How to Style Flowers

Flowers.  Most of us girls just adore the sight of them. From their varied and beautiful forms, to their wide array of colors, to their delightful fragrances—they are quite the little beauties.  They grow just about everywhere, sprouting unexpectedly in the cracks of sidewalks, and sun bathing in the most ravishing of richly soiled gardens. Simple as they are, most of us laud them as impossible luxuries, only consistently enjoyed by those with expendable budgets or backyard gardens. Aside from the occasional splurge at the grocery store (I know, you bought that bouquet of calla lilies because you had an extra tough week at work, dammit, and you deserved it!), we tend to think that the act of buying flowers is reserved for only special occasions.

Nevertheless, even with those stereotypes, I promise you having flowers in your home regularly or, better yet, simply composing a bouquet of flowers is absolutely achievable.  Regardless of your financial situation or whether or not you have a knowledge of flower types and decorating, every one of us can enjoy fresh flowers at our leisure.  In my day job, I am the Senior Event Producer for Kehoe Designs, one of the top event design firms in Chicago and, trust me when I say, creating some of the most stunning weddings and events you ever did see is infinitely more work than I care to expend for myself at my cozy little condo.  In my personal life, the beautifully stylized floral arrangements of my work day are traded for simple, darling floral accents that I grab on a whim when at the farmer’s market.  Nothing beats a sweet little dahlia stem in a bud vase!  To dispel any further “can’t do” notions, I have shared below a few tricks I’ve developed for having flowers in my own home, be it for a dinner party or just simply for my bedside table. When entertaining at home, I usually have my hands full planning a delicious menu, which in and of itself can be taxing. So I much prefer floral arrangements that are simple in composition, yet bold and impactful.  When I’m busy, it’s all about keeping it easy and chic.

Check out the photos for a bit of a floral tutorial and to see all of my tips in action.

1. Monobotanic. When selecting florals, my single most important tip is to buy gobs of one type of flower and in one color.  This style of arranging is referred to as “monobotanic” and offers a European aesthetic that is delightfully easy to pull off.  Instead of buying one bunch of dahlias, buy three or, better yet, five!  Get out of the mindset of buying a mixed bouquet at the supermarket and instead focus on blooms that look the most beautiful to you and grab lots of them.  Arranging en masse is gorgeous and impressive!

2. Flower Types. The food movement isn’t the only genre in which to buy seasonal!  Check out your local outdoor or indoor farmer’s market for flowers that are in season and reasonably priced, or, in a pinch, head to your local Whole Foods or similar grocery store for a bevy of choices.  Nothing is prettier than tulips in spring, hydrangea in the summer, novelty mums in the fall and amaryllis in the winter.

3. Containers. My other favorite design tip is to use unique containers that are opaque (not glass!), such as those that I’ve used here.  The main benefit in using an opaque container is that you don’t need to worry about a leaf wrap inside the vase or seeing murky water.  And, by having either a bold colored vase or interesting shape you have instant style without the fuss. Stores like Home Goods and Target are perfect for finding sharp looking vessels that don’t break the bank.  Additionally, shop at vintage, antique and consignment boutiques for chic containers, tea cups and vases that have loads of character.  The darling gold compotes shown here in the guest bathroom were discovered at a resale shop for $1.99 a piece!  Lastly, don’t forget to shop your home—pitchers, bowls and mugs are all fabulous containers for flowers.

4.  Prep. Before putting the flowers in the vase, give them a fresh cut with the sharpest shears or scissors you can find and take off all of the leaves along the stem or flower spine. This will ensure you quench their thirst and that the water remains clean and fresh. Hold one flower stem up to your vase and size up the length you need. Remember, keeping all one type of flower cut close to the vase will give you a “wow” look.

5.  Floral Gifts. When heading to a special event such as a housewarming party or a dinner at a friend’s house, it is so lovely to bring a bouquet of fresh flowers to give to the host. When selecting this bouquet, chose three colors and no more than three types of flowers, along with a “filler” like greenery or vines. Clip the blooms to the same length and roll up in butcher paper tied with a string or any fanciful ribbon you have on hand, and voilà!