Arren Williams is the name, and I'm a stylist, editor and trend reporter. You'll catch my work regularly popping up in print in the likes of the National Post, House & Home and elsewhere. I'm also a guest expert on Citytv's CityLine, and you can occasionally find me on HGTV as well as on ABC 7 News in Chicago.

To keep things fun I've tapped a couple of friends - Julia Black and Jenn Hannotte - to contribute their views on design too. Enjoy!


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{that one great thing} Michael's Blue Willow dishes

I totally get people who are kind of nuts about collecting, and Michael Penney from House & Home is just one of those kind of nuts. I bet you've seen his stories in the mag, or on the H&H blog, as well as on Design*Sponge. In fact, you'll see his new house featured in H&H's upcoming June issue, where I'm sure you'll catch a glimpse of a wall filled with his that one great thing pick - Blue Willow china.

Michael Penney: My one great thing is my growing collection of Blue Willow china. It started as a love of all things British and cottage-y in style, but I've since decided I like it with almost anything. I love the story behind the pattern (of two young people in love escaping a disapproving father, their souls flying off into the distance represented by two birds) and how the narrative is told on the plates and platters themselves. The clear blue glaze mixed with the time-worn creams and whites is perfection, as are any chips or blemishes that occur over time. This makes the piece look all the better to me!   

I bought a whole lot of dinner plates this past summer at Antiques USA in Kennebunk Maine for very little and have continued collecting everywhere from thrift shops to Cynthia Findlay Antiques (where I got this gorgeous platter). I've since hung the plates on my dining room wall in a symmetrical, geometric pattern radiating out from this central platter. I love the way they look en masse and they really have a big impact that way too. 

I also pick up blue and white ginger jars and vases when I can, and even small bowls and things in Chinatown. I guess I just can't get enough of this English, WASPY staple!

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Reader Comments (3)

Not sure about the previous comment? Hmmm... But I love Blue Willow china. I don't have any but instead had a great collection of Czech Blue Onion china. My MIL has antique Blue Willow that we have figured is early 1800's. When we lived in Washington DC, we had fun exploring the historial homes where Blue Willow was the china of the elite.

March 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbarbara@hodge:podge

As a serious collector of not serious objects, I completely understand people who collect. I collect vintage colored glass, blue and white crockery (of no particular period or style as long as the colors are right), folk paintings on glass, driftwood and stones.... whatever inspires me in my art and life. It cheers me up and brings joy and it doesn't have to be expensive.


April 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYolanta

Well the blue willow dishes are nice.....

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpatent lawyer

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