Oversize Branches Are a Designer’s Best-Kept Styling Secret
Save the fancy flowers for another day.
Published Oct 20, 2019 1:00 AM
Flower arrangements are nice and all until you realize you’ve just spent your life savings replacing them with fresh bunches. The next time you decide to go off the grid, get back to nature, or rake the yard, bring a few oversize branches back home with you. “Branches are my go-to secret weapon for adding foliage to a room with little maintenance,” reveals San Francisco–based designer Clara Jung. Whether dried, bare, or flowering, decorative sticks can add height to a vignette, set the mood for a holiday dinner, or function as mini sculptures in large floor vases. The best part: Unlike fresh flowers, they won’t wilt. Keep your eye out for these long-lasting varieties on your next farmers’ market trip—or walk through the woods.
These stems feature clusters of tiny yellow and orange berries that typically bloom just in time for autumn. Jung displayed them in the entryway of this Bay Area home in an extra-large vase that rivaled the scale of the serpentine-like branches. “A vase with a smaller opening will provide better support and make it easier to arrange,” she shares. If your sticks are slouching in different directions, the designer recommends hiding chicken wire at the bottom of an opaque vessel to manipulate the shape.
Come February, this flowering type is the perfect prelude to spring. Victoria Smith of SF Girl by Bay took the wispy arrangement she got from local florist Marigold, put it in a beguiling glass jar, and set it next to a propped-up oil painting. To ensure the budded branches last, fill a sturdy container with three to five inches of water and place them in a cool room with low light.
Thanks to its voluminous feathers, you can get away with just four or five pampas grass sprigs. Designer Rachel Craven exaggerated the movement of her towering display by letting a few droop to the side. A stack of books underneath the ceramic vase takes the look to new heights.
Colin King, the designer behind Zara Home’s dreamy fall editorial shoot, knows how to craft an aspirational—and attainable—vignette. In lieu of a painting or wreath, King filled the empty space above this fireplace mantel with two thick willow branches; the corkscrew-like branches practically crawl across the wall. “No room is off-limits for branches—a mantle, occasional side table; any surface where there is some negative space in the background that really allows the branch to have breath and be admired as art,” says King. His best piece of advice: forage. “My favorite branches are always sourced straight from nature.”
This isn’t your average game of pick-up sticks.
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