Thursday, 28 January 2010

Give nature a hand to bring Spring into your home

Yorkshire Post - 27th January 2010 - Mid-week Life & Style Section


Personally, I think that a home benefits from the introduction of a selection of flowers at any time of the year and I am not talking about a small bunch of garage forecourt carnations.

You want a display appropriate to the proportions for your room. Large, statement arrangements work in areas such as your sitting room or dining room where they can make maximum impact; whereas, a bedroom or kitchen is likely to benefit from an understated arrangement (maybe one or two blooms in a beautiful vase) which will not overpower the area.

However, at this time of year Mother Nature is not exactly providing us with masses of alternatives or the widest choice of colour. So what to do to overcome this dilemma? You may be surprised, but help is at hand in the shape of artificial alternatives which have come an awfully long way since the days of a hard plastic rose with nasty looking petals.

The modern equivalents are normally referred to as silk or faux flowers with very good cause. As with most things you get what you pay for, but the price points are not that dramatic (a couple of pounds can often buy you a very convincing single bloom); especially when your factor in their longevity. Visit your local florist who may well stock some carefully chosen pieces or check out quality offerings on the web such as Plants Enhance (; 01934 710088).

The products have developed to such an extent that some are so well designed that they really are indistinguishable from the real thing, until you touch or try to smell them. Some new ranges such as “Real Touch” now even claim that this test will not necessarily give the game away!

Getting a convincing look is all important, so it may well be worth seeking out a professional – especially if you are making a significant investment. Floral Designer Sylvia Hague has been creating the most amazing faux flower arrangements for 25 years. She goes to great lengths to ensure that her arrangements look natural and advises that “it is important to arrange your flowers so the stems and leaves curl and fall as they do in nature” (; 01483 776 190).

Your flowers should meld with your interior, to provide a complementary feature, rather than something that jars the eye. It may sound a little odd, but it can help to carry a swatch of fabric or sample of your wall colour so that you can ensure that you get a match that enhances your room.

Alternatively, consult a colour wheel for complementary colours to your main scheme that adds a startling contrast that is still pleasing to the eye. For example, it can take a leap of faith to opt for yellow petals in a violet room, but believe me the end result is dramatic and delightful.

When choosing flowers try to mix and match blooms of slightly different shades to replicate nature as a display with the exact same tone will look dead. Also, try gently heating petals and stems with a hair dryer to allow you to relax and mould them (be careful not to overdo it and melt your flower). Move them every now and again to avoid getting bored with them, or alternatively store them away when not in season and change for something else!

Of course, real flowers never really need cleaning, but you will need to wash or dust your faux alternatives to keep them looking fresh. Sylvia Hague says “I use my old hair dryer as it is easier and quicker and a quick zap does wonders!”

Send your interior design queries to Jamie Hempsall, BIDA at or call 01777 248463.

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