Flowers are a simple way to add elegance, bring nature into the home and incorporate beauty into any decor. As we all strive to create a sanctuary within our home that we relish returning to each day, I’ve gathered together some advice from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, so that we can focus on the vases and arrangements that are simple, yet create an amazing impression each and every time.
On one of her many cooking shows, the Barefoot Contessa shared with her viewers the only three vases any of us will need to ensure a pulled together arrangement that can accommodate any room or flower:
1. a tall, wide cylinder vase
2. a cylindrical bud vase
3. a square vase
In her cookbook Back to Basics, on page 52, she shares ten tips on how to arrange flowers like a pro:
1. When you arrive home, with your flowers, cut the stems at an angle and put them immediately into water.
2. Fill the vase 3/4 full with water. Tulips only require a small amount of water.
3. Use warm water for everything except hydrangeas, which need hot tap water.
4. Put a splash of bleach in the vase. It will reduce bacteria, which can prevent the stems from drinking water.
5. For woody-stem flowers such as hydrangeas or lilacs, split the stems several inches up from the bottom. You want to expose the white inner part of the stem to water.
6. For flowers from bulbs and tubers, such as tulips an iris, score the bottoms of the stems as you might with scallions, the ends will curl up and they’ll drink more water.
7. Choose a vase that allows the flowers to “breathe” rather than packing them in tightly.
8. Build your arrangement in your hand, holding the stems and looking at the top of the flowers. When you’re happy with the arrangement, cut all the stems to the same length. Tying the stems with twine or using a rubber band before putting them in the vase holds them in place.
9. Don’t leave flowers in a warm sunny window. It will stress them.
10. For all flowers except tulips, recut the stems, clean the vase, and change the water every 2 or 3 days. Tulips can be temperamental; once they have opened, don’t change the water.
An easy rule of thumb that I like to follow, which was suggested by Ina as well, is to create monochromatic arrangements. It tends to create a grander presentation and command control of the room it is inhabiting.
However, no matter how you choose to incorporate flowers into your home, the results will be positive. For not a lot of money, beauty and a fresh touch are waiting for you at your local grocery store, farmer’s market or flower market.