it: Blue, followed by red and green.

But what’s better than just blue? Blue and white of course! This color combination continues to be one of my favorites, perfect for an entire room or just accent pieces. We know that it’s a classic pairing, in part because there’s so much versatility. For example, just look at these gorgeous pieces of blue and white Italian pottery.

  • Lamps. Now your blue and white Italian pottery can literally illuminate your room. This Blue Leaf Lamp works wonderfully with both traditional and contemporary décor. The playful movement and subtle accents of green and yellow are great compliments to the predominantly blue and white glaze. A smaller version of this lamp works for a bedside table or creates soft lighting in a hallway. Looking for a more subtle blue and white Italian pottery lamp? With delicate tracery, the Rouen Blu Lamp is both elegant and understated.

  • Vases. For me, the best vases are ones that look beautiful both empty and with flowers. I love the Blue Leaf Vase for a great example of blue and white Italian pottery that always looks fantastic. The handles invoke classical amphora, but the style is definitely perfect for a contemporary home with textured layered glaze and shading.
  • Mugs. What could be a more practical and stylish example of blue and white Italian pottery? Whether it’s your first or eighth cup of coffee (or tea), it’ll be extra delicious coming out of a handcrafted mug like this one by Ceramiche Bartoloni. Mix and match blue and white mugs with other color combinations for diversity or choose a matched set, whatever fits your style.
  • Bowls. I can’t resist the charm of a rustic bowl like this one by Patrice Voelkel. The functional shape is perfect for salads, mixing, or even as a fruit bowl. Or opt for one of Gorky Gonzalez’s inspired blue and white bowls — great for bringing elegance and sophisticated charm to any table setting.

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How to Find the Perfect Vase

Having grown up with a mom who was (and is) a serious gardener, I look forward to all the beautiful flowers blooming this time of year. Whether you pick a bouquet from your garden or buy one from your favorite florist, the perfect vase really makes a difference when it comes to displaying your flora. But how to choose what you really need with the huge variety of vases out there?

My advice is to look at 4 factors: shape, size, color, and decoration. Small flowers look overwhelmed in a huge vase and tall flowers topple over if they don’t have the support they need. Let’s look at some of my favorite flowers and see what fits them best.

Tulips – Bold with rich, vibrant colors, the stalks need the support of a tall vase so you don’t have the blossoms leaning too far over. The fluted rim found on many Mexican ceramic vases allows the bouquet to spread out just enough. I love the versatility of blue and white vases when it comes to complimenting these flowers, though they look great with any brightly colored blooms.

Sunflowers – The favorite of Van Gogh, these look fantastic fresh or dried, adding a splash of bright color to any room. Even though the stalks are rigid, a taller vase is vital for supporting the heavy heads (like the one pictured below, on the left). Solid pieces, like Mexican ceramic vases, are a perfect fit. Choose blue and white vases or black and white vases to contrast with and really show off the bright yellow.

Buds – I love a single bud waiting to unfurl, particularly a rose bud fresh from the garden. Instead of a large ceramic vase, little delicate bud vases (above, right) enhance their fragility. When no buds are around, these charming little vases make great holders for toothbrushes, pens or make-up brushes.

Small mixed bouquet – Create a stunning centerpiece with a bunch of gathered wildflowers or a bouquet that caught your fancy at the farmer’s market. For a small bunch of flowers, I love this round black and white vase, which won’t overwhelm your blooms. Like blue and white vases, a black and white vase enriches natural beauty with its simple color scheme.

And then there are vases that look good even without flowers. Use a large ceramic vase to add personality to a nook, windowsill, or as a year-round centerpiece… it will make a serious statement, whether full or empty.