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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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The Best Decorative Dinner Plates for Summer Dining: 3 Tips

Summertime means incredible fresh fruits and vegetables, grilling adventures, and leisurely outdoor dining with friends and family. Even if you’re not planning to eat every meal outside this summer, it’s the perfect time to embrace playful motifs that celebrate the season. Bring on the bright colors and interesting textures!

decorative dinner plate
Looking for the best decorative dinner plates for your summer meals? Here are three rules to follow when updating your table this season:

1. Matching is so yesterday. It’s really true: plates and bowls don’t need to match. Mix up your classic dishware sets with square plates, oblong bowls, and other unusual shapes. Highlight that incredible dessert by serving it on distinct plates from the rest of the meal. The eclectic vibe will make your meals feel more relaxed and personal.

 rectangle serving platter

2. Color rules. Have at least two colors in your dishware sets; the variety makes even the most ordinary weekday meal feel more fun. If working from a base of white plates and bowls, mix in colorful serving or salad plates. Bold reds, cool blues, bright greens, brilliant yellows – there are no wrong answers. Patterns are also an excellent way to incorporate texture and more color without getting too crazy.

decorative dinner plate - orange stripeyellow dinner plate

3. Avoid plastic plates and cutlery. Nothing ruins that gorgeous masterpiece from the grill quicker than trying to cut it with a flimsy knife. The same goes for having your plate fly away in the wind. Unless you’re carrying your dishware multiple miles on a camping trip, take the time to use decorative dinner plates and solid silverware. The guests at your next barbeque will thank you.

dishware set

Need some ideas for what to serve on your decorative dinner plates and tableware sets that is suitable for summer? Check out Emilia Ceramic’s Pinterest boards for delicious recipes and ways to entertain as the days get longer.

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Inspiration for Fellow Vase Lovers

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

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

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

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

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

black and white stripe vaseblack and white vase

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

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

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

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3 Steps to Update Home Decor with Black and White Pattern Mixing

It’s simple: black and white together just pops. From home to runway, there’s a reason this classic color combination is never out of style. They love black and white at Vogue: think bold, graphic prints. They love black and white at Domino for its chic appeal. Here at Emilia Ceramics we love black and white planters, black and white ginger jars, and black and white vases for their versatility. Year in, year out, black and white just looks good.

black and white prints

But how do you give black and white decor a contemporary twist? Start mixing patterns. Just like in the fashion world, pattern mixing is very much of the moment. If you need help embracing this look with your wardrobe, check out the print mixing guide at Refinery29. Their advice for clothes also translates into your living room, office, bedroom, or kitchen. Here are three steps to make the transition painless:

1. Start with stripes. Black and white stripes can be evenly spaced, thick and thin, wide or narrow… an entire gamut of textures and styles. If mixing prints is new for you, try mixing different kinds of black and white stripes with solid colored pieces. This approach is ideal for pieces like black and white ginger jars.

black and white ginger jarblack and white vase

2. Add flowers. Colorful floral prints play well with black and white stripes. So do colorful bouquets in black and white vases. Or keep the monochrome vibe going with white blooms in either vases or planters. The best thing about black and white vases? They look just as great full of flowers as they do empty, whether on a shelf or in a special nook.

 

3. Embrace graphic prints of varying sizes and textures. Black and white style looks best when used in a variety of accent types. Add a mix of black and white printed cushions to your sofa and chairs for an instant refresh (they seriously go with almost everything). Herringbone, houndstooth, chevron, polka dots… the pattern possibilities are endless for everything from curtains to desk accessories. Sticking to the clean color palette allows for these patterns to play well with others, giving the room a cohesive (but not overly matchy) feel.

black and white prints

Have black and white pieces you adore? Share them on our Facebook page. Looking for more black and white inspiration? Check out our black and white favorites on Pinterest.

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Blue and White Mexican Pottery Promises Good Luck in 2014!

How would you like some good fortune in 2014? Good luck traditions range all over the world from breaking plates in Denmark to wearing polka dots in the Philippines. I recently learned that in medieval Europe people listened for a dove’s first call since they believed it indicated the luck to come in the new year. If the call came from above, good luck would come; if from below, bad luck was on its way.

I like to believe that all of the doves on the paloma blue and white Mexican pottery collection bring good luck. I love the mix of patterns and textures that surround the subtle shape of a flying dove on these ceramics; they are at once ornate and warmly rustic. The tall blue and white vase is striking filled with colorful blooms or left empty. The smaller round vase works well for small flowers or as a pen and pencil holder on a desk.

blue and white Mexican pottery vase For those with birthdays in January, the versatile oval paloma box makes a great gift, holding jewelry, toiletries, or keys. Another perennial favorite is the paloma oval serving dish.

paloma dish - blue and white Mexican pottery

If doves aren’t your good luck bird of choice, why not celebrate the New Year with roosters? Blue and white Mexican pottery pieces such as this rooster serving bowl possess a unique charm all their own. Another of my personal favorites is Gorky’s large blue and white rooster. He would be perfect as an accent in a kitchen or in the home of any rooster collector. All that personality has got to bring good luck, right?

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Here at Emilia Ceramics, 2014 is sure to bring more beautiful blue and white Mexican pottery pieces, as well as new French and Italian ceramics, and the return of some old favorites. I feel so fortunate to work with such talented artists, not to mention our dedicated and energetic customers (both new and returning). No matter what you do to bring yourself good luck this year, from toasts at midnight to eating grapes to wearing red underwear, here’s to it being fantastic!

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Showroom Spotlight on Decorative Dinner Plates and Stylish Dining

cactus and rooster platesOne of the best parts of the Emilia Ceramics Showroom is arranging ceramics in ways that people actually use them. I love the way that stacks of decorative dinner plates look and have had fun displaying lots of plates and bowls. The results look good enough to eat (off of)!

The dishware sets by Gorky Gonzalez are consistent favorites with customers and looking over the many styles, sizes, and patterns, it’s not hard to see why. Their mix of colors means there are plates for every taste. There are plain dinner plates for the minimalists and richly decorated salad and dessert plates for those who like more personality with their place settings. Gorky’s whimsical designs make for decorative dinner plates that people use daily instead of only for special occasions.

decorative dinner plate rooster plates Gorky’s studio has an entire team of artists who paint his plates and bowls. Although there is a traditional design that the artists follow, Gorky encourages them to add their own creativity and style to the piece. So no two fish or cowboys look exactly alike, giving each plate its own intentional charm. I particularly love the new caballero plates with their mustached cowboys in a variety of sizes and the Mexican cowgirl (la charra) serving plates. They definitely add some spice to the other characters in Gorky’s tableware sets.

cowboy decorative platecowgirl decorative serving plate

Stacking smaller plates on dinner plates is an easy way to add style to the table, whether it’s a family brunch or formal dinner. Having a variety of colors and patterns creates texture and can quickly change the feel of your space. Often people mix the designs of the smaller dessert and salad plates, having a set with a variety of animals or figures. I think it makes everything just a little more dynamic. If patterns or figures lack appeal, simply mixing colors can be an easy way to update a table and add a personal touch to the meal. Pair a stack of plates in rainbow hues with neutral table linens for a table setting that really pops.

decorative dinner platesNow that fall is truly here, I know people are starting to think about all the entertaining that cooler temperatures bring. For me the biggest question will be which plates and bowls to leave off the table—and with so many great options from Gorky, it’s definitely a question that will take time to answer!

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The Energy of Orange Decor: Feel Good with Bright Lamps and More!

Burnt Orange Striped Lamp - EmiliaCeramics.com

golden gate bridgeWarm and energetic, orange is definitely a color that lifts the spirits. That’s why it’s such a great way to revitalize a room. From coral to brick, here are some ways to incorporate some orange into your home no matter your current color scheme. I think of it as Golden Gate-inspired decorating. After all, isn’t orange the new black?

Bright orange walls. Definitely a bold statement, orange walls instantly brighten even the gloomiest room. Bright tangerine looks crisp with white shelving or sets off bright blue perfectly. Because of its energy, orange walls are best in areas where you entertain, like the living room and dining room. These citrus-inspired room ideas from Elle Decor definitely make me want to reach for a can of paint!

orange living room
Orange furnishings.
A rust-colored couch or patterned chair is sure to add interest to your living room. The orange table in Barbara Bestor’s home has a wonderfully mod feel that is both classic and contemporary. Orange dining table chairs are another bright touch for a subdued space.

orange table
Burnt orange ginger jars and lamps.
A wall’s worth of orange is a big commitment, so it’s sometimes easier to work the color in with carefully chosen accessories.

orange ceramic accessories

Burnt orange lamps
literally brighten up a room, from a pair of large striped lamps flanking a bed to a smaller zig zag burnt orange lamp on a desk or end table. Using a pale orange lampshade is another easy way to warm a room if you already have lamps you love.

chevron burnt orange lamp burnt orange lamp striped

Rust orange pillows. If your current living room is a sea of neutrals, orange throw pillows add just a pop of color without taking over. Pick a variety of patterns to keep things interesting. The same goes for bedrooms: orange sheets or a duvet cover can be a quick way to make things cozy. And as Centsational Girl points out, orange is a fantastic gender-neutral color for kids’ rooms.

orange kids room
Pantone’s color of 2012 was tangerine tango, and with all the many ways to work orange into your home, it’s definitely a hue that’s here to stay. How do you feel about orange? A fan of burnt orange lamps or other home accessories? Have you had success decorating with orange in your home? Share your experiences with a comment below.

Golden Gate Bridge image courtesy of Denis Cappellin.

Orange living room image courtesy of Elle Decor.

Orange table image courtesy of Old Brand New.

Orange nursery image courtesy of Lilly Bunn.

 

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Blue and White Planters: Fashionable Chic for Your Plants

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

teal blue planter

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

zigzag blue and white planter

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

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Favorite Vases for Summer Blooms


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

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

Long and lean vases

tall vase

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

Short and round vases

striped blue vase

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

Black and white striped vases

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

Patterned and colorful vases

colorful vase

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

patterned vase

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

Flower image courtesy of nosha.

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Pinterest Finds: Mexican Ceramics

Love Pinterest? The new look is pretty great, making it easy to find all kinds of incredible things. I’ve been exploring Mexican ceramics to add to the Emilia Ceramics Mexico board and wanted to share some of my favorite findings with you.  The new Pinterest doesn’t have the incredibly easy sharing feature it used to, so simply click on images to take you to the original pin, complete with credentials.

We’ll start with Mexico City.

I love these colorful Mexican ceramic plates, but the majolica toilet might be a bit much.

Mexican ceramics pair beautifully with Mexican food (no surprise, right?). Just check out this salsa set up. And a blue and white plate is the perfect compliment for mole.

Of course, some of my favorite Mexican ceramics are those made by Gorky Gonzalez.

Gorky Gonzalez PlatesGorky Gonzalez Pottery

Mexico itself is a stunningly beautiful place.

I think Capelo‘s unique Mexican ceramics are just as beautiful as the views from his studio!

Capelo Ceramics

Capelo Mexican ceramics

Then there are Talavera Vazquez’s ginger jars

And, of course, there’s always the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) full of colorful and almost friendly-seeming skulls.

Have some Mexican-themed pins of your own? Share the link in a comment below to your favorite pins or boards so we can check them out. And follow Emilia Ceramics for the latest new Mexican ceramics, decorating ideas, and more!

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How Does Your Garden Grow? With Outdoor Pots of All Sizes, That’s How

ceramic pots for plantsJuly is truly summer: hot days and nights, Fourth of July, picnics, grilling… what is there not to love? Warm evenings (for those of us outside of San Francisco at least) lend themselves to outdoor lounging and dining, enjoying garden-ripened fruits and vegetables right next to where they grow.

Planters are the perfect way to spruce up any outdoor space, whether that means housing ferns or tomato plants with style. Ceramic pots for plants are considered the best since the clay body keeps in the moisture longer, helping plants stay cool in the hot, hot heat. Outdoor pots come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small flower pots to massive planters like those made by Poterie Ravel that can hold entire trees. The key for making your planters look great? Mixing and matching planter shapes and sizes. Here are my three top tips for getting the most out of your planters on your porch, patio, or out in the garden.

1. Pick planters with your plants in mind. A single pansy will look dwarfed by a large flower pot while a small flower pot doesn’t give the roots of a larger plant enough room to grow. If you’re wanting to make a mini garden, an oval or rectangle planter can be a good choice with enough space for multiple plants. Hanging planters are excellent for vines or even strawberries, adding color and interest to your walls as well.

large blue and white striped planter

2. Mix colors and patterns. Uniform brown planters can get a little old. Add a zig zag planter in ceramic and suddenly your plants pop. Think of planters like cushions in your living room; keep the colors or patterns related and then mix things up to your heart’s delight. Greens, yellows, and blues all compliment most flowers and plants while black and white planters add some modern chic indoors or out. Ceramic pots for plants do well outside or inside, dressing up plants in your garden as well as your living space.

Poterie Ravel French ceramic planters

small flower pot

3. Clusters look better than rows. A line of clay flower pots looks a bit flat, so move pots together in a mix of heights and widths for a more visually interesting display. Anchor your arrangements around a larger and taller pot, grouping smaller planters around it in a mix of shapes. Fill the larger pot with tall plants, leaving low lying greenery for the smaller plant containers. I love how the round zig zag planter looks with small polka dot pots or the square black and white striped planter with a patterned oval planter or two nearby.

polka dot planter

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La Dolce Vita

florence1After a long day of train rides, I made it from Nice (where I dropped off my rental car) to Florence. It was actually a longer journey than I had envisioned (in the past, I’ve always stopped along the way) and I arrived starving. About halfway to Florence, I had decided I was going to wait to eat until I could eat real Italian food… so I checked into my hotel, splashed some water on my face, and headed to the nearest trattoria. It was worth it! The fresh tagliatelle al funghi was delicious and the “house red” tasted as good as any wine I’ve had in a long time.

The next day I woke up early and headed back to the train station for the 20 minute ride to Montelupo Fiorentino. Montelupo is famous for its majolica because of the town’s location on the old Roman road that brought Moorish traders (and their ceramic wares) from Spain to Florence. During the Renaissance, artisans in Montelupo began elaborating on the ceramic designs, adding realistic imagery and brighter colors, transforming them into the high art form we know today.

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painting

While there are many ceramic artists in Montelupo, I am pretty confident Emilia Ceramics buys from the two best! My first visit was to Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia. Co-owner (and grandson of Tuscia’s founder) David met me at the small train station and we drove to Tuscia. new_piecesWe found Gabriele (the head-painter and other co-owner) working and telling jokes to three other painters. They greeted me — most remembering my first visit 5 years ago — and were very nice when I wanted to take lots of photos while they worked.

As I’ve described before, Tuscia is located in a 2 story brick building, filled with ceramic artwork. Each shelf in each room is stacked with plates, bowls, canisters, and pitchers that look like they belong in a museum.

I selected a number of new pieces to add to the order I had already placed with Tuscia and had an espresso with David — who was expecting a new baby girl at any moment! Then David drove me to Ceramiche Bartoloni, which is in a more industrial part of town. We were greeted by Patrizio and Lucia Bartoloni. Lucia is Patrizio’s wife and helps run the business along with Patrizio’s brother Stefano and his wife. The four of them do almost everything themselves, only hiring extra painters when needed. Lucia speaks some English, so she talked with me about the recent order I had placed and showed me all the new designs and patterns.

tile

blogOf course, the limoni and rooster patterns are my Bartoloni faves… but there were a few new patterns that jumped out at me. So I added some new styles as well as some more sizes of bowls to my order (expect some great new salad and pasta bowls from Ceramiche Bartoloni). Patrizio was very busy and had to leave soon to pick his son up at school, but he gave me a double-cheek kiss and posed for a picture before he ran out the door. Then Lucia drove me back to the train station and I spent the 20 minute ride back to Florence trying to digest all the beautiful artwork I had just seen.

The next day, after another awesome pasta dinner and a few gelatos, I went to visit Daniela’s ceramic shop in downtown Florence: La Botteghina del Ceramista. Daniella is a good friend of my uncle Gifford (who is also responsible for introducing me to the ceramics from Tuscia and Bartoloni). I visited Daniella’s shop on my first trip to Florence, before I even knew I was going to start a ceramics-importing business. I fell in love with her collection though, which includes ceramics from the Bartoloni brothers, among other great Italian artists. On my first visit I bought the Square Blu Limoni Platter from Daniella and gave it to my brother as a wedding gift.

I’ve been back a few times since and been able to share with Daniella the progress of my growing business. As always, she was very helpful in pointing out new pieces and best sellers, telling me where they were from, and giving me contact names and numbers. It was great to visit with Daniella and watch her in her element, surrounded by the beautiful Italian majolica, sharing it with tourists and local Italians alike. It reminded me what a great job I have!

daniella

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

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

 

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

 

 

Patterns should mix.

plates and bowls

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

Platters should be heaped.

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

Pitchers should be filled.

French pitcher - teal

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

Color is essential.tableware sets

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

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

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Truly Unique Handmade Ceramics: Our Favorite One of a Kind Pieces

handmade ceramicsEven though all the ceramics in the Emilia Ceramics collection are handmade and handpainted, some artists focus on one of a kind ceramics more than others. Sylvie Durez’s French handmade ceramics are a perfect example. For her plates and bowls, she etches an original design onto the piece without a plan or pattern — then hand paints the piece, with women lounging, serene landscapes, or whatever else she fancies.

handmade ceramics: bowlmodern handmade ceramics

Every time I visit her Provence studio, choosing from all the many options can be quite challenging; often I wish I could just take them all!

Capelo also specializes in one of a kind handmade ceramics. He and his fellow artists in his Mexican workshop craft pieces with unusual shapes and truly touchable glazes. I especially love his vases. Take the Hawaiian vase: with its floral motifs and range of colors, this piece is beautiful empty on a shelf or full of flowers.

Hawaiian vaseCapelo’s unique bowls and trays are also fantastic examples of his one of kind work. They also make great gifts—with these handmade ceramics, you can be certain you won’t be giving something already in someone’s home.

handmade ceramic tray

Other artists, like Gorky Gonzalez and Richard Esteban, mix one of a kind pieces in with their regular handmade ceramic collections. For example, Gorky’s Catrina plates and the amor plate allow artists to get creative with their designs. I particularly love the El Pajaro bowl with its cheerful songbird. These pieces blend nicely with the rest of Gorky’s collection. They’re incredibly detailed, sharing border motifs, color palettes, and style with his other handmade ceramics.

amor platehandmade ceramic bowl

Richard’s one of a kind French handmade ceramics are also tied together by color and feel. Whether it’s a striking black tall pitcher, quirky polka dot planter, or striped serving platter, these ceramics definitely embody the spirit of his country home with a modern edge. I love his tall teal vase and its etching; this is another example of a vase that looks wonderful empty or full.

tall vaseblack pitcher

Of course, the one downside to all these handmade ceramics is once they are sold, they’re gone. It can be hard to not fall in love with every one, but if I kept them all, I’d have no room left in my home. That’s why I’m always happy to share them with you as well as hear from people about their new handmade ceramics when they receive them. Have a story about some handmade ceramics you love and how you use them? Comment below and please share it with us all!

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Making Handmade Mexican Pottery Truly Your Own

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

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

gorky pottery

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

dinner plate

red plate

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

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

gogo_mugs_plates_bowls

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

gogo_mugs_plates

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The Staying Power of Fine Italian Ceramics, Past and Present

Fine Italian ceramics are nothing new. Dating back to the Middle Ages and beginning to flourish in the 1400s, the ceramic centers of Italy have been producing incredibly detailed ceramics for literally hundreds of years. I recently came across a little book discussing Italian and other European ceramics throughout history – Maiolica, Delft and Faïence by Giuseppe Scavizzi – and wanted to share some of its beautiful images with you. Just look at the inside of this “loving cup” from circa 1500 Faenza, used to celebrate engagements or as a gift for a beloved:

fine Italian ceramic loving cup

The detailed likeness is strikingly similar to work by Tuscia d’Arte, such as this Italian canister.

Italian canister

Another timeless piece is this plate of a solider from circa 1630:

Italian soldier plate

He looks so jaunty, reminding me of this contemporary Italian ceramic plate with a drummer at its center.

Italian ceramic plate

Italian ceramicsOne of the amazing things about hand painted Italian pottery is that patterns and techniques have been passed down through generations. Artists today hand paint using the same process as those centuries ago, following traditional patterns as well as adding some contemporary touches. Historically important areas for Italian ceramics have stayed pretty constant throughout the years, many of them in the center of Italy. One is Montelupo Fiorentino, outside of Florence in Tuscany. It’s where I get the fine Italian ceramics for the Emilia Ceramics collection. In a few months I plan to travel to Italy to visit both Tuscia d’Arte and Ceramiche Bartoloni as well as some potential new artists; I can’t wait!

Other famous centers are Deruta, Siena, and Vietri, examples of which are easy to find at Biordi Art Imports, also here in San Francisco. Biordi has a huge selection of typical Italian patterns that go back to the Renaissance; their walls are stuffed with dinnerware, decorative pieces, and exquisite tiles. If you find yourself in North Beach and want to see some Italian ceramics in San Francisco, check Biordi out.

No matter where hand painted Italian pottery comes from, I love how it connects to the artists that create it. Fine Italian ceramics are usually hand signed, a fitting recognition of all the time it takes to paint as well as form these pieces of art. Italian canisters, Italian utensil holders, or dinnerware pieces, these are all ceramics rich in history and tradition that make it easy to bring Italy to your home.Italian hand paintingWhat are your favorite fine Italian ceramics? Any recommendations for places in Italy I should visit this coming summer? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Add Instant Sophistication with Italian Blue and White Ceramics

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

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

Italian blue and white lamp

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

Blue Striped Vase by Talavera Vazquez

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

Italian blue and white mug

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

Shades of blue image courtesy of Booyabazooka.

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Ready for Spring? Tips and Tricks to Fill Your Planters

The groundhog said that we’ll have an early spring this year… Given the blizzards and storms across the country, I think it’s about time for some good news! Spring doesn’t just mean warmer temperatures and a lack of snow (admittedly not something we worry much about here in San Francisco); it’s also a time to think about your garden and this year’s planting. Inspired by this article in the New York Times about Tovah Martin’s amazing houseplants (she has over 200 in her home), here are some tips for getting your 2013 garden started early and using fun accents like zig zag planters to banish winter blues in the meantime.

wall planter

  • Italian PlanterGo west! Sunlight exposure for plants can make a huge difference. In the winter, put your ceramic planters where they’ll get western light, not eastern.
  • Stay moisturized. Dry air is another enemy of indoor plants. A humidifier can keep even the most delicate blooms happy and healthy until it’s warm enough to put your favorites outside. Watering frequency is also key – every plant is different. Ferns love moisture while begonias and geraniums like to dry out before a thorough soaking. If leaves start to fall off, chances are you’ve let your plant dry out for too long.
  • Pick the right pots. I agree with Tovah that, “Even the most boring supermarket plant can look great, by giving it a smart pot.” Blue and white planters in a variety of patterns make for stylish arrangements indoors or out. Graphic additions like a zig zag planter or the intricate details of an Italian planter add another splash of color to your greenery or flowering plants, decorating your windows and indoor spaces now. Once things warm up, these ceramic planters move easily to the porch or patio, adding depth to your garden.zig zag planter
  • Acclimate before planting. This time of year you can plant bare root roses, fruit trees, and berry bushes directly in the ground (as long as it’s not frozen). But for other greenhouse-grown plants like a blooming primrose or winter pansy, you’ll need to get your new additions “hardened off” before putting them into their new outdoor homes, explains Marianne Binetti. This means sheltering plants on a porch or other protected area where they can adjust to the cool nights for a week or two. Then fill your window boxes, garden, or outdoor wall planters with some well-deserved color.
  • Be unexpected. If your bathroom gets good natural light, please humidity-loving orchids, aloes, and bromeliads while creating a lush mini-jungle. Colorful Talavera planters that match your décor pull the look together. Another idea? Train plants with vines or tendrils to create a natural curtain in a south-facing window.

Italian planterHow do you use zig zag planters? Have plans for your spring garden or favorite plants for wall planters? Leave a comment and let us know!Italian ceramic planter

Houseplant image courtesy of The Greenery Nursery.

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

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

Illuminate

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

green table lamp

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

green candle holder

Serve

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

large green cheese plate

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

green pitcher

Soften

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

Plant

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

green vase

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

green wall planter

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

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

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Contemporary Blue and White Ceramics with Mexican Flair

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

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

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

blue and white ginger jar

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

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

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

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

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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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Decorating Trend Alert! Stripe Painted Vases for Every Style

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

Large shapes, small stripes

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

Blue and white

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

Glass

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

Mixed materials

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

DIY

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

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

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

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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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Vase Design Trends: Color, Size, and More

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

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

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

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

Test tube vase image courtesy of SOCIALisBETTER.

Mercury glass vases image courtesy of Design Darling.

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Blog Round Up: Ceramic Lamps

Lamps in general are a necessity, but ceramic lamps add light to a space and decorate it simultaneously. What’s there not to love about that? Functional and stylish, a ceramic table lamp makes the perfect accent lighting for a room with only overhead lighting. As any designer will tell you, the best lighting comes from multiple places, not just one. Also, what’s more cozy than curling up in bed or a favorite chair with the glow of a nearby lamp as your main source of light?

So what kind of ceramic lamps fit your lifestyle best? I did a little blog-research and found a surprising number of people discussing how they use this decorating trend. Here are some of my favorite posts discussing ceramic lamps of all shapes and sizes.

DIY: People certainly get creative when it comes to decorating. If you like a lamp’s shape but not its color, take a page from Clotheshorse NYC and reach for the paint. The transformation is amazing with this before and after.

Be Blue: Just look at Modern Mobile Design for some monochromatic blue design inspiration from lamps to rugs to vases. Another lover of blue is House of Turquoise with a post detailing a fabulous blue and white bedroom and living room. I feel like one of my favorite ceramic lamps, a little blue table lamp by Tuscia d’Arte would be a great fit in either space. It is refined, yet full of personality. When designing a room, pairing is a good strategy with table lamps, whether for the bedside or on a dresser top.

Go Bold: To the Tens suggests using ginger jar lamps for accent on a console or desk. Graphic colors and patterns make these ceramic lamps really stand out and get noticed. Decor Dose especially loves ginger jar lamps by Talavera Vazquez with stripes and chevrons.

Given that ginger jars have become such a popular trend, making them into functioning lamps seems a natural extension. Both Chicago Interiors and Kelly Market are huge fans of ginger jars… It’s only natural then that they’d love these bold ginger jar lamps just as much.

Regardless of your home decor, there seems to be a table lamp that will enhance the glow of your favorite room. Here’s to discovering the ceramic lamp that you love!

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Spring-Inspired Home Design Ideas

Now that spring is officially here, what better time to revitalize your home design with some fresh color? This year’s design trends have lots of bright colors paired with neutral creams and grays, says Patch. While we’ve all heard about Pantone’s Tangerine Tango for months, this vibrant orange is one of many brights to choose from: Lemon, lime green, and other warm colors are also on the scene for everything from paint to throw rugs and furniture. The graphic chevrons of this burnt orange ginger jar lamp are a perfect example of this color design trend at work in the home.

ginger jar lamp

Graphic patterns like chevrons and stripes have been on the radar for months and their popularity shows no sign of letting up. When graphic prints and colors combine, you get tiles, blankets, plates, trays, and fabric that instantly enlivens any room, like these examples at Elle Décor. The age of the single statement patterned piece is over, with prints and patterns mixing with reckless abandon. My tip for making this mix harmonious is to stick with the same color palette for different pieces. Blues and white, yellows, and greens are some of my personal favorite starting points, depending on the room. The textures will create a richness that instantly brightens any space.

I was clearly excited to read in the Coloradan that ceramics themselves are especially popular this spring. A focus on textures and finishes continues the fascination with graphic patterns. Artisan work quickly gives design cachet to everything from the foyer to kitchen. Mix up your plates for some spring color at the dining table or showcase fresh flowers with bud vases perfect for single blooms. Every design aesthetic has complimentary ceramic styles, it’s just a matter of finding what works for you. Ginger jars are a great example: Chinese ginger jars, ginger jar lamps, or modern ginger jars by Talavera Vazquez all interpret a gorgeous design piece in a very different way.

With all these design ideas, I’m thinking about a simple makeover for the living room. Add a couple fun throw pillows in unusual sizes or shapes to couches and chairs, a smart ginger jar lamp or statement vase, and perhaps a coat of a bold paint on one wall. Take advantage of spring cleaning fever to clean out a closet or clear your living room shelves of items you no longer need. By creating more space, you’ll feel more free to try out some fun spring-worthy design, from ginger jars to unique textiles and colors. Happy spring!

Traditional textile image by shaire productions.

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Chevrons and Zig Zags: Designs with Staying Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yellow chevron image courtesy of maureen lunn.

iPhone case image courtesy of Look Linger Love.

Chevron cake image courtesy of My Sweet and Saucy.

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Who You Calling a Square? Why Shape Matters

Shape matters. Don’t believe me? Think about all the thought that goes into the design of everyday objects: your cellphone, car, computer, and countless other objects have all had teams of designers that work on melding style with functionality. So what about something like Italian blue and white ceramics? Are teams of experts working round the clock to make them sleek, sophisticated, and fashion forward?

Strangely enough, I think when it comes to pieces like serving trays and platters the answer is yes. Ceramic artists have to consider not only how a piece will look but also how it will function. Is the lip too curved to let food sit near the edge? What kind of food can be served with this rectangular serving platter? If it’s too big or too small, no one will use it. Can serving trays be made to have multiple functions (like decorating a wall when not in use)? How thick is sturdy without looking too clunky?

One of the joys of handmade ceramics is how they truly set your table and home apart, matching your style and personality. While many of my customers gravitate towards Italian blue and white ceramics, the patterns, motifs, and styles vary widely from geometric designs to intricate pictures. I love the variety of platters and serving trays out there, especially those with a surprising shape. Who said that all plates needed to be round anyway?

For example, one of my favorite square serving trays is this one with oranges. While still an Italian blue and white ceramic piece, the warm orange and yellows of the fruit make them look good enough to eat. Looking for square serving trays with some more zest? Try one of the many with lemons, guaranteed to brighten the wall as a hanging piece or the table as a serving platter.

There are many other shapes for serving trays and platters from circles to rectangles. Continue the fruit theme with this magnificent rectangular serving platter perfect as a centerpiece empty or filled with fruits, snacks, or desserts.

Big or small, rectangular serving platters can be used as key or jewelry trays, a spoon rest, or even a way to keep toiletries stylishly arranged in the bathroom. Use a mix of shapes to keep things interesting, adding surprising texture throughout your home. You’ll never look at squares the same way again!

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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}.