A Recipe for Happiness

When you are aesthetically focused it affects lots of things others might not realize. When darling #2 broke the big melamine bowl, Mr. Blandings set out for a replacement. As is typical of my better half, he went looking for one bowl and came home with four. A set. Different colors! Fun!

As I was making cookies for the previously mentioned bowl-breaker’s birthday, Mr. Blandings asked if I would ever use any other than the yellow bowl. Naturally. I’m not married to yellow. It was just the best choice for the chocolate brown dough.

But, my affinity for yellow is a bit out there, and I have had a recent inquiry as to my favorite rooms of yellow, blue and white. Now, I think there are “blue” girls and you either are one or you’re not. The closest I come to blue is this smudgy turquoise, but that crisp blue and white, well, that can be the perfect antidote to the winter doldrums.

Colefax and Fowler: The Best in English Interior Decoration, Chester Jones.


This is one of those classic interior images. It might be a bit difficult to see on the screen, but there is a touch of yellow in the cloth. The sofa fabric is Colefax and Fowler and one of my favorites. Colefax and Fowler, and specifically, the late Roger Banks-Pye has put yellow, blue and white to great use.

The images, above and below, are Banks-Pye for Valentino. He carries the scheme from one room to the next by reversing the way he handles the blue and yellow. In the study, the “yellow” of the bookcases (here a burled wood) stand out against the blue of the walls. The connecting living room then flips; the wall color a smashing yellow with the blue in the upholstery and ceramics. Gilded frames and sisal rugs provide consistancy in both rooms, as well as a bit of high/low tension that typify Banks-Pye’s work.

Banks-Pye makes easy work of these three tall, but separate windows. This Colefax and Fowler toile is close to my heart because of its prominent sunflowers. Sunflowers are the Kansas state flower. If you ever have the opportunity to drive across the western part of the state in the summer you will be rewarded with field-upon-field of home-grown sunshine. There is wonder in those swaying stalks with their giant yellow flowers. I don’t think you could be in the presence of sunflowers and not feel your spirits rise just a bit.

New Orleans designer, Patrick Dunne, in Southern Accents On Color.

Purists, I’m sure, would disagree, but blue and white pottery can be had at very little cost, and it makes a great impact on wall and tabletop.
Memphis designer, Bill Eubanks, his own home, Southern Accents On Color.

Bill Eubanks chose this bright yellow because he thinks “vibrant yellow light in a room will give the appearance of light even if there isn’t actually a lot of natural light in the room.” Amen.

Barclay Butera, Inspired Styles.

Here, Barclay Butera gives a modern lift to the traditional English take on the combo. Painting the brick of the fireplace surround white certainly gives the room a lift. Leopard carpet is a fresh addition that still reads “yellow.”

If you’d like your yellow, blue and white with a little Hollywood Regency twist, you can follow Kelly Wearstler’s lead. Both of these images from her book Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style.

But if I were going with one designer’s interpretation of this combination, it would be Michael Smith.

Subtle and stately.


Elegant, but no less interesting.


The tiger carpet and pillows are a fantastic counterpart to the blue of the walls and upholstery in this bedroom. So fresh.


By the way, if none of this is helping your winter blues, you can always turn to chocolate. The cookies for the middle boy were a great success. The recipe comes to us from one of the number-one-son’s friends, so they are affectionately known as:

Alex’s Excellent Brownie Chip Cookies
1 package brownie mix
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie pan. Mix ingredients. The batter will be a bit thick. Bake 8 -10 minutes.

If these don’t lift your spirits, nothing will.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail      rssrss

17 thoughts on “A Recipe for Happiness

  1. Patricia, I love the title of your post. Yellow is, indeed, the color of happiness. I love blue and white rooms. At their best (for me) they are simultaneously crisp, calming and uncomplicated. The yellow sings happiness to me. I agree with you about the Michael Smith rooms–subtle and stately. Thanks for the cookie recipe!

  2. Wow so many great rooms here. That last Michael Smith bedroom is a treat–it’s not in his book is it?

    I too am essentially a warm color girl but then I’m so drawn to aqua, turquoise and all the “Gambrel” sky blues — and darkest navy.

  3. It’s such a classic color combination, and one guaranteed to life one’s spirits. I do think that Banks-Pye was a master of these colors!

  4. Beautiful pictures. Love that Michael Smith bedroom – yes, that IS opaline! I love how the blue opaline picks up the blue in the suzani.

  5. funny, if you were to ask me my favorite color, i’d probably say yellow, and i have not a drop of it in my home (and i don’t tend to use it for others, either).

    weird, no?

    maybe i need to commit to using it in my next project…

  6. Mrs. B you couldn’t be more right about yellow! Mrs. E. and I mixed our own that we’ve carried from house to house. At present, it is our front parlor that has the yellow walls. The way that they change depending on the light or lack of it is wonderful to watch. But I like the room best in the light of dawn or just before sunset — it is ablaze. Mr. Eubanks has it right.

    (And sunflowers are a favourite. A poet friend of mine used to send them to me every birthday. In France, we all piled out of the rental car once to wade into a field of ’em. It was enough to make you giddy.)

  7. Thanks to all for stopping in. Naturally, I ended up focused on the yellow, less the blue and white. I did have a blue and white bedroom in college and loved the crispness of it. I keep seeing blue is back – can’t wait to see what the pros do with it.

  8. I just found a couple of pieces of the most gorgeous yellow, blue and white china at a friend’s shop. They weren’t open but i saw it in the window…

  9. Love this post! Blue and yellow have always, always touched my soul and always will. I had a blue and yellow dining room back when Laura Ashley was hot. I redid it and I still miss it. And you are right about sunflowers’ power to lift one’s spirits.! Thoroughly enjoy your posts, Mrs. B!

  10. You wouldn’t happen to know the provenance of the crazy yellow wallpaper from the Kelly Wearstler dressing room? I wish books were as conscientious as mags (and blogs)

    I used to be all about yellow in that 90s pottery barn dining room sort of way–sorry, guilty–and then I hated it but now I am coming around. And what could be lovelier in a breakfast area than parrots? I’m sure the neigbors will talk.

  11. Mrs. Blandings,
    I have had the Roger Banks-Pye book on my wish list ever since you mentioned him the first time (and several other great bloggers in this community). The other day I was on amazon and I found the book at a great price and it came today. I’m amazed. The quality of his details is something I haven’t seen before. There is no detail which escaped his notice. The ribboned trim at a baseboard, the tacked cups of a drapery heading and of course, my weakness blue and white checks, stripes, toile and patterns. I’ve only skimmed it, I will read it and reread it in more depth, but this is going to be a huge favorite of mine. You have a wicked eye, Mrs. Blandings…

  12. Halcyon – I agree with all your observations on Banks-Pye. I can’t tell you how often I go back to his book and notice something new. Congratulations on getting a good deal!

  13. Hello Mrs. Blandings,
    I wanted to introduce you to my line of placemats, which are created in the tradition of the English lacquered board mats, and in the form of everyday practicality:.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *