I’ve seen a lot of decorating trends come and go. But a handful of fashions are so beautiful they transcend time and look as sensational in homes today as they did in homes hundreds of years ago. One of my favorites? Blue and white pottery. Whether it’s transferware platters hung as art on the wall or Asian ginger jars clustered in a tabletop display, blue and white pottery is a cornerstone of the Nell Hill’s look. Here’s how to use these timeless beauties to add style to your interior spaces.

Mass Several Pieces Together for Dramatic Appeal

Since blue and white pottery comes in such a wide array of shapes and patterns, from Asian ginger jars to Delft blue cachepots, it’s easy to pull together a small collection of dissimilar but complimentary pieces and create a powerful display. This trio of jars that stands on a table in my foyer steals the show because a group of similar objects massed together in a tight cluster packs a lot of punch.

I recently pulled together this lovely display to fill the empty space above the secretary in my living room. Larger-scale blue and white pottery is an ideal choice for decorating high-up spaces, like on top of an armoire, because it is tall, beefy and bold enough to not get lost, yet sleek and simple enough to not appear cluttered.


Weave a Single Piece into a Display

If you want to add a touch of subtle color and texture to a display, blue and white pottery is a perfect pick. With its sophisticated lines, it’s a great addition to casual or formal tableaux in any style home. I love this little arrangement on the coffee table ottoman in my living room because it’s simple yet full of visual interest. The blue and white cachepot, holding a live maidenhair fern, stands at the center of a lovely black tray. It could easily be featured by itself, but since I like to layer the accents in my designs, I framed the cachepot with a few of my favorite treasures: a stack of antique books topped with a white plate, a small pencil box and a crystal candy dish.

Another boon of using blue and white pottery in your décor is you don’t have to spend much to get a great look. These little cachepots are a screaming bargain at Nell Hill’s – you’ll do a double take when you read the price tag. I like to mix these cheater pieces with finer English and Asian pottery in displays. Honestly, it’s hard to tell which is which.

To give one of your existing displays a new look, tuck in a piece of blue and white pottery. Here, I placed a blue and white transferware plate on top of a stack of Dan’s books. The plate isn’t just attractive, it’s functional. You could use it to hold your TV remote, reading glasses or a cup of coffee.


Decorate a Tablescape in Blue

If you’ve ever visited my home, shopped at Nell Hill’s or read my blog and syndicated column, you already know I’m crazy about blue and white dishes. I use my blue and white transferware constantly in my tablescapes because it looks sensational paired with just about any color, including red, green, orange and brown. You can easily reinvent this versatile pattern simply by switching out your table linens, table accents and supplemental dishes.

When you’re dressing up your table for a dinner party, include a few blue and white Asian vases to add a sophisticated air to the setting. Create a bold display of temple jars at the table center. Or place a small phalanx of bud vases down the center of the table, each holding a few blooms. This photo, from my book Entertaining in Style, shows how magical your table can be dressed in blue and white.


Take Storage from Functional to Beautiful

We all have to store stuff in our homes, so why not make that storage as gorgeous as it is functional? Big blue and white Asian fishbowls are a perfect pick if you need to contain a lot of bulky items. In the photo above, firewood never look as beautiful as it does collected in this blue and white bowl. You can also use these big bowls in the bathroom to hold toilet paper or rolled up bath towels. When you entertain, fill one of the big bowls with ice to chill wine or water bottles. Use smaller cachepots to corral your kitchen utensils, to hold outgoing mail or your keys.

I’m crazy about ceramic garden stools because they provide a great opportunity to add another layer of color and pattern to the furniture groupings in your home. So when I found garden stools in an Asian motif, I had to nab a few for my own home. Don’t you just love this chubby little guy nestled in between the armless chairs in my living room? Even though garden stools don’t offer a ton of tabletop space, it’s amazing how much you can fit on them when you get creative.


Next Week … Picking the right interior lighting is essential if you want your home to look its best. Next week I’ll share three tips for picking and using the right lights in the right places.

P.S. Don’t miss a bit of Nell Hill’s news – stay up to date on my favorite finds, new arrivals at the stores and all our special events by checking the Nell Hill’s Facebook page every day. You don’t have to have a Facebook page yourself to look in on the fun, but if you’re already on Facebook, “like” us today!



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21 Responses to “Blue and White Pottery Brings Timeless Beauty to Decor”

  1. Lisa Fernandez Says:

    I love absolutely love blue and white pottery. Love to put it in unexpected places. Enjoy seeing your table scapes and how you use it in every room. Such a treasure to have pieces like that. Are you carrying some on line?

  2. Cathey Bost Says:

    Dear Mary Carol, Thank you so much for writing about and photographing blue-and-white pottery and ceramics. Like you I enjoy mixing, say, antique Chinese export porcelain pieces with English Staffordshire with flea market finds to get a totally unique look. Now for my question: For a long time I have lusted after the blue-and-white ginger jar featured in two of the photos in this week’s blog. It is the jar with the wooden top to it. It is shown in several of your books as well. Is this jar available for sale at any of your stores? I looked for it online but could not find it. In this week’s blog it is shown in the first two photos. For example the foyer photo shows it in front of the mirror you placed on the window in the entryway. i have never come across one with a top like that. Thanks!

  3. Sandy Mac Says:

    I have always loved blue and white. The hutch in my dining room is filled with blue and white, including your etched goblets. I had never though of putting some of my platters with the jars. I always get an idea or two from you.Are you working on your book? I look forward to seeing your ideas in print. I would love to see a column on how to show big collections. I collect Tea Leaf Ironstone and White Ironstone,also.Need to bring them out of hiding. Thanks .

  4. Dorothy Ling Says:

    A touch of blue has a calming effect. A family member has always been partial to blue. In fact she has collection of flow blue that could fill a museum. I never tire of just being immersed in her anthology of blue and white; as your reflection hints, timeless and limitless.

  5. Irene Says:

    So many lovely ideas to decorate with all my beloved blue and white. Could you tell me the color of the wall paint on your walls? It is a very soft yellow and I am having a hard time finding a yellow for my family room that isn’t overpowering with the blue/white and reds. Thank you!

  6. Joan Says:

    Love it, love it. One of my all time favorite decor styles. Glad to see you comment on it. It is timeless. Thank you.

  7. Debra Says:

    Blue and White is timeless and classic. I will always love it! Thanks for such a beautiful post.

  8. Robin Frank -- Vision Interiors Says:

    Yep ! …. We are all waiting for your next book !!! My friend in Fla. asked me just couple days ago if one was out yet ! …OH THE PRESSURE !!! Your just terrific

  9. Sharon Says:

    I have been looking for something to give my drab summmer living room a boost. With the old blue and white porcelain that is packed away, and one of my vintage silver trays, the change should do the trick. Thanks for the tip. I am going to bring it out immediately. Sharon

  10. Bobbie Says:

    Delightful! I, too, am a ” blue and white fan”. Thank you for the inspiring ideas.
    I purchased two large cashe pots at your Briarcliff store in May. They make me smile when I see them,

  11. Bobbie Says:

    Delightful! I, too, am a ” blue and white fan”. Thank you for the inspiring ideas.
    I purchased two large cashe pots at your Briarcliff store in May. They make me smile when I see them.

  12. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Lisa—We have some of the fishbowls online at the moment, keep checking though— as it changes.

  13. Mary Carol Says:

    Cathey—The ginger jar with the wooden top is a special antique piece of mine that I have owned for some time.

  14. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Sandy—I am working on a book—can’t wait for you to see it!

  15. Mary Carol Says:

    The pretty soft yellow Irene, is ‘Sugar Cookie’—part of the Mary Carol Artisan Paint line. Available in the stores or the online store.

  16. mary hall Says:

    You are so right about the weight and interest of the blue and white pieces. I always love your ideas-they come as little unexpected surprises. Do you have some of the garden stools with the asian motiff at the shop?

  17. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Mary,
    We have several of the asian garden stools at our Briarcliff store location—$67.50 each. Come see us or call 877-746-4320.

  18. Lisa Fernandez Says:

    Did I read this right Mary Carol? A new book your working on? I can’t wait!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tell us more.

  19. Robin Frank -- Vision Interiors Says:

    Ment to ask if you still carried the large white jars with the lids same urn shape as the blue and whits ones in these pictures …. Gave mine to a friend for her guest room …. Really would like to gather up couple more …??????

  20. Babs Says:

    May I use your article on blue & white on my blog? You have so many useful tips for using color well.

  21. Bobbie Pullen Says:

    Timeless and lovely.

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