When I think of true luxury, one of the first things that comes to my mind is fresh flowers! There's something about a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers that just makes me happy.
As the social reformer, Henry Beecher once said, “Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.”
While traveling in France, I noticed so many fabulous local flower shops. There seemed to be one on every corner. Whether abroad or here in the U.S., if you are lucky enough to live near a flower shop, you can easily pick up some flowers on your way home regularly. If you're not quite that lucky, you can still indulge yourself with flowers from your standard grocery store or even from larger chains like Costco and Trader Joes. You may not find as good of a selection and the flowers won't be quite as fresh as they are from a local flower shop, but you should still be able to find something perfectly lovely to enjoy in your home.
Of course, fresh flowers are a must-have in my interior designer's toolkit. While my clients love having fresh flowers in their homes long after their design projects are finished, many of them tell me they struggle with floral arranging.
I find that this struggle usually comes from trying to make complicated arrangements using too many different kinds of flowers or working with a container that's either too large or too small. Also, just like anything else, the better the quality of the flowers you buy, the better your results will be.
That being the case, if you want a beautiful vase of flowers but have no time to fuss with them, stick to a full bouquet of one kind of flower, such as tulips or hydrangeas, all in the same color. Using a generous number of stems (20 is great for tulips, 6 for hydrangeas), will make it much easier to create a full and lovely-looking arrangement.
Many floral designers agree that the best way to learn is by trial and error. When experimenting with arrangements, they suggest building a structure and shape using foliage, then adding focal blooms and finishing with interesting floral highlights. Once you’ve made your arrangement, keep cut flowers cool, very well hydrated, and out of the sun. Choose the type of design you like in print or online, and then find a particular image and try to replicate it, recreating the arrangement again and again until you find the right type of flower and proportions.
When I'm feeling adventurous and wanting to play with flower arranging, one of my favorite sources of inspiration is Flower Magazine, a 'luxury lifestyle' publication chock full of floral ideas. The photos are amazing and there is so much great inspiration. Flower Magazine actually has a “How To” section in each issue with many different types of arrangements. The one I chose to highlight here is floral designer Mimi Brown's French Twist.
Isn't that just gorgeous?!
I love the mix of pinks from pastel to bright accented with creamy yellows. It makes me think of French macarons and sugar frosted petits fours. Delightful!
For even more inspiration, take a look at this short video from Bunny Williams, a very talented designer known for her copious use of flowers in her interior designs. Here, she shares her favorite arrangements for dinner parties. Bunny Williams' Floral Tips
For those of you who would like a bit more help, why not try an online floral arranging class? Nicole's Classes offers a class called Floral Arranging 101. This is a downloadable program you install on your computer. Learning is divided into 4 weeks and within those weeks you can learn at your own pace, anytime, anywhere. There are no set class times, though homework is 'due' every Sunday night for instructor feedback. Students also have unlimited email access to the instructor for the duration of their course, to ask questions or get help when they’re stuck.
Whether you gather them from your own garden, pick them up from a true French flower shop on the corner, or just snag them when you're getting your groceries, make it a habit to bring home fresh flowers often. After all, aren't you worth it?