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July 2, 2013

Book Look: Decorating with Plants & Flowers

It's been a long time since I've written a "Book Look" post, and when I found this gem I knew it was one I wanted to share with you guys. This 1972 copy of "Decorating with Plants and Flowers," by Better Homes and Gardens, is packed full of swanky living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms and entry hallways -- all with touches of retro goodness. Ever since Rachel scored this mid-century plant table at a thrift store for a song, I've been thinking of ways to incorporate a little foliage into our own house. (Of course, I have to worry about B chewing on the leaves of these plants and barfing on the carpet -- gah!) But I love the idea of placing statement-making greenery around here. Plants also seem to be one of my favorite designer's trademarks -- there is always a lot of green involved when Emily makes over a space. 

Of course, this book is not just about the plants -- I love so much of the decor that's featured on every page. While some of the designs are beautiful, a lot of it should be left in the past. Either way, it's always fun to go back in time a little bit and look through an old book, right?

So without further ado, let's dive in...(you can click on any photo to make it larger)


Consulting a color wheel before buying plants for your home: "Plants and flowers go with everything."


What neat built-ins -- you never seen fun pieces like these anymore. I like that they're away from the wall to create a "hallway" of sorts behind them.


A calendar with large numbers is now officially on my "to thrift" list. 


Oh my -- can you stomach that blue bathroom? I think it's safe to say that look is never coming back.


This is probably my favorite page in the book -- I love a good gallery wall. I think it could be a little tighter, but I love the varying sizes of picture frames and the large number 5 mixed in with other objects. That green swag carpet, though, has got. to. go. 


Wallpapering the doors of cabinets or a credenza with pretty papers or vintage wallpaper is quite an idea, don't you think? But maybe adding a matching mirror is overkill.


I wish we had space for a long planter like this one! How great is that?! The caption reads: "The cedar planter at bottom left is versatile. A magnificent lacy tree philodendron is placed in one section while squares of ceramic tiles cover the other two. The tile covers are ideal for shorter plants such as these feather ferns but may be removed for other arrangements."


Tips for flower arranging:

Proportion: A flower arrangement is in good proportion when it appears to be just the right size for the container holding it. If you are using a tall vase, the general rule of thumb is for the height of the flowers and foliage that extend above the rim to be two and a half to three times the height of the vase. The standard height rule for arrangements in low containers is that the tallest stem should at least equal the width or diameter of the bowl. 

Symmetry: Symmetrical balance is boring. Asymmetrical is more interesting and fun! (Ok, so this isn't a direct quote from the book -- it's just my opinion)

Texture: Combine soft, velvety flowers such as roses with shiny foliage like the magnolia leaves of the south. Or try mixing the rather coarse, ruffled petals of spider chrysanthemums with delicate ferns. 

Shape: Contrasting shapes, such as a rounded bloom and a pointed leaf, enhance each other when they are placed together. Deeply cut leaves give a much more interesting appearance when they are combined with solid-looking flower heads. Often the flower's own foliage will provide sufficient contrast, as it does with tulips. If it doesn't, use other types of foliage that give the necessary contrast. 

Color: Color contrast within a floral arrangement is accomplished by combining hues of greater and lesser value. Dark shades look more beautiful in a low arrangement, as they appear heavier to the eye. Light tints can be used well in tall, stately arrangements. 


I think these two pages about growing requirements for house plants are super helpful. I tried to find the pages online as a print-out and was unsuccessful, but BHG has a detailed slideshow on the subject that can be accessed here


What a great book! I feel like I've poured over it as much as I can, so it'll be added to my vintage booth this week, but you can search Etsy or eBay for retro copies online!

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