When you're shopping at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or any other supermarket with a floral section, it's tempting to scoop up whatever blooms are on sale. A little greenery livens up the room, right? This is what stylists do to "finish" a space, right? You're all over it. Then you get home and it slowly sinks in: You have no idea what to do with these flowers to make them look as chic as the ones you see scrolling Instagram.
Start with Your Space—and Vase.
Know where you want the flowers to go: Are you looking for a grand statement for your living room, kitchen or dining room? Or do you want something smaller, for a sweet little surprise in your powder room or on a nightstand in your bedroom?
Knowing how much space you need to fill can help you figure out the size and shape of the flowers you should be buying. (And, just because you've got a lot of real estate to fill doesn't mean you have to go with a massive centerpiece—a dining table looks just as stunning with a cluster of five or six small, drinking-glass-sized bouquets down the center, like the $6 bunch of mums in the video above.)
When you can buy bouquets of single flowers at the supermarket, do it—just know that in general, you'll need at least two bouquets to get a truly lush arrangement.
Attract Two Opposites.
Single-flower arrangements are a safe bet, but if you're really looking to make an impact, choose the same flower in three colors. Or, even better, choose one flower that's soft and fluffy, and one that's exotic and spiky.
"Together, they look like fireworks," House Beautiful Style Director Robert Rufino says of the combo of hydrangeas and veronicas he chose. "That unexpected combination makes them stand out even more."
Size Them Up.
Hold the stem next to the vase before trimming it. If you're using a pitcher and you want a loose, romantic look, let the bud stand about 3 to 4 inches taller than the vessel. For shorter, tighter-packed arrangements, trim it about 1 to 2 inches taller than the vase. "I like to leave tulips tall, so they can open up and do their own dance," Rufino says. "That way, they look freshly picked from outside."
When working with mums and other small flowers, Rufino uses a drinking glass instead of a standard vase—he'll be the first to tell you he brings a $2.50 CB2 glass to every shoot—and starts layering the flowers, starting low around the perimeter and building up toward the center. "You want to form a little ball shape," he explains.
Ultimately, the best way to improve your flower-arranging skills is just to buy a couple bouquets and have fun with it. Sure, your first go may look wonky, but the more you play around with it, the more you'll get a sense for the way the blooms fall and the heights of your vase. You've got this.
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