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Spring ‘Green-ing’: Designing with the Pantone Color of the Year

green milk pitcher

Near the start of every new calendar year, Pantone – an authority on color – declares a symbolic ‘Pantone Color of the Year.’ According to Pantone, the color of the year serves as a “snapshot of what [we] see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.” A few examples of recent colors of the year include, Cerulean Blue, Mimosa, and Honeysuckle.

Green Hallway
via MFAMB

In December, Pantone announced the 2017 Color as Greenery, (or for those with design prowess: P 15-0343). Representative of life and new beginnings, Pantone Color Institute Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman, speaks about Greenery as denoting the reconnection we seek with nature, each other and our larger purpose.

Whether or not you resonate with the symbolism, you can definitely appreciate the hue. In this post, we help you think through designing with the Pantone color of the year. Below, we’ll explore the color psychology of Pantone’s Greenery, and offer suggestions about how to integrate it into your home.

The Expression

Color psychology is the study of how hues relate to human behavior and the inconspicuous ways they influence perceptions. If you pay attention to your subtle response when you enter a room, you might notice feelings of comfort, excitement, security or any number of other reactions. Believe it or not, the dominant color surrounding you in any space has an effect on your mood or spirit.

emilia-ceramics-greenery-designingPsychologically speaking, the color green is synonymous with liveliness, growth and renewal; not dissimilar to what the color physically represents when it shows up in nature. It is believed that green offers a sense of health, prosperity, tranquility, and even fertility. Being in a predominantly green space could even relieve stress and prompt healing.

Think about the spaces in your home, and consider the rooms that might benefit you, your family, or your guests by your prompting these types of reactions.

Clever Color Combinations

In addition to offering us the official color of the year, Pantone also presents pairings that work well with Greenery. Before you get to designing for this Pantone color of the year, you can reference these recommended hues to determine what room might offer the most opportune palette for incorporating the color green.

To complement the green and yellow mix of this year’s color, look to cooler shades, such as blue-greys in ranging tones. Pantone suggests colors like Periscope, Lead or Nimbus Cloud. You can also look to other colors of nature, such as neutrals and warm creams and beiges, to which Pantone suggests Sheepskin, Brown Rice and Buttercream. See the below suggestions (I’m a fan of the calm it down pallet) or for more color pairings, look here >>

How to Incorporate It

As spring approaches, I’m beginning to take a fresh look at how I can reinvigorate my interior. A color like Greenery, especially at this time of year, can inspire so many ways to integrate green, (and as a result, the feelings of health, prosperity, and tranquility) into the home.

The most significant change for you might be a wall color change. Though if you’re not in the mood to make this type of commitment, consider an accent wall or accent décor. For those with a green thumb, visit a nursery and invest in some living accents for any room in your home.

via DADAA

When it comes to accent décor, why not add some liveliness to your home in the form of green ceramics?! Here are a few of my favorites:

This year I’m looking forward to less spring cleaning and a lot more spring green-ing!

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Valentine’s Gifts to Suit Your Loved One’s Passion

The holiday of love is almost upon us and you might be expecting the usual flowers, chocolates or jewelry again this year. Or, perhaps you and your significant other decided to forego material gifts this year in favor of quality time with one another. If that isn’t the case, and you’re hoping to receive something unique this Valentine’s Day, consider finding a way to slip a link to this post to your loved one. Here at Emilia Ceramics, we’d like to see your love celebrated with the gift of a ceramic treasure from one of our talented artists.

Below, we showcase a few such ideas, characterized by a specific passion your partner might recognize in you.

For the Wine Enthusiast

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Vino Cups by Ceramica Valenciana (Valencia, Spain)

The wine loving woman in your life appreciates nice things and just another bottle of good wine isn’t special enough for this occasion. Luckily, we have many gift options for the vino-inclined. A classic is this Black Striped Wine Bottle Holder by Talavera Vazquez. If she’s drawn to old-world design, she might appreciate the Antique Vino Pitcher… Or for a more irreverent oenophile, these Vino Cups by Ceramica Valenciana are pure fun. If she has everything a wine drinker already needs and then some, a fun add on to a quality bottle of her favorite wine would be any of our wine stoppers, like this Fiore Wine Cork by Ceramiche D’Arte Tuscia in Montelupo Florentino, Italy.

For more ideas, check out all our Wine Accessories or our special gift-giving section for Wine Enthusiasts.

For the Creative Chef

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White Footed Serving Dish by Ceramica Valenciana (Valencia, Spain)

When gifting your loved one who loves to spend time in the kitchen, you can’t go wrong with serving ware or table accessories. A few of my favorites for anyone who loves to be creative when cooking: the Cherry
Spoon Rest
, by Ceramiche D’Arte Tuscia; the Burnt Honey Etched Trivet by artist, Richard Esteban from Aigues-Vives, France; and this timeless White Footed Serving Dish by Ceramica Valenciana.

To see more, shop Serving Dishes >>

For the Dessert Lover

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Gogo Square Plates by Gorky Gonzalez (Guanajuato, Mexico)

If your partner has a certain affinity for the “sweeter” things in life, give her a gift that will help her bake or serve her favorite dessert. Small appetizer dishes are perfect for dishing up chocolate truffles or petit fours. Especially for a more delicate or intricate dessert, small plates that offer a blank canvas are best, such as the Gogo Square Plates in five fun colors. For a light-hearted dessert lover, the Wildflower Bouquet Cookie Plate is a great idea, as are any of the small pieces created by French artist, Sylvie Duriez. As a compliment to any of these, think about coffee drinking accouterment, such as this San Miguel Mini Creamer and the San Miguel Sugar Bowl.

For more dessert-friendly gift ideas, check out our Footed Platters and Bowls, (great for displaying cakes, cookies, brownies, and cupcakes) or our collection of Appetizer and Mini Plates.

Beyond just gift ideas, my advice is to always think outside the box when shopping for that special someone. Try to picture yourself, as them, doing something they love to spend time doing and get creative from that perspective. And remember, provided your gift is picked out with the intent of wanting to make your loved one happy, you really can’t go wrong!

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Hosting THE Holiday Party

This time of year, with everything going on, it’s common to know people who are scrambling trying to prepare the final touches for hosting the holiday party. If you’re one of these people, don’t fret. With this short list of priorities, you can enjoy a relaxed, yet festive party that leaves your guests wondering if you hired a professional event planner!

Focus on a few things

First things first – start by prioritizing your guests’ experience. At an event of any size, your friends and family want to have an enjoyable night. This comes less from fanfare and more from the space you create to allow connections to develop or strengthen. Don’t try to do it all.

Apart from the food and drink, adding one or two other feature elements can give your gathering that special touch. Consider combining two or three essential oils, like any of these options from the Keeper of the Home blog, and use diffusers to add a subtle signature scent to your space. To complement this, make the room twinkle by scattering LED string lights or unscented candles on a few out of the way surfaces.

Bring the outdoors inside

how-to-host-the-holiday-party-emilia

At your party this year, think about how to celebrate Mother Nature’s contribution to our seasonal merriment. Looking to the table setting you plan to feature, determine what outdoor elements could add to your décor. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by the organic gifts of the Rocky Mountains, which means I have a handful of options. From pinecones to sprigs of Evergreen to branches with berries, I like to intersperse natural elements everywhere I can.

If this isn’t accessible in your area, you can still bring the outdoors in by incorporating wood grain serving trays or utensils. Or, consider crafting a bit before the party begins with a few ideas from Brit+Co.

Let your guests craft the cocktail

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Even a small collection of spirits, mixers and cocktail accouterment, displayed with gold or silver-rimmed glassware on a modestly decorated bar cart can bring a festive flair to your event. Curate a couple of mixologist-inspired drink recipes – like any of these – and set out copies. Or encourage your guests to try their hand at getting creative in crafting the blend that suits their palette.

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Cherry Red Long Platter by Gorky Gonzalez (Guanajuato, Mexico)

If you want to go all out, you can still follow the above tips to get started. Then, follow some advice I received a few years ago for putting on a hit event: Walk yourself through the party, from beginning to end and make a list of the details you want to ensure get included. Turn the holiday party into something more elaborate by bringing in some outside entertainment, adding custom floral arrangements to every surface, or make a personalized gift for guests to take home.

Just in case you’re looking for some last-minute wares to get you ready for the event you’re hosting this year or next, here is a collection of holiday serving dishes I’ve put together.

Regardless of your party planning style, remember it’s your guests’ experience that makes memories. And hosting the holiday party should be about celebrating the time spent with those who matter most to you.

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A Holiday Gift Guide by Personality

Tis the season! If you’re anything like me, you’ve just started making your gift list for friends and family. In case you’re struggling with what to give a few of those special people in your life, or if you missed (or chose to skip) Black Friday, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered with this year’s holiday gift guide, inspired by personality types.

I like to be thoughtful with what I pick out for my loved ones but sometimes I’m just not sure where to start. What I’ve found to be helpful is to think about the personality of the individual and how that has come to define their passions.

Whether you’re searching for your aunt, the frequent international traveler, your mother-in-law who collects unique artwork, or your designer friend who has a one-of-a-kind everything, you can find that special something at Emilia Ceramics. And the bonus is that everything sold by Emilia Ceramics is unique so there’s no chance of giving the same gift as someone else. Your gifts will be meaningful and memorable…they’re sure to become cherished heirlooms.

Travel Aficionados

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Le Chalet Serving Platter by Richard Esteban (Aigues-Vives, France)

We can all dream of being like those friends or family members who take exotic trips every year (or multiple times a year). While you might not be so lucky, you can celebrate their love for trip-taking this holiday by surprising them with a handmade, one-of-a-kind piece from a country they haven’t yet visited.

Here are a few ideas:

Quick Tip: Shop by country to find sets of items made by our talented artists from Spain, France, Italy or Mexico.

Art Lovers

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Mini Bowl – Thoughtful by Sylvie Duriez (Pertuis, France)

It’s likely the art-lover in your life seeks exclusivity, as well as beauty in all things. You’ve probably noticed this is especially the case with the framed and display pieces in their home. For this personality type, choose ceramics with intriguing patterns or designs that fit with his or her décor style. Consider whether they’re style is more contemporary (stick to black and white or grey pieces) or more whimsical and colorful (go crazy with bold statement pieces).

Here are a few ideas:

Quick Tip: To see all our most artistic and unique items, look at everything that’s one-of-a-kind. A few of our artists never create the same design twice, so for the true collector, these are amazing collections to peruse: Sylvie Duriez (France) and Capelo (Mexico).

Designers

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Té Tea Pot by Ceramica Valenciana (Valencia, Spain)

That super creative friend of yours has a very specific style. You may have even tried to nail the style a time or two in the past and found you’d misjudged. Unless you know exactly what he or she is looking to add to their space, or you have a common style and experienced design eye, I’d suggest you aim for simplicity when shopping for friends who pride themselves on sourcing their own artwork. Consider pieces that tend to work harmoniously with more intricate décor.

Here are a few ideas:

Quick Tip: Most of the pieces in the Ceramic Valenciana (Spain) and Talavera Vazquez (Mexico) collections could make great additions to a designer’s home. Additionally, a lot of artistic types I know love the Richard Esteban collection for its rich colors and unique finishes.

While it’s likely that this holiday gift guide doesn’t cover the full list of personalities that show up in your friend and family circle, it’s hopefully a helpful start.

holiday-gift-guide-Frutta-e-foglia-Footed-Platter
Frutta e Foglia Footed Platter by Ceramiche Bartoloni (Montelupo Fiorentino, Italy)

Regardless of the preference or style of the person you’re shopping for, the Emilia Ceramics collection has exclusive gift ideas at any price point.

For other suggestions on how to wow that special someone, check out these links:

Emilia’s Picks >>

Our 2015 Gift Guide >>

Unique Gift Ideas >>

More Gifts >>

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Part II: This Year’s Fall Design Trends

In my last post, I took a look at one of my favorite trends from this year’s fall designs. If you missed it, read what I shared about letting neutrals lead in Part 1 of This Year’s Fresh Fall Designs.

To continue the discussion of this year’s hottest design styles, here is another trend I’ve become inspired by and am currently loving.
Continue reading Part II: This Year’s Fall Design Trends

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Gift Guide Part III: The Perfect Gift for Mom

Christmas is quickly approaching! While we are running around trying to buy the perfect gifts for everyone we care about, let’s not forget the most important, caring, and loving people in our lives: our moms! Read on to see thoughtful gift ideas for our one-of-a-kind mothers and mothers-in-laws.

 

1. Tuscan Vase

A hand-painted Tuscan vase is an easy, yet super generous gift for either your mom or mother-in-law. This classic piece will add rich, colorful colors to any home… and you can be sure she’ll think of you every time she looks at it. Beautiful whether filled with flowers or on its own. Guaranteed to put you in good graces with mom! Handmade by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia in Tuscany, $165.

Tuscan Fruit Vase

Featured Above: Tuscan Fruit Vase

Venice Fruit Vase

Featured Above: Venice Fruit Vase

italian vase

Featured Above: Rouen Colore Vase

blue and white italian vase

Featured Above: Blue Leaf Vase

Shop all Tuscan Vases >>

2. Tea Lovers

If your mom is a tea drinker, we have the perfect gift set for you. Nothing will make her happier on Christmas morning than opening a fabulous tea pot paired with beautiful tea cups! Starting at $32.

mexican cups and saucers

Featured Above: Terracotta Cup & Saucer $32.

Gorky Gonzalez Tea Pot

Featured Above: Gorky Gonzalez’s El Verano Tea Pot $98.

Blue and White Coffee Mugs

Featured Above: Cafe Mug, Te Mug, Blue and White Checkered Mug, Blue and White Floral Mug. $40

Black and White Tea Pot

Featured Above: Ceramica Valenciana Tea Pot $75.

Shop more gift ideas for tea drinkers >>

 

3. Sylvie Duriez Original French Bowls

These stunning mini bowls by French artist Sylvie Durez are truly one of a kind. With their unique detail and designs, your mom will get compliments for years to come. Perfect for serving dip or nuts when entertaining or used to keep special jewelry in the bedroom or bathroom. Your mom or mother-in-law is sure to cherish her charming little bowl and think of you often! Starting at $46.

French Bowl

Featured Above: Bird Among Pink Blossoms Mini Bowl.

French Bowl

Featured Above: Thoughtful Mini Bowl.

French Bowl

Featured Above: Kitten Pals Small Bowl.

French Bowl

Featured Above: Mouse Feast Small Bowl.

Shop the entire Sylvie Durez Collection here >>

 

4. Kitchen Decor

Is there a certain kitchen decor piece your mom is always wanting, but not apt to buy for herself? Why not help out, with a fabulous canister to place on the kitchen counter. Whether you’re looking for something she will use all the time or just for a fun flair to add to the kitchen, our canisters will be sure to please! Starting at $65, there’s a style to fit every woman’s kitchen.

black and white sugar canister

Featured Above: Azucar Canister.

blue and white canister

Featured Above: Arroz Canister.

Italian Spaghetti Canister

Featured Above: Tuscan Fruit Spaghetti Canister.

Italian Canister

Featured Above: Caffe – Small Pear Canister

Shop all Kitchen Canisters >>

 

Check out our first two gift guides:

Gift Guide I: Gifts for Under $50 >>
Gift Guide II: Fabulous Gift Ideas for Under $100 >>

… And coming up next, Gift Ideas for Your Special Someone. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gift Guide Part II: Fabulous Gift Ideas for Under $100

It’s turkey time! While you’re enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family, take a few moments to brainstorm what you’ll be buying them for Christmas or Hanukkah this year. Here to help is this week’s gift guide: Fabulous Gift Ideas for Under $100.


 1. Pitchers Galore

A stunning pitcher is guaranteed to add easy design and functionality to a loved one’s kitchen and home. Our variety of pitcher styles allows you to choose the perfect pitcher to add to your friend or mother’s extensive pitcher collection. Great for serving water, wine, milk, and olive oil… or filling with fresh flowers! Handmade by select artists in Italy, Spain, and Mexico. Starting at $56.

Pitchers

Shop Our Pitcher Collection Here >>

 

2. Garden Lovers

Is there a gardener on your gift list? You’ve come to the right place. There may be snow on the ground now, but spring is just around the corner. Give them the perfect gift for the blooming season with any of our colorful, fun planters. Handmade by Talavera Vazquez in Mexico. Starting at $58.

blue_white_planters

Planters

Shop Our Planter Collection Here >>

 

3. Italian Soap Dishes

An easy, yet thoughtful gift, these stunning soap dishes add a touch of Italian sunshine to any bathroom or kitchen counter. Handmade by Ceramiche Bartoloni in Italy. Starting at $42.

blu_limoni_soap_dish

square_soap_dish_blu_limoni

Shop Our Soap Dish Collection Here >>

 

4. Gorgeous Dishware

A stunning set of plates will be cherished for years to come and individual plates can be gifted over time to make up the set. These charger plates are the perfect gift for the person who likes sophisticated elegance – available in red, blue, orange, and green! Starting at $38.

by-country-italy-ceramiche-gialletti-giulio-charger-with-red

ChargerPlates

Shop Colorful Plates on Emilia Ceramics >>

And for those who are looking for a softer, more rustic look, our French dinner plates by Richard Esteban are sure to please. The endearing designs will add functionality and charm to your loved one’s home. Starting at $48.

multi_polka_dot_dessert_plate

RichardEstebanPlates

Shop Our Entire Plate Collection Here >>

Have a hard-to-please friend or family member on your list? Don’t worry, we’ve got more gift guides coming in the next few weeks… Stay tuned!

 

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Gift Guide Part I: Gifts for Under $50

Well, it’s officially holiday season. We are quickly approaching December and that means holiday shopping, parties, delicious meals, time off from school and work, and spending time with loved ones. While it may not even be Thanksgiving yet, many of you are already brainstorming gift ideas for friends, coworkers, and loved ones. So over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving you gift ideas at different price points and tailored toward everyone on your list, starting with today’s theme: Gifts for Under $50.


1. Jewelry Boxes

A great gift to give your mom, sister, or best friend! With many different color schemes and designs to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect match. Hand-painted exclusively by Talavera Vazquez in Mexico. Starting at $24.

JewelryBoxes

Mexican Jewelry Boxes

Shop Our Jewelry Box Collection Here >>


 

2. Round Vases

Our round vases are the perfect gift for any home. Available in various colors, they can be placed anywhere in the home (think kitchen, bedside table, office, or bathroom), look great alone or with a small floral bouquet, and compliment any style of home decor. Handmade by Talavera Vazquez in Mexico. Starting at $48.

RoundVases

 

Shop Our Vase Collection Here >>


 

3. Colorful GoGo Pottery

Whether it’s a pair of bright green mugs or a festive serving platter, colorful Gogo Pottery is a gift that will be enjoyed for years to come. Handmade by artist Gorky Gonzalez in Mexico. Starting at $20.

gorkymugs

 

red_white_long_platter

Our newest additions to this collection are these charming GoGo Square Plates (below). Perfect for holding appetizers, small entrees, and desserts, they’ll be cherished far beyond the holiday season.

GoGoSquarePlate

 

Shop Gogo Mexican Pottery Here >>


 

4. Fabulous French Coffee Bowls & Mugs

Some of our most popular pieces year-round at Emilia Ceramics are our french polka dot dishes! The bowls come in 3 sizes: cereal ($34), ice-cream ($32), and dip ($30). I love giving a trio of dip bowls, or a pair of ice-cream bowls. Our polka dot mugs are equally charming. They make an easy gift for coffee-loving friends or family. Handmade by Richard Esteban in France.

french polka dot bowlsfrench polka dot mugs

Shop the Richard Esteban Collection Here >>

Need More Ideas? Gifts >>

 

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Orange Home Decor Ideas

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 5.49.42 PMWell, it’s over a week overdo, but I’m still glowing from the San Francisco Giants’ World Series win. It was a strange experience living in Boulder, Colorado (where very few people seem to even know there’s a baseball team called the Giants) during the World Series instead of San Francisco, where I lived the last two times the Giants won (2012 and 1010). But even far away, I got very swept up by the whole experience and wore as much orange as I could.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 1.34.28 PMOrange is not for everyone, but there are definitely those of us who love the color. I have been a fan of orange ever since becoming a Princeton Tiger in college. But my affinity for the color orange also translates to home decor. Lucky for me, orange (in all of it’s varying hues) has had a major resurgence in popularity over the last few years, so orange home decor ideas are readily available. (On a side note, I’ve noticed that designers often use more stylish names for orange, like mango, mandarin, and coral.)

Why’s orange so great? I think because of it’s versatility. Dark reddish-orange has a classic, rustic feel, like the color of tomato soup or the Golden Gate Bridge. Citrus orange feels more retro. And then there’s bright orange, which is modern and fresh. Whichever orange you opt for, the color has a clean, bright, fresh, happy feel. In fact, Frank Sinatra himself said: “Orange is the happiest color.” If you need to see it to believe it, check out all the great orange home decor ideas on Houzz.

It’s no surprise that the Emilia Ceramics collection embraces orange. It’s a timeless color that looks amazing with blue and white (our favorite color combination), but also mixes well with green, grey, and black. The perfect orange this time of year is Gorky Gonzalez’s pumpkin colored plates, bowls, and mugs. These have a rich terra-cotta tone that reminds me of pumpkin pie. They look amazing mixed and matched with Gorky Gonzalez blue and white pottery as well as Richard Esteban’s charming French country plates. The pumpkin platters are a great backdrop for any food. I love serving cheese, grapes, and crackers on the Pumpkin Long Platter with Floral Relief.

new_pumpkin_dinner_plate
Keeping with the rustic, classic orange feel, there is nothing quite like Talavera Vazquez’s striped and chevron pieces in burnt orange. Set in a room with predominantly neutral colors, they make a stylish impact, in an understated, authentic way. The Striped Vase – Especial is one of my go-to gifts. It seems no matter the recipients style, this vase fits in… adding a surprising element of warmth to any room in the house. The chevron lamps are another of my favorites. They have so much personality.

decorate with ginger jars

The newest orange addition to the collection is the sophisticated dinner and salad plates by Gialletti Giulio with an orange stripe around the edge. The citrus orange on these platters feels fresh and flavorful. I honestly feel like I’d expect to taste an undertone of orange zest in any food eaten off these plates. Their simplicity is perfect.

dinner_plate_orange

Do you love orange too? Have any great orange home decor ideas or favorite orange fabrics, wall paints, etc. that you’d like to share? We’d love to see them — If you email me your favorite photos incorporating orange, I’ll pin them to our “Only Orange” board on Pinterest.

 

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4 Tips for Adding Stripes to Your Home Decor

Stripes are a fun way to refresh any room in your house. Introducing stripes into a room, even if just in a minor way, can make a big impact. Don’t be intimidated to add stripes, like any other decorating style it’s all about deciding how you want the room to feel based on it’s function and current decor.

Plan the room 

Look at the room and decide what it’s going to be used for and how you want to feel when in the room. Ask yourself how adding stripes will change things. You may need to take into consideration the size and shape of the room, existing color of the room, and the lighting sources. For instance, the striped rug below makes a small, narrow room appear larger and adds a lovely focal point.

stripe rug

Size and Direction

If you are considering adding stripes to your walls, you’ll have to decide how thick to paint them and in which direction they should go. Both of these details will affect how the stripes will alter the room’s visual perspective. If the room is fairly large with the average 8 to 10 feet high ceilings you’ll want to use vertical stripes. Vertical stripes give the impression of greater height and make the room seem more spacious. If the room is smaller, such as a bathroom, then horizontal stripes are a better choice. Consider thicker stripes to make the room more formal or traditional. I think thinner stripes feel more modern and can make a room look “busy”. A great example is the child’s room below. The thick, yellow stripes add a playful dimension and their horizontal orientation makes it look bigger than it is.

stripped wall

Colors

The colors you choose for your stripes are critical in how they end up affecting the room. If you’re going for a relaxed vibe, opt for complimentary colors or varying shades of the same color (like the yellow stripes above). Contrasting colors or multi-colored stripes are more arresting. This is a good option for rooms where you might want to host parties or play games.  Pillows, rugs, and other furniture with bright or contrasting stripes may draw attention away from the rest of the room. These pieces are perfect if you have simple decor surrounding them, but can feel too busy if they’re just one of many colorful objects competing for attention in the room. A fun pillow or chair really stands out in a sparsely decorated room. For example, nothing says happiness and creativity like this striped bench that’s just bursting with color.

stripped bench

Accessories

A few well-placed accessories are a simple and beautiful way to introduce stripes into your home decor. Before making a big change with stripes, add one or two striped items, perhaps a lamp, planter, ginger jar or vase, to a room to see how it changes things. You’ll see right away if you’re going down the right path. More often than not, I think you’ll decide that a striped piece like those below add a lovely pop to your home. They’re also a great way to infuse a touch of contemporary style into an otherwise traditional setting.

decorate with ginger jars

Looking for more strip-spiration? Check out our “Stripes” Pinterest Board!

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Fall Refresh For Your Home

lamp_couchOne of my favorite blogs is Apartment Therapy. They have great photos that provide instant inspiration for homes of all sizes and budgets. Plus, they’re posts are super informative. For example, their recent post about 5 Things You Can Do to Instantly Re-Energize Your Space got me thinking about small changes that make a big impact on your home. This time of year, as the weather gets cooler and we start spending more time indoors it’s nice to refresh your home decor, in small, subtle ways.

Here is my own list of 5 fall refresh ideas that will make you love your home all over again:

1. Relocate Art

Apartment Therapy suggested moving art that you already have from one room to another. Along the same lines, I suggest repurposing a colorful platter or bowl by hanging it on the wall, where you can enjoy it like a painting. In my showroom, I have Gorky’s vintage bowls (La Mujer and El Hombre) hanging on one wall, Ceramica Valenciana’s charismatic plates on another wall, and Ceramiche Bartoloni’s sophisticated platter on another. They are each expertly painted in the artist’s unique style, and their 3-dimensionality offers more depth than a painting on a canvas would. Mostly, they bring a smile to my face every time I see them. Why not liven up your walls with a favorite piece that would otherwise just take up space in your cupboard?

bench_and_wall
tall_candle_holder_rtq

2. Add Candles

There’s nothing like candles to make your home feel warm, cozy, and inviting. Two of my favorite candle holders are small, but super colorful. They add personality to any space, whether arranged in a grouping or just on their own. Both the tall candle holder and the smaller, square votive candle holder (which doubles as a planter) are statement makers… and they work in small spaces!

3. Embrace Change

Sometimes I feel like I keep the same jewelry boxes and perfume bottles on my bureau just because I’m used to them being there. Same goes with the clutter in my kitchen — the utensil holder, spoon rest, canisters, etc. are all there because that’s where they’ve always been. But there’s no reason you can’t make some changes based on the reality of what’s currently getting used. Look at and really analyze everything on a specific counter. What do you use? What do you love looking at? Everything else could probably be put away out of sight or given away. Change can be difficult, but de-cluttering our living spaces is always worth it in the end.

4. Refresh Rituals

Refresh your morning ritual of coffee or your evening ritual of a glass of wine with some new and inspiring pieces. Whether it’s polkadots you love or rustic Italian fruit motifs, using a mug that puts you in a good mood for the day can really change your perspective. Likewise, eating a piece of toast from one of Gorky’s personality-packed plates or sipping wine from a Vino Cup really can make the mundane experience feel new and exciting all over again.

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5. Add Lighting

As the days get shorter and the whether colder, it’s important to be sure you have enough light sources in your home. If it fits in your home’s decor (and there’s enough space for it), I love Design Within Reach’s Arco Floor Lamp. Of course, I believe the hand-crafted beauty in one of our ceramic table lamps is unmatched. Each lamp that we sell is an art piece all on it’s own, which means it serves double duty lighting up the room around it, while simultaneously decorating and bringing life to the space. Whether it’s a pair of Italian lamps, one of our super unique French table lamps, or the more contemporary Mexican striped or chevron lamps, these light sources will immediately refresh and bring joy to your home.

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Have any other home-refreshing ideas to suggest? Leave a comment on our Facebook page!

 

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3 Reasons Why These Wine Cups Will Improve Your Summer

I have outdoor dining on the brain – blame it on the sunshine and rising temperatures. But decorative dinner plates are just the beginning; drinks are another vital part of any summer meal. Tired of plastic cups that fly away and glasses that shatter due to a guest miscalculating the distance between guest and deck railing? Enter Ceramica Valenciana‘s smart Spanish ceramic drinkware. Here are three reasons why these are the wine cups that will change your outdoor entertaining.

spanish ceramics from ceramica valenciana

1. The laws of physics. A lower center of gravity means these cups are less likely to tip, especially when compared to a traditional wine glass with stem.

spanish ceramic wine cups

2. Durable style. Because of the majolica firing process used to make these Spanish ceramics, if they tip over or drop a short distance, they probably won’t break (like glass would). Plus, their clean lines and simple designs are picnic-perfect chic.

3. Temperature control. Best of all, the solid ceramic helps keep your beverage cool on the hottest day, whether it’s a glass of sparkling water or homemade sangria.

spanish ceramics

Outdoor entertaining just got a lot easier. Looking to add more Spanish flair to your summer? Besides the cleverly labeled vino and aqua cups (helpful for telling your wine and water apart), I love Ceramica Valenciana’s serving dishes, pitchers, and platters. Causal and clean, these Spanish ceramics definitely stand out from the rest. Now that’s something worth raising a glass to!

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Surprising Salt & Pepper Sets, from Vintage to DIY

Beloved by collectors and food-eaters alike, salt & pepper sets come in a stunning variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. So I thought we’d take a look at some of the more notable salt & pepper ideas from the past and present.

 vintage salt & pepper sets

Vintage sets range from the mundane to the truly whimsical; I particularly love the smiling ears of corn in this collection.

 salt & pepper sets

Vintage shakers from the late 1800s go in a completely different direction. These ornate silver salt & pepper sets and massive salt cellars give just a taste of high-class dining during the fin de siècle. They would look right at home in Downton Abbey, don’t you think?

silver salt pepper shakers silver salt shaker

But salt pepper shakers can do much more than just hold familiar spices. Offbeat Bride recommends using ceramic salt and pepper shakers as wedding cake toppers. Great idea since you can then actually use them as a daily reminder of your wedding.

flamingo salt & pepper shakerssalt & pepper set

 

Another way to repurpose glass salt & pepper sets? Turn them into bud vases; these would look lovely along a windowsill or as table decorations.

salt & pepper shaker bud vase

Glass shakers also can be turned into mini-terrariums for the small-scale gardener.

glass salt & pepper shaker terrariums

Do you have a particularly impressive salt pepper shaker collection? Is there a particular theme, like with these blue & white salt & pepper shakers?

 blue & white salt & pepper shakers

Let us know your favorite kinds and check out our Pinterest board for more of our favorite salt & pepper sets, both modern and vintage.

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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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Let’s Talk Home Decor

I’ve never had a house of my own… but I’ve had a few apartments, first in San Francisco and now in Boulder, CO. The styles of the apartments have differed quite a bit, but wherever I live, I try to put my own personal stamp on the space pretty quickly. It’s the best way to feel ‘at home’ when nothing else in life feels familiar.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what my personal style really is, as I troll through my favorite design websites and blogs and find myself coveting certain houses, rooms, and remodels I see displayed around the internet. I am definitely drawn to home decor that mixes art and color (I guess that’s pretty obvious if you’ve seen my website!). Here are a few pics from a really cool house in New Orleans, where they’ve perfectly layered fun artistic finds with bold colors to create a homey, welcoming, yet cheerful living space.

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I love the turquoise chairs! They’re so inviting and yet so unexpected and original. In a similar vein, I think this blue couch (below) is amazing. I love the old-fashioned flair it lends to an otherwise modern room. It’s this sort of eclectic style that really draws me in.

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In my living spaces, I often use oil paintings (my mom is an amazing landscape artist), photography from my travels, and of course, ceramic artwork to provide that colorful, yet contemporary and totally personal feel. Really, any favorite piece of art works well. These cheerful accessories have the power to transform a new house into a home that feels lived in, loved, and super inviting. Some examples:

I love these fun whale bookends! So unique:

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This Italian Lamp is colorful, yet sophisticated. It’s functional artwork at its finest:

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Here, a Chevron Ginger Jar is used to add personality, depth, and a hand-crafted touch to an otherwise plain white corner.

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Kids artwork is another great way to add color and personality to your walls:

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Fellow Caffeine Fans, French Coffee Mugs Are Back!

I have a confession: I am addicted to warm beverages. Specifically my morning tea (often earl grey with cream and honey), though an early afternoon coffee is hard to resist. Of course, if I want to get any sleep, I have to carefully juggle the coffee/exercise/time equation. And then there’s getting the accessories right: which mug to use is of paramount importance, as is the tea or coffee pot if I’m brewing at home. Sound like anyone you know?

French coffee mugs

Thankfully with all the new French arrivals at Emilia Ceramics, I have plenty of beverage accessories to add to my collection. The polka dots on Richard Esteban’s French coffee bowls remain a favorite; I just love the easy way these pieces mix and match. Richard’s French coffee mugs are another must. There’s even a place to rest your thumb on the handle (good for not spilling as I walk my full cup back to my desk). The barn red is my personal favorite, but just like his French coffee bowls, there are plenty of color combinations to mix and match with abandon. These mugs also hit the sweet spot size-wise: big enough that you don’t have to constantly refill, but not so big that the contents are cold by the time you get to last sips. These are definitely a sure winner if you’re trying to buy ceramics for a caffeine lover.

red French coffee mug

Summer is also almost here, which means it’s time to start brewing iced tea and iced coffee. And that means it’s time for pitchers! Looking to expand your summer serving ware? Try pieces like the quirky Richard pitcher, complete with hat and mustache or one of his polka dot pitchers to match the bowls and mugs.

Richard pitcher

Other fun beverage accessories of the moment: cream and sugar sets (perfect for entertaining) and the modern Ceramica Valenciana coffee pot. Sure, it’s Spanish, not French, but it beautifully compliments the playful chic of Richard’s ceramics. So many coffee mugs, so little time.

coffee pot

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the kettle is boiling… time for another cup!

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Creating a Great Bridal Registry

angel_platter_2When it comes to putting together the perfect gift registry, the most important thing to remember is: ‘you are what you register for.’ In other words, choose stores and products that speak to who you are (both bride and groom)… and who you are as a couple. If you achieve that, your guests will enjoy buying you gifts and you will love receiving them.

So don’t just list what your mom tells you to list. And don’t just go to Crate & Barrel because everyone else you know did. Think about what you really want and need, what your fiancé wants and needs, and most importantly, what the two of you will truly use and enjoy together. And then list away! Here are a couple of ideas to get you thinking…

For Entertaining

Do you love having people over for drinks, dinner, brunch, or barbecue? Maybe you aren’t a great entertainer yet, but you aspire to be one. Either way, if hosting parties is something that excites you, be sure to include the supplies you need on your registry. The bonus of these gifts is that your friends and family will be able to see them being used and enjoyed when they come to your next dinner party!

El Mar Platter

Best Stores for Entertaining Supplies:
– Emilia Ceramics for Unique Platters and Serving Bowls
– Williams-Sonoma for Barbecue Supplies
– Crate & Barrel for Glassware

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For New Homeowners

Does getting married coincide with moving into a new house? Lucky you… what a great time to ask friends to contribute special additions to your home that will become future family heirlooms. When you’re shopping for gifts that will be incorporated into your new home decor, it’s important to pick classic objects that won’t be out of style a year from now.

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Best Stores for Home Decor:
– Macy’s for Bed and Bath
– Emilia Ceramics for Lamps and Vases
– Sur la Table for Pots and Pans

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For World Travelers

Again, you don’t have to be a world traveler to aspire to travel the world… now’s your chance to get help from friends and family who want to encourage your dreams as a married couple. So think big, whether that means new suitcases, camping equipment, or ceramics that mentally transport you to the South of France or the Mexican Riviera.

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Best Stores for Travel-Related Gifts:
– Macy’s for Luggage
– REI for Camping Equipment
– Emilia Ceramics for Worldly Mugs

 azteca_mug_strawberry

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

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

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

decorate with color

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

blue and white bowls

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

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

Room image courtesy of Domino.

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3 Tips for Kitchen Organization with Style

Spanish Utensil Holder
Looking to end your kitchen clutter? Optimal organization can be difficult for kitchens where you have to balance the practical (easy accessibility to tools and items you often use) with a clean, stylish look.

Thank goodness for Pinterest when it comes to searching for kitchen organization that’s stylish and useful. Justina Blakeney’s kitchen board is truly inspiring, as are the sleek kitchens showcased by Design Files and the colorful designs pinned by with Whimsy. No matter you decorating style, here are three tips for creating a kitchen that perfectly combines form with function.

1. Hang it up

Put things on the walls like cutting boards, pots, even knives on a magnetic strip. Copper pots add a rustic touch when hung from an overhead rack or on the wall. Hanging is also a fabulous way to decorate with your drinkware, displaying mugs or wineglasses in an accessible way that adds texture to the space.

2. Divide and conquer

Group like items with like to cut clutter and make it easy to find your favorite mixing bowls, serving utensils, pans, or that knife that always goes missing. Drawer dividers are classic for flatware, but think about a similar solution for serving utensils. Multiple utensil holders easily separate your wooden spoons from whisks and spatulas on the counter. If you don’t have room for multiple utensil holders, then choose one for frequently used items and divide the rest in a drawer.

 

3. Seek out small storage spaces

Kitchens are notorious for small, dead spaces that lend themselves to creative storage. This small cabinet by the refrigerator full of cleaning supplies could easily turn into a storage space for dry goods, spices, or even serving ware.

Racks on the backs of cabinet doors discreetly organize everything from sponges to lids.

What are you favorite kitchen fixes?

Images via Pinterest.

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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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4 Fun Bridal Shower Ideas that You’ll Actually Enjoy

When was the last time you heard someone talking about a fun bridal shower?

Go on.

We’re waiting.

Yep, that’s what I thought. Although a sweet wedding tradition that celebrates the bride before the big day, many bridal showers center around the not-so-fascinating event of watching an adult open presents.

Yawn. However, as this post by Kellee Khalil demonstrates, there are plenty of ways to make a bridal shower fun for all. Getting ready to plan a shower for a bride in your life? Want to drop a gentle hint about a celebration you might enjoy having in your honor? Here are a few ways to spice up a blah bridal shower:

1. Have a couple’s shower.

Instead of a ladies-only event (save that for the bachelorette party), have a mixed crew to celebrate the couple. This will allow people to mix before the wedding who might not know each other well, particularly if the atmosphere is laid back.

2. Go outside.


A patio party is a great way to keep things causal and have a non-cheesy theme for the shower itself. Ask people to choose gifts that are fun and useful for outside entertaining (hint: check out their wedding registry to see if there are already items that fit the bill). Grill, make s’mores on a bonfire, play lawn games, and generally relax. Looking for an outdoor gift that’s out of the box? A unique planter instantly beautifies any porch or patio and is a sure winner with anyone who likes plants.

3. Celebrate a day in the life.

Another creative theme centers on celebrating “a day in the life” of the couple. Send out invitations with different times and ask guests to pick a gift appropriate for that hour of the day. Suddenly opening presents has moved beyond dishtowels. There’ll be mugs and waffle makers (morning), salad plates and planters (afternoon), cheese plates and wine glasses (evening), and, of course, some fun lingerie and bedding for the night!

spanish mugs

4. Have a cuisine-inspired theme.

Countries and their cuisine are another great bridal shower inspiration. Throw a Mexican-inspired, hacienda-style party or a chic French shower, though maybe not quite so over the top as we saw in Bridesmaids! (Warning, the clip below contains lots of swearing)

Decorate with your favorite Mexican ceramics to serve taquitos and delicious guacamole, adding a Piñata for a entertaining party game. The super original and functional platters and bowls by Gorky Gonzalez or Capelo would be great gifts for a Mexican-themed party. One of my personal go-to shower gifts is Gorky’s Tequila Shot Set. Pair it with a bottle of Patron and you have a gift that will be enjoyed for a long time to come.

Mexican ceramic serving platter

No matter the size or theme, think of the bridal shower as a relaxed event where the focus is on fun, not completing the wedding registry or stressing out. There’s plenty of time for that in the months ahead.

Gift image courtesy emily katherine may.

Picnic image courtesy Urban Hafner.

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The 6 Best Ways to Use Pinterest for Wedding Planning

A friend recently mentioned that she “had her entire wedding planned out on Pinterest,” though she’s not even engaged yet. It got me thinking about Pinterest, weddings, and how pinning has changed how people plan major events. As I quickly found out, I’m not alone.

umbrella wedding photosA look at the Pinterest wedding category shows everything from color palettes to table décor to wedding registries to venues, even when there’s no big day in sight. Just last year Amanda Roman’s boyfriend Ryan Leak planned their entire surprise wedding using her Pinterest board. He overheard when she said to a friend her dream was to be engaged and married in the same day (!!!), and he made it happen. Incredible.

Whether or not your wedding day is set, here are six ways to effectively use Pinterest when planning your wedding (and not let it take over).

  1. Check out boards and see the styles you like. Theme weddings, classically elegant weddings, quirky camping weddings, weddings on a budget, destination weddings… if you can think of it, there’s probably a wedding idea out there for it. Browsing though a variety of boards will let you see what appeals and what’s not right for you and your partner’s big day. Buzzfeed’s top 25 list of wedding Pinterest accounts is a great place to start.muppet wedding
  2. Pin broadly, then narrow down. When starting out, go wild. Pin everything that’s even vaguely appealing. Bridal Guide recommends this technique as a way to get inspiration you may not have encountered otherwise. After you’ve pinned your heart out (give it a few weeks), go back and look for patterns. Chances are you’ll have repeats of everything from colors to bouquet styles to favors, giving you some clear places to start crafting your event.rustic wedding table setting
  3. Pin with your partner. The wedding is for the two of you, so make sure you can both pin onto your boards. Initially keep the categories broad and see where ideas overlap.Bora Bora honeymoon idea
  4. Include a board for honeymoon ideas. You’ll both need something fun to look forward to after the big day.
  5. Include your own ideas. Pinterest is inspiring, but it doesn’t have everything. Upload photos of things that you like, like that window display or save the date card your friend recently sent.
  6. Create a finalized board that fits the mood of your wedding. When you’ve figured out colors, mood, and style, a board with this narrow focus (and fewer pins) will keep the entire event in perspective. Then, as Belle & Chic suggests, stop looking for inspiration and focus on making your wedding truly yours.

Italian Tuscan weddingHave Pinterest wedding boards you truly love? Let us know by leaving a comment below. Also check out our own wedding inspiration board for everything from dresses to cakes to wedding registry ideas and share your favorites.

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3 Ways to Chase Away Winter Blues with Ceramic Flower Pots

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

blue and white planter

1. Fill up your windows with greenery.

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

2. Tuck plants into unexpected places.

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

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

3. Focus on entry spaces.

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

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

camellias

Bathtub plants image courtesy JohnHedtke.

Camellias image courtesy Jocey K.

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Our Grand Opening Party!

IMG_3943Last Wednesday, we celebrated the official opening of the Boulder Showroom (above). We were so excited by the turnout — lots of new friends (and some old ones) stopped by to see the new Emilia Ceramics headquarters, enjoy some yummy Spanish wine (in honor of the arrival of our Ceramica Valenciana shipment… stay tuned for details) and lots of cheese!

left_window_display_2In preparation for the event, I made my new space holiday-ready, with garlands and lights around the windows, a little Christmas tree in my favorite Mexican planter, and some festive flowers. I received lots of compliments on all I’ve done to make both the outside and inside of the shop feel like a small piece of Provence. The nice sentiments were much appreciated… after the last few months of making 2232 Pearl Street into Emilia Ceramics’ new home, I was feeling pretty proud!

As for refreshments, I decided to keep it simple. I had 3 different types of cheeses (blue, brie, and manchego), grapes, dates, and marcona almonds (are you sensing the Spanish theme?). Oh and cookies of course! For drinks, my guests could choose between Rioja, a Spanish white (which went especially well with the blue cheese), Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling water, fresh water, and Anchorsteam beer (a nod to my San Francisco roots).

food_table

That’s where the fun part began… choosing ceramics to use for serving! I decided on two of my favorite serving platters: Richard Esteban’s Large Cheese Plate in Barn Red and  Ceramiche Bartoloni’s Foglia e Frutta Footed Platter with Angel. I absolutely LOVE Richard’s ceramic cheese platters, regardless of color or size. Each has a rustic individuality that is both subtle (won’t over-shadow the food you’re serving) and super sophisticated. With my color palette of black, white, and red, the barn red cheese plate looked perfect.

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I chose the Bartoloni’s footed platter because I love creating multiple dimensions. How boring is a buffet table where everything is flat? I like mixing and matching heights so the food looks as good as it tastes.

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Finally, I used one of Tuscia’s beautiful planters — the Blue Leaf Planter — as an ice chest to keep white wine and beer chilled. You’d think the Italian artists had made it for this exact purpose!

All in all, the party was a ton of fun! And judging by how exhausted I was afterward, I consider it a huge success!

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5 Party Planning Tips from Our Boulder Showroom Grand Opening

Emilia Ceramics Boulder Showroom Grand Opening
Who can resist throwing a party? With our Emilia Ceramics Boulder Showroom Grand Opening mere days away, I’m in total party-planner mode. Please join us this Wednesday if you’ll be in Boulder. Can’t make it? Here are five party tips to make your next celebration just as fun as our handmade ceramic bash.

  1. Have plenty of drinks but not too many options. Whether wine, beer, or cocktails, make sure you have more liquid than you think you might need. There’s nothing worse than a party that runs dry! Aim for about 1.5 drinks per guest per hour; one bottle of wine is about 5 drinks. Keep the choices simple with only 2 to 3 options, otherwise you’ll most likely end up with a surplus of one beverage over the others. Always have at least one non-alcoholic option besides water for those who don’t drink or are driving. A delicious tall pitcher of lemonade is always a favorite. If you’ll have 25 guests, 2 gallons should be plenty for the event.wine glass
  2. Scatter the snacks around. Platters full of snacks in different areas will encourage guests to circulate instead of clustering around a single food source. Multiple platters with repeated snacks (chips and salsa, hors d’oeuvres, or bite-sized desserts) are always a good move. If you’re a fan of a cheese platter remember the four parts for success: the cheese, the vehicle (crackers or bread), something sweet (fruit), and something crunchy (nuts). Mix several cheeses on one board or have multiple cheese plates showcasing a single favorite.cheese plate
  3. Embrace labels. So many people have food sensitivities these days, so it pays to clearly label everything. Small signs are classic, or use a roll of craft paper under your platters with contents clearly signaled. Otherwise you’ll find yourself repeating the same information throughout the event.
  4. Fill up a few black & white striped vases. Fresh flowers make even the most ordinary day feel special. Bold, colorful blooms particularly stand out when arranged in an appropriately sized black white striped vase. I love mixing different shapes of flowers and vases; this large black and white striped vase is stunning with sunflowers and this little round vase perfect for just a couple small flowers.black white striped vase
  5. Set the music and forget it. Background music sets the tone, so think about what suits the mood of your event. Keep the volume at a level where people can comfortably converse. No one wants to scream in front of a stack of speakers. Pandora (with no commercials!) is a favorite of mine; I have a great party station based on Pink Martini’s smooth grooves. If you’re crafting your own playlist, aim for about 4-5 hours worth of music. The people that are still around from the beginning will be having such a good time they won’t realize the music is starting to repeat.

What are your party planning secrets? Share your best advice with a comment below or just tell us in person tomorrow at our fête.

Wine glass image courtesy Dave Dugdale.

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The Ultimate Registry Guide: 5 Things to Not Forget

So you’ve registered with your favorite stores for your upcoming wedding. You’ve figured out the big items that you’d love to receive and are ready to rock… right? Not quite yet. While kitchen appliances and bakeware are the most popular registry items, there are plenty of overlooked items that make great wedding gifts and may have been left off your registry.

Here are my top 5 forgotten things you might just want to include on your wedding registry.

  1. Quality sheets. We all know how important sleep is, so why not use your registry to improve the quality of sleep you get. Find a set in 100 percent Egyptian cotton or 100 percent pima french coffee bowlcotton (known as Suprima) with a 300 thread count minimum. A set (or two) of luxury sheets will have you luxuriating in hotel-worthy comfort. Extra pillow covers are always useful too, so don’t forget to add a few more of those to the list.
  2. Coffee or tea supplies. How do you caffeinate in the morning? French coffee bowls are a fun choice for a gift that’s small and versatile. Like French coffee mugs but bigger, coffee bowls work wonderfully for small servings of soup and cereal. Everyone can use another couple of mugs, particularly for when guests come by. A coffee maker, whether a quality French press or fancy espresso machine, and/or a capacious tea pot are other must-haves.green and white tea pot
  3. More plates and glasses. Even if you only think you need a place setting for eight people, remember that things do break. So ask for others to help you buy ceramics you’ll need in the future, replacing that favorite dish or bowl. No matter if you have a design that’s fine china or handmade ceramic, few designs are produced forever, so stocking up now will pay off in the future. The same is true for glassware, both regular and wine glasses.
  4. Organizers. A spice rack, storage containers, or shelf dividers are definitely items that will see daily use. Use this as an opportunity to streamline the design of your home organization. A quality trash can, set of recycling bins, or garage storage are other useful items that many homes could use.
  5. Home bar accessories. A good corkscrew, wine bottle stoppers, and wine rack are a must for anyone who loves to have a few bottles of wine always on hand. Quality bar tools like a cocktail shaker, muddler, bar spoon, or a good ice bucket make mixed drinks even better. The square ice cube trays are also ideal for anyone who’s looking to take their drinks up a notch; the ice takes longer to melt when it’s in a big square block. And no matter your drink of choice, coasters are another item you never have too many of.

cocktail shakerHave other items you think should be on wedding registries? Do you like to buy ceramics or other daily use items as wedding gifts? Have any items you left off your registry and wish you hadn’t, like French coffee bowls or specialized serving ware? Leave a comment below.

Polka dot bed image courtesy of browndresswithwhitedots via Pinterest.

Cocktail shaker image courtesy of lennox_mcdough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

chalk white pitcher

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

blue and white planter

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

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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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The Best Large and Small Handmade Ceramic Bowls

handmade ceramic bowls

You can never have too many handmade ceramic bowls. Mini bowls are perfect for serving dips, nuts, holding spices, or small kitchen items. Really large bowls are great for mixing, serving chips or pasta dishes, or holding colorful fresh fruit. And then there are bowls for ice cream, soup, salad… you get the idea. What handmade ceramic bowls are best for your needs? Here’s a roundup of bowls from mega to mini and how to best use them.

handmade ceramic bowls

Massive bowls are best for serving massive dishes at parties or gatherings. The serving dishes by Capelo and Talavera Vazquez are ideal for mounds of pasta, bottomless chip bowls, or even entrée-sized salads when you have a crowd to feed. Large handmade ceramic bowls also make stunning centerpieces on dining tables or in the living room. Fill them with fruit to encourage healthy snacks or leave empty for an artful impact.

large handmade ceramic bowllarge handmade ceramic bowl

salad bowlSalad bowls are a more moderate size — perfect for tossing and serving a green salad or other side dish. They also work well mixing bowls or as centerpieces in smaller dining spaces.

Bowls for individual use have so many potential functions. I love these bowls with scalloped edges that make soups, salads, or sundaes seem extra special. And when the bowl is empty, the design at the bottom becomes a lovely surprise.

 

handmade ceramic bowls

I love guacamole, so I’m always on the lookout for ideal dip bowls that will hold a hearty serving without looking too empty or full. Gorky’s rooster bowl is ideal for guacamole or homemade salsa because of its depth. Triple or double bowls are fabulous for serving condiments for tacos or tortilla soup. These handmade ceramic bowls also hold ice cream toppings surprisingly well.

rooster bowl

How do you use your handmade ceramic bowls? What size is your favorite? Leave a comment and let us know!

dip bowl

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

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

 

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

 

 

Patterns should mix.

plates and bowls

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

Platters should be heaped.

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

Pitchers should be filled.

French pitcher - teal

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

Color is essential.tableware sets

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

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

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

decorating with blue and white

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

decorating with blue and white

 

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

Living Room

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

Bathroom

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

Kitchen

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

Bedroom

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

 

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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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How to Pick the Best Ginger Jars for Your Home

blue and white zig zag ginger jarUnsurprisingly, I get questions from people looking to buy ceramics online quite frequently. The most requested information about ceramics & pottery deals with ginger jars. Thinking about incorporating these decorating statements into your home? Here are my tips to choose and buy these ceramics online with success.

striped ginger jar• Make a decorating plan. There’s nothing worse than buying ceramics only to discover you don’t have a spot to display them. Before you start looking at ceramics online, have a clear idea of where they’ll go in your home. For example, you might want a pair of ginger jars for the mantle, a bedroom, or to grace a sideboard. When picking spots for your future ceramics also consider how people walk in your home and stability issues. Medium-sized ginger jars next to the fireplace might look great, but for anyone with pets or small children, they’re more likely to get knocked over.

Measure. Measure. Measure. Once you have spots in mind for your future ginger jars, measure the space. This way you’ll have some starting parameters for choosing the ceramics you want to buy. When you find something you like online, check out the size to ensure it will look great in your home. A ginger jar that’s too small or too big always looks a bit out of place, so consider all dimensions.black and white ginger jar

Think about style. Color and style are certainly other important components when you buy ceramics online. Do you need something solid to accent a room? Or will your ginger jars add texture and pattern to the space? Do you want ginger jars with an Asian or Mexican flair? Smaller delicate jars are perfect for high spaces (where they won’t get damaged) while larger ginger jars are an excellent decorating anchor for a living room or even patio.

Go beyond simple pairing. A single large ginger jar quickly turns a side table into a stylish accent or enlivens a shelf. Matched pairs of ginger jars are classic for formal-feeling arrangements (like fireplaces, sideboards, or flanking a bed). Grouping various sized jars together adds interest to a table without looking staid, like in the image below. Think creatively; you’ll be surprised at the results.

living room with ginger jars

Check out shipping before you buy. When you buy ceramics online, make sure to look at the shipping and return policies for the website. Knowing the breakage policy and shipping costs before placing your order can save you heartbreak in the future. Just trust me on this one.ginger jar

black and white ginger jar

Have you bought ceramics & pottery or ginger jars online? Have any advice or suggestions? Leave a comment and let us know!

Ginger jar and orchid image courtesy of Made By Girl.

Living room image courtesy of Jennifer Brouwer (Jennifer Brouwer Design).

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

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

Change your color palette

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

Get creative with greenery

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

Accent your entryway

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

Bring plants inside

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

Group pots on a doorstep

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

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

Narcissus image courtesy of nosha.

Coleus image courtesy of Pharaoh Hound.

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Making Creative Dishware Sets with French Ceramics

As we wrap up the season of holiday entertaining, I find myself thinking about dishware sets. Instead of the couple of plates and bowls you use daily, entertaining has most people emptying the cabinets to serve the 8, 12, 30 people gathered for dinner, brunch, or afternoon cocktail party. If you’re not used to crowds in your home, finding enough of the proper servingware can be the biggest challenge. That’s where having flexible dishware sets comes in.

One of my favorite current trends with tableware sets and decorative dinner plates is having pieces that mix and match. Individual dinner plates with fun designs or vibrant colors make each place setting really stand out, and add incredible depth to a table. Layering dishes with different complimenting colors and designs is another deceptively simple way to create a dynamic table setting.

For color and pattern, I feel like French ceramics have a playful spirit, polka dot plates bowlsparticularly those from Provence. Whimsy endues polka dot plates and bowls by Richard Esteban as well as the delicate pastel washes of Sylvie Durez’s one of a kind French ceramics. Then there are details like Poterie Ravel‘s pitchers splattered glazes or the delicate edging of their bowls. Patrice Voelkel’s French ceramics go another direction with jewel-toned glazes and local black clay. No matter what speaks to your aesthetic, these plates and bowls are truly unique and make any table stand out.

Of course, French ceramics are useful throughout the year, not just around the holidays. Their festive spirit injects joy into all occasions, from toast covered with your favorite jam for breakfast to celebrating a birthday or anniversary. Appetizer dishes hold daily snacks, pitchers bouquets of fresh flowers, and bowls everything from ice cream to cereal. Richard’s plates and bowls are an excellent example of the versatility of French ceramics. The soft yellow base glaze makes food look delicious and the playful dots, stripes, bird, or dog motifs add lively personality to these decorative dinner plates.

Paired with weighty pieces like the barn red milk pitcher or a rustic casserole full of tonight’s dinner, it’s hard to resist these French ceramics.

How do you dress up your table for the holidays or everyday dining? What are your favorite French ceramics? Are there dishware sets you absolutely adore? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Guest Blogger Bethany: Six Months Later with New Pottery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What Makes Italian Coffee Mugs So Special?

Are you a coffee addict? Or perhaps a tea fanatic? No matter how you like your caffeine fix, having the right mug makes all the difference. Handle design, thickness, and size are factors that make the difference between an Italian coffee mug you use everyday and one that just sits on the shelf.

Why does origin matter for contemporary cups and saucers? Well, think about your favorite beverages. Coffee grown in Latin America usually has lighter, citrus flavors while African beans are full of berry notes and earthy depth. Tea harvesting methods and varieties also vary from India to China, with different tastes depending on if the leaf is part of the first picking or last of the season. Because handmade ceramics use local clay, you’ll also find some differences in mugs from places like Mexico, Italy, and France in terms of color and firing methods used. The biggest obvious difference is in the traditional patterns that decorate French, Mexican, and Italian coffee mugs though. From lemons and fruits to roosters and flowers to playful polka dot mugs, there are as many designs as there are ways to make a cup of coffee!

The case for using ceramic mugs dates back hundreds of years. Ceramic keeps beverages hot for longer than most other materials, making it the ideal material for Italian coffee mugs right from the start of the coffeehouse vogue that started in the 17th century. Even today ceramic cones are used in serious coffee shops (and by home aficionados) all over the U.S. as a way to make a consistently delicious cup. Using a scale to get the correct proportion of grounds to water might be a little over the top, but I’ll admit that the results are delicious.

Both mugs and contemporary cups and saucers have their own advantages. A mug lends itself to moving around the house or office while a cup and saucer is better suited for staying put (and holding your spoon and a cookie or other small snack). I love the massive size of the Gran Taza mug in the afternoon (fewer need to go back for refills), but always start my morning with an Italian coffee mug for my first cup. For a few minutes I feel like I’m back in an Italian café in the heart of Tuscany.

What are your favorite ways to drink coffee and tea? Are you a fan of Italian ceramic coffee mugs, French espresso cups, or other contemporary cups and saucers? 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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7 Top Tips: Buying Ceramics Online for the Holidays

It’s almost Halloween and once that’s over, the holiday shopping season seems to officially begin. I’ll be opening the Emilia Ceramics pop-up shop soon (stay tuned to the blog and Facebook for more details) and am always amazed at how early people start to buy ceramics for their holiday gifting. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or another special celebration for family and friends, this is definitely the season of giving.

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Looking to buy ceramics & pottery as gifts this year? Here are my top tips to ensure the best experience possible.

  1. Avoid the possibility of duplicates. No one likes to give or get a repeat gift. One easy solution is to buy ceramics online that are handmade or one of a kind. Because no two pieces are exactly the same (unlike mass-produced ceramics), you guarantee originality.
  2. Check out sizes. Photos are great, but double check the dimensions when you buy ceramics online. That vase might be 6 inches or 18 inches tall, making for a very different type of gift! When in doubt, pull out a ruler and double check that the ceramics & pottery you’re buying are actually the size you think they are.
  3. Remember that good things come in small packages. Unsure about what to get someone? Stick to practical pieces that can be used often. Coffee mugs, salt and pepper shakers, spoon rests, and multipurpose wine bottle holders are all popular ceramics to buy as gifts for this reason. I have many customers that buy these ceramics for neighbors, coworkers, and relatives on their lists. With the wide range of colors and designs, you’re sure to find appealing ceramics for any personality.
  4. Investigate shipping before you buy. When you buy ceramics online, make sure to look at the shipping policy as you shop around. What’s the policy on breakage? Is there a cut off time date for guaranteed holiday delivery? If you buy ceramics early enough you should be able to save on shipping costs and avoid express fees.
  5. Know the gift policy. Many places will gift wrap and send your gifts directly when you buy ceramics online, which can be a big time saver come the shopping crunch of November. Find out too about how returns are handled (refund, store credit, or exchange?) before placing your order to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  6. Find out how durable the piece is. Fine china teacups looks gorgeous, but seem like they will chip if you breathe too hard on them. Thicker, more sturdy ceramics & pottery are better for everyday use, especially if children or pets are anywhere in the picture. When you buy ceramics, think about who will use them and let that help your decision-making process.
  7. Think about collections. If you are figuring out the ceramics to buy for a collector, find out the focus of their collection. Do they collect by type (plates, pitchers), motif (roosters, polka dots), or color (blue and white, yellow)? Knowing where to start will ensure you select the best ceramics & pottery possible.

I hope these tips for buying ceramics online have been helpful! Please share your favorites on our Facebook page.