From peonies to calla lilies, spring and summer play host to an abundance of beautiful flowers for casual or formal entertaining. The challenge with do-it-yourself arrangements is how many blooms to buy, how to style them so they look just right and what color combinations work best.

In her first book, The Flower Chef, Carly Cylinder, owner of Flour LA, simplifies DIY arranging through a cookbook-inspired guide complete with recipe ingredients and instructions.

“Rachael Ray was my inspiration. I wanted to offer something easy and accessible,” she explains.

Cylinder honed her skills at the school of life. A flower shop job at 19, combined with her instinctive design style, guided her along the path to launch Flour LA in Los Angeles in 2009, in New York City four years later and in Dallas this year.

Today, the Venice, California-based wedding and corporate events floral designer is the go-to gal for celebrities and top brands, such as Kate Hudson, Nicole Richie, L’Oréal, Condé Nast and Swarovski. 

Shunning trends and any one specific aesthetic, Cylinder instead recommends embracing your own design style, especially when entertaining at home.

“If you like traditional or romantic, you might use hydrangeas or roses,” she says. “If you like edgy, add in geometric-shaped flowers such as snapdragons and   mini calla lilies.”

As for basic color rules, Cylinder says a monochromatic look using a variety of blooms in one color is easy and always in vogue.

Another option is an unexpected trio that mixes a splash of color, such as hot pink, and a jewel tone, such as plum, with a vibrant Kelly green or white.

“Jewel tones make seasonal flowers pop even brighter,” she notes. “It’s like adding a pinch of salt to bring out sweetness in a dish.”

Determine how many blooms to buy by cupping your hands above the vase, as wide as the desired circumference of the arrangement. Do the same at the flower shop over the various bunches, adding a couple more stems in case any snap in transit.

When you arrange the flowers, make sure to “point all stems toward the center of the vase so that blooms are leaning toward the outside of the arrangement,” Cylinder advises.

Most importantly, don’t agonize over every flower and stem placement. “Work quickly, then go back and finesse. You’ll create better designs – and have more fun – when you think less.”


Book cover photo courtesy of Grand Central Life & Style


Image Credits: Photo by Teri Lyn Fisher.