When people talk about interiors they tend to think of inanimate objects – sofas, chairs, cushions and the like – but for me, interiors are all about the living.
The whole point of a beautiful home is that it is a place which you and your loved ones enjoy. It’s actually about you, not the sofas. And in that same spirit, I think that having living things in the home adds a whole extra and important dimension to how your home looks and feels. Plants are one such living dimension (pets might be another) and I try always to include them in my interiors scheme, not least because they will quite literally improve the air quality.
The challenge with plants and flowers is that they can be expensive, and ultimately, they also die, which means they can be labour intensive as well. So over the years I have worked out a few tips and tricks to circumnavigate these problems, and to get the most out of nature in your home.
- Buy wisely. Unless you are Elton John, who was reported to spend £25k a week on flowers, budget does matter. I spend about £10 a week on flowers, and there are always about three or four arrangements in the house. My top tip here is to find out when your local supermarket or florist marks down their flowers- and to swoop in at that moment for the best bargain. Mine does so at 8pm, which is when I can get up to 85 per cent off the ticket price.
- Arrange judiciously. Less is sometimes more. When you get your flowers home, divide them up and think about having just one bloom in a thin stem base, as well as bigger arrangements. Little bud vases with one flower can look just as charming on a dressing table, as will the big vase in the sitting room. Make your flowers go further by investing in a variety of vases – charity shops are great for this.
- Mix with foliage to make the blooms go further. You may have some greenery growing in your own outside space, or have a friend who could spare some. Either way, greenery makes the arrangement last longer and makes it more interesting.
- Consider mixing fake with real. I have a particularly challenging spot in the sitting room where nothing seems to thrive, so I decided to mix a real plant, which is supposedly indestructible, with a fake plant (this plant is called Real Touch, which means it also feels very natural). Most people cannot tell which is which, but the maintenance is almost nothing. I did the same with my office plants, to great effect.
- Try a spot of flower DIY. Take a tip from the Victorians, who used to wax their flowers for longevity. I have tried this and it works really well on small, firm flowers, such as freesias, small tulips and narcissi. Melt down an old white or cream candle in an old pan, when the wax is liquid let it cool for a few seconds and then dip the flower head quickly into the wax. Let it dry on grease proof paper. The flower will be perfectly preserved and last for some time, as long as you immerse it completely in the wax.
So think outside the box and enjoy the living dimension in your home – it needn’t be as expensive or time consuming as you may think.