There’s a certain something about classic blue and white décor that stirs up memories. Ships and the seaside, New England coastal style, the Greek islands, Dutch Delft tiles – all have become trends and influenced our decorating and personal style from time to time.

So when a customer asked for a sign for her holiday home – a former fisherman’s cottage – in South Africa, a blue and white design was on the cards. The house already had a touches of Agean blue in its interior and exterior paintwork. Given the historic associations of the Dutch with South Africa, it made the perfect opportunity to produce a design inspired by Delft tiles.

We drew up the basic square tile pattern, with a leaf motif in each corner, then added a vintage maritime image in the centre. We included sailing ships, several fish and sea creatures, an octopus, a cockle shell, a wading bird and a brazen mermaid. The customer asked for a couple of changes – a shark instead of a castle, and we were ready for the next stage..

The ‘tiles’ were placed around the edge of the sign, with the centre in blue, and white lettering for the house name reversed out of the blue. This added to the impact of the sign, which, if we’d chosen blue lettering on a white background, could have looked a bit insipid.

‘It looks amazing,’ said the customer on receiving her sign. ‘Can’t wait to put it up.’ We hope it’s now in place on a clifftop overlooking the Indian Ocean and drawing admiring glances from all the visitors. And the new design, called ‘Dutch tiles’ has now been launched as a new product, with several other happy customers so far.