Thursday, March 26, 2015

0 UHeart Organizing: Florals for the Home

Spring and summer have always been my favorite seasons, and one of the many reasons I adore them is because they allow me to head to the garden and yard to pick fresh greenery for our home.  Florals, branches and plants add so much life to a room; plus they look and smell great!  During our colder months, I find myself heading to the grocery store frequently to pick up a small bouquets of pretties.  I sprinkle them around our home so that I can enjoy a little bit of color and life all year long.  I truly believe that flowers and plants are food for the soul.

My fantastic friend and contributor, Serena of Pretty Fluffy blog, is joining us today to share some of her floral arranging tips.  Considering I typically just chop and plop my flowers into nearby vase, I am super excited to soak up her advice.  Now, if someone could figure out scratch and sniff computer monitors, we would be extra lucky today!

How To DIY Floral Arrangements At Home

When you look at any home magazine shoot you’re almost always guaranteed to see a bunch of fresh flowers in the shot.

In fact, editors are often known to turn up to home tour shoots armed with bunches upon bunches of flowers to brighten up the spaces they’re shooting.

But for most of us, ordering fresh flowers every week is not making it into our household budget. Eating tinned spaghetti all week to buy a bunch of roses retail? Grumpy cat says no.

But with just a few tools, and some easy tricks, you CAN have beautiful blooms at home – no tinned spaghetti required!

(Pictured: ‘Like a Boss’ Coffee Mug by Saffron Avenue, ‘All You Need is Love & a Dog’ Print by Pretty Fluffy, Diamond Notepad by Kikki K, Vintage Vases)


Just like an artist, you need the right tools to get the best results. To start up your first floristry kit you’ll need…

1.  Floral Scissors – These are specialty scissors designed to cut through the stems cleanly while being easy on your hands. You can also use a florist knife instead of scissors, but frankly for those of us just starting out, I’d stick to the scissors to save your fingertips from some American Psycho level damage.

2.  Rose Stripper – A pre-Rock of Love Bret Michaels told us that, "Every rose has it’s thorn"… and unless you want those thorns embedded in your palms, you’ll want to grab a rose stripper. You just wrap it around the stem and pull down. As you pull all those pesky thorns and foliage comes with it.

3.  Secateurs – These babies are for heavy-duty stems – like thick foliage – that just can’t be tamed by your scissors.

4.  Buckets – Any kind of vessel will do, but it’s handy to have 2 buckets or bins on hand. One filled with water to keep your blooms nourished as you create. The second as a waste bin so you can work straight into it and avoid a lot of mess.

(Pictured: Oasis Rose and Stem Stripper, Oasis Secateurs, Koch Florist and Craft Heavy Duty Scissors)

Depending on what floral arrangements you want to make you can also add these additional items at any time:
  • Florist ties and/or string for tying bouquets
  • Florist wire for decorative elements and displays
  • Cellophane, raffia, brown and decorative paper for bouquets
  • Florist pot tape and parafilm for securing arrangement elements
  • Apron to protect your clothes! I love these ones by Oatmeal Lace Design on Etsy.


Bouquets make a perfect gift for a friend (or for yourself).  Here’s how to be totally that annoying person who goes, “Oh this little bouquet? I just whipped it together while I was watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

1.  Prepare your work area. You’ll need a clean workspace, your scissors and floral tie/string handy. On the floor place your bucket of blooms in water, as well as your empty bucket for off-cuts.

2.  Prep your flowers. Grab your rose stripper and strip all leaves/thorns below water level. Usually leave only a few leaves up near the top of the stem – depending on the flower and the look you’re going for.

3.  Prep your foliage. Greenery usually comes off hedges, bushes and trees in great big chunks. Using your secateurs cut it down to more manageable pieces that will fit into a bouquet.

4.  Start your bouquet using a floristry technique called ‘Spiraling’ or ‘Swirling’. Have you ever noticed how a professional bouquet has a circular shape to the base? That’s what florists do to make the flowers sit safely and gently together to form the beautiful bouquets they do. Here’s how you do it…

  • Start with one strong stem and hold it upright in your left hand.
  • Grab your second stem and place it on TOP of the first stem with the bottom of the stem pointing at an angle to the LEFT.
  • Keep on adding your foliage and flowers this way twisting the bunch in an anti-clockwise direction – your left hand will continue to hold the bouquet and your right hand will select each bloom and place it where it needs to go.
  • Keep an eye on the top of your bouquet as you work through. How is it looking? Is there enough color variation, are all the flowers sitting at a similar height?
  • When you get to nearing the end (and your left hand is about to go numb!) take a tie or your piece of string and wrap as close to the base as possible to hold your bouquet in place. Congratulations! You’ve spiraled like a boss.

5.  Finally, using your floristry scissors trim each stem at an angle and either pop your bouquet straight into a vase - or, if it’s a gift, wrap in cellophane/decorative paper.


Ever gotten a bunch of flowers only to have them fall in to a hot mess once you placed them in a vase at home? Yep, we’ve all been there. Here’s how to avoid this floral fail.

1.  Start with a clean vase filled with fresh, lukewarm water. Any dirt or bacteria in the container or water will shorten the length of your flowers, so you want to keep it clean.

2.  Create a grid with tape across the top of your vase. Using long strips of tape, place them horizontally and vertically across the top of your vase leaving you with a grid in which you can place your flowers. No more falling over flowers!

3.  Prep your flowers. Grab your handy stripper and strip all leaves/thorns below water level. Cut each stem at an angle and place it directly back into your bucket of clean water. It can only take a few seconds before the ends start to seal.

4.  Working one by one, arrange your flowers by placing them in the grid in groups. Experiment with different heights, textures and color groupings as you go. Voila! You’re done.


  • To literally cut half or quarter of your flower spending, always go to your local market to get flowers direct from the supplier. Even better, why not start growing your own flowers and foliage in your own garden?
  • When it comes to flowers, the early bird gets the worm. Some florists get to the flower markets at 4 a.m. to ensure they get the best flowers! If you would prefer to be snuggled up in bed at that time, never fear. Simply find a grower at the market that you can pre-order your blooms with. If you pay in advance or leave a deposit you can then pick them up later in the morning.
  • Want to get the freshest flowers at the market? Old flowers will often have browning stem ends (where they’ve been cut) and yellowing leaves – steer clear of these ones.
  • When choosing your flowers stick to two to three main colors that work together and don’t be afraid to add foliage for depth.
  • If you’re after a particular type of flower always check that it’s in season to avoid disappointment (or paying through the nose for it).  A lot of florists have handy guides (like this one) where you can see when flowers should be available. Remember, if you’re using an Internet resource for flowers, make sure it is one local to your area – knowing when peonies are blooming in New Zealand isn’t going to help you unless you’re in New Zealand!
  • Get creative with your arrangements. You don’t need an expensive, fancy vase to make your flowers look good - old jars make a great vessel for flowers. Break up big bouquets into little arrangements and scatter around your house to enjoy your flowers in every room.
  • Do a course! I learned all of the above tips and skills taking a course, but check with florists in your area to find a local class – trust me, it’s a lot of fun!

"I am Serena Faber Nelson, a television producer, writer and fluffy dog owner. Obsessed with home décor, fashion, lifestyle and dogs – I set about creating Pretty Fluffy as a go-to guide for the modern pet owner. Featuring a range of stylish products, celebrity pooches, DIY projects and handy hints, Pretty Fluffy is a daily stop for smiles and inspiration, giving readers the tools they need to enjoy full and happy lives with their furry friends. My greatest loves include fresh peonies, Dirty Dancing (Nobody puts Baby in a corner), Banoffe Pie, spending waaay too much time on Pinterest, and hugging random dogs at the park. I currently live in Sydney, Australia with my husband, Andy, and my 11 year old Border Collie, Soda. As a long time fan, I am super excited to be joining the IHeart Organizing Team!"

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

82 A Happy Home Office with HomeGoods

There have been a lot of really amazing and fun opportunities that have come my way over my blogging years, and with each one, I find myself in awe.  Blogging has gone from a fun hobby to a complete passion and I absolutely love to write about our home journey, document our renovations, share our organizing solutions and connect with the best audience around.  That's what it has always been about, everything else is icing on the cake!

With that, I have always been really selective about the brands I partner with and the opportunities I say "yes" to.  This has allowed me to create really solid relationships and stay true to why I come back here each day, yet some of those opportunities have stretched me and allowed me to grow in many new ways.  Ways that I ultimately get to bring back here!  Sounds like a bit of a full circle moment, doesn't it?

Last week was one of those really incredible moments.  HomeGoods was hosting an event at a loft in New York City as part of their #makehomeyours campaign, and they invited me to design one of the spaces!  

I know right?  Amazing. 

HomeGoods is all about offering beautiful and unique items for individuals looking to create a home that tells their personal stories.  Stories of favorite memories, of travels, of hobbies and passions.  The stories that make your house a home.  They challenged three different bloggers to design a room using only HomeGoods products (as well as a few of our own personal items), to not only portray our style, but to tell our stories.  They really wanted each room to be a reflection of how we live within our own homes.

The other two bloggers?  The talented Gabrielle from Design Mom and Claire from The Fashion Bomb Daily.

Can you tell which room is mine of the three finished spaces below?

OK, I know I sort of gave it away in my post intro photo, but what I love about the images above is that each room is so distinctively different.  You can read about Gabrielle's family room here and Claire's bedroom here.

The space I was challenged to create was a home office!  Love.

Being that I work from home, I spend many, many hours in my home office.  So I was really excited and passionate about creating this space for the event.

There was definitely a bit of prior planning in the days leading up to the event; furniture checklists, color selections and talks about key elements.  When I arrived in New York, I took a trip to HomeGoods and felt like I was on a TV show.   They gave me a cart and said, "Shop until you drop!"  The goal was to have a lot of items to select from back at the loft space to be sure the room would come together in time for the big day.

Monday afternoon the loft was a complete blank slate.  When I arrived, they were putting up walls and panels to divide each room.  A lot of magic happened within 24 hours to pull together each space and prep them for the filming and media visits.

A lot of thought goes into designing a room, it is more than pretty colors and textures.  I started with a color palette that makes my heart smile, and it is pulled from the sea.  Living in a cold and dreary state half of the year, I find so much joy designing with aquas, navys, teals and greens.  Especially because trips to the Florida Gulf have become so special to our family over the past couple of years.  Also found in the south are vibrant pink flowering plants and shrubs.  So, I say yes to pink as well.  It is my favorite color after all.  So yes, even the colors selected for the space have deep rooted meaning.  Here are a few more tips I used when creating this beautiful home office.


When it comes to both organizing and designing a space, select pieces that inspire you and will motivate you to want to use and maintain the space day after day.  For me personally, I get all giddy inside when I open a drawer and see pretty papers showing through acrylic organizers.  That prevents me from wanting to toss random items and piles in on top.  In fact, acrylic organizers just may be my favorite things ever.  #obsessed

And filing paperwork might feel like a chore some days, but it is a bit easier when you are smitten with the cabinet you are using to hold those important documents.


Feeling at home in a space is all about filling it with things that you love.  For me, my family is my passion, so I brought in framed family photos and artwork created by my children.  I also pinned up my favorite Instagram photos on the memo boards right in front of the desk.  Those memories make the space feel like home to me.


If you have been reading here for awhile, you know I am big with graphic statement walls.  Our birch tree stencil wall in the playroom has brought so much life to that space and the wallpapered closet nook is about the happiest space in our home.  Oh, and our stenciled dressing room wall is amazing, I still get asked all the time where I found the "wallpaper".  Love that.

I wanted to recreate that moment in this space, so I used HomeGoods gift wrap to deck out a wall!  Their papers are so thick and the patterns are always so fresh and fabulous, that you would never know it isn't wallpaper (bonus: each roll I used was only $2.99 for 10 ft of wrap).  A little double stick tape and I had an instant wow moment.  The best part, gift wrap is temporary and you won't feel as bad taking it down as you would painting over a stencil or tearing down expensive wallpaper.


One thing I have found to be really helpful in my own office, is having two workspaces that serve as different functions.  I appreciate having a counter height option that allows me to spread out and wrap gifts, write out cards and work on small craft and DIY projects.  And sometimes I just want to stand!  By having the second space, I can leave out my projects and go to a clean desk to sit and do the computing and business side of things.  It is always important to think about how you use your space, and set it up accordingly, yet don't be afraid to continuously tweak it until you find an awesome daily flow.


One of my biggest tips for setting up a space, is to be open minded when you are sourcing your storage and furniture pieces.  One of my favorite office supply organizers in this space was actually found in the cosmetic department.  The craft desk is a console table intended for living and dining spaces.  Rolls of gift wrap are stored in an umbrella stand and a planter from the garden department. 

I also used a bar cart to act as a tech station, perfect for docking a computer and/or printer.  Add a few boxes and baskets and you can store reams of paper, printer cartridges and small media.  Seriously, bar carts are amazingly versatile and so gosh darn adorable in any setting.

Oh!  And don't be afraid to put organizers into organizers!  Some of my favorite storage solutions were as simple as placing mail slots and drawer organizers inside of the baskets on the shelves.


Although I am the primary user of our home office, I welcome my boys into my workspace with open arms.  They do their homework there, they craft there, they live there.  I want them to know that my space is their space, so I keep baskets of their favorite books and toys out in the open to encourage them to hang out with me.  Crafts are always within their reach and I make sure to have enough working surface so they can join me whenever they wish.  I also select kid friendly finishes and products; rugs that hide stains, an easy to clean sofa, soft sided furniture and surfaces that wipe up in a jiff.  A kid filled home can still be a beautiful home.


Space permitting, it is nice if you can carve out a corner for relaxation and taking a mental break.  A chair, bench or sofa is not only fantastic when you just want to sit and look at a magazine or write down thoughts in a journal, the seating spot also offers visitors a place to get cozy in your space.

I knew we would appreciate having a bench in our home office, but I never expected it would get as much use as it does each day. 


Truly, mix and match it all.  Although I was only in the space for a couple of days, I fell for it hard.  There were so many elements that I loved, but what I really appreciated was the variety of finishes and patterns.  The variety and combinations really made the space come alive.  I had geometrics on the wall, florals on the floor, damask on the chair and bits of whimsy in the pillows. 

Same story for hardware finishes; a bronze task lamp, rose gold accessories, nickel nail head trim and gold photo frames.

Beautiful wood toned console paired with a clean white parsons desk and a playful teal filing cabinet.  Acrylic pieces galore matched up with woven baskets.  Oh!  And a coral inspired bowl on top of a faux croc tray on top of a linen tufted bench.

Everything in the space is all so different, yet it all works together whether through color, pattern or the story behind each piece.

Over the course of the day, I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with a lot of media.  I shared with them many of these same tips and I really appreciated the opportunity to build a variety of new relationships.

Can you believe that everything in this space, minus my photos and children's art, is from HomeGoods?  Every last basket, organizer, accessory and piece of furniture.  I really appreciated that I was able to create a cozy home office that really reflected the way I live at our home each day.

What is something you are sure to inject into each space you design?  I would love to hear more about how you #makehomeyours. 

Photos by Matt Harrington for HomeGoods.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...