Collections: Blue and White Cottage Style Decor

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Rachel Stone

So many of you have expressed a love for blue & white (a love I share!) that I thought a blog post and video dedicated to collecting this timeless class would be helpful and inspiring. In this post, we’ll talk about what makes something a collection, good sources for where to find pieces, and how to use them in your home.

What makes something a collection? I’ve heard that once you have three of a kind you have officially obtained a collection. Makes sense to me. One piece of something could just be a whim… Two is simply a pair, but three? Now you’re off to a good start. Of all the blue & white items in our home (wallpaper, lamps, bed linens, throw pillows…) my favorite is the antique transferware collection used in decor and our everyday life.

Marks of a Good Collection:

~ More than three

~ A few well-chosen statement pieces (these may be where you might have to spend a bit more).

~ A good number of “background”, or “layering” pieces.

~ Choosing different sizes and silhouettes for interest.

~ Finding several practical ways to use your pieces for display & in everyday life.

~ Play with using your collection all in one spot (grouping), or spread throughout different rooms (dispersed).

When I was arranging this transferware flatlay the other day I was reminded of just how much I love these charmingly aged pieces in soft blue and creamy ironstone. The large pitcher in the center is similar to one I first saw on Marian Parson’s blog “Miss Mustard Seed.” In her family room, she had a stunning collection mixing pieces of this antique blue and white ironstone with plain white ironstone and over time I noticed that I returned to this article over and over again. When I noticed Marian also used these lovely pieces throughout her house in practical ways I began picturing using them in our home as well…

This sugar bowl was one of the statement pieces I found when beginning to collect antique blue transferware. A few well-chosen statement pieces will add distinction and structure to any collection. Statement pieces work best if they have interesting, unique characteristics. I found this sugar bowl on Etsy for $36. This was a great price for an antique piece and has been used in a couple of different shelf styling collections.

Currently, this sugar bowl is holding down some English country interior design books in the bookcase.

Next was the purchase of another sugar bowl, this time, an older piece without its lid. I was looking for one without the lid as I had a specific purpose in mind. The fact that it didn’t have a lid made this sugar bowl more affordable which was a bonus! It was $91 on Etsy. In my hunting, I’ve found that pieces of this age are usually closer to $200. I had seen a similar sugar bowl used by Marian Parsons to corral her scrub brushes at the sink. Since this sugar bowl had a crack in the bottom I didn’t want to expose it to water and used it to hold my wooden cooking utensils instead. I love how it looks!

On the ironstone tray next to the sugar bowl is a personal-size soup tureen. The tureen also came with an underplatter. When ordering the tureen I didn’t realize how small it was, but this ended up being even more practical in the end! The tureen became the perfect sugar bowl, and the platter perfectly holds butter near the stove. Pretty and practical!

Next, there trickled in a collection of plates and platters. These pieces were destined for the plate rack running along the top of our cabinetry. These pieces are what I consider background or layering pieces. They add weight, and fullness to the collection without drawing too much attention to themselves. These two trios of plates and platters grace our kitchen nearly year-round. for the holidays I do change out the plates and platters to holiday appropriate colors and patterns. These plates and platters ranged in price from $41 to over $100. You may find when you are gathering a collection that you’ll pay more for one piece and less for another, which helps spread the costs of the entire collection. Another benefit to patiently searching for just the right piece is that you’ll get a good feel for the average range of prices for the different pieces and can wait for a piece to drop in price, or make the seller an offer.

Another statement piece in this collection is this teapot. It has a crude handmade knob to replace the original, plus a large crack in the bottom. These two factors didn’t matter to me and were why this piece was $145 versus $200.

While the crack in the bottom means the teapot cannot hold liquids, I did discover that one of our regular drinking glasses perfectly fits inside. This means I can slip the glass in, fill it with flowers, and then pour water into the drinking glass. Problem solved!

The more ways you can think of to use your collection the more versatile and valuable it will be. Here is that same teapot at Christmas time.

Here is the biggest statement piece yet! I’ve loved the look of these large blue & white Asian planters, but could not bring myself to pay $300 – $350! I watched, waited, and hunted for fourteen months until this one popped up in an antique shop I’d never heard of. The planter was just under $100 and totally worth the out-of-the-way trip to pick it up!

I also wanted an investment like this to be as versatile as possible so using it as a Christmas tree stand was one way to accomplish that.

Other ways to incorporate Blue & white into your home also include soft items like textiles. You probably remember this no-sew, hand-pleated lamp shade using block print fabric from India. I enjoyed doing this project and the results so much that recently I ordered another piece of hand-block print fabric from India for another lamp!

In our newly remodeled English country kitchen, you can see how all the pieces (statement, background, newer, and antique) when combined create a lovely cohesive look while being extremely functional! A side benefit to collecting pieces you love over time is that they can be used for decor in another room and look right at home there as well. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look at collecting blue & white and are inspired to look for or make the most of the blue & white in your home!

Warmly, Rachel

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Author: Rachel Stone
Rachel is passionate about creating a comfortable and beautiful home for her family. She also loves to share the lessons she is learning with her wonderful audience both on this blog and her YouTube channel.

16 thoughts on “Collections: Blue and White Cottage Style Decor”

  1. I bought a large blue and white chinoiserie planter at the local thrift shop for $20. It came with a 5 ft tall artificial ficus tree in it that I had to remove. I am surprised that you spent so much on it, as well as the teapot with major flaws.

    • Sounds like you got a good deal!
      Every area of the country is different in what is available and in pricing. Somehow, we all find what we’re looking for at a price we’re willing to pay. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Loved everything!!! At 71 I am so into English Country design and collecting all to go with it! Love your kitchen and the blue and white collection!

    • Oh, how fun!
      Someday, I’ll be pleased to be able to say the same thing about English country design, Miss Nancy! Thanks for visiting our kitchen!

  3. Rachel, I absolutely love reading your blogs and watching your videos. Your style and taste in decorating your home is so inspiring and exactly what I love in my own home.
    I’d love to see you do a blog post and video on the decorating books you’ve collected. Reading this type of book is something I love to do. Another great idea would be to see some of your quilts and how you use them. I’m a quilter also.
    Thank you for sharing your life with us.

    • Great idea, Miss Robin! It is helpful when readers give suggestions or requests for what they’d like to see. Thank you for the feedback!

  4. Rachel, your home has evolved into such a lovely statement of cottage style. The curated addition of blue and white pieces added a sense of history. Your patience is admirable. Great article. 💙🤍

  5. Love your collection of blue and white. I have been collecting for 40 years and never tire of it in my kitchen. Also at Christmastime I just layer a red dinner plate under the blue salad plates, add my ruby red goblets and a red toile napkins… and it all works! Love the combination. I keep a small tablescape for two the entire season, just because it makes me happy!

  6. Your ideas for using your blue and white collection is inspiring and useful for me and my collection. Thanks and your kitchen is so pretty.

  7. You have a beautiful collection of those blue and white pieces. And they are so well distributed through out your home. I especially love the pitchers that you use as vases!

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