The Beauty of Blue & White

Some color crushes come and go. Others develop into true love that lasts forever. That’s how I feel about the color blue, especially when it’s paired with white. Blue and white are a cornerstone of my personal design style, and you’ll find it all over my home. And, it’s a bedrock of the Nell Hill’s look, one we have embraced since we opened our doors 36 years ago.

Everyone falls in love for a reason. For me, and blue and white, there are a lot of things that make my heart hammer hard. It’s fresh and clean, and feels new every time you use it. It’s timeless and classic, never out of style. It adds sophistication to a space. It’s easy to design with: so approachable and forgiving. It can add a jolt of energy or whisper calm. It pairs well with just about every other color, from brown to green to red to pink to yellow. Need I go on?

When I had my historic home in Atchison, Kansas, we held open houses several times a year, inviting people to make the day trip to this quaint river town, visit our flagship Nell Hill’s store, and tour my home, dressed for the season, to get ideas and inspiration. All the photos in today’s blog were taken at my home during one of my spring open houses. They capture the inventive ways you can use blue and white in your décor to create a mood.

It was always so fun for me and the Nell Hill’s team to come up with new ways to style my home for each passing season: spring, fall and the holidays. I wanted to show how you can add a touch of the season to your year-round décor, so my home was the perfect lab.

One of my favorite looks in my dining room (which was painted what color? You guessed it: blue!) featured a fresh take on blue and white. The look was launched with these amazing paper lanterns. We loved the playful touch they added, so we suspended them from bamboo rods, using blue ribbons, then  anchored them in two large white vases. It was a magical affect. People still ask if we sell these lanterns and, sadly, the answer is no. I have not been able to find a supplier. But, if you are a DIY person, you could use white lanterns and paint on a blue design.

We had a square tablecloth custom made out of this chipper fabric, then turned it on the diagonal at the center of the table. That’s one of my favorite ways to use tablecloths, because it allows you to add the color and texture of textiles, yet still let the beauty of the tabletop shine through. The place settings are super simple: everyday white plates topped with a sweet blue and white salad plate. When I entertain, I like to put a surprise at each guest’s place, like this little gift, wrapped in a coordinating paper.

I have collected blue and white serving pieces through the years, so we added them to our table. A mix of patterns makes the setting more interesting. I got some of the old platters for a song because they had a chip or crack. I’m OK with signs of age. I think it adds to their character.

It’s also fun to mix old and new on your table, and the displays throughout your home. On our table, we brought in bright cobalt glasses, a fun contrast to our vintage platters and crystal.

We carried the blue and white love out onto my screened porch, one of my favorite spots in my Atchison home. I dressed this old wooden plant stand with blue and white cachepots filled with live plants. Blue and white containers come in every price point, from inexpensive to investment pieces, so no matter what your budget, you’ll find pieces you’ll love.

Dan and I enjoyed eating dinner out on the screened porch. Dining off of trays made it easy to sit anywhere, not just at the table. These place settings are all the more inviting, thanks to the touches of blue and white.


Next Week … So many interior designers have inspired me through the years. I will share four of my favorites.