My love light burns bright for simple, sleek and stylish white and cream pottery. Maybe it’s because you can achieve so many different looks with just one piece of pottery. These decorating chameleons look just as smashing in a modern home that is filled with contemporary furnishings as they do in a traditional home full of timeless classics. Here are some quick tips for using these inexpensive, attractive and versatile vessels in your fall decorating.

White and cream pottery comes in lots of different shapes and sizes and styles, and I love them all. But for today, I’ve selected one of my new favorites to illustrate three different ways you can work white pottery into your fall décor: a white chalice. I’m partial to this particular piece because its lines are both classic and modern. And it’s inexpensive enough that you can get one just to try it out, experimenting with it in lots of different displays.  Get yours today from Nell Hill’s Online (click here to check it out) or at any of our three stores. Or, adapt these ideas to a piece of pottery you already own. (We have several styles to chose from on line now — click here to see.)

1. Overflowing with Flowers

When we were brainstorming ways to dress up my courtyard for my Fall Open House, I knew I had to use white pottery on my outdoor table. This fall I’m over the moon about the color combo of bright white, sunny orange and cobalt blue, so I called on my white pottery chalice to bring in a pop of white. One of the secrets to creating a dramatic centerpiece is to include a variety of heights, colors and textures, so in addition to the chalice, I mixed in some white pottery in a variety of shapes and sizes.

The show stealers on this table are the amazing floral bouquets that mix of a variety of flowers and berries in shades of orange. But the flowers wouldn’t be allowed to shine so brightly if they weren’t displayed in such unassuming vessels.

I really like the contrast of live plants in these bright white vases, don’t you? If you have a green thumb, you could also put a house plant in a chalice, like a fern or ivy.

2. Corralling Tools

My kitchen is small and counter space is at a premium. And here lies one of Dan and my greatest sources of friction. He wants the counters open so he can actually use them to cook (he’s the chef in the family). I want to fill them with decorations. So we’ve struck a compromise. He gets to keep his cooking stuff on the counter if I can make it look cute. Decorating tools like this white pottery chalice make that possible. Here, I’ve filled an antique basket with Dan’s cooking vinegars and oils (are all these different flavors really necessary?!?), then squeezed in a chalice to hold the cooking utensils. I’ve given up a small corner by the stove for the sake of the culinary arts, but I’ve also gained a darling still life. Not a bad compromise!

A chalice like this is perfect for holding a variety of everyday items. Put one on your coffee table to house the remote controls. Place one in your office to keep your mail or magazines. Stand one next to the bathtub filled with lotions and soaps.

3. Adding Dimension to a Display

Any decorating tool that will hold seasonal treasures is an automatic hit with me. That’s why I’m crazy about urns and bowls and vases. In the photo above, I paired the white chalice with another one of my favorite decorating building blocks: a lantern. All told, this display took about a nanosecond to create. We placed a trimmed white birch stick in the chalice, rested a pick of faux fall berries on top of the chalice and topped it with a white pumpkin. We tucked the whole thing in a tall, thin lantern and presto, we had a stunning display that would look sensational on a side table, buffet, entry table, kitchen island or outdoor patio.

Next Week … Ready for the thrills and chills of Halloween? I’ll have some fun ideas for pulling together tasteful but spine-tingling Halloween displays in your home.

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21 Responses to “Sensational White Pottery: Three Great Looks”

  1. Brenda Says:

    What a coincidence! I attended your open house on Saturday, and while I was inspired by all of your beautiful details, that white chalise in the kitchen arrangement by the stove really caught my eye. I thought, “That’s one idea I am going to copy for sure!”

    And of course, that tablesetting on your patio was a real show stopper! I snapped several photos of it from all angles. The orange, white, and blue color combination was genius! LOVED it!

    Thanks for opening your beautiful home and sharing your inspiring decorating ideas.

  2. Lisa Says:

    I too saw them up close. Magnificent. I went to Mary Carol’s beautiful home on Friday. I shall never forget my trip. Anyone reading this you must go next year. Put it on your list now and start a penny jar. The stores are fantastic but I must admit The Briarcliff store stole my heart. I still can’t get my mouth to close and today is Monday. Hee Hee
    If you wish to see additional photos go to
    Thanks Mary Carol for all you do to inspire all of us. Lisa Fernandez

  3. Karena Says:

    I love this! The idea of multiple purposes for certain pieces brings another dimension to decor!


    Art by Karena

  4. Lori Says:

    where can I purchase a similar white chalice?

  5. Sharon Warren Says:

    Thank you Mary Carol for inspiring us again! I have a collection of white and ivory pottery that I have used in many seasonal displays-last Fall I used them on my mantel, and nestled white pumpkins around and in some of the pieces. To tie them all together, I twined artificial vines all through them, then cut fall-colored plant material from the garden, and placed in a few of the containers for that pop of orange-gold-lime green color. I even added a strand of white Christmas lights underneath it all, and it looked so pretty at night. Keep your ideas coming-we love them here in Texas.

  6. Al Smalling Says:

    Chicago, September 14, 2011

    Dear Mary Carol:

    Re: Nellhills Blog topic–White Pottery

    What a great idea! My parents left me a bunch of hobnail white Fenton Glass dishes, jars, etc., that they acquired piece by piece in the Fifties.

    This is truly an inspiration. I just wanted you to know your idea fell on fertile soil here in the Windy City.

    Hope the open house went well. We had prior commitments already.

    Your fan and admirer,
    Allen Smalling, Chicago

  7. Peggy Leland Says:

    I have been collecting Ironstone white pottery for about 20 years. I have all sorts of pieces, and thank you, Mary Carol, for inspiring me on some new and fresh uses for these pieces. Ironstone is timeless and comes in all sorts of vintage pieces from trays to dishes and pitchers. Sometimes the amount of iron in the piece can make it appear more ivory. Gotta go make a fall arrangement! Your fan, admirer & friend, Peg

  8. Pamela Jo Says:

    This is just gorgeous! The white really pops the orange and blue. (of course I am from Denver, so Bronco’s Orange and Blue with white is a natural here) but you have added taste into the mix!

    I also love love love the chalice in the lantern with the creamy white pumpkin! Brilliant! My candles keep melting if I forget to remove them so I am definitely going to try this. The white really draws your eye to the lantern. Bravo Mary Carol. This is a winner.

  9. Debra Kilby Says:

    Your open house sounded so wonderful, but I was not able to come. Will you be sharing pictures for the rest of us?

  10. Paula Byrne Says:

    So happy that you have added the direct link to see the products mentioned. My link didn’t work however… :-( Thanks for the great tips. Paula Byrne

  11. Angela K Says:

    I was not able to attend Mary Carol’s Open House but I went to respondent Lisa Fernandez’ blog spot (leeshideaway) to look at pictures. They were amazing and did provide lots of inspiration. I enjoyed so much reading about Lee’s trip to Atchison and how great it was to meet Mary Carol. As a Kansan, I take for granted how beautiful the drive is to Atchison and how nice Kansans are or how great it is to talk to Mary Carol — thanks Lee for sharing your experiences as an out-of-stater and your home is beautiful as well.

  12. Susan Says:

    I came to your fall open house with a friend who had never toured your home and had a wonderful time. I love the “bones” of your home and the lovely way that you have decorated it. I always feel peaceful and happy when I visit – especially on your sun porch and patio. Thank you again for a wonderful start with the spirit of fall and the up coming holidays. Can’t wait to spread it to my friends! Plan to revisit Atchison when the leaves turn.

  13. sandy Says:

    I took my friend from Eureka Springs to your open house. I had been telling her for many years what she was missing. She really enjoyed it and of course I did,too.In the kitchen, I looked at your glass doored
    cabinets and there in one were 3 big bottles of Excedrin for Tension Headaches.With everything you do I understand. Everywhere we were that weekend there you were. I saw the commercial you made at Briarcliff and you at your home.You are an amazing woman. I look forward to a new book. Maybe a little about your trip to Paris.

  14. Mary Carol Says:

    It was such a pleasure to meet you Lisa, I am so glad you had a wonderful time. Please come see us again.

  15. Mary Carol Says:

    Lori–You are in luck, the chalice white vase is available on our on-line shopping under ‘accents’. Just go to and click on on-line shopping. If you have any questions just call–877-746-4320.

  16. Marilyn B Says:

    Hi again, Mary Carol. I’m Sandy’s friend from Eureaka Springs, Ar. Your open house was fabulous. I enjoyed it so much and will look forward to next year for more inspiration. I bought 2 of the black lanterns with the mirrors, plus some other things to decorate for Fall. Had fun today putting them together.
    I too, whould love it if you would do a blog on Country French or do a book. I know there are lots of us out there that love that look. Enjoy Fall, and don’t work to hard, cause I know you do. Marilyn

  17. Marilyn B Says:

    Hi again, Mary Carol. I’m Sandy’s friend from Eureka Springs, Ar. Your open house was fabulous. I enjoyed it so much and will look forward to next year for more inspiration. I bought 2 of the black lanterns with the mirrors, plus some other things to decorate for Fall. Had fun today putting them together.
    I too, whould love it if you would do a blog on Country French or do a book. I know there are lots of us out there that love that look. Enjoy Fall, and don’t work to hard, cause I know you do. Marilyn

  18. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Debra—We would love for you to enjoy the ‘Fall Open House’ pictures. Just go to and ‘click’ on ‘Facebook’. On the ‘Wall’ page under ‘Photos’ we have a whole collection of Open House pictures. If you have any questions just call Janet @877-746-4320.

  19. Paula Hollenbeck Says:

    Hi Mary Carol,
    I love taking time to catch up on your timeless tips! I am always inspired to add a loving touch to the homeplace. I have been away from Nell Hills a bit too long! Fall always calls me to “nest” a bit. I believe I need to find and fill a lantern! Love your stunning “filled lantern” tip today!!!
    Thank you. Happy Fall!
    Paula Hollenbeck

  20. Pamela Jo Says:

    So did I wait too long to order the White Chalice? I can’t find it in the online store:(

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