Her earliest memory is waking up to the smell of gardenias – which inspired a lifelong passion for flowers.
“There was a wonderful bush right outside my bedroom window,” Liz Stewart recalls. “My mother had a wonderful garden, and we always had fresh flowers in the house.”
Now Stewart fills other people’s lives with flowers.
Her ardor for blooms led to a career as a floral designer. “Fine flowers for every occasion,” is the motto of her Jacksonville Beach boutique, Liz Stewart Floral Design. In the spirit of Spring, we asked her to share with our readers her process on dressing up a home with fresh flowers for the season.
Recently, Stewart and her crew helped Diane Rose and family celebrate Spring by bringing in a happy mix of fresh flowers, blooming branches and live plants.
The Rose family also has Stewart create arrangements throughout their home every December for holiday entertaining. So Stewart was familiar with their home’s design and décor, and created displays to complement its style, furnishing and colors.
As she often does, she also incorporated some of Diane’s own containers, including vases and antique urns.
“Just about every room will have flowers,” Stewart says while getting ready to create a hydrangea display for the living room, using two matching porcelain footed urns. “We are bringing in the best of the season – tulips, pussy willow and forsythia.”
Throughout the home, and in keeping with Diane’s “nice neutral palette,” Stewart says she decided to use “minimal elements, not too many different types of flowers,” with a lot of whites, pale blues and greens, with touches of yellow.
For the family room, Stewart and
Tiffany Marus, her lead designer and studio manager, created arrangements for the fireplace mantle featuring pale green and white French tulips. “She has dusty blue cabinetry and a darker leather couch, so I wanted to see something clean and springy,” Stewart says.
For the kitchen, they designed a large blue hydrangea and Algerian Ivy display for the island, and for the table, used Diane’s own glass vessels in three matching arrangements featuring blue hydrangeas and seeded eucalyptus. “We love using our clients’ containers,” Stewart says. “It personalizes the arrangements to fit with their style.”
Stewart and company even freshened up the outdoor living areas with plants and flowers, including placing an orchid and ivy arrangement in the covered summer kitchen by the pool.
After Stewart and an assistant installed multiple arrangements throughout her home, Diane walked through and admired them. She said flowers make her happy. She doesn’t like artificial flowers, preferring instead the impermanence of real ones.
The fact that they won’t last forever leads me to appreciate them more, she said. “Fresh flowers mark the occasion,” whether it’s a party or any other event. “Later, the party’s over and the flowers are gone. And then you do it all over again the next time.”
Whether someone wants to bring flowers into their home to mark a special occasion, or even to celebrate a season, Stewart says several factors should be taken into consideration:
Personal style – formal versus casual; traditional versus modern vibe
Budget – using your own containers cuts the cost
The exact location – where a piece will be set will determine the appropriate size
Preference – favorite must-have flowers
The time of year also needs to be considered, Stewart says. While most varieties can be obtained year round, such as roses, there is a season for certain flowers. For example, it’s almost impossible to get peonies in August, she says, “and don’t even think about tulips in July.”
As a floral expert, Stewart says she and her staff can offer advice as to what is available and affordable at certain times of the year.
Whether you want to bring fresh blooms into one room or many.
Unless of course you happen to live in a home with a garden like Stewart had growing up.
In which case, you always know the joy of flowers.
“The fragrance is always nice,” Stewart says. “People love the smell of fresh flowers.”
Make Your Own Spring Floral Arrangement
Liz Stewart explains how to create a hydrangea display like the one she made for Diane Rose’s living room:
- Select a container to match the flowers: hydrangeas, roses and forsythia
- Make a grid across the top of the container with clear floral cellophane strips
- To create a base, insert the largest flowers into the container first, after cutting their stems at a 45-degree angle
- Add magnolia leaves and seeded eucalyptus as foliage
- Add the roses; keep turning container around to make sure every side is even
- Insert branches of forsythia as the last step