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Hand Painted Italian Mugs and Pottery Spoon Rests

I am often asked which pieces in the Emilia Ceramics collection are my favorites. The truth is I really don’t have favorites. They’re like my babies, I love them all! I have personally selected each piece in the collection and I know the artists who crafted them personally… how could I possibly play favorites?! That said, there are a few pieces that I favor, especially when it comes to picking out a thoughtful gift: (1) A set of hand painted Italian mugs — And (2) an Italian pottery spoon rest.

hand painted Italian mugs

A colorful, hand painted spoon rest or Italian coffee mug will add instant personality to any kitchen, regardless of its decor style. And it doesn’t matter how many other spoon rests or mugs the gift recipient already has… There’s always room for a new favorite! And believe me, one of these Italian pottery spoon rests or Italian hand painted mugs will definitely become their new favorite.

Classic Italian Style: Tuscan Fruit

The Tuscan Fruit design is the most classic Italian pattern in the Emilia Ceramics collection. Our Tuscan Fruit Collection includes vases, planters, spaghetti canisters, utensil holders, and serving platters, but some of my favorites are the small pieces, especially the spoon rests and hand painted Italian mugs. They make fantastic gifts for Italian pottery lovers because the colorful pattern is sure to match any other Italian pieces already in the kitchen. I especially love the look of the Tuscan Fruit Spoon Rest on a dark granite counter top!

italian_spoon_rest_tuscan_fruit

hand painted Italian mugs

Rustic Pop of Color: Cherry

My personal favorite Italian pottery spoon rest and hand painted Italian mugs are those in the Cherry design. I love the bright, refreshing pop of color on these pieces. They have a vibrancy that’s tempered by their rustic, old-fashioned look. Maybe it’s the combination of rich orange-red, steal blue, and lime green, simply painted over pure white… They’re classic, yet cool and very distinct. Anyone who favors blue and white in their kitchen will be thrilled to add a Cherry Spoon Rest or Cherry Mug. They instantly add a fun Italian pop of color to the kitchen.

italian_spoon_rest_cherries

hand painted Italian mugs

And for the Lemon Lovers…

Lemons are probably the most popular fruit in classic Italian designs. They show up in various styles on Italian pottery, ranging from bold and outspoken, like on these Blu Limoni Platters, to more subtle and realistic, like on these … I love the Lemon Spoon Rest by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia because of it’s rustic and understated sophistication. It looks perfect on a white or cream counter top, where the rich brick red glaze can really pop. The beautifully-painted lemon offers a fresh, kitchen-friendly look that makes this Italian pottery spoon rest an ideal addition to any home.

italian_lemon_spoon_rest

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Unusual Utensil Holders: Kitchen Style Gone Wild!

Limoni Wine Bottle or Utensil Holder

What are people using to hold their essential kitchen utensils these days? From coffee cans to a Tuscan utensil holder, the ways to hold those wooden spoons and spatulas are vast and varied. Here are some of my favorites, from wacky to classy: which suits your kitchen style best?

Upcycled Utensil Holders

Utensil holder

Source: www.kitchendesigns.com

Creative reuse is a way to definitely make a statement on the kitchen counter. Tarnished silverware mixes with glass and metal on this unique utensil holder featured on the Kitchen Designs blog. The patina means this is one piece of silver you’ll never need to polish. Slices of old pipe get a new lease on life courtesy of PaulaArt on Etsy with utensil holders like this that are something more than just industrial chic.

Tacky and Wacky Utensil Holders

yellow utensil holder

Source: wwww.mutationmachine.com

Sometimes you have to just go kitsch. This yellow Tiki utensil holder fits the bill, though I can’t decide if it’s fabulous or horrifying. The rooster in a chef’s hat featured on Jeri’s Organizing & Decluttering News is also another example of kitsch in action (it’s #5 on her list of 15 utensil holders.)

 

Country Classic Utensil Holders

Limoni Wine Bottle  or Utensil Holder

Source: www.EmiliaCeramics.com

French and Tuscan country design extends all the way to utensil holders. Fruits are a favorite motif, giving Tuscan utensil holders a charm that’s more than just rustic. Another of my favorites is the blue rooster Tuscan utensil holder – he’s definitely fun from sunup to sundown.

Ceramic Utensil Holders

blue zigzag utensil holder

Source: www.EmiliaCeramics.com

Solid and easy to load up, ceramic utensil holders are another consistent favorite. Six of the utensil holders on Jeri’s list are ceramic, in a wide variety of styles. The Tuscan utensil holders by Tuscia d’Arte are a perfect example of this type. I’ve also had customers purchase wine bottle holders to use to corral the kitchen counter. One paired a blue and white striped holder with a blue and white zigzag one for utensil holders with modern flair that can hold everything a cook needs; such an ingenuous idea! You could do the same with a Tuscan vase, just make sure it won’t tip over.

Clever Cans

Source: Bree Bailey

Sometimes simplicity is all that’s needed. A friend of mine has collected cookie tins and other cans from countries she’s lived in like Greece and France to create utensil holders (as well as pen holders on her desk) that remind her of her travels. A vintage coffee can like this one below is another unique touch. You can always decorate a can, either with magazine photos in a collage (à la your resident 6 year old) or with this more sophisticated DIY from Better Homes and Gardens that looks like something you’d find at a design store.

Modular Utensil Holders

modular utensil set

Source: www.GeekAlerts.com

With everything else becoming more and more streamlined, why not your cooking essentials as well? This set by Geek Alerts has one handle, with many different attachments, designed to take up minimal counter space (though I think it would be hard to cook multiple things at once without multiple handles). Other minimal utensil holders just hold a few items, leaving your counter-top clear for other items.

What utensil holder style speaks to you? Modern, DIY, Tuscan utensil holders, vases, or something else?

Explore Utensil Holders Here

 

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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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4 Italian Kitchen Design Ideas You Can Steal

rustic italian kitchen

Italian kitchens have a mysterious allure that calls to me. A culture of food, family and love; an Italian kitchen is the heartbeat of the family-centric lifestyle I strive to have.

Do you long to live like the Italians too? Start by incorporating traditional Italian kitchen design ideas into your home.

italian ceramics

Here are some ideas.

Artistic Details

Italians love to incorporate beautiful details into their design. The artisans of Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia use centuries-old traditions to add realistic imagery and brighter colors, transforming kitchen and other ceramics into a high art form. Using functional kitchen pieces that also serve as art is a fine detail of Italian design.

italian kitchen design tuscia serving platter

Bold Architectural Details

Italian kitchen design usually incorporates an interesting architectural detail, whether it be an arched doorway, wide-planked wood floors, wrought-iron elements, or an oversized island. Scour your local architectural salvage shops for the perfect Italian-inspired piece.

Beautiful Tile Work

From terra-cotta tile floors, to intricate artistic back splashes, tile is a common theme in an Italian kitchen. No need to go overboard, choose an accent spot such as behind the stove or above the sink.

tiles for an italian inspired kitchen

Utilitarian Function

Because Italian families spend so much time in the kitchen, having quality cookware, multi-functional pieces, and good organization is key to helping meal preparation run smoothing.   However, just because it’s utilitarian, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice beauty. Consider open shelves and easy-to-access pot and utensil racks.

rustic italian kitchen

Incorporating Italian kitchen design ideas is easy when you consider adding artistic pieces, and rustic, yet functional design. But, the most important aspects of an Italian kitchen are love, laughter and family.

Save 10% off your 1st Emilia Ceramics order when you sign up for our email list!

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Why This Rooster Pitcher Is Perfect for Spring

rooster pitcherHave you noticed April filling up with social engagements, with friends and/or family? Temperatures are rising, the light lasts longer, and it feels like everyone is waking up after the chilly, dark winter months. Call it spring fever; I’ve definitely caught it.

So how do rooster pitchers fit into this time of celebration? Just like other rooster ceramics, they exude a cheer and brightness that’s perfect for spring. A rooster creamer sets the tone for your breakfast table (even if you’re not a morning person). Fill one of Gorky’s rooster creamers with cream for your coffee or tea. Don’t caffeinate first thing? Fill a small rooster pitcher with daffodils or wild flowers and adorn the table or kitchen nook where you eat the first meal of the day.

rooster pitcher

Spring also means it’s time to start reaching for crisp white wines with lunch or dinner. A ceramic pitcher minimizes messy spills, adds a personal touch to your meal, and keeps the wine perfectly cool. Always having two pitchers on the table—one filled with water, the other wine—remains one of my favorite European traditions. Definitely ideal for spring entertaining, don’t you think?

wine pitcher

‘Tis also the season of showers, both literal and celebratory. Bridal showers, wedding showers, baby showers… it seems like there are never enough weekends for all the celebrations taking place! Bored by giving the same predictable gifts? For anyone starting a life together, a rooster pitcher symbolizes good luck for their home. Your friends who throw parties will love rooster ceramic platters and serving plates (the same goes for your family members!). A global icon, rooster ceramics come in so many different styles that you can easily find the perfect pieces for all those you’re fêting this spring.

rooster ceramic

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French Ceramics on the Table: Pinterest Inspirations

Rustic French ceramics invoke a country chic like none other. C’est magnifique, n’est-ce pas? I recently went on a Pinterest binge, pinning all sorts of French country tables, decorating and centerpiece ideas for special occasion, and everyday stylish French living.

French country dining room

Of course, I love supporting French ceramic artists from the prolific Richard Esteban and Poterie Ravel to the unique pieces of Sylvie Durez and Patrice Voelkel. With so many wonderful ceramics, it makes lots of sense that many French country-inspired designs feature open shelving to display pieces when not in use. This blue and white dining room is particularly striking, don’t you think?

French country blue and white dining roomFrench ceramics in country kitchen

French ceramics also mean whimsy. Take Richard’s polka dot dishes – no matter the weather outside, these polka dot bowls, mugs, plates, and pitchers are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. The bright colors also enliven the creams, whites, and medium browns of many French country color schemes.

polka dot dishes
French country colors

 For centerpiece ideas, a flower arrangement is classic French country. Use a pitcher vase or metal bucket for a more rustic touch.French country tableteal pitcher vase

 

And then there are French chickens and roosters, a perpetual favorite. This blue and white rooster has true vintage flair. I can see similar designs working well as wall art or even place mats.

French rooster The key to French country is accessible, beautiful tablewear and a homey, rustic vibe. The open storage for dining areas and kitchens alike allows the perfect combination of function and decoration. What are some of your favorite French country decorating inspirations? Leave a link below or check out our inspiring home decor and France boards on PInterest for even more ideas.

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Holiday Gift Ideas for Pasta Lovers and Culinary Connoisseurs

Counting down the days until Christmas and still need some gift ideas for pasta lovers on your list? What about your foodie friends? Hard to buy for friends and relations always pose a challenge this time of year, but here are some practical and delicious gifts that are sure to delight those who love to cook (and eat!) on your list.

Here some some Holiday Gift Ideas for Pasta Lovers

Pasta bowls: Ensure that the pasta lovers in your life have pasta bowls that are just as tasty as the sauce and noodle creations they consume. A good pasta bowl should be large enough for a hearty serving of everything from pesto gnocchi to spaghetti bolognaise. Gorky’s pasta bowls are colorful, large (but not overwhelming), and, with an array of bright colors, compliment pasta dishes from all over the world. Pair a set of pasta bowls with a hefty serving bowl for a family gift that’s sure to please. My favorite dish for mixing and serving a large bowl of pasta is Talavera Vazquez’s La Fiesta Bowl.

pasta bowlsPasta makings: Making fresh pasta is actually easier than you might think. Encourage pasta lovers to take their dishes to the next level with the durum and semolina flour that is the base for Italian-style pastas. Orecchiette requires no special equipment and is the base for tasty sauces like this carbonara. If shopping for more adventurous or advanced cooks, go for pasta making machines, specialized cookbooks, or hard-to-find ingredients sourced directly from Italy.

Gifts for Wine Lovers

Wine holders & serving pitchers: Help the wine lover in your life show off the perfect bottle in style with a ceramic wine holder or spacious pitcher. Wine bottle holders make for decorative centerpieces and keep bottles neat; in the hot summers a ceramic wine holder will also keep chilled white wines cool. Ceramic pitchers are another way to casually serve wine and are especially good for reds since having more exposure to the air allows their flavors to deepen. This vino pitcher, a new arrival from Spain, clearly lets people know what’s inside. Pair with a set of vino cups for a wine-inspired gift that’s much more original than another bottle of Pinot Noir.

vino wine pitcher
Wine glass markers:
No one likes mixing up glasses at a party. If your wine lovers like to entertain, the multitude of wine charms, bands, and other glass markers make for fabulous stocking stuffers. Choose markers that somehow fasten to the glass, suction-only markers are more likely to fall off at inopportune moments.

Gifts for Bakers

A specialty class: Many communities have short-term (a couple hours or a weekend) courses on topics like chocolate making, laminated dough (the basis for croissants), French macarons, or breads. Pair the gift of lessons with an appropriate ingredient or tool (quality chocolate, vanilla beans, dough scraper, or a candy thermometer) for a gift that keeps on giving.

baking class
Storage canisters:
If the baker on your list regularly can be found in the kitchen, a stylish canister will brighten the counter and keep essential ingredients at hand. Large or small canisters are perfect for favorite pastas, baking materials like sugar and flour, or even coffee and tea.

canisters from Spain
Need more gift ideas for pasta lovers or others on your list? Check out our holiday gift ideas as well as specialized gift categories for inspiration.

Baking image courtesy star5112.

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Lovers of Black White Chevron Ginger Jars Unite!

A few weeks ago, we sent 16 black and white chevron ginger jars to a new hotel in the Caribbean. It’s no wonder these ginger jars are a favorite among interior designers and bloggers, it’s hard to resist their authentic, yet super stylish allure. Love graphic boldness? The black white chevron ginger jar is perfect for you. Want a touch of elegant simplicity? Reach for gray and white ginger jars. Traditionalist? Time for blue and white ginger jars, preferably in ornate patterns.

blue and white ginger jarGinger jars work wonders indoors and out. Think of a pair flanking a sideboard, multiple blue and white ginger jars collected as a table centerpiece, or a single black white chevron ginger jar anchoring a kitchen’s design. As Sanity Fair points out, a chevron ginger jar or two can totally transform an interior space.

Outdoors, large ginger jars are a durable and sturdy favorite for the patio or porch.

large ginger jarCozy•Stylish•Chic loves the statement-making possibilities of chevron for rugs, pillows, chairs, as well as ginger jars. I think this black white chevron ginger jar is just the right size for a stylish accent without totally dominating the room. Of course, chevron ginger jars don’t have to be just black and white; our burnt orange and white, gray and white, or cobalt blue with white ginger jars are other chic combinations for those who love zigzags.

blue and white ginger jarWant ideas on other ways to use ginger jars? Check out our ginger jar board on Pinterest and pin or like your favorites. Seen some great ginger jars on your favorite blogs? Leave the link below with a comment.black white chevron ginger jar small

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Create Tuscan Chic with Ceramic Pitchers & Italian Country Decor

Italian countryside

Looking to add the perfect touch of warm, Italian charm to your home? Look no further than Tuscany for your inspiration. The gorgeous countryside and rustic aesthetic have worked together perfectly for hundreds of years. Don’t own your own Italian country house? Here are some ways to add simple, yet chic touches from ceramic pitchers to iron accents that will add the feel of Tuscany to your home, wherever it might be.

Italian country kitchen

Bring in nature. Traditional Tuscan kitchens have herbs hanging and flowers on the table (often in a Tuscan vase). Connected to the land, there’s a seamless transition between outdoors and the organic feel of inside. Simple touches like branches or dried flowers are an easy way to freshen a space and bring some of the outside in. Hang a bunch of dried lavender, rope of garlic, braid of onions or another decorative and useful addition to your kitchen. Greenery adds warmth to the dining room, whether a few plants in the window or a vase on the sideboard.

garlic braid
Mix materials.
A large wood table is the backbone of most Tuscan homes. It’s where people gather to feast, visit, or maybe make a batch of homemade pasta. Iron candleholders or trivets mix well with a ceramic salad bowl or Italian hand painted plates to set the table for your feast (or just for family dinner). Choose handmade accents whenever possible as you mix pieces together to create a warm, eclectic space. And forget about everything matching. With Italian country décor, when your ceramic salad bowl doesn’t exactly match your plates it feels more authentic.

Italian hand painted plates

Use ceramic pitchers. Surprisingly versatile, these ceramics can double as a Tuscan vase or decorate a shelf in your kitchen when not in active use. A ceramic pitcher full of water is ideal for any meal; use multiple ceramic pitchers to easily pass wine, juice, or another beverage of choice. Even the most ordinary dinner suddenly gains a relaxed Tuscan elegance.

Italian ceramic pitcher

Italian country kitchen image courtesy Craig Stanfill.

Garlic image courtesy nociveglia.

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How Do We Love Ginger Jars? Let Me Count the Ways…

Ginger jars are found all over the world. Originally used in China to store ginger and other spices, these ceramics have made their way into stylish décor and, of course, onto Pinterest. From the stylish modern Mexican ginger jars by Talavera Vazquez to fragile antiques, here are some ginger jar ideas that are sure to please.

Blue and white ginger jars are traditional and quite versatile. I love them mixed with other blue and white ceramics… blue and white ginger jar and bowlsarranged symmetrically on a side table… blue and white ginger jarsand even on the wall!

ginger jar wallpaperBlue and white dining rooms also get a boost with blue and white ginger jars.

blue and white dining room with ginger jarsblue and white dining room with ginger jarsAnd ginger jars always look great in a kitchen! ginger jars in kitchenginger jars in kitchen with yellow accentskitchen with ginger jarsI’ve found French country ginger jars… french country ginger jarsingle statement pieces…

 black and white chevron ginger jar

and massive ginger jar collections.

 ginger jars on table

Of course, I love the newest additions to the Emilia Ceramics ginger jar collection with yellow striped ginger jars, orange zigzag ginger jars, and multicolored ginger jars. Big or small, these ceramics definitely play well with others, adding interest to tabletops, shelves, and even outside.

ginger jars outdoor ginger jarsWhat are your favorite ginger jar styles? Are you a fan of French country ginger jars, Asian-inspired pieces, or Mexican tibors? Check out our favorite ginger jars on Pinterest and like your favorite ones or leave a comment below to let us know.

burnt orange ginger jar

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Spice Up Your Table with Salt & Pepper Sets

Looking for a way to quickly transform your table’s look this fall? New placemats or napkins in fall colors are a typical strategy for seasonal decorating, particularly when helped by a complimentary tablecloth. However, small details like salt and pepper shakers are another key factor for your table and one that often gets overlooked. Here are three reasons you should think about changing your current salt & pepper sets. Ready to spice things up?

salt and pepper sets

Color. A blue & white salt & pepper shaker set looks great all year round, but these table accessories are a fantastic way to add seasonal flavor to your space. Earth tones like those on these rooster salt and pepper shakers match the colors of fall without feeling too gimmicky. If your current salt pepper shakers are neutral, think about using them as a pop of color that adds interest to your tablescape.

rooster sal and pepper shakersAccessibility. The holidays are just weeks away and that means massive entertaining. Instead of trying to pass a single set of seasonings around the table, have a few ceramic salt and pepper shakers along the length of your table. Whether you choose a mix of colors and shapes or stick with identical styles, this trick will make sure your friends and family can season their plates while the food is still warm.

blue & white salt & pepper shakerAmbiance. A romantic dinner for two calls for candlelight and soft music while a family brunch lends itself to loaded plates and pitchers of juice (and maybe mimosas). If you’re looking for a simple way to change the feel of your dining room or kitchen table, accessories such as salt pepper shakers and a cream and sugar set are a perfect way to start. Playful, sophisticated, sleek, or traditional – these small additions will definitely help you set the right tone.

creamer sugar setLove ceramic salt and pepper or cream and sugar sets? Have a collection of blue & white salt & pepper shakers that you adore? Check out our Pinterest board devoted to salt & pepper sets and let us know your favorites.

Salt & pepper set collection image courtesy of Randy Son Of Robert.

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For the Love of Rooster Pitchers…

With the new Emilia Ceramics Showroom up and running, I’ve been able to see our collection in a whole new way. One thing that really stands out is just how many rooster ceramics we have in the collection. Right now it’s mostly Mexican and Italian rooster ceramic, though I’m sure to have French roosters and other new additions in the coming months.rooster ceramicRight now, though, I can’t get enough of the rooster creamers and rooster pitchers from Gorky Gonzalez. These ceramics are unique in how they are actually shaped like roosters, full of personality from the colorful feathers to the beak that doubles as a spout. Both rooster creamer and rooster pitcher are fun enough to be a permanent addition to your counter or table. I think they look great filled with a small bouquet of wildflowers or just on their own.

rooster creamerowl pitcherThe new owl creamer is another feathered friend that’s proven popular in just the few short months I’ve had it in stock. Like Gorky’s salt and pepper shakers, these creamers are a great gift for anyone who likes a little whimsy. And for those more traditional rooster fans, there are always the Italian rooster pitchers and creamers by the Bartoloni brothers. The smooth lines and detailed, colorful crowing rooster embody the vibrancy of Italy (and they make waking up just a little easier). Rooster pitchers are a traditional good luck gift, ideal for housewarmings and weddings. I’m not sure if they really do protect the home against danger, but they certainly look regardless!

owl creamerrooster pitcherHave you given a rooster pitcher as a gift? Are you a fan or collector of rooster ceramic? Leave a comment and let us know about your favorites.

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Favorite DIY Utensil Holder Ideas that Look Fabulous

Utensil holders are strangely versatile additions to a kitchen. Large ones keep kitchen utensils in order for baking and cooking, but also can double as vases or wine bottle holders (if the shape is right). Smaller utensil holders corral silverware for parties or in apartments with little drawer space. Style comes into the kitchen with chevron utensil holders and other contemporary designs. Inspired by the many ideas on Pinterest and crafty blogs, here are some great holders for your home DIY needs.

utensil holder

Holders for Cutlery

The easiest small utensil holder is a jar of appropriate size. Dress it up with ribbon or decals. This series of three mason jars attached to reclaimed barn wood is perfect for forks, knives, and spoons and more! I love this idea for a small herb garden that mounts on the wall.

DIY utensil holder

In the garden theme, small painted flower pots also are great DIY holders for an informal party setting. The tags on these add the perfect touch for a bbq or outdoor event.

flower pot utensil holders

Another variation on this theme is to use three tin cans covered in colorful paper. One Creative Momma’s colorful DIY holders are playful and stylish.

You also can make utensil holders for individual servings, showing off your craft genius at the table. This tutorial by House of Rose is fun for picnics or the beach, dressing up plastic utensils with pizzaz.

DIY utensil holder

Holders for Large Kitchen Utensils

Canisters that won’t tip over are essential for these kitchen accessories. You can simply upcycle a large tin, making sure the edges are crimped down for safety. I love the look of a decorated olive oil tin, though large European cookie tins are another possibility.

DIY olive oil tin utensil holder

Another large-format DIY holder is a paint can, decorated to match your other kitchen accessories. This version is painted with chalkboard paint, allowing for quick customization.

DIY holder

You can also avoid a utensil holder all together, going for a hanging bar over the counter or stovetop. This creative solution from Release Me Create uses a tension bar over the stove for quick installation.

DIY hanging utensil holder

Chevron remains a favorite pattern, so why not paint a large flower pot to create a chevron utensil holder? This Full Life transforms a yellow pot with painter’s tape and spray paint, creating a particularly spiky design. Don’t feel like painting? Then check out Talavera Vazquez’s handpainted chevron utensil holder in solid ceramic. Bonus: It also doubles a wine bottle holder.

chevron utensil holder

What are your favorite places to find DIY projects for the home? What other creative DIY utensil holder ideas have you used? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Black and White Decorating: Stark and Stunning

black and white vasesWho can resist black and white? It’s a great way to add sophistication to any space, from a nursery to formal dining room. Accented with a pop of color, mixed with wood, or kept to strict black and white only, this color combo is very definitely chic. Looking for how to make your black and white décor feel current? Here are some of my favorite black and white decorating ideas to get you going:

Use plenty of textures. The black and white interiors in this post by SF Girl by Bay are an eclectic mix that all use an astonishing amount of textures to feel anything but flat. From black and white vases on end tables to metal accents in steel, chrome, and copper, these black and white shots are simply divine. I particularly love this kitchen shelving display that comes from Desire to Inspire—it’s a great mix of black and white jars that packs visual punch without taking up too much space. I could see using some black and white ginger jars to create something similar in my own kitchen.

black and white pottery display

Keep personality front and center. Black and white can be basic, but it shouldn’t be boring. Take this black and white bedroom from Lea Monaco: the simple line drawing on the wall is wonderfully quirky while the black and white stripe sheets are much more classic.

black and white bedroomA playful black and white vase, like the Hildago design by Talavera Vazquez, nicely balances a collection of other striped, plain, or zig zag black and white vases. This room by Elle Décor is also full of black and white whimsy; the black and white wallpaper is totally fun and the perfect accent for the black leather daybed.

black and white decor

Think about shapes. Black and white allows for the line of a piece to really stand out, be it a black and white ginger jar or a sofa. A white lamp with black shade, black sofa with black and white cushions, wood dining table with black and white chairs… with all the ways to mix these two colors, you’re sure to find something that fits your style and makes the room pop.black and white ginger jar

How do you use black and white in your home? Have creative ways to display black and white vases? Leave a comment and let us know!

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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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Four New Uses for Italian Coffee Mugs

The reasons for using Italian ceramic coffee mugs for your favorite hot drinks go far beyond aesthetics. The ceramic keeps things warm for longer, especially if you pre-heat the mug by running a little warm water in it first. Even better, ceramic doesn’t conduct heat like metal or glass, keeping your drink warm while still allowing you to hold your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate comfortably.

Italian coffee mug

Italian ceramic coffee mugsBut with so many great Italian coffee mugs out there, there’s no reason to limit their use to just drinks alone. Here are four ways to enjoy your mugs without coffee inside:

1. Go green. Italian coffee mugs can quickly transform into a fantastic mini planter. Add some rocks or gravel to the bottom for drainage, then soil and a small plant such as a succulent or fern. This can be a useful way to use a chipped or cracked Italian ceramic coffee mug that you love.

2. Get organized. Can’t ever find a pen? Use an Italian coffee mug to hold various writing utensils anywhere in the house, from study to family room.

 

Italian ceramic coffee mug

3. Serve creatively. Contemporary cups and saucers can also be a useful way to serve your next meal. Italian coffee mugs are great for starting off your next dinner with a small portion of soup. Mix and match different Italian ceramic coffee mugs to give the table some unexpected color. This works particularly well with cream or blended soups; everyone can just drink them, no spoon required.

Fiore Mug with soupItalian ceramic coffee mugs

4. Savor sweets. Sometimes you just need a little ice cream in your life, but not a whole bowl. Feel less guilty by serving yourself a scoop in an Italian coffee mug. By filling a smaller container, you’ll feel like you’re actually eating more since the mug looks full (it’s an old trick for those trying to eat less; the same works for eating off of smaller plates). For true decadence, make an affogato. One scoop of vanilla ice cream in an Italian coffee mug plus one shot of espresso equals a delicious treat that leaves you feeling like you’re in Italy.

What else do you put in Italian coffee mugs or contemporary cups and saucers? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Affogato image courtesy of Ewan-M.

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Best Black and White Accessories for Your Table: A Photo Essay

Chic and timeless, it’s no wonder so many gravitate towards black and white kitchen décor. Want to add a touch of modern sophistication to your dinning room or kitchen for spring? From black and white vases to a black and white butter dish, here are some ideas to add to your table.

black and white zigzag wine bottle holder

No one ever said a black and white vase needed to be boring:

black and white vases

white vase

black and white vases

I love how this black and white flower vase contrasts with the bright sunflowers.

black and white striped vase with sunflowers

black and white flower vaseAnother idea is to add black and white ginger jars to flank the kitchen range. Mix and match patterns for a modern touch.

black and white ginger jars in kitchen

Black and white butter dishes, salt and pepper shakers, napkin holders, wine bottle holders, tablecloths, or even just black and white dishes can completely change your next meal.

 

black and white table
black and white table
black and white striped table

Looking to update your kitchen or dining room? Some ideas for remodeling or designing a whole new space:

black and white kitchen decor
black and white tile
black and white dining room
black and white dining room

black and white dining room with blue

Source: bhg.com via Emilia Ceramics on Pinterest

What are your ideas for black and white in the dining room or kitchen? Have other ways you love to use black and white? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Salt & Pepper Shakers: Quite Possibly the Perfect Gift

We’ve all been there: you need a gift for a housewarming or birthday party but are fresh out of ideas. It should be fun but practical, unique yet not too outlandish, and above all not boring. This is where salt & pepper sets come in. With so many possibilities, they may just be the ideal small gift for almost any occasion.

Every holiday season I always get dangerously low on my rooster salt and pepper shakers; people love them as stocking stuffers, host gifts, or as something unique for a friend, coworker, or family member. It’s a sure sign of Gorky’s playful animal salt and pepper shakers’ wide appeal. Of course, these amusing gifts are useful year-round as either a compliment to other kitchen accessories or all on their own.

One of the best parts about ceramic salt and pepper shakers or a cream and sugar set (for those tea and coffee drinkers in your life) is that they don’t need to match the rest of the kitchen. It’s also hard to have too many sets. Many people rotate through their collection of salt & pepper sets throughout the year or keep a set in kitchen, another on the table. And with the appeal of chickens, bunnies, and roosters, these salt and pepper shakers are sure to be used. The same goes for creamer sugar sets; appealing colors and shapes make for a sugar bowl that stays out on the counter or table instead of hidden in a cabinet. Seriously, who can resist the charm of a rooster creamer?

rooster creamers

I’ve given lots of ceramic salt and pepper sets as gifts over the years and always gotten a great reaction, particularly for housewarmings and as host gifts. Useful, practical, and anything but boring, unique salt and pepper shakers are an excellent choice when it comes to smart gifting.

What are your go-to gifts? Do you have unique salt & pepper sets that you love? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Bartoloni’s Lemons: More than Simply Decorative Plates

Looking for a decorative dinner plate that will bring cheer to your table? With Italian hand painted plates, your search is over. From square limoni plates to large serving platters, the lemon motifs by the Bartoloni brothers are a sure winner for kitchens and dining rooms alike.

lemon decorative plate

There are many factors that make these decorative plates so appealing. The rich colors are one; for example, the cobalt blue background contrasts pleasingly with bright yellows and greens on the blu limoni plates. The bright white of the limoni due square plate is more subtle, but just as vibrant with its two lemons (or limoni due) in the center and aquamarine border along the plate’s edge.

white lemon square plate

The unique rounded square shape also adds character to these Italian hand painted plates. They work well for serving appetizers, desserts, or side dishes with causal elegance. I’ve used them for artisanal meats and cheeses at dinner parties as well as delicate French macarons. No matter what they serve, these plates empty quickly – I think it’s because they make food look so delicious!Italian hand painted plates

Of course, hand painted dinner plates also appeal because of the human touch in their creation. Hand painting means that no two plates are exactly alike. The individual brush strokes, incredible detailing, and overall liveliness make for useful and usable works of art. For this reason lots of people like to hang the blu limoni plate as a wall decoration when not using it to serve. It’s just too vibrant to hide away in a cabinet.

Ceramiche Bartoloni’s lemons grace more than just plates, with mugs, pitchers, soap dishes, and spoon rests that continue the theme. Whether used as an accent or a central motif, these lemon plates are the perfect way to brighten a room with a touch of Tuscan charm.

lemon muglemon pitcher

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An Old Favorite for the New Year: Our Tuscan Utensil Holder

I’ve really enjoyed my time in the pop-up shop this holiday season. As with every year, it’s wonderful to get to talk with people about their favorite ceramics, whether they are gifts for others or themselves. But there’s one piece that everyone seems to love unconditionally – the Tuscan utensil holder.

What is it about the Tuscan utensil holder that makes it so beloved? It’s quite functional for one, holding all the necessary kitchen utensils on a countertop with ease given its size. The solid ceramic also means it won’t fall over. And the cheerful fruit designs with apples, lemons, and leaves adds happiness to any kitchen.

Of course, Italian ceramics are a perennial favorite for gifts. The Tuscan utensil holder is wonderful for housewarmings or weddings, anniversaries or birthdays, making it a versatile piece no matter the occasion. Tuscia d’Arte makes other designs of this functional ceramic piece, including the playful blue rooster and simple blue and white pear motif. I think all these Tuscan utensil holders look great as a vase holding branches or a large floral arrangement, making them good gifts for those who don’t care to cook as well.

The difference between a Tuscan vase and utensil holder has to do with shape more than anything else. Good utensil holders have a cylindrical shape that prevents them from tipping over no matter how many utensils are inside. A Tuscan vase, on the other hand, often has a smaller base and curving sides. These vases are perfect for flowers or a stand alone decoration, but could spell disaster on a kitchen counter.

What do you put in your Tuscan utensil holder? Any ideas as to why so many people love this piece besides its beautiful functionality? Have you given one as a gift recently? Leave a comment and let us know!

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An Italian Country Style Gift Guide

Snow in TuscanyThe rustic, touchable quality of Italian country décor makes it very much a natural fit for the kitchen. Wrought iron, ceramic serving dishes, stonework, and plenty of wood are all elements of this popular look. The warmth and friendliness associated with this Tuscan style is closely tied to the Italian tradition of hospitality, which is why so many people turn to Italian country décor in spaces where they spend time with guests, from kitchens to dining rooms.

Italians are experts at relaxed entertaining, piling large serving trays with delicious food and always ready to drink another glass of wine. Know someone who loves Italian country décor or just likes to entertain? Here’s my final gift guide of the holiday season to help you find the perfect Italian country accent for their home.

Here are some Italian Country Gift Ideas:

Large serving tray

richard esteban serving platter

Perfect for anyone who loves to have company, a large serving tray is ideal for any stage of a meal from starters to desserts. The striking size of these rectangular serving platters make them a favorite choice for a special gift. Another cheerful piece is the large square blu limoni platter – this is a large serving tray that combines modern bright colors with Italian country charm.

Italian pottery spoon rest

italian spoon rest

Italian country décor is in the details. A beautiful handpainted Italian pottery spoon rest adds functional color and pizzazz to any countertop.

Whether fruits or an abstract design, this unexpected gift idea is sure to get used for years to come.

Ceramic serving dishes

oval platter

Help make entertaining or a relaxed family dinner easy. Ceramic serving dishes like bowls and platters inject charm into any meal large or small. Plus they double as instant wall decoration when not in use.

Italian country mugs

italian country mug

Know someone who loves a cuppa in the morning? No matter the hot beverage of choice, Italian country mugs make it just taste better. Pair a single or set of mugs with mulling spices, special coffee beans, or select tea for a delicious and memorable gift this holiday. If giving more than one mug, mix and match designs for a fun injection of personality from roosters to lemons.

Tuscan utensil holder

italian country wine bottle or utensil holder

 

Another useful piece of Italian country décor, utensil holders are a fantastic way to add life to a countertop. A personal favorite is the blue rooster Tuscan utensil holder. No matter the design, pair a utensil holder with a set of wooden spoons or other useful kitchen tools for a practical gift idea that’s sure to please.

Tuscany image courtesy of Podere Casanova.

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4 Quick Gift Ideas Using Soap Dishes

Soap gift ideas
As we get closer and closer to December 25, the shopping stress starts to skyrocket for those of us who haven’t finished all our holiday gifts. The list seems to grow longer and inspiring gift ideas fewer. That’s why I wanted to share the beauty of Italian soap dishes when it comes to last-minute holiday gifts (or really any time year-round). These practical pieces have a startlingly wide range of uses; which are the best soap dish gift ideas for your list this year?

italian soap dish

  1. Pair an Italian soap dish with a bar of soap. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Whether you love fine milled soaps, natural bars from your local farmer’s market, or want to make bars yourself, gift soap should be distinctive. You can match the shape of the soap to that of your Italian soap dish (round soap with a round dish, square soap with a square soap dish) or mix things up with contrasting shapes. Just make sure your soap fits inside the dish so it won’t make a mess when in use.
  2. Give a delicious soap dish. Pair soap dishes with unusual cooking accouterments. One gift idea is some pink Himalayan salt, though other spices like these pictured are also great options.  spices I think the best soap dish for this gift is the square Italian soap dish; the rich blue and indented sides hold any seasoning on the counter in style. This gift idea is ideal for the adventurous cook on your list, especially with all the fansastic seasonings available.
  3. Make a soap dish home for accessories. Small trays or soap dishes make a useful addition to a beside table or dresser top to hold watches, rings, or other jewelry. Add a favorite accessory from brooch to bracelet and present it in a handmade soap dish for anyone who loves a little glitz.
  4. Fill soap dishes like gift baskets. Two piece soap dishes quickly become a repository for other small gifts. The Sayulita soap dish is best for this gift idea. Fill it with candy, bottles of scented lotion, bath pampering essentials, or other little treasures.

Have other gift ideas that use soap dishes creatively? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Soap image courtesy of Chris_Parfitt.

Spice image courtesy of geishaboy500.

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Our Gift Guide for the Person With Everything

Christmas wreath and handmade ceramicsDo you have someone on your holiday gift list this year that’s nearly impossible to buy for? The person who has everything might be your boss, mother-in-law, or a close friend, but no matter who it is, the frustration can be intense when trying to think of some suitable gift ideas. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Blue Striped Vase by Talavera VazquezI’ve talked with people in the Palo Alto pop-up shop these last few weeks about the folks that difficult to shop for and come up with some ideas about holiday gifts that are sure to please. From stripe painted vases to Tuscan utensil holders, here’s my gift guide for the 2012 holiday season.

Stripe Painted Vase. Large or small, the graphic charm of a stripe painted vase is hard to resist and is a great decoration for either the home or office. The blue and white stripes of this stripe painted vase by Talavera Vazquez go with any décor. Fill your gift vases with some festive branches or a winter bouquet and skip the need to wrap.

Unique Serving Platter. Ideal for the party planner in your life, a beautiful serving platter not only enlivens a party or dinner, but also can double as wall decoration when not in use. The simplicity and freshness of Tuscan lemons are always a winner, or choose Talavera Vazquez’s blue and white Mexican tray. Pair with a cheese knife or other serving utensil for a complete gift set.

Tuscan Utensil Holder. Guaranteed to please any stylish cook, a Tuscan utensil holder is a practical and cheerful way to hold kitchen counter essentials. Whether a blue rooster or luscious fruits, Tuscan utensil holders remain a classic go-to gift. Here too you can add useful kitchen tools, like wooden spoons or silicone spatulas, and bring a smile to anyone who loves working in the kitchen.

blue rooster utensil holder

Playful Pitcher. Pitchers are incredibly versatile, which makes them a great gift idea. A pitcher can decorate a shelf, brighten a kitchen, hold flowers, or serve a favorite beverage. The playful polka dots of this handmade pitcher by Richard Esteban are festive while the classic rooster pitcher by Ceramiche Bartoloni exudes Italian charm.

Drink Accessories. If your boss is a beast before that first cup of coffee, a mug and beans from their favorite roaster is a great gift. I think cup and saucer sets are a bit dressier than your average mug, whether they’re espresso cups or the giant cup and saucer by Gorky Gonzalez ready to fuel an entire morning. For wine lovers, a wine bottle holder and delicious bottle of red, white, or rosé gives them something they’ll enjoy now and for years to come.

What are you go-to gift ideas for holiday gifts? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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Tired of Your Messy Mug Cabinet? How to Choose the Perfect Cup

It’s early in the morning and you’re not quite awake yet. You open the cabinet door to get a mug for your morning cup of coffee or tea only to be confronted with an array of choices, none of which you really want. It can feel like a Goldilocks moment: this one’s too big, that mug’s too small. Then you spot the mug that is just right. It’s the right size, shape, color, and thickness. Sound familiar?

I’m always surprised at the mugs, cups, and glasses people will hold onto even though they never get used. A friend of mine recently mentioned she’d gone on a cleaning/simplifying mission in her kitchen. She took about half of the mugs and cups in the cabinet (the ones that usually stayed in the back) out, boxed them, and put them on a high shelf in a storage closet. The result? She’s now able to display all her favorite Italian coffee mugs on a shelf, adding color to her kitchen and complimenting her other Italian ceramics on display. There’s also less clutter in her cabinet. She’s thinking about holding onto the extra mugs and cups for a while in case she needs them for entertaining, but told me she also might just donate these extras and get more of the Italian hand painted mugs that she likes (and uses) instead.

Given that mugs are a popular choice for gift giving and we are well into the holiday shopping season, I’ve been thinking about what makes the perfect mug. Here are four factors to consider when choosing the right coffee cup for coffee or mug for tea:

  1. Thickness: A thicker coffee cup will keep things (like your coffee) hot longer and be generally sturdier. Thin mugs and cups are more likely to crack (think about your Grandmother’s china cups).
  2. Size: Know something about your gift recipient’s coffee or tea drinking habits. Do they favor espresso or an extra large serving of coffee with plenty of cream? “Standard” mug size might be the perfect fit, or maybe a bigger mug is in order. Having a variety of sizes can also be useful when it comes to entertaining or accommodating different family members’ beverage preferences.
  3. Handle: This allows you to carry mugs and cups and not get burned. Look for solid handles that are big enough to slip a few fingers in, letting the drinker savor the warm beverage inside. Small, thin handles are likely to break off or slip out of hands.
  4. Design: Mugs are a place where it’s easy to mix and match stylishly. I love the array of designs in my personal collection of Italian coffee mugs – most of them have the same size and shape, so my only decision is which Italian hand painted mug I feel like using that morning. These Italian ceramics make great kitchen decorations with their mix of organic motifs. Others prefer solid colored mugs or cups, and then there are always the fun designs like these polka dot mugs.

Need some mug gift ideas for yourself and others? Check out these mugs and cups to get you started.

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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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Add Style and Luck with Roosters in the Kitchen

Chickens and roosters in the kitchen are a classic theme. The trend is partially because a rooster in the kitchen is thought to bring good luck; and chicken decorations provide the perfect company. Whether your style is rustic farmhouse chic or streamlined and modern, there are multiple ways to incorporate some of these fun feathered friends into your kitchen, no matter its theme. Here are some suggestions for whimsical, fun (not tacky) rooster and chicken decorations in your kitchen.

  • Rooster wall plates: Blue and white rooster plates are classic, invoking fine china and delftware. A traditional black rooster plate from Chianti, or a colorful rooster ceramic platter are other great options to decorate your walls or above your cabinets.
  • Rooster centerpieces: Many spacious kitchens devote some counter space to a decorative ceramic rooster or two. This rustic blue and white rooster is just one example of a more stylized piece. You might prefer a more realistic looking rooster in ceramic, depending on the rest of your kitchen décor and color scheme.
  • Rooster weather vanes: Invoke a traditional countryside feel with an iron rooster weathervane as a wall decoration or countertop centerpiece. This example from Houzz proudly lords over the pantry, pointing the way to the food.
  • Soft rooster and chicken decorations: Why stop at just ceramic roosters? Kitchen towels, potholders, curtains, rugs, and cushions are all ways to expand on your kitchen theme. Big bold graphic prints grab attention, like this rooster rug. Small chicken prints are lively without being overpowering, no matter where you choose to use them.
  • Rooster art: For true rooster lovers, a fowl-themed painting can be the perfect touch for your kitchen (and compliment those blue and white rooster plates nicely).

    Or have a rooster on your backsplash above the stove or sink, like this example painted to look like tile.

  • Rooster utensil holders: With all the unusual utensil holders out there, roosters are a playful addition to your kitchen that’s also quite useful. This blue and white rooster ceramic utensil holder is full of personality, looking cheerful before your first cup of coffee until after you’ve washed the dinner dishes.
  • Rooster salt and pepper shakers: These are definitely a chicken décor favorite and make great gifts. Who can resist the colorful feathers on these handpainted rooster ceramic pieces by Gorky Gonzalez?
  • Rooster pitchers: In Italy rooster pitchers are a traditional housewarming present, meant to protect the home against danger and trespassers. Use a full size rooster pitcher for water or wine at meals or as counter decoration. A little ceramic rooster creamer adds cheer to your afternoon tea or looks sweet filled with a small bouquet of flowers.

Are you a rooster lover? What are your favorite ways to incorporate these roosters in the kitchen?

Rooster kitchen images courtesy of Houzz.

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White Dishes and Kitchen Décor to Fit Your Style

Black and white is perhaps the most versatile color combination out there. From modern design to rustic country décor, these basic colors create spaces that are full of personality and depth. After our zigzag black and white ceramic wine bottle holder was featured on the cover of the September issue of HGTV magazine I’ve been thinking more about how to use black and white effectively in kitchen décor. It’s the perfect counterpoint for color and so much more!

Here are some ideas to help you find the best ways to use black and white in your kitchen:

Let colors rule. Black and white looks the most striking when paired with vibrant colors. Cheerful cabinets, walls, and countertops create a backdrop for your black and white kitchen décor that prevents things from looking flat and lifeless. Lighter shades are equally effective (powder blue and pale yellow are some personal favorites), but make sure there’s enough richness in the base tone of your paint to avoid a washed-out, blah effect.

Find white dishes with character. Plain white plates are boring, so choose white dishes that have something unique about them. Textured glazes and unusual shapes are great ways to pack some punch with your white serving platters.

This white plate with cut-out handles is the perfect example with black clay that shows just around the edges, giving an unexpected softness to the piece. Similarly, a white bowl becomes playful with decorative fluting around the edges.

 

Who said white dishes had to be basic?

 

Embrace touches of modern design. Not everyone wants a kitchen that feels like a futuristic spaceship. But that doesn’t mean that you should reject contemporary décor accents like curtains, countertop accessories, or vases. Mixing in a little of the modern gives any kitchen décor a definite edge. Take Gogo’s white espresso cup and saucer or Richard Esteban’s carved black vase; these pieces have timeless appeal with a distinctly modern feel.

Or try a graphic black and white ceramic wine bottle holder that becomes an appealing utensil holder and plays up your other colorful accents.

What ways do you incorporate black and white into your kitchen décor or dishware? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Lemons + Ceramiche Bartoloni = Cheerful Italian Ceramics

The history behind Italian ceramics plays a big part in their allure. Patterns and techniques that have been handed down for generations make for handmade ceramics that really stand out, whether they were made last year or 100 years ago. But writing about Italian country décor recently has got me thinking about lemons in particular, a fruit that’s a hallmark of Italian ceramics.

The Limoni pattern by Ceramiche Bartoloni is a wonderful example of this Italian ceramic motif in action. There are two versions – one on a white background, the other on a deep blue – and both are cheerful and bright, no matter the size or shape of the piece. I’ve watched the Bartoloni brothers paint these Italian ceramics themselves, Patrizio with his flamboyant swirls and curves, Stefano a bit more focused on intricate detailing. The finished product has the power to brighten any room.

So how can you get some of the lemon Italian ceramics in your life? The mugs are a great way to start the day, managing to be decorative even when they’re drying in the dish rack. Another favorite is the Limoni pitcher. It looks fabulous with a bouquet of fresh flowers or holds 1 liter of water, juice, or wine. Rounding out the table décor for your kitchen or dining room are the salt and pepper shakers complete with a small tray for easy passing.

The Bartolonis don’t stop there, however. Kitchen counters and stovetops benefit from an Italian ceramic spoon rest, keeping everything clean when you make your signature spaghetti sauce. The Limoni wine bottle holders are also versatile Italian ceramics; use them as a utensil holder, a vase, or keep tonight’s wine chilled on the table.

Soap dishes add cheer to any sink, and serving trays and bowls complete the collection. These Italian ceramics are equally at home on the wall as decoration or on the table, serving a delicious meal.

Popular as gifts or just as a way to bring some sunshine into your home, these lemon patterned Italian ceramics are the perfect mix of beauty and utility. How do you use these or other Italian ceramics from Emilia Ceramics in your home décor? Send us a photo and you can get 15% off your next order!

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Need a Quick Injection of Italian Country Décor?

Maybe you’re lucky enough to have live in Tuscany, where the Italian country décor essentials like wrought iron, exposed wood, and sturdy ceramics are plentiful. But for the rest of us, there are many ways to incorporate this decorating style into the home, whether it’s your kitchen or other rooms. The most basic principle when it comes to Italian country is to think about how to make your home inviting and approachable… everything else comes from there!

Italian country décor is a mixture of comfort and chic that never fails at making people feel welcome. Fresh flowers in a pitcher on the table, appealing chairs and couches, and other soft touches warm the stone, wood, and other uncompromising surfaces that characterize many Italian country homes, both in and out of Italy. This is why the kitchen often becomes the focus of any Italian country decorating – it’s the perfect place to make people feel at home around a substantial wood table, whether for a cup of coffee or a full dinner.

For an easy way to incorporate Italian country into your décor, look no further than ceramic serving dishes. These pieces serve double duty: they add color and interest to your walls when not in active use, then delight your family and guests when you need a large serving tray or bowl for your delicious meal. Pieces don’t need to exactly match, but instead reflect colors and designs that you find appealing. The fruit designs of ceramic serving dishes by Tuscia d’Arte are the perfect example. Rich blue backgrounds and vibrant colors ensure that these large serving trays get noticed however and wherever they’re used.

Of course, the difficult decision can be what shape you need for a large serving tray. These rectangular platters are over 17 inches long, making them a striking centerpiece for their size alone. The fruit motifs add to their Italian country charm, and are sure to be a winner on any table. Equally at home with cheese and bread or desserts, you’ll find yourself creating reasons to keep these ceramic serving dishes on the table. Add other ceramic serving dishes like an oval serving platter with apples or the large serving tray with lemons on a red background and you’re on your way to easy Italian charm… without even having to pack a bag. Benvenuto!Italian countryside image courtesy of SanguineSeas.

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New Italian Soap Dish from Ceramiche Bartoloni

Do you get excited about Italian soap dishes? Have you ever even thought about Italian soap dishes? Believe it or not, these little ceramic pieces can be quite exciting. I wasn’t much of a fan myself before I visited Ceramiche Bartoloni on a buying trip years ago. The beauty of their hand-painted Italian soap dishes was astounding and the variety of shapes and sizes was a revelation. Practical and decorative, I found that these small accessories add big style throughout the home.

Our newest Italian soap dish at Emilia Ceramics is no exception. In the ever-popular blu limoni design, this square Italian soap dish is too pretty just to stay in the bathroom. It’s also perfect for holding sponges, hand soap, or other cleaning supplies by the kitchen sink. More alternate uses for this Italian soap dish include using it as a small serving dish; it holds lime and lemon slices for drinks or taco night, olives or nuts for appetizers, and any other garnishes for your meal. I’ve also seen these Italian soap dishes used to organize rings, as a place for depositing keys, or even as a stylish spot to store a cellphone.

With so many uses for this small piece, an Italian soap dish is the perfect go-to hostess, housewarming, or birthday gift. Pair this square Italian soap dish or one of the round ones with a luxurious bar of soap and voilà! The vivid blue, yellow, and green of the blu limoni pattern works in both modern or traditional spaces, making this Italian soap dish truly versatile in both usages and design aesthetics. Who knew that soap dishes could look this good and do so much?

Stay tuned for more new ceramic arrivals on the website in coming weeks as I get through sorting all the new pieces arriving from Mexico. Check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages for photos and updates as they happen.

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Spoon Rest Lovers Unite!

It never would have occurred to me that there might be people who don’t like spoon rests. Just look at an Italian pottery spoon rest and you’ll understand my assumption. These ceramic pieces are a quick and easy way to add functional chic to the kitchen, whether it’s on the stove or countertop. What’s there not to love?

It seems that spoon rest lovers are in the majority, at least according to this unscientific survey by theKitchn. Apparently when talking about “useless” kitchen utensils they mentioned spoon rests and were surprised by the fervent response in support of this essential kitchen tool. While spoon rests can be made out of anything from Italian pottery to a bowl to a flattened wine bottle, I agree that they are an-often overlooked yet highly useful addition to any kitchen. The ideal spoon rest really depends on the cook using it — some enjoy a small, delicate Italian spoon rest, while others need a wider and more hefty Mexican spoon rest. For cooks who want a place to rest multiple spoons, ladles, and spatulas all at once, I recommend a flat ceramic plate. Whichever you choose, using a spoon rest is a simple and practical solution that will inject subtle style into your kitchen.

Curious, I decided to see if others shared my spoon rest love. Some folks on Chowhound listed them as one of the pieces that stays on countertops along with appliances like coffee makers, toasters, and cutting boards. No matter how novice or expert a chef, I think that everyone can use a place to put down a spoon/whisk/spatula where it won’t make more of a mess.

I’ve noticed that people often buy Italian pottery spoon rests as gifts. These pieces, along with Italian hand painted mugs, are good for birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, and that holy grail of gift giving: weddings. Practical, functional, and stylish as well as portable, what is there not to love? The variety of designs also means that you can easily find the Italian pottery spoon rest that fits any personality: cherries, lemons, and abstract designs are just a few options that match the décor of any size kitchen space from tiny apartment to professional grade.

Italian hand painted mugs are another good gift choice for many of the same reasons – everyone can always use another mug for their morning coffee or other hot beverage of choice. Perhaps more versatile than pottery spoon rests, Italian hand painted mugs can also function as pen holders, desk organizers, and even a home for toothbrushes. And if you’re looking for the gift for the kitchen that has everything, why not give a matching set like the hand painted cherry pottery spoon rest and mugs? They’ll feel like they’ve stepped into Italy (and think of you) every time they look at the stove.

Spoon image courtesy of mynameisharsha.

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Adding French Country Charm to Your Home

Who can resist the unique combination of elegance and simplicity that is French country charm? It’s not just the French manor house or the French country cottage, but somehow both at once. This irresistible combination of seemingly conflicting style elements manifests in French ceramics as well as décor. Colors, shapes, functionality, and charm all work together to make something truly unique, whether it’s a fun polka dot mug or a striking ceramic serving platter.

Want to inject your home with some French country chic? Give these five tips, many inspired by the French Country Decor Guide, a try.

  1. Get regional with color. French country can mean Provence, with warm, sunny colors, or the paler hues of northern France. These regional differences mean that it’s easy to find French country elements that already fit into your existing design aesthetic (French ceramics are a perfect example). The strong colors of Provence can include terracotta reds, dusky violets, Mediterranean blues and turquoises, and soft butter and creamy saffron yellows. Go north for colors with a touch of grey, including soft sage greens, milky whites, creamy pinks, and pale blues.
  2. Mix old and new. Antiques are a hallmark of French country, whether it’s a chair, bed, or accent piece. With a country estate-inspired bedroom for example, gilded edges on the bed make for a soft glow that contrasts with crisp sheets and textured walls. Or reupholster that great chair you found with a lush fabric and add it to more modern furnishings in the living room or study. Rich patina and distressed finishes make everything seem softer and slightly relaxed.
  3. Repurpose with abandon. If something is beautiful, it’s worth holding onto, even if no longer needed for its original use. Repurposed items can be anything from glass jars as table decorations to metal buckets acting as planters. I see this with French ceramics often – a chipped bowl becomes a place for change or a decorative element on a shelf. A ceramic serving platter holds keys and sunglasses by the door. A polka dot mug turns into a pen and pencil holder on a desk.
  4. Show off what’s in your kitchen. Why hide those gorgeous plates behind closed doors? A French country kitchen will often have open shelves that turn your dishware into decoration, as well as make things easier for the cook to access. Display your collection of French ceramics with pride, making them a part of your daily life.
  5. Let simplicity rule. French country is not about clutter or overwrought design. Smooth curves, clean lines, and subdued accents are all its hallmarks. I see this in some of my favorite French ceramic serving platters, whether the curves of the petal platter by Richard Esteban, the stark chalk white of the serving dish with handles by Patrice Voelkel, or subtle white streak on the lemon yellow round platter by Poterie Ravel.

French country kitchen image courtesy of thekitchendesigner.

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Modern Design Tips: It’s Not Just Black and White

Striking contrasts and deceptive simplicity make black and white a hallmark of modern design. Black and white equals effortless chic, whether you’re planning your outfit or decorating a room. No wonder this color combination has been a timeless favorite in wardrobes and the home, from kitchen décor to bathrooms to elegant living rooms.

So how to use black and white to make your home stand out? Here are some tips — from simple black and white butter dishes to high impact flooring — to create contemporary décor with a real impact.

Use accent colors. Confusing, I know, but bringing in another color makes your black and white all the more yours. Bright blue or red grabs attention while subtle, softer colors make black and white more approachable. Throw pillows, rugs, curtains, and other accents are ideal for playing with colors throughout the home or even out on the patio.

Think about shapes. Pure black and white contemporary décor can be stunning, but to pull it off well requires quality pieces. Choose elements that provide other interest besides color, whether it’s texture, unusual lines, or graphic patterns. Details count for much more when using black and white, so find lines that speak to you.

Be dynamic. Black and white doesn’t need to be blah. Fun patterns can really shape a piece. This black and white butter dish, for example, brings in a fiesta feel though it’s monochrome. Stripes and chevrons continue to be popular uses of black and white for vases, chairs, couches, curtains, and floors.

Incorporate personality. Fun references to newspapers, zebra themes, or grown-up black and white photos are a great way to make black and white less stark. Framed art, black and white ceramics, or even just a cheeky rug show the playful side of black and white. Think about ways to make black and white accents functional and personal: Black and white butter dishes, trivets, vases, and wine bottle holders are useful and they will inject instant style into your space.

What ways do you recommend using black and white in modern design? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Black, white, and blue interior image courtesy of …love Maegan.

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A Plate for Every Occasion

I love a good-looking table, whether it’s for a champagne brunch or an intimate dinner. Besides serving dishes, plates are the big stars when it comes to making a table with personality. Easily overlooked, these dining essentials can be a simple way to inject some excitement into your meal. Let’s look at the different types of plates and the roles they play when it comes to making a dining experience that everyone will remember.

Serving plates

Often the biggest plates, a serving plate handles main dishes and sides with ease. Your roast or pasta primavera never looked so tasty. Serving dishes are also a party essential for finger foods and desserts. A sideboard with cheeses, bread, canapés, and other nibbles makes even the most causal gathering feel just a little more festive.

Dinner plates

These are the workhorses of the plate world. Dinner plates aren’t just for dinner, of course, appearing at most meals (though I stick to a bowl for my morning cereal). Mixing dinner plate patterns can be a fun way to make your table a little more unique. Kids especially like plates with pictures or different designs (though these plates can still have a grown-up feel). Whether you choose solid colors or patterns, use dinner plates as the core building block for your table design.

Salad plates

Slightly smaller than dinner plates, salad plates are a great way to keep courses separate. Whether you eat your salad before the meal or after (like they do in Europe), this plate is the perfect size for greens. If using salad plates for a starter, stacking them on dinner plates makes for a colorful table.

Dessert plates

The smallest plate in the set, dessert plates are sized to make your sweets look the perfect size.

I also use dessert plates as bread plates at a more formal dinner party or for toast in the morning. Fun motifs make dessert plates just a little sweeter, giving the perfect finishing note to the meal.

Wall plates

Any plate can be a wall plate, though often they have intricate designs or pictures. Unusual shapes (like this Limoni rounded square plate) also make for great display plates. Hanging or mounting plates can be a fun way to decorate a kitchen or dining room, making your favorite plates part of your daily life. Wall plates also make great gifts for any occasion (and serve a dual purpose as tableware and art – how’s that for smart giving?).

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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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Italian Soap Dish Love

What’s something you use multiple times everyday but gets little attention? Give up? Your soap dish! Sure you won’t find a lot of people talking about the glory of Italian soap dishes, but today I wanted to focus on this overlooked essential. Wherever you have a sink, you probably have some soap – why not make it more visually interesting?

I’ll admit that I’d not thought much about Italian soap dishes before I visited Ceramiche Bartoloni. But their beautiful pieces definitely made me pay attention. The circles, squares, and rectangles stand out – these aren’t mundane soap dishes at all, they’re works of art! Since then, I’ve discovered that their uses go beyond the bathroom counter. One alternative use for these Italian soap dishes is to hold jewelry on a bedside table or dresser. Definitely makes it easier to find your watch and rings in the morning.

I’ve also used an Italian soap dish for serving small condiments, like lemon slices to go with drinks or chopped herbs for garnish. The cheerful lemon designs hand-painted on these Ceramiche Bartoloni pieces really brighten any space, from dining room to buffet table.

Of course, traditionally one uses an Italian soap dish for just that – soap. Everyone has their favorites, from plain unscented bars to handcrafted wonders of texture and perfume. One of my aunts always has a bar of Yardley English lavender soap in her guest bathroom; whenever I smell it I think of her. Shaped soaps can also be fun, though they’re never as pretty when they’ve been used a few times.

Whatever your soap bar preference, it’s important that your dish be roomy enough for the entire bar. Sloping inward sides prevent water from getting everywhere (keeping counters dry). An Italian soap dish can be the perfect accent in a cheerful bathroom or a place to keep sponges and hand soap (less harsh than dish soap) in the kitchen.

Another idea? Pair an Italian soap dish with elegant soap for a practical and stylish gift that’s unexpected. With all these possibilities for using Italian soap dishes, it’s a wonder we don’t talk about them more.

Do you have another way you use soap dishes? Or a favorite soap to give as a gift? Post a comment below and let us know.

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Polka Dots: A Trend to Love

I love polka dots!

Polka dots continue to wow us, both in fashion and home décor. Cheerful and fun, large and small, you can find polka dot mugs, dresses, wallpapers, French ceramics and just about any accessory you can think of. I even saw some polka dot sunglasses the other day.

While sporting polka dots is the trend this winter, it’s important to use moderation, says chicology. Instead of an entire ensemble, use polka dots as a fun accent: a skirt, a hat, even a chic scarf or umbrella. Perhaps it was the overkill of polka dots that lead to chatter about Rihanna’s new video looking a little too much like photographer Sølve Sundsbø’s work. Dappled in dots, the star is striking, but so are the photos from a 2008 editorial shoot Sundsbø did for Numero, as the side-by-side comparison on Fashionista points out. Just goes to show that you can still get creative with polka dots (and the value of giving credit where credit is due).

Home décor is another area where polka dots shine, from kitchen wares to furniture. French ceramics by artists like Richard Esteban are playful with their bold polka dots. The polka dot mugs, bowls, ceramic serving platters, plates, pitchers, and hanging planters make it easy to add a splash of polka dots to your décor without going too overboard.

But why be subtle? The bold patterning of polka dot wallpaper can really turn a room into a statement, says Decorators Best. Try a simple two-color print, or you can get more crazy with multicolor dots on a plain background (great for a kid’s room). Graphic black and white polka dots look modern, while a subtle grey and white adds just a hint of texture and sophistication. Generally there’s something simple and sweet about polka dots on textiles that keeps it fun no matter what.

My favorite place to see polka dots remains the kitchen. Lighthearted polka dot mugs or coffee bowls are a great way to start any day, whether it’s with your favorite hot beverage or cereal. The butter yellow ceramic serving platter with multicolored dots dresses up any party. And the new midnight polka dot pitcher is a real knock-out. With the whimsy of these French ceramics, it’s easy to make every day just a little brighter.

Polka dot image courtesy of {AndreaRenee}.

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Easy Black and White Kitchen Décor

black and white kitchenWhat’s your kitchen décor theme? While Italian countryside, French chic, American rustic, and others inspired by favorite cuisine or region are always popular choices, the appeal of sleek, modern design is also hard to resist. And what says contemporary décor better than black and white? The hallmark of modernity, black and white has rightly remained a classic color pairing that looks superb in the kitchen.

One of the advantages of black and white is that you can bring in another color for a bold accent that really stands out. Bright red pops with black and white, invoking the great look of a 50’s retro dinner or contemporary minimalism, depending on the style of accents. Cobalt blue remains a popular addition to black and white, but I’ve seen fabulous things done with everything from grey to bright green for truly unique kitchen décor.

Want some easy ways to bring black and white into your kitchen? Black and white floor tiles, cabinets, and countertops are all great places to create this stark simplicity. However, you can also channel the modern design feel with neutral colored furnishings as a back-drop for a few well-placed black and white accents, from butter dishes to vases. Here are some of my favorite accents for kitchen décor that’s both dramatic and dynamic in its design.

Black and white butter dishes. Keep butter at room temperature for easy spreading and add a decorative note to the table or counter with a black and white butter dish. Instead of having this practical piece fade into the background, a black and white butter dish adds personality and a touch of contemporary décor, like our festive Hidalgo pattern by Talavera Vazquez.

Black and white spoon rests. There’s nothing worse than getting tomato sauce all over your stove. But spoon rests keep those ladles, wooden spoons, whisks, and spatulas under control. Use a black and white spoon rest on the counter or stove top for easy cleaning with style.

Black and white trivets. Hot plates or trivets are another way to inject flair into black and white kitchen décor. Who has time for plain ceramic tiles or cork mats? Mix it up with a black and white trivet that looks great as a centerpiece when it isn’t mealtime and matches other black and white pieces by Talavera Vazquez.

Black and white wine bottle holders. A favorite host gift, wine bottle holders are practical additions to any kitchen, keeping bottles cool and your table free from drips. A black and white wine bottle holder can also hold utensils or even flowers on the countertop, making it a super versatile piece.

Black and white vases. Add fresh flowers to your kitchen table, window, or counter with sweet black and white vases. I love this black and white vase for the kitchen (in the photo with little yellow flowers) — the stripes are fun and it’s small enough not to get in the way of the chef. A great fusion of beauty and style into modern design.

Kitchen image courtesy of Thekitchendesigner.org.

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Top 5 Gifts for Pasta Lovers

spaghetti al sugo
Spaghetti with a hearty tomato sauce, fettuccini alfredo, delicate handmade raviolis, gnocchi in sage butter… how can you resist the temptation of pasta? Ubiquitous in Italy, pasta comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors which makes it possible to never have the same meal twice.

With pasta so popular, it’s no surprise that Tuscia d’Arte’s spaghetti canister is a consistent top seller. Functional and decorative, keeping this stylish spaghetti canister fully stocked means you have a quick and simple dinner always on hand (ideal for those days you don’t want to think about cooking). This spaghetti canister also holds its own as a decorative element on a kitchen counter, or pairs beautifully with other canisters holding your essential dry goods.

As the holiday season approaches I’ve started thinking about creative gifts for my “hard to buy for” friends. Since so many people love pasta, it’s the perfect starting point for a useful and delicious gift, no matter the reason.

Here are my top five gifts for pasta lovers:

1. Pasta. While the boxed stuff is good for everyday, why not indulge your favorite pasta lover with handmade, fresh noodles? I love the pasta from Lucca Ravioli here in San Francisco. Their ravioli has incredible seasonal flavors like pumpkin or turkey and is always tasty. You can also find dried artisanal pastas at specialty markets if fresh isn’t easily available in your area.

2. Spaghetti canister. Fill it with quality spaghetti or fettuccini for a practical gift. The Tuscan Fruit spaghetti canister is perfect for anyone who loves Italian ceramics, Tuscan style, or just appreciates the fusion of art and food in their kitchen.

3. Pasta machine. Since fresh pasta is so delicious, why not make your own? From the manual to state of the art electric versions, pasta machines roll out dough to the perfect noodle thickness. Use cutters to make noodles or take the sheets to create ravioli and tortellini with your favorite flavor combinations.

4. Pasta bowls. The best part about pasta is eating it. A pasta serving bowl (I love the yellow and turquoise one pictured above) makes for the perfect presentation. Or try a set of individual pasta bowls that are large enough for a hearty portion of noodles and sauce. I like mixing and matching for more personality at the table.

5. Kitchen accessories. Pasta needs the right accouterments from a solid colander to spoon rest for your sauce spoon and pasta claw. A large pepper or cheese grinder, salt and pepper shakers, or a spice rack ensures perfect pasta seasoning. A wine bottle holder keeps a favorite bottle handy to compliment any pasta feast.

Now I’m hungry for some pasta myself. What’s your favorite pasta dish? Post a comment to let us know!

 

Spaghetti image courtesy of Dèsirèe Tonus.

Pasta maker image courtesy of Jeff Kubina.