How to use vintage pottery to inspire color and pattern in your home

Cheryl Kees Clendenon Entertaining in Detail, In Detail Says, Just cool stuff 5 Comments

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Who wants a sterile catalog home or worse, one that looks too perfect?

Most of our clients surely do not. They want homes that reflect their style but also has a story to tell and vintage pieces can certainly ramp up the style points.  But people struggle with how to mix the vintage with newer pieces and this can be a real art to get just right.  I love pottery in general but we use vintage pottery in virtually every home we design.

Even in this little guest bath we added a touch of vintage- in the ceramic blue bud vase. Vintage pieces selected well always add a charming look.

Color, Shape then maker is what matters to us

This is key- we go for color and shape most often when using pottery pieces as accessories in our client’s homes. The range of color in some vintage pottery is just amazing and can often be bought at a fraction of the price. The idea usually is to showcase  a larger piece alone and then group smaller items. I buy for our shop pieces that speak to me or I know their provenance- or just like the color or style.

In this home, the client had bought the vintage ceramic vase from us months ago and when we came to style for the shoot we added the vintage green Blue Mountain pitcher. And of course it ended up staying there!

Do not get caught up in buying for a name or age if it means nothing to you in terms of style

I am not a purist or a snob about cool pottery. I do not care if it was made in 1975 or 1925 if I like the lines, color or texture. I do look for hand made items as Liz and I are rabid about hand made pieces for the shop- and for our clients. But some great pottery like that of my fave mid century designer- Sascha Brastoff – was made in batches but designed by him. It just depends on the style. Fun fact- Joan Crawford loved Sascha’s pieces and they typically were sold in high end shops like Nieman Marcus and also from his own showroom.

And I do believe that is my rooster!

Designer Barry Goralnick wrote about Brastoff HERE if you want to read more- and see why he was such an interesting fellow. Side note- Barry the designer has a line of cocktail side tables for Vanguard that we have in the shop! 

Inspiration in our design work

Often a particular piece will inspire a color or a palette that we use in the main furnishings and I love this when it comes about. I do not look for something really but believe it or not many times it just finds me!

This is another Brastoff piece I found and it set the tone for this sitting room. The upper left fabric will be a gorgeous sofa and the bottom paprika linen is on two chairs. The lighter blue in the dish is in the pillow fabric.

In this living room, the Brastoff piece was a jumping off color palette with more blues but we eventually brought in camel and some other hues.

Ideas to inspire you to find vintage pieces for your home

**Look for pieces that might repeat a color you would like to showcase in your space**

We brought some of our shop art and vintage pieces to style this area in a recent home. The brass tiny vase is vintage as well as the deep green dimpled vase and the bold red heavily glazed piece. We wanted to replicate the red to tie into florals in a vase on the ottoman and the red really made the Mica deep blue wall covering stand out too.

**Try to find conversation art- something that has a story to tell or that people will notice because it is unusual**

vintage monkeys

Like these two crazy Mid Century monkey pieces! We love these at our shop!

**Research the maker- it will mean more to you and also gives you something to share with others- people like hearing stories I tell about some of my pieces- half the fun is the story behind it! **

sascha brastoff rooster

If you look hard you will see the gold rooster in the corner. This is my own kitchen and I live with what I love- and this Brastoff piece is one of my faves. And the story behind the rooster below is finding it for a song at an estate sale- no one could read the signature!  My daughter also thinks is funny to turn it facing in every time she comes over- and wait to see how long before I notice it! (Which sometimes is several days!)

**Sometimes the alliteration of a color, finish, or similar styles of pottery can make a huge visual statement even if the collection is not the same maker**

This is Stangl pottery grouped together in our shop,

**Interesting shapes and uses thrill me- I have an entire “coffee table set” of pottery that is pristine and such fun colors- it includes an ashtray ( of course), a little box for cigarettes and two vases. Decor was a lot more matchy in the 50’s**

We liked this tall black and blue Haegar vintage pitcher with the very long arched handle to break up the more neutral colors. This is a gorgeous home office!

** Look for pieces that speak to you- reach out and grab you so to speak and you will love them always! **

Happy Hunting and don’t forget to come see our wonderful collection of vintage pieces- in the shop and many are online and we are putting more on every day!


Comments 5

  1. I absolutely love vintage and handmade pottery. It’s one of the few things that I collect – along with books. I am not precious with my vintage pieces, usually because they haven’t cost much more than $20 each, and will use them as planters. They look so good in a grouping as well and are a great way to add texture and color to a room. I primarily stick with the greens, blues, and whites for vintage. My favorite are the little footed planters by McCoy and Haeger.

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  2. I LOVE that Brastoff peacock piece! I’m having a peacock phase, of late…mostly ‘cuz I love that green-blue color. This is a wonderful post, Cheryl, showcasing beautiful ways to use unique finds. I love the color stories you pulled together around these pieces.

  3. Cheryl,

    You’ve brought back a lot of memories for me by reading this post. My Grandmother had MANY of these kinds of vintage ceramics in her home and… when she died…my Mom and Dad got them and I grew up with them, never realizing they would have any monetary value. They were just part of the *decor.* When we moved Mom from FL to TX, we gave it all away… that was before I knew you.

    No telling what we gave away…but we did, as she didn’t have room in her home here.

    Seeing how you are now using these items to add personality and a special flair to your own home and to your client’s home was a real treat, and I love the way you use them as a *jumping off point* for a particular design’s color story.

  4. I just recently purchased a home for our next renovation project. As the home sits right now, it is FULL of stories. Every room is filled with items. I visited this home twice before making an offer. I told my real estate agent that if the items could tell a story, we would be there for many, many years.

    The home was filled with such a warm feeling. That is one of the reasons I put an offer in on it (and yes – there were many more reasons why).

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