Using flowers and foliage to style your vintage homewares

July 08, 2021

In my (limited!) spare time, I like to grow cut flowers and foliage at my allotment patch. They grow alongside vegetables and fruits, and provide me with another creative outlet, whilst also being crucial styling props for my vintage homewares.

There is something truly beautiful about growing something from seed, gently encouraging a sense of patience and an appreciation of the seasons, and reaping the rewards with a daily dose of joy in your garden or in your home. 

I like to keep things simple and natural in my product styling and often find a well placed sprig or bloom brings a product shot to life! You don't need to overthink it either - be guided by your own aesthetic and whether you want a feeling of abundance or minimalism or energy or romance!

And don't be a snob about supermarket flowers either - in the spring of lockdown 2.0, my weekly £1.00 bunch of daffodils gave me so much joy and ended up in many of the photos you see in my shop! Just try not to overdose on flowers that have flown more air miles than you or I in our lifetimes! British grown flowers are superb and a wonderful boon to the floral industry. 

Here are a few tips and ideas for using both flowers and foliage in your home styling - especially when styling vintage - as it really helps keep things fresh.

Vintage wicker basket
Yes, cow parsley is fast becoming an Insta cliche, but it's for a good reason! In the spring and summer, the beautiful long stems of green and the frothy white umbellifers bring freshness and abundance to your home. I like to keep it simple and use masses of this alone - it sets off wicker beautifully, as with this vintage basket.
Maria Le Mesurier vintage dining table and foliage
I have a huge design crush on Maria Le Mesurier and find myself constantly drawn back to her imagery and home aesthetic. She does minimal yet warm, like no-one else in my opinion and this shot illustrates how, with a simple yet stunning statement vase of green foliage. She's not afraid to go big with the arrangement, yet keeps it refined due to its inherent simplicity.
The Old Potato Store
I also love the styling work of Karen Barlow, who sells vintage finds at the Old Potato Store. She is particularly adept at using dried foliage, in this case, hydrangeas (which dry beautifully) to bring another texture and tone to her shot. 
In this shot, of a statement terracotta vase, I mixed dried eucalyptus with fresh pale daffodils to add some refined brightness to the arrangement. Try and avoid completely straight lines with your florals and foliage - nature curves! And it makes for a more interesting shape and aesthetic, particularly when photographing. 
Some quick tips for styling with florals and foliage:
  • Consider scale - you don't need to match the size of your item with the size of your arrangement. Think about abundance and the statement that can make, or alternatively, keep it small and delicate to set off a beautiful piece of ceramics or porcelain.
  • Embrace the natural curves in your homewares and in your arrangements!
  • For a minimal yet statement-making effect, use just one type of flower or foliage, for example, eucalyptus, or an array of beautiful yellow narcissi.
  • Don't be afraid to mix dried and fresh - they can play off each other really well.

Some of my favourite flowers and foliage to style with:

  • Eucalyptus - fresh or dried, it smells wonderful and always makes an impact.
  • Hydrangeas and euphorbia - fresh or dried.
  • Daffodils and narcissi - in season, particularly the non standard varieties
  • Phlox - just brilliant and beautiful! They last for ages in a vase and look great in photos.

Above all, enjoy experimenting! 

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