If you look closely at any gorgeous photo of a room in a design magazine, you're sure to find a fresh bouquet, or some pop of greenery. It's a stylist's first trick for instantly pulling a room together—something Emily Henderson first revealed to me years ago. At House Beautiful, things are no different.
Style director Robert Rufino has been arranging flowers ever since he was a kid—"It's something I've always loved to do," he says—and at this point, he could pluck dandelions out of your yard and make them look chic. He styles the flowers for most HB shoots, so we decided to put him to the test: Could he take discount flowers from Trader Joe's and make them look as fabulous as the ones he gathers from New York's top flower markets?
After scoring three bunches of Alstroemeria for $4 apiece—putting our total investment to $12—Robert grabbed a wide, low vase and got to work, creating a bouquet that rivaled ones you could spend $35-$40 on from a local florist. Here's exactly what he did.
First, Choose Your Color Palette.
A single color is always a safe bet, but for more of a conversation piece—which we were going for here—Robert recommends blending three shades of the same flower. Alstroemeria, or Peruvian Lilies, are a great choice, because they're eye-catching and will look fresh for over a week (ours lasted 10 days!). Plus, the blooms themselves are fairly large, so they'll fill up the space in a low, wide vase without requiring a ton of stems, keeping your overall costs down.
Second, Cluster Similar Shades Together.
For more of an impact, keep the blooms of each color together.
Third, Prune Your Bouquet.
Trim all of the stems so they're roughly two inches taller than the vase—at an angle, so they can drink in more water—and remove almost all of the leaves, except for a couple near the bloom itself. You want a few leaves, but not all of them, for a little variety and visual interest. Keeping them all can make your arrangement look cluttered and messy.
Fourth, Don't Crowd the Vase.
Once you've added the flowers to a water-filled vase, let them settle a bit, then remove a few blooms. If there are any awkward gaps or holes, you can add a bloom or two back to fill the space, but whatever you do, don't try to get your money's worth and smash every single stem in the vase. That will only make your arrangement look JV—and cause your petals to bruise and wilt faster.
Fifth, Consider Where You Show it Off.
A bouquet like this is perfect for a dining room table or coffee table. "It's low enough that people can easily see over it," Robert explains. Plus, it's big enough to take center stage without looking dinky.
Check out the video above to see it in action. Sound on, if you're into ASMR (AKA Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or that tingly, strangely satisfying feeling some people get from hearing different sounds, like the crinkling of cellophane or snipping of stems).
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Candace Braun Davison writes, edits, and produces lifestyle content that ranges from celebrity features to roll-up-your-sleeves DIYs, all while relentlessly pursuing the noblest of causes: the quest for the world's best chocolate chip cookie.