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How (and Where) Does Your Garden Grow?

I spent last weekend coveting a garden of my very own after trimming lavender and picking lemons in the backyard of some friends. Although my current apartment life doesn’t include a place for fruit trees, I have managed to actually get herbs to start this year. Visions of summertime basil bounty are dancing in my head.

pallet herb garden

Thinking about gardening this summer but not sure if you have the space? Apartment Therapy’s five small vegetable garden ideas are definitely a good place to start. Vertical gardens – like this pallet garden or a collection of pottery wall planters – mean that you don’t need to do much bending over in the dirt. Raised beds require some more square footage, but it’s definitely possible to pack a salad’s worth of vegetables into just a few square feet. Container gardens can be made out of practically anything, though currently I’m sticking to colorful planters and window boxes. And if you’re just starting out with growing things, lettuce or some herbs in your windowsill are perfect. Or maybe sunflowers? I’m going to give ’em a try, see what happens.

sunflower sprouting

Of course, for those blessed with space for a larger garden than my windowsill, you have more options. Colorful flowers add life to patios and porches, especially when kept in blue and white planters. Sunset Magazine suggests snapdragons, calendula, nemesia, and more for colorful containers. Looking for tasty summer feasts? Dig into the wonders of tomato plants, basil, squash, and whatever other vegetables you find yourself reaching for at the market.

french market

One note if starting plants from seeds: take the time to sprout them inside first, then move outdoors whenever recommended for planting in your area. I’ve had success starting basil this spring with the help of a plastic bag over the small pot. It lets enough air circulate so that seeds don’t mold while keeping everything moist. Here’s my second batch of basil just starting to set out tiny shoots.basil seedlings

If you want immediate gratification, find small plants at your local nursery. I’m definitely happy with my impulse buy of lemon thyme a few weeks ago. And doesn’t it look great in that zig zag planter? Maybe I’ll find a blue and white planter for my next herb batch… and start looking into making some more vertical space with pottery wall planters.

window plants

No matter what you’re growing this year, happy planting!

Pallet garden image via DIY Show Off.

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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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4 Spring Design Trends Beyond #Coloroftheyear

Radiant orchid is just the tip of the spring design iceberg (if I may mix my metaphors). Pantone’s color of the year 2014 is everywhere from makeup to home accessories, coating the world in a wonderfully vibrant purple-pink. Inspired by sunshine, pastels, and warmer temperatures, here are four more on-trend ways to refresh your home in time for spring entertaining.

flower bowls

1. Get crafty!

I’m a sucker for DIY and love Apartment Therapy’s recent posts about spring craft projects: lots of Easter-themed ideas here (many of them great for kids), floral-themed projects here. Maybe this year I will finally make those paper flowers I keep seeing all over the blogosphere. Maybe.

paper flowers

2. Bring on the pastels.

The pastel hues this year are a bit richer than I remember, playing well with existing neutrals. HGTV calls the pastels “romantic” – shades of lavender, soft green, pink, and (you guessed it), orchid are definitely fresh. Pair these shades with neutrals (think gray, navy, or cream, not beige) for an uplifting pop.

Radiant orchid room design

3. Go outside…

Sure, it’s still not really all that warm in most places yet. But it will be soon! Take heart and plan for living outside on your patio/deck/porch/balcony. I’m inspired by Elements of Style’s take on the Gramercy Park Hotel’s terrace. The fig leaf pillows are particularly wonderful, especially with the black and white palette and lush greenery.

 terrace at the Gramercy Park Hotel

4. …Or bring the flowers inside.

Soft, diffused watercolor florals are all over the runways. The same goes for graphic florals: mirrors, wallpaper, purses, and dresses only get things started. Check out Elle Decor for more ideas. The take home is that no matter how stylized or abstract the flowers, these harbingers of spring are a definite must for both fashion and home decor.

mini flower bowlHow are you decorating for spring this year? Will you do anything special for Easter or Passover? Leave your decorating tips and ideas below and enjoy the sunshine!

Paper flower image via Sweet Paul Magazine.

Orchid inspiration via Pantone.

Patio image via Elements of Style.

 

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Bright Colors, Clean Lines: 3 Ideas to Redecorate and Reinvigorate Your Home this Spring

Spring is about renewal, cleaning, and color. I’m in good company with my love of bright colors for home decor, supported by the likes of Refinery29 and Domino. Looking for ways to enliven your spring cleaning this year? Inspired by my own efforts, here are three ways to make redecorating a pleasure, not a pain:

1. Start small and work outwards. I work from home, so I spend lots of time at my desk. Reorganizing it with colorful bins, finding space for my newest vase, and a new orange ergonomic seat gave me the energy to tackle other, less visible spaces in my home (like the closet). Another great way to get started is to hang a piece of colorful art; it doesn’t take a lot of time and the rewards are immediate.

decorate with color

2. Try new shades. On the subject of color, now is the time to bring in some brights to your space. Add a few new colorful, patterned pillows to couches or chairs for a refreshed living room. Why not try a vibrant orange, yellow, or green as an echo of the flowers that are starting to bloom? A bold runner enlivens your entry or hallway; the same trick can be used with other colorful carpets throughout your space. If you already decorate with lots of neutrals, start with one color and build out. If you already have a bold color in your palette then pick a complimenting color; crisp blue and white or a strong yellow are good places to start.

blue and white bowls

3. Refresh items you use every day. Redecorating can also be as simple as giving your space a deep clean. Wash your curtains and prepare to be amazed at the difference. The same goes for carpets and furniture (but call in the professionals when necessary). If you’re tired of your current window treatments, look for a new solution (blinds, shades, sheers, different curtains) in a warm color or new pattern. In the kitchen, add some blue and white bowls to your collection. Like to bake? Try a blue and white mixing bowl. Entertain? Serve food for your next party in blue and white bowls in a variety of patterns.

green vase with daffodils
And my favorite way to add color this spring? Fresh flowers! What are some tricks you use to refresh your home as the weather warms? Leave a comment below and share your favorites.

Room image courtesy of Domino.

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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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Loving Sylvie Duriez!

I recently sent out a newsletter (what?! you don’t get our newsletter? Sign up here) entitled: “Unique is French for Awesome.” It was all about our most popular French artist Sylvie Duriez and her one-of-a-kind, totally original and totally awesome ceramic artwork. It’s difficult to describe Sylvie’s work… and nearly impossible to truly impart its beauty through online photos. You just have to see it to believe it.

Sylvie Duriez Collection
(While the new Sylvie Collection just arrived, I picked all these pieces out while visiting Sylvie back in June. If you want to learn more about Sylvie, here’s her bio: Sylvie Duriez — Or you can read the post from my last visit to her studio in Pertuis, France.)

sylvie_on_wheel
Sylvie throws each piece by hand, sticking to pretty basic shapes: tall cylindrical pitchers, little pitchers, bowls of various size and shape, and plates. The magic really happens after she’s fired these pieces and begins to decorate them. Sylvie dips each piece in a cream colored base glaze and then uses a fine needle to draw the outline of her subjects (birds, flowers, dogs, cats, bunnies, girls, and occasionally mice). This creates a cool effect by exposing the terracotta below the base glaze. She then uses subtle, yet beautiful glazes to paint within those lines (and often outside the lines as well) to bring her subjects to life.

bunnies_poppy_field_plate_closeup
Her paintings are much like watercolors, they consist of only a few brushstrokes, delicately applied and sometimes smeared, but they come together to convey huge emotion and personality. Regardless of their color or size, her dogs, cats, birds, and people spring to life. Even the flowers jump off their ceramic canvas and become animated… so real you can almost touch and smell them.
daisies_above
And that’s truly what I love best about Sylvie’s work — the plates don’t require a perfectly arranged meal… the pitchers don’t require the perfect bouquet of flowers… and the bowls certainly don’t require a beautifully-tossed salad. Each piece makes it’s own statement, all on its own. Regardless of whether it is displayed on a shelf or set on a table, used for food, full of flowers, or left empty, the piece itself is the art and it imparts beauty all day long, everyday. I guess I could say the same about each piece in the Emilia Ceramics collection. After all, I choose each one individually because it inspires me and I believe it will bring joy and beauty to the home where it ends up. They are all handmade lovingly to be used and enjoyed… but mostly enjoyed. Sylvie Duriez, however, really ups the anty. Her pieces are true works of art. Each one an individual. Each one conveying its own unique story with its own unique personality and beauty. And that’s why ‘unique is French for awesome!’

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3 Ways to Chase Away Winter Blues with Ceramic Flower Pots

How do you get rid of wintertime blues? Sunlamps, bright colors, and warm cups of hot chocolate are some favored approaches, as is sprucing up indoor greenery to give your eyes a break from the dreary greys that dominate this time of year. Here are 3 easy ways to refresh your home for 2014 using plants and planters:

blue and white planter

1. Fill up your windows with greenery.

Chase the winter blues away by accenting your home with chic blue and white ceramic flower pots or large planters and window boxes. If you don’t already have blooming indoor plants, add color with ferns, coleus, or forced white azaleas and hydrangeas. Their delicate snowball-like bloom fits the season perfectly. Plants that get western light tend to fare better in the winter, so go all out in your west-facing windows.

2. Tuck plants into unexpected places.

Does your bathroom get any good natural light? Add aloes, bromeliads, and orchids (plants that all love humidity) to countertops, shelves, or by the tub.

bathroom plants
Try air plants if there’s not a good place for a blue and white ceramic flower pot filled; they often just need daily misting. For living or dining rooms, add unexpected greenery by training your favorite vine around the top of the room’s walls. Kitchen windows, breakfast nooks, and bedrooms are also ideal places to add a blue and white planter filled with lush greens.

3. Focus on entry spaces.

blue_and_white
The weather outside is frightful, but a sheltered porch or entryway is a good place to add some color and texture with hearty plants. Decorative grasses, camellias, winterberries, even ornamental kales work wonders placed in blue and white ceramic flower pots. Complimentary colored planters will make your plants really stand out from the dull landscape around you, cheerfully welcoming anyone who comes to your home.

Do you have favorite winter plants? Other ways to chase away the winter blues? Share them in a comment below!

camellias

Bathtub plants image courtesy JohnHedtke.

Camellias image courtesy Jocey K.

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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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How to Set Your Table the French Way (Hint: Use French Ceramics)

French dinner tableAs I prepare for my upcoming trip to France and Italy, I find myself thinking about all the French ceramics I’ll be seeing shortly. It can be quite overwhelming when having to choose from all the wonderful pieces that my French artists create. But it’s not all work, of course. Take my visits to Poterie d’Aigues-Vives. After the hard work of choosing is over, I love sitting around the table with Richard Esteban and his family, feasting on a delicious meal presented on his signature dishware.

 

Even if a trip to Provence is not in your future, it’s easy to bring France to your home this summer. After you find some crusty bread, tangy cheese, and open that bottle of wine, you’re well on your way. Ready to complete the vibe? Here are my tips for setting your table like Richard does:

 

 

Patterns should mix.

plates and bowls

Plates and bowls don’t need to match; stack striped plates and polka dot bowls together for flair and fun. Keep colors complementary and let your imagination run wild. If you’re feeling bold, get other patterns and textures into the mix with your plates and bowls. Dishware sets never looked so unique!

Platters should be heaped.

French ceramic serving platter The French like to enjoy a leisurely meal, particularly when enjoying dinner outside after the day’s work is done. Fill French ceramic serving platters with fresh vegetables, crisp salads, perfectly done fish, or other bounties of the season, then enjoy time around the table (no need to run back to the kitchen). Strangely, I find that even though the mealtimes are longer in France, I always eat less since there’s time to truly savor every bite.

Pitchers should be filled.

French pitcher - teal

A meal isn’t complete without the proper drinks. At Richard’s that means a pitcher filled with red wine, another filled with water, and sometimes a third with fresh lemonade. Decanting allows your wine to breathe and the spout makes for easy pouring, no matter the beverage. I find that having all the drinks on the table also helps people stay there longer, chatting once the food is gone.

Color is essential.tableware sets

Accessorize your French ceramics to truly bring Provence home. Flowers are an ideal addition to the table; use a small rustic vase for more country charm. Colorful napkins, placemats, or tablecloths are also great for pulling a table together. Don’t try too hard to match, but do keep your colors in a similar tonal range for best results.

Now that your tableware set is ready and your decorative dinner plates filled, it’s time to enjoy the best part of any French-inspired meal: the company around you. Bon appétit!

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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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Making Handmade Mexican Pottery Truly Your Own

gorky_paintWith a laid-back charm, cheerful patterns, and vibrant colors, the handmade Mexican pottery from Gorky Gonzalez is the ideal blend of tradition and a unique, modern feel. These ceramics always make me think of Gorky’s bustling studio in Guanajuato with ceramics in every stage all over the place. Whether a red plate for serving or indigo bowls, contemporary serving platters or dinner plates with fanciful animal designs, Gorky pottery is one of my consistent best sellers here at Emilia Ceramics and it’s easy to see why given their innate appeal.

Unsurprisingly Gorky pottery is a popular choice for registries. People love using the variety of colors and patterns to create table settings that reflect their own aesthetic.

gorky pottery

Edge patterns, animal details, and solid colors create seemingly endless possible combinations. And since registries work by the piece, it’s simple to request exactly what you’d like: Like one of each color plate or a matched set of the Las Flores dinner plates.

dinner plate

red plate

But what if the pieces you want are out of stock? Or if you love a certain design but want it on a different piece? Then it’s time for a special order. Special orders are easy (especially with Gorky’s pieces), which means you can have your favorite animal design like Gorky’s fish or bird handpainted on your dinner plates or a set of cups and saucers with your favorite blue and white design around the edge; it’s another way to make handmade Mexican pottery your own (though all of the Emilia Ceramics artists can accommodate special orders if Italian or French ceramics are more your style). Just contact me with your desires and we’ll take it from there.

Sometimes I even get ideas for new pieces from customers. Take the Gogo salad plate. These came as a request of Jennie and Sean who were getting married and wanted the cheerful colors in a smaller size. I worked with Gorky and loved these plates so much that I made them part of the Emilia Ceramics collection. The result? Jennie and Sean’s cupboard is full of colorful Gorky pottery since their wedding about a year ago. The rainbow of colors just begs to be mixed and matched, from red plates to yellow mugs to blue bowls, totally fitting their style.

gogo_mugs_plates_bowls

I like to think that Emilia Ceramics makes a personal registry even more personal. With my close relationship with our artists, these kind of special requests are fairly easy to negotiate. Getting customers’ feedback is great because sometimes their idea or request can become the next best design idea or new piece in the collection. I think everybody involved from artist to customer loves it when that happens; I know I do!

gogo_mugs_plates

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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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Seeing Green: Bringing Pantone’s Color of the Year 2013 into Your Home

860 - SouthWestern Gem
Lush, vivid, sophisticated, and luxurious – that sums up emerald, Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013, quite well. The color of unity, healing, and regeneration, interior design ideas with this year’s green range from energized prints to cool and calm solids. Looking to incorporate the richness of emerald into your home? Try out some of these ideas from wall planters to Mexican vases:

Illuminate

Get some light on the subject with a green table lamp, like this one-of-a-kind lamp by Richard Esteban. Large or small, lamps are a quick and practical way to give any room a design lift (and create atmospheric lighting).

green table lamp

For a romantic touch, add some green candles to the mantle, bedside table, or sideboard. If you love the look of ivory or cream tapers, choose a green candle holder that’s full of personality like this whimsical double candle holder.

green candle holder

Serve

Bring emerald to your guests with green trays, green plates, green glasses, and green pitchers. Ok, maybe all of those at once will feel too much like St. Patrick’s Day, but emerald green serving ware definitely adds a luxe tone to a meal or a party. One of my favorite green trays is this French country cheese platter. The border and handle detail makes your favorite cheeses or other appetizers look extra delicious.

large green cheese plate

Green pitchers add style to water, juice, or wine, and make your favorite drink easy to pour at the table.

green pitcher

Soften

Green also makes for great fabrics that invoke gardens, jungles, jewels, or just a sense of vibrancy. Update your living room with green chevron curtains or add patterned emerald throw pillows to your couch. A green blanket or patterned rug also packs some emerald punch and keeps things looking fresh.

Plant

Flowers and house plants are another quick way to add some natural emerald to your home. This green Mexican vase with an abstract pattern looks stunning filled with blooms or empty on a shelf.

green vase

For those that live on the patio, add some green wall planters with French chic. Wall planters are ideal for trailing plants or for those who want to make the most of small garden spaces. Why leave the emerald only inside?

green wall planter

How are you using emerald for 2013? Do you love green plates, furniture, or other home accessories? Leave a comment and let us know!

Jewel image courtesy of Patrick Hoesly.
Living room image courtesy of decorpad.com via Emilia Ceramics on Pinterest.

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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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Warm Up Your Winter Garden with These Hot Outdoor Pots and Plants

Even though it’s January, there’s no reason for your garden to be neglected. Inspired by Sunset Magazine’s tips to refresh a winter garden, here are some ways to keep your garden looking chic all winter long with outdoor pots and more:

Change your color palette

Highlight white blooms and bright green leaves, perhaps with touches of purple or burgundy. If you don’t get snow in your area, this is a way to stay seasonal and fresh at the same time. Accent your white blooms with white cushions on patio furniture, giving the garden a serene look as it prepares for the colors of spring.

Get creative with greenery

Ferns are not the only answer to your greenery needs. Grasses are another hearty option, or try something interesting like this fiber optics plant in a zig zag ceramic planter. Coleus plants with their wide variety of colors and patterns are another creative greenery choice for your ceramic pots for plants indoors or out.

Accent your entryway

Nothing says welcome quite like a door flanked by pots and tall plants. Spiky or fountain-like shapes draw the eyes, particularly when in striking outdoor plant containers. Layer in low growing plants around the rim for a stacked effect that’s particularly eye-catching.

Bring plants inside

Fill your windowsills with greenery (particularly if you don’t have an outdoor garden of your own). Not only does this chase the winter blues away, you can also accent your home with chic black and white planters or cleverly designed small flower pots. Another idea: fill large flower pots indoors with white azaleas and hydrangeas forced into bloom; they look like delicate snowballs.

Group pots on a doorstep

Instead of a formal style door flanking, a small cluster of large and small flower pots dress up any porch or doorstep. A mix of patterns – zig zag planters, ceramic striped outdoor pots, and plain clay flower pots – filled with an interesting plants like purple kale and crimson ‘Fire Power’ nandina makes for a colorful homage to the season.

How do you warm up your winter garden? Have any tips for using outdoor pots or ceramic zig zag planters? Leave a comment and let us know!

Narcissus image courtesy of nosha.

Coleus image courtesy of Pharaoh Hound.

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Ceramic Pitchers, A Stylish and Functional Gift

Still looking for the perfect unique gift this holiday season? What about a French ceramic pitcher? With my recent pitcher additions by Poterie Ravel, as well as pitchers by ceramic artists Richard Esteban and Sylvie Duriez, you’re sure to find a pitcher that combines graceful lines with full functionality. Our pitchers look equally fantastic as a vase or holding your favorite beverage at the table, from juice in the morning to wine at dinner. These ceramic pitchers also add French decorative charm to any kitchen, which is hard to resist.

White pitchers, like those by Poterie Ravel, are stunning in their simplicity. Soft glazes allow for the graceful lines to shine fully unobstructed. The one of a kind ivory French water jug makes a great centerpiece, and this fancy pitcher fits right in at anyone’s chateaux (or home).

Another fantastic white pitcher is the Provence pitcher. The spout makes me think of an old-fashioned watering can, and it’s a pitcher that holds a bouquet of fresh blooms with casual style. Besides the white pitcher, the Provence pitcher is also available in aquamarine, truly celebrating the spirit of the region.

For the more tactile-inclined, rustic pitchers with exposed clay are the perfect fit. The pelican pitcher by ceramic artist Richard Esteban combines lush glazes, a swooping spout, and exposed red clay at the bottom for a one of a kind piece. Looking for a ceramic pitcher to brighten someone’s day? The sunny yellow of this milk pitcher is charming with its soft and inviting glaze. I think this pitcher looks wonderful as a vase filled with tulips on a spring morning.

Sylvie’s unique pitchers stand out as works of art all on their own. The tall, modern feel of this ceramic pitcher with flowers combines subtle color with bold lines. The result is something that’s striking and serene.

Want to give a ceramic pitcher on Christmas day? Our shipping deadline is today (December 18th) for regular shipping, but please contact us by phone at 650-257-0292 or email if you want a quote for expedited shipping later this week. Happy gift giving!

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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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Using Ceramic Planters for Curb Appeal and More

What are your favorite ceramic planters like? Round or rectangular? Deep or shallow? Do you keep the same plants in them year round or switch out annuals for an ever-changing display? Are your planters indoor or outdoor? Large or small? Just like any other home accent piece, there are pottery planters out there to fit every style and planting need. In fact, there are so many choices that it can be easy to get overwhelmed – do you want a zig zag planter or striped planter? Planters that are big enough for an entire miniature garden or just one plant? Sometimes it’s hard to know where exactly to begin.

With the coming of fall, planters are a way to keep plants growing just a little longer or even throughout the winter, depending on how hardy they are. Whether or not in ceramic planters, there are many plants and flowers that thrive during the autumn months. Verbena will continue to flower even after a frost, sage and lambs ear make great centerpieces of a mixed planter, and decorative cabbage are totally stylish with their greens, pinks, and purples. An arrangement of pottery planters on your porch filled with flowers or greenery definitely adds a warming touch to any home, amping up its curb appeal.

Last fall I was traveling in France and remember being amazed by all the ceramic planters I saw in both city and countryside. A building with cascading flowers at every window seems so much more inviting than one that’s just plain and stark. Poterie Ravel, my newest French artist, is famous for their large planters in ceramic, some plain terracotta and others glazed.

The wall planters by Richard Esteban echo this French country aesthetic; I love the exposed clay and how it contrasts with the glazed body of these planters. They look fantastic filled with ivy or other cascading plants on the wall of a porch or patio.

If French country isn’t to your taste, try the graphic appeal of a zig zag planter with bold lines in black and white. Check out this fall plant combination, which would look stunning in the round zig zag planter by Talavera Vazquez. The striped ceramic planters are another variation with a modern feel perfect for your favorite fall blooms.

Of course, ceramic planters are ideal for indoor greenery as well. A kitchen herb garden fits nicely into an oval planter like this one with blue and white stripes; other pottery planters house ferns, orchids, and other plants year round.

Whether indoors or out, what are your favorite ceramic planters? Leave a comment 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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New Arrivals of Old Friends: Ceramic ZigZag Planters Have Returned!

There’s nothing better than getting a shipment of ceramics from one of our artists. I always feel like a kid on Christmas when the boxes arrive and pieces need to be unwrapped and sorted. While it’s great to see the new pieces (like the gray and yellow zig zag tibors), it’s also lovely to replenish my stock of sold out ceramics like the zig zag planters by Talavera Vazquez.

But why is it that ceramic pots for plants remain such constant top sellers? Marla Hart at Studio City Patch explains it neatly in admitting to her addiction to outdoor pots. I think she’s right when gushing about how easy ceramic pots for plants make gardening: you can have a single large flower pot or a whole yard’s worth, whatever your green thumb desires (and can handle). Groupings of small flower pots on a porch or patio add interest and color; large flower pots can even accommodate small trees and bushes that you can later move if you decide to change your landscaping.

Outdoor plant containers are also a good idea for drought conditions like many people are experiencing across the country this summer. You can carefully monitor the dryness of the soil and water your plants without waste; ceramic pots for plants that are glazed in white or other light colors help reflect the sun’s rays and keep those roots from crisping. Because outdoor pots can be easily moved, it also means you can keep delicate plants in the shade during heat waves.

The ceramic zig zag planters are a fun way to keep your plants looking good; either plant directly inside (there’s a hole for drainage) or use these pots to hold another, smaller terracotta pot. The fluting at the top of these zig zag planters makes them perfect for ferns, spider plants, and flowers that like to spill over the sides.

The new sunflower planter also from Vazquez has the same shape; I think this large flower pot looks splendid filled or empty. Other new arrivals include the small flower pot with polka dots and another ceramic pot in lime green by Richard Esteban. Both of these planters are one of a kind and would look great in a window indoors or outdoors.

Richard Esteban’s clay flower pots with exposed bases are another way to add French provincial charm to your favorite plants. Of course, there are still the large flower pots with stripes by Vazquez and wonderful large flower pots with fruit motifs from Tuscia d’Arte.

With all the planters I now have on hand, I keep thinking about expanding my own gardening efforts. I might be on my way to becoming addicted to outdoor plant containers and flower pots myself!

Shop our entire selection of planters here. 

 

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Finding New Ceramic Wall Plates and Pottery Dishes in Mexico

I’ve been in Mexico visiting artists like Gorky Gonzalez and can’t get enough of the sun, the food, the… roosters. From ceramic dishes to the blue and white rooster that stand alone, I’ve seen roosters (and other fowl) everywhere.

But it doesn’t end with blue and white rooster plates; that’s just the beginning. New triple dishes feature hummingbirds and roosters to join the cactus, palm tree, and fish motifs already in my Gorky collection. I love these ceramic dishes because they’re so versatile: good for dips, condiments, olives, or nuts, they also function as a place to keep jewelry, keys, or the contents of your pockets (no more lost wallets and phones for you!). With both double and triple ceramic dishes, use a variety to add spice to your next fiesta.

With the new black rooster plates from Italy, I’ve been struck at the global nature of animal motifs in ceramic wall art. Chickens, frogs, fish, and flamingos join butterflies (like the pottery dishes by Angélica Escarcega), flowers, and people for quirky and lively decorative plates and bowls. Visiting the artists let’s me not only stock up on popular pieces (like those fun salt and pepper shakers) but also see new ideas from ceramic wall plates to tibors (ginger jars). One of my favorite things is seeing the painted but unfired pottery dishes – the kiln totally transforms them from pale, flat ceramics into the glossy, touchable pieces we all love.

Watching the artists paint every piece is also incredible. Whether it’s geometric patterns or those blue and white roosters, plates, bowls, trays, and other dishes come alive with every brush stroke.

Whether you prefer monochrome or full color decorative plates, look for new arrivals from Gorky, Angélica, Capelo, and Talavera Vazquez in the next few months. There’ll be some old favorites and some new surprises with ceramic dishes that are truly works of art.

Want to see more of my Mexico adventures? “Like” Emilia Ceramics on Facebook for photos and updates.

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Decorative Pottery for Your May Flowers: More than Just French Ceramics

The saying goes that “April showers bring May flowers,” and with this year’s especially wet spring, the flowers are blooming with abandon! With all that’s growing, it’s the perfect time to get decorative with some flower pots, ceramic planters, and other stylish containment for your favorite blooms. Annie Selke recently tweeted about kicking your spring garden decor up a notch with great planters and I couldn’t agree more. To add to the excitement, the ever-popular Mexican planters by Talavera Vazquez are back in stock. Here are some easy ways to inject decorative pottery style into your home and garden:

Be square.

Just like unusually-shaped plates, a square planter can add a touch of unexpected style. The square hidalgo planter (pictured here on my sister’s patio) is a great example. Black and white, it’s chic and festive at the same time. Besides the square hidalgo planter, striped or zigzag planters are other fun options. Squares don’t have to be big either – this small rustic green planter by Richard Esteban is perfect for a desk, countertop, or perched on a window ledge.

Be French.

French ceramics can transport you to Provence in an instant… And for me, nothing feels as French as ceramic hanging planters, which add green to any wall or lattice and create a stunning outdoor area. This hanging planter with polka dots and squiggles is a fabulous example of decorative French pottery that’s also functional. It reminds me of a party lantern (and who can resist a party?).

I also love the new wall planters by Richard Esteban that I picked out while in Provence last September. Totally rustic and understated, with raw glaze peaking out from under soft, touchable glazes, they don’t compete with beautiful flowers, but add to them. See all three color choices here: Wall Planters.

Be layered.

Raised beds add dimension to any size garden, but why stop there? Use clay flower pots to move plants to unexpected places (and help preserve delicate blooms from the cold when fall comes). Mixing flower pots into beds can be a fun way to use ceramic planters, adding a splash of color that compliments what’s growing inside. I love this large sunflower planter because it adds vibrant Mexican color to the garden or patio. Don’t have a garden or large yard? Cluster different sized pots right next to each other to create a garden of any size, no matter how small.

Be innovative.

Garden décor isn’t just about black and white zigzag planters or ceramic flower pots. Chairs, tables, stepping stones, borders, and other accessories make a huge difference to the space. Lay out paving stones in a spiral to create a unique patio area. Create a wall of succulents if you don’t have any yard to work with. Turn that giant tree stump into a small flower garden. With all the creative ways to use outdoor space, you can make the outside of your home just as special as the inside.
Succulent wall

Have creative gardening ideas or uses for decorative pottery when it comes to plants? Leave a comment and let us know!

Succulent wall image courtesy of Jzawdubya.

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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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Tuscan Utensil Holders and Vases: Containment with Style

Having problems finding the pancake turner or a spatula in the middle of cooking? Many kitchens have a drawer filled with utensils that are never quite as handy as one would want. (And just try to keep a whisk in a drawer – you’re on the path to failure.) It’s hard enough to get everything right when making a meal, so having your tools at hand is a simple solution to lighten the load.

That’s why I (and so many others) love Tuscan utensil holders; sturdy, decorative, and highly functional these pieces are incredibly useful in the kitchen. Fruit motifs on the pear utensil holder are subtly sophisticated, while the blue rooster utensil holder adds some fun to any counter. Use multiple Tuscan utensil holders to separate wooden spoons from metal, spatulas from whisks and ladles, so that everything is easy to locate and put away.

Both utensil holders and Tuscan vases can do more than just hold flowers or cooking gadgets, however. Here are some more ideas for these ever-versatile ceramics:

  • Make a Tuscan vase into a bookend. Why only display a vase when you have flowers? Use stones to fill any favorite ceramic vase half way so that it’s heavy enough to hold up your books. If you have glass vases, fill them with shells, marbles, or other small objects for a personalized accent. From one accent piece to several decorating a shelf, your books never looked so good.
  • Decorate with dried flowers or branches. Lavender and pussy willow branches are two of my personal favorites, but many blooms look great when dried and will last year round. Use this decorative accent in a favored Tuscan vase anywhere in your home (though keep a sharp eye out for mold if in the steamy bathroom) for unexpected texture.
  • Grow plants or flowers. Vases and utensil holders can both become miniature gardens. Line the bottom with pebbles for drainage, then fill with dirt and plant anything from herbs to flowers. A row of planter vases looks charming. A large glass vase easily becomes a terrarium when filled with sand and some succulents.

Have any more ideas on how to use a utensil holder or vase in an unexpected way? Let us know with a comment below!

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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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6 Tips for Ceramic Planters this Spring

Spring’s just around the corner and that makes me want to plant some flowers. I love my kitchen garden of herb pots inside, but this time of year, the outdoors beckon. Maybe some large flower pots or outdoor plant containers are in my future. Ceramic planters remain my mainstay when it comes to flower pots and I’m definitely not alone. Here are some tips I’ve gleaned on how to use everything from zig zag planters to outdoor pots to make a great garden anywhere.

  1. Size matters. Small plants work well in small flower pots, but think about growth when deciding what goes where. Roots need enough space to expand or else your plants will become pot-bound and unhappy. Curiously, small flower pots are the perfect choice for orchids – their roots like the restricted space because it mimics their natural environment. This square planter in rustic green is the perfect size for an orchid. Large flower pots on the other hand, can be great for miniature gardens, multiple plants, even small trees or shrubs.
  2. Drainage counts. Along with size, drainage is another factor to keep in mind when choosing ceramic planters. The best options have a hole or two for drainage. Otherwise add a layer of gravel or rocks to prevent roots from staying too wet. Another trick is to hide clay flower pots within ceramic planters, making them easy to remove for watering.
  3. Think about seasons. Try bringing in outdoor pots during cold months to prevent them from freezing, especially if your winters are harsh. Ceramic pots for plants also allow you to move your garden around into shade or sun during growing seasons for the best light.
  4. Style works outside too. Love chevrons? Find zig zag planters for your favorite blooms. Is blue and white your favorite color combination? Indoor or outdoor pots give your greenery a stylish home. I consider ceramic planters yet another opportunity to inject some personality into your environment, whether it’s a patio or kitchen window.
  5. Choose ceramic planters. Clay flower pots keep soil moist longer, so if you forget to water a day or two it’s not the end of the world. The sturdiness of ceramic planters also ensures they won’t tip over easily. Ceramic planters also let you make attractive clusters of plants along flowerbeds, patio sides, or garden paths. Pleasing on the eyes and pleasing for your plants – it’s definitely a win-win.
  6. Go up. Don’t forget to use vertical space with hanging and wall planters, other great choices for outdoor plant containers. From doors to lattice work, these colorful additions brighten any type of outdoor space.

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Creative Gardening with Blue and White Planters

For those of you with a green thumb, fall brings a whole new phase for gardening. If you live in a cold winter climate, it’s time to tuck everything in that will winter over as well as bring inside your outdoor planters. Fall is also the time to plant bulbs, like daffodils, tulips, crocuses, and hyacinths. One method is to just push as many bulbs into the ground as possible, says The Vancouver Sun Blog In the Garden. By March and April, these colorful flowers will show up, making any garden bright and Spring-ready.

But what if you don’t have space outdoors for a bulb garden? I love this article’s ideas about bulb novelty planting – suggesting decorative and creative ways to showcase bulbs, like putting them in shoes, blue and white planters, even designer shopping bags!

Bulbs in planters let you move them around as well as make unexpected accents on your patio or porch. All you need for container gardening is adequate drainage and enough room for the plant to grow, so bulbs really are just the beginning of your imaginative gardening. I’ve seen red, green, blue, and white planters used to add contrast to roses, ferns, even vegetables! I like how planters work in all kinds of environments, from apartment window boxes to accenting a sprawling home garden.

Ready to make your own bulb planter? Plant bulbs pointy side up and make sure to put them deep enough in the ground. You can choose a wide variety of flowers, either filling your blue and white planter with only bright scarlet tulips or mixing different colors, sizes, and types. Miniature varieties would work well in a hanging or wall planter. Think too about planting tall flowers in the center of a round or square planter, with shorter ones around the edges for maximum appeal.

I’ve talked before about some different ideas for blue and white planters; it’s a color combination I can’t get enough of. My herb garden is still going strong, but why not think about creating a living spring bouquet in a favorite blue and white planter of your own? Happy fall planting!

Tulip image courtesy of Duncan Harris.

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Tuscan Utensil Holders Get the Kitchen Organized with Style

A good friend of mine had a housewarming party last week and I racked my brain to think of what to give her and her boyfriend. I knew their new apartment is tiny, so I didn’t want to get something that would just be decorative. A cool objet d’art looks great in the store, but isn’t very functional. Besides, they’re trying to cut down on clutter to keep their small place feeling spacious. I thought about a bottle of wine or flowers, but those ideas felt mundane and impersonal.

And then inspiration struck – they both love Italy and cooking, why not a Tuscan utensil holder? Practical, stylish, and meaningful – it’s the perfect trifecta for gift giving I think.

When it comes to where to a find a Tuscan style utensil holder, of course, I have an inside edge. It’s an item with rising popularity at Emilia Ceramics and no wonder. Here are some reasons a Tuscan utensil holder is a great gift:

  • Variety

Tuscan utensil holders come in a wide variety of styles and colors, which allows them to fit in with any kitchen. The different sizes work for holding everything in one or having a mini collection to divide tools by types. Solid construction means that they won’t tip over easily, which isn’t always the case with other kinds of utensil holders.

  • Holds Tools…

There are so many kitchen gadgets that are too big or inconvenient to stick in a drawer from whisks to ladles and spatulas. But a sturdy Tuscan utensil holder can hold items you use often, keeping them within easy reach on the counter top.

  • …And More

Of course, a Tuscan utensil holder can be used for other things besides your kitchenware. They look stunning with a big bouquet of flowers, for example. And depending on size, the utensil holder may also work as a wine bottle holder, keeping a chilled bottle of wine cold on the table.

  • Stylish Sophistication in the Kitchen

Useful doesn’t have to look utilitarian. Traditional inspired designs like those by Tuscia d’Arte blend function with form, adding a splash of color and life to any space. With different designs and forms, you can find a Tuscan utensil holder that works with any kitchen décor, from a small city apartment to a large rambling farmhouse.

My friends loved their Tuscan utensil holder and immediately put it to use on their counter. It seemed like it had always been there, making it truly the perfect gift.

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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.