A Love Affair with Blue & White

Asian inspired bowl at Nell Hill's

Sometimes we have design crushes. Our passion for a piece of furniture, an accent or fabric ebbs when something new catches our eye.  But then sometimes, we fall in love for life. That’s me, and blue and white. True love forever and ever. What’s so irresistible about this classic color combo?


It goes well with everything.

Ottoman at Nell Hill's
Ottoman at Nell Hill’s

Like a pair of jeans and a crisp white shirt, blue and white make an ideal foundation on which to build so many different looks. I love it with pink, red, yellow, green, orange, black … pretty much every color in the rainbow. In this gallery at Nell Hill’s, we have placed this spunky blue and white upholstered ottoman in the center of a furniture grouping in black and white fabric, all in a room painted a deep emerald green. In my own home, I use accent pillows to bring in different shades of blue. In the summer, it’s bold blue and red prints. In the winter, its rich plaids, paisleys and checks.


You can make it formal or informal.

Spring mantel at Nell Hill's
Spring mantel at Nell Hill’s

When I lived in my Atchison home, I used lots and lots of blue and white Asian porcelain pieces in my decorating. The house just called for a more formal treatment. But now that I’m in my snug little cottage, I’m bringing in blue and white in a more casual way, through relaxed fabrics or old dishes. Whatever your style, you can find unique blue and white accents to bring it to life. The Nell Hill’s spring mantel treatment above crosses all the design lines by pulling together pieces that are formal, informal, traditional and contemporary. The modern artwork blends wonderfully with the contemporary blue pottery vases, spunky hurricanes etched with a Greek key detail, and the very formal box.

Spring table at Nell Hill's
Spring table at Nell Hill’s

If my house caught on fire, I might be tempted to run back in and rescue my blue and white transferware dishes. In my formal dining room in Atchison, they were the base of some grand table settings. Now, in my cottage, where the dining space flows into the kitchen, we are a lot less formal when we entertain. My blue and white dishes are just as perfect for a dressed down French country look. Thanks to the versatility of blue and white dishes, you can go as formal or as informal as you want.


Blue and white makes a statement.

Design at Nell Hill's
Design at Nell Hill’s

At Nell Hill’s we like to raise the drama level in a room by creating a powerful display, an exciting focal point for the space. One of our favorite techniques is to amassing a collection of similar objects so they create a visual exclamation point. Blue and white porcelain pieces are ideal for this because they come in so many different patterns, shapes and sizes, you will have no trouble finding pieces that are unique and interesting, yet harmonize. Just make sure you vary the heights and sizes of the pieces so the display in intriguing.


Even just a touch transforms.

Spring mantel at Nell Hill's
Spring mantel at Nell Hill’s

You don’t have to drench a room with blue and white to achieve a beautiful look. Sometimes, just a drop or two is all you need to transport the space. On this spring mantel at Nell Hill’s, we created a lovely bouquet in an inexpensive scalloped blue container. Then we flanked it with pretty decorative plates propped up in easels. The mantel is divine washed in cream and green, but the blue gives is that extra oomph.


It looks lovely in layers.

Nell Hill's table design
Nell Hill’s table design

One of the hallmarks of the Nell Hill’s styles is creating layers in displays so they tell an interesting story. Blue, with its wide array of shades, is perfect for layering. On this tabletop display at Nell Hill’s, we started with a blue and white lamp. Then we added in a stair step of sweet blue and white boxes, used as risers to hold other design elements. The pottery piece in the background echoes the base of the lamp, and the cobalt blue paperweight adds deep, saturated color.

Nell Hill's sofa
Nell Hill’s sofa

We especially like to layer textiles on sofas, chairs and beds. Neutral sofas like this one at Nell Hill’s allow you to go so many directions with your accent pillows. This time, it’s an ode to blue and white, told pillow by pillow.


Next Week … What’s on your windows? I’ll have tips to help you warm them up with the right window coverings.