Plates Wallpaper + Why Limited Color Palettes Can Work

May 17, 2011

This wallpaper is inspired by vintage blue tableware and has a uniquely Dutch vibe, doesn’t it? It’s designed and printed by Studio Ditte in the Netherlands and sold in stores worldwide, I found it today over at Catkin Collection. I’ve blogged about Studio Ditte before (here) but this is their latest pattern and I just love it — it’s so fresh and clean.

Plates Wallpaper + Why Limited Color Palettes Can Work

I fancy the different scenes and also the various shades of blue, don’t you? The birds and the windmills are very sweet. I find it so interesting to see products that stick to very limited color palette yet look amazing and inspirational. And I often wondered why that is – how can a product that is basically just blue (and white) be so captivating? If you were to create a blue and white room, would it equally charm you or?

Plates Wallpaper + Why Limited Color Palettes Can Work

After much thought I’ve come to realize that is really has to do with tints and tones of that color and how well you use them. It’s not about using a single tone – say indigo blue – and mixing it with lots of white and putting a room together. In a room, there is also lighting and texture that come into play to create a gorgeous space with a limited palette. But it’s really about using different tints and tones of blue, often ranging from light to dark, to add visual interest, depth and of course, personality and life.

Plates Wallpaper + Why Limited Color Palettes Can Work

Lots of people fear a limited palette – it’s almost suffocating to them to imagine using only a few colors in a room. Everyone is different, and since decorating is subjective, it’s all about what works for you personally. Some people like to put labels on others and feel that if they don’t use tons of color they really don’t have a good understanding of color or are “cop outs”, meaning they are just using it as some strange excuse for being unable to successfully marry colors into a environment for a cohesive look. Like they can’t — so they just fall back on white or beige because they don’t know how to work with color, for example. I don’t buy into that. We decorate using colors that we love – even if that means using color in small doses. We are all so unique, some can live in neutral spaces and others simply cannot, there is no wrong or right.


There is a wrong – wrong is when you decorate according to what you think others want you to express or share or pretend to be and not according to who you truly are, so wrong decorating is to deny yourself the freedom of displaying your authentic expression of self in your home – no matter how “white” or “neutral” or “colorful” or “pastel” that is may be. It’s your home, your way.

I don’t find a limited palette suffocating, in some ways for me it is total freedom because the less visual stimulation in my, say work space, the more the images and ideas in my head can rise to the top and be freed and transformed into actual work.

Plates Wallpaper + Why Limited Color Palettes Can Work

When my surroundings are too stimulating with tons of bright, energetic colors and patterns all around, my brain freezes and I can’t accomplish much. I was never the kid that thrived in primary colored classrooms. I thrived in art class with the white walls, art wall with taped works pinned up, smell of clay and paint (very earthy and exciting to me), the large wooden work tables, the potter’s wheel in the corner… I still remember each art room that I had at school since grade school with absolute clarity. I thrived in such spaces where we had less clutter around us, when everything was in its out container, and where color and pattern was placed in very specific locations and not scattered everywhere but then when you did find that location, it was a bit chaotic — randomly tacked and taped things on walls, for instance — but altogether on a single wall. Which made me realize that I thrive under situations that could be described as organized but also chaotic – but mostly organized chaos. I wouldn’t want everything neat and in a row, paints can all be thrown into a big bucket without rhyme or reason, but they still all need to be in that one big bucket.

Something about a lot of white space around, or neutrals with splashes of color here and then, definitely works for me in my home office as an adult, too. However, a wallpaper like this one shown above would be fun in a dining room on one wall (or on the ceiling with deep indigo walls and crisp white moldings!) or in the kitchen — because in those places I’m social and I want to feel energetic so strong graphics as a focal point – for instance a wall with this paper behind my stove, could be absolutely perfect, quirky and fun.

I wonder if you think like I do when you see things that you are naturally drawn to – do you intentionally try to figure out what about it works or where in your home you could imagine enjoying it, or do you simply like it but could never imagine living with it? For me, I love the blue porcelain plates wallpaper by Studio Ditte and could absolutely use it in a small dose somewhere in my home but definitely not in my office space!

(images: studio ditte)


  • Reply Fiona Humberstone May 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Holly I love this post! I have a passion for vintage china and whilst I’m not certain I could be this restrained in terms of colour (I LOVE colour) I am so drawn to the wallpaper.

  • Reply Tania May 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I recognise a few of my plates – beautiful! I also love the crispness of just the white and blue!

  • Reply Kerri@driftwood-interiors May 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Great post Holly, thank you! I love blue and white, so much so that blue and white china is a constant in my artwork. This wallpaper is gorgeous and combining different shades of blue is always a winner in my book. Thanks for the heads up! K

  • Reply Shalini May 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    You blog is always tons of inspiration, today I specially like the silver tones against blue and white pattern. I’ll experiment with that combination now :)

  • Reply Ariana May 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I love the way that you describe the process of decorating, and particularly this bit: “wrong is when you decorate according to what you think others want you to express or share or pretend to be and not according to who you truly are, so wrong decorating is to deny yourself the freedom of displaying your authentic expression of self in your home.”
    Very well said! I generally just find what I gravitate toward, what makes me feel good when I look at it, and find a way to incorporate it into my space. This is why I cannot imagine being a designer for other people, since it is so very personal. I have a lot of admiration for professionals who gracefully capture and interpret their clients’ tastes into their home designs.

  • Reply juliette May 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I think there is a place for certain things and certain styles…and they go with certain people who’s preferences match those things. Tina Fussell’s been talking about white on white over on her blog and we’ve exchanged some comments/email over it. It’s totally subjective, but rooms do need to find their balance -sometimes in color, sometimes in texture, etc. The fact that we can all have our own way of doing it makes it that much more exciting!

    Personally, I adore monochromatic rooms. Love them! Little sprigs of accent color shine all the more in a monochromatic room and it makes me chill out. But I’ve also become a pattern addict, so while I agree with you that this wallpaper is gorgeous, I would rather see it perking up my kitchen, pantry, or half bath rather than putting me into overdrive in my office!

  • Reply Allison Egan May 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    So great! I am always a total sucker for blue and white! just so beautiful and classic but still fresh!
    xo Allison

    Spicer + Bank

  • Reply Jess @ House Sweet Home May 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Great post! I totally agree. Very interesting wallpaper- I was totally tricked at first!

  • Reply Giulia May 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I love tone on tone palette and this post featuring a lot of blue just made me smile. I wrote two posts last week about using blue in decorating…It seems to be my go to colour. I gathered a bunch of blue inspirational shots of interiours and I think monochromatic really works here.

  • Reply Jadyn May 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I am a Dutch expat living in Canada and I definitely find myself drawn to things like this that show a strong Dutch aesthetic and playfulness in its design. I haven’t incorporated much of it in my home but would like to add more. (One thing I’ve done was wrap the tips of a chandelier, where the light bulb is screwed into, in Dutch wrapping paper after removing the shades and it makes me smile.)

    I also like to analyze why I am drawn to certain things. I think I figured out that I like my environment to feel very layered (although on purpose and organized) and in a way that feels like I have a lot to look at. There also has to be enough white and space that I feel like I can think. Thanks for another thought provoking post!

  • Reply Ruthie Staalsen May 17, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Gorgeous post. Thanks for your inspiration!

  • Reply kat May 17, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    wow…i would not have expected to like that wallpaper but it’s so different that it’s very cool!!

  • Reply Lauren May 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Ahhh! You totally just made my day!

    I collect antique blue + white plates so I am definitely drawn to this fabulous wallpaper! It’s absolutely stunning!

  • Reply Barbara Loyd May 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    This wallpaper is wonderful and I agree about using it in a special spot in small quantity. Do you know if it is available in the United States? Limited color is a topic I will be discussing on my blog in the future. Would you mind if I refer to your post?

  • Reply hena tayeb May 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Lovely. The wallpaper is so lifelike.. I personally like a limited color palette. I rarely use more than three colors in a room.

  • Reply Katie Truelove May 17, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    I also love the wallpaper but probably wouldn’t cover a room in it– I love a neutral palette that I can change often:)

  • Reply Amelia@ Wind Chimes May 18, 2011 at 4:31 am

    This is perfect for my taste. I love how the different shades of the blue hues affect the white background.

    I totally agree with you Holly. I always decorate, redecorate, and accessorize my house (especially my bedroom) according to my own creativity and expression. I don’t care what others might think about it. As long as I’m happy with my design, I don’t have to please other people.

  • Reply kendal croix May 18, 2011 at 4:37 am

    very pretty, but a wall of real plates would be even cooler.

  • Reply Neena May 18, 2011 at 5:58 am

    I love your point about “wrong is when you decorate according to what you think others want you to express …..”.

    So true!

    But the funny thing is that tastes do change – and what is right for you now, just might not work for you tomorrow.

    I love the blue and white palette – have used those tones in my bedroom for too many years to count.

    And now, even though I still like it – it is time for a change.

  • Reply meagan May 18, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Ohhh I adore plate collections and sticking with one colour can have such a powerful effect…although I must say it would be counter intuitive for moi! I always just grab what I like rather than being able to stick to one colour. With my budget it might take me a year to slowly collect enough plates in one colour like that… Lovely though!
    Meagan, Row House Nest

  • Reply Megan May 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Coming from a textile design background, I really appreciate this range. I can also imagine it in a more neutral colour way – perhaps sepia and greige tones – that could pull back on the busyness of the design, but still keep it conceptually interesting. It reminds me of that Chinese Ming vase print which emerges every so often – there is something quite contradictory about a ceramic product reproduced on a wallpaper or textile.

  • Reply Shell May 19, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    The plate wallpaper is pretty. I probably decorate maybe half a room with the wallpaper and the other half in a soft white. I like bright colors..I do feel you have to do with some kind of flow that it doesn’t jar the senses.
    As for blue, in my bedroom. I painted the walls two colors of blue. One a baby blue and the other, a marine blue. It gives my bedroom a healing and beautiful feel to it.

  • Reply Nicole Cammorata May 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I adore this wallpaper! Having grown up with an antique collector for a mother, this paper makes me long for home, where my mother has covered a wall with real flow-blue plates. What a great idea for wall paper!

  • Reply Leon July 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Loving the idea of a mono color wall covering. That would be great as a feature wall, with the rest of the room plain in a plain neutral color. Great Design!

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