The secrets of styling successful floral interiors

In the month of Neill's birthday, this blog is dedicated to one of Neill's favourite flowers and the design skill for which he is most renowned:  styling home floral interiors.  Discover the glories of Gloriosa and how its beauty embellishes some elegant Belgravia homes.

Gloriosa is a flower that exudes the exotic in floral interiors.

As I've been celebrating my birthday this month, I want to make this blog rather special.  So I'm going to share a few secrets with you...  One of my favourite flowers is Gloriosa, the tropical, tuberous rooted plant that produces exotic looking flowers in florescent bright colours.  And one of my favourite ways of expressing my creativity and designing for my clients is styling floral interiors for the home.  So combining these two favourites, let's start with a look at the floral interiors of a Belgravia pied-à-terre.  Photographed earlier this spring, this is a classic example of our bespoke "home styling" service and how I use fresh flowers to enhance the interior design.

Gloriosa Rothschildiana "Tomas De Bruyne." Its vibrant red/orange hue radiates on a black background. Design by Neill Strain. Photography by John Nassari. 

Floral styling begins with sourcing the right flowers from the best growers.  So let's see how this fabulous flower, Gloriosa, grows.  There are three growers in Holland.  Here you can see the "glasshouse" of grower, Richard van Ruiten.  The plants grow up to 3 meters tall.  The short (20/30 cm) stems of Gloriosa flowers are cut and sold as the plant establishes itself and grows taller.  The upper part of the plant is cut and sold as 60 cm to 1m long stems bearing several flowers.  These long stems are exciting for a floral designer with their long, slim, sturdy stems, flowers creating bright bursts of colour, the soft green buds and the curving, curling leaves..

Styling home floral interiors is a passion for me.  I love interior design and I see and work with the most exquisite homes in Belgravia and beyond.  Adding the unique beauty that only fresh flowers can bring to these homes is the most exciting part of my job.  A client based in the south of France was hosting a cocktail party in her Belgravia pied-à-terre and asked me to decorate her home for the occasion.  Left to my own interpretation, I have several factors to consider: the personality of the client; the nature of the occasion; the colours and textures that will harmonise yet add a "wow!" factor to the interiors; the general style of the interiors as well as the basic elements and principals of design.

Tall glass vase arrangement with foliage and 1 m stems of Gloriosa

Working with scale and proportion, I created big and bold yet light and airy arrangements, picking up the colours and textures of the furniture while playing with perspective and depth by repeating the design from one room leading into the next.  Gloriosa lends itself perfectly to voluminous designs that retain lightness, hence the perfect choice of flower.

Close up of the Gloriosa flowers reflecting on the glass table

The main feature in the music room is a Victorian black slate fireplace.  Hence my choice of black, rough textured cut glass vases for the container into which I added 1m stems of fresh Contorted Willow to support the long, elegant stems of Gloriosa.

Gloriosa design in black cut glass vases in harmony with the Victorian black slate fireplace

Gloriosa flowers and buds with young spring shoots of Contorted Willow

Tiny new shoots on the Contorted Willow repeat some of the colour and form of the Gloriosa flowers creating harmony and movement in the design

Also in the music room, we needed a tall, sophisticated design as a centrepiece between the two French windows to be in harmony with the grand piano.  I constructed an imposing ring of Cornus Alba and placed this in a tall black shiny vase.  The black vase in keeping with the black fireplace and the Cornus with the grand piano.  I then entwined the stems of Gloriosa into the ring, the flowers bringing out the orange hue of the curtains and the reddish tones of the chairs.

Cornus wreath decorated with Gloriosa Rothschildiana "Tomas De Bruyne" from Dutch grower Richard van Ruiten

On another occasion, using the same wreath base, I was inspired to create a richer, fuller design for a large drawing room with traditional interiors.  Adding Zantedeschia and Vanda Orchids to the Gloriosa provided further tints and tones to the colour scheme, contrasting textures and forms; hence, a visually heavier design in keeping with a heavier style of decor. 

Perfect harmony in colour between the Gloriosa, Calla Lilies (Zantedeschia) and Vanda Orchids

For another commission, we created a "traditional with a twist" design: a flowing construction with black Cornus, placed into a black shiny glass vase to support the long stems of Gloriosa.

Last but not least, a design with Gloriosa and dyed Birch trunks which looked stunning against black wallpaper in the dining room of yet another impressive Belgravia home.

Birch trunks sprayed in gold and bright red forms a base from which the Gloriosa can dance.  All photography by John Nassari

I hope these images express the tremendous enjoyment I have in creating gorgeous designs for gorgeous homes.  Look around you and think what you might design for the room where you are now!

Florally yours,

Neill x