Of my multitudinous passions, one reigns close to the top of the list. It is a simple passion. One may say I have been bit by the bug.
The design world is full of avid collectors. Each designer will have their own penchant for this or that. However, nearly everyone will agree, the one that is most arresting is the passion for Blue and White. I dare say, more design books have been written about this color than any other.
I see this focus of passion as a practical and intelligent design choice. Every designer worth their salt will tell you that a successful design scheme takes strict discipline.
One must start with an inspiration. My inspiration early on was blue.
Growing up with designers and then later on working in the design industry I have been exposed to various and unique design looks, beautiful rooms, and their contents. There is a new fabric, light, chair, and color every second. One must stay focused so as not to get lost and end up with a room that looks like a hodge podge with no rhythm, rhyme or reason.
The color blue is in every room of my home. It is not the only color but it is the dominant color. It is the thread that ties it all harmoniously together as one.
I once thought that blue bit me while I was in college, but, if i am honest, it happened in early childhood. My mother had a beautiful set of Liberty Blue Staffordshire plates.
The historic buildings and scenes featured would inspire my imagination of colonial times in America. Dinner was more interesting when we used the Liberty Blue. As one was having dinner, one could easily imagine the days of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Talk about having a dinner date with history!
Later on in college, setting up my first apartment, I came across some delightful plates with a cobalt willow pattern. The plates did not have bowls, so I went to Pier One and purchased some inexpensive blue and white Chinese bowls. From that moment on I cultivated the obsession. I learned early on that cobalt blue patterned plates could be mixed and matched. It was more interesting. Each find reminds me of a different time and my life. A diary in blue and white china.
After my college years, I started adding accent colors and other accessories. I could change the mood of the table with a change of the shape, subject and accessories. I could add a pop of sunflower yellow to send an Indian inspired paisley patterned plate to Tuscany for breakfast. My blue willow could be used for a luncheon with tea or as a plate for an Asian inspired dinner. With a change of table linens the plates became a sort of chameleon.
The key is the color. Not only the blue, every blue in the cobalt violet blue family from watercolor to deep cobalt works well together. Blues that tend toward the teal or green will not do.
I also make sure that the white is the traditional stoneware. Too ivory or too white will throw off the pairings.
With focus and continuity in my color scheme, I am free to play with the mood of my table.
Here are some guidelines to get you started.
- Choose a pattern and color you love. Shop off the beaten path.
- Be faithful to the color. Until the shade is burned into your mind’s eye, carry a fabric swatch or paint chip that matches the color. This way you will always have a reference with you while you are out and about. Some of my best finds were stumbled upon.
- Continuity. If you already have your home decorated use that as your inspiration. Choose your color from one already dominate in your home.
- Bear in mind your style. Is it traditional, transitional, contemporary. Do you have a”look”, English, French, Italian.? Are you into clean modern lines or a more softer more feminine style? There are so many different looks today. If you are unsure, check out a few different design magazines. Go through and tag every picture that moves you. Then go back and compare them. This should help find your design look.
- Accessorize. Layer with pops of colors or interesting objects of the same color. Table linens are a great way to dress the table as are flowers of any variety. Although, I recommend staying away from flowers that have a strong scent.
- Discipline. Stick to your design scheme. This will save you time and money.
Finally, I would like to recommend one of my favorite books on this subject, A Passion for Blue and White, written by Carolyn Roehm