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Use cues from nature to brighten living spaces during the dreary winter

Interior stylist Selina Lake uses natural inspiration to brighten living spaces

Here are just a few of her tips to get through the dreary winter and beyond

text by Selina Lake / photos by Rachel Whiting

My love of botanicals started at an early age when my parents gave me an old-fashioned wooden flower press. I was allowed to pick flowers and foliage from the garden and press them to use in craft projects. My parents are both keen gardeners and I spent a lot of my childhood playing in the garden with my sister and being taken to visit historic gardens, plant nurseries and flower shows.

Now, as a successful stylist, I find the natural world still provides a rich source of inspiration. I hope Botanical Style will spark your love of nature and encourage you to bring plants, foliage and flowers into your own home. Here are just a handful of the ideas in my book.

Text and photos excerpted from Botanical Style: Inspirational decorating with nature, plants and florals [2016]. Published with permission of Ryland Peters & Small.

Selina Lake (www.selinalake.blogspot.com) is a freelance interior stylist and bestselling author. Her book, Botanical Style, is available for $29.95 from Ryland Peters & Small, www.rylandpeters.com. Rachel Whiting is an interiors photographer based in London whose work appears in Botanical Style and numerous magazines and books.

photo by Rachel Whiting

55 Perfect vintage botanical display

For the perfect vintage botanical display on a dresser, hutch or shelf, stack floral vintage cups, fill a few with water and arrange freshly picked flowers from the garden. This idea would also make a lovely table centerpiece for a vintage-inspired dinner party or wedding. You can even use teacups as mini planters. Pick out a couple that you are happy not to drink from again and put a few pebbles in the bottom for drainage. Use small plants that don’t need much space for their roots, such as pansies. Plant them in potting soil, and water as required.

5. Perfect vintage botanical display
photo by Rachel Whiting

44 An industrial wall

A lovely idea for an industrial wall is to display a collection of botanical prints using bulldog clips to hang them. Most of these are printed illustrations by Ingrid Jacob from The Illustrated Book of Herbs by Gilda Daisley (1988). I found a copy in a thrift shop and tore out the pages to decorate the wall. The two rose prints are from An Illustrated Treasury of Redouté Roses by Frank J. Anderson (1979) and the metal bulldog clips came from an office supply store. If you want the prints to hang super-straight, use a level and tape measure, but I did it by eye. Decide how far apart you want the prints to hang by holding them up against the wall. Mark the position of the first nail with a pencil and hammer it in. Hang up the first print to get an idea of spacing, and then mark a guide for the second nail. Continue until you are happy with the collection.

4. An industrial wall
photo by Rachel Whiting

33 The best vases

The best vases for creating big, bold arrangements are those that are wider at the base than at the necks, which makes the flowers easier to arrange. For little posies, such as the stems of asparagus fern on this island countertop, a collection of smaller vases, bottles and jars gives a uniform look. Choose plants to suit the style you want to create, such as succulents for a natural space and something exotic-looking for a tropical vibe. Large plants with giant leaves work well where space allows, and trailing plants add interest to shelves.

3. The best vases
photo by Rachel Whiting

22 A great botanical display

A group of houseplants on any spare surface makes a great botanical display. There’s no such thing as too many plants, and choosing varieties with different leaf sizes and shapes gives an arrangement greater interest and impact. From left to right on this marble table are cyca (Cycas revoluta), Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac), fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) and fern arum (Zamioculcas zamiifolia).

2. A great botanical display
photo by Rachel Whiting

11 Flower votives

I’ve enjoyed pressing fresh flowers ever since my parents bought me my first flower press and let me loose in the garden with scissors, and one thing I like to use them for is to make pretty votive candle holders. You will need a flower press (or heavy books), blotting paper, fresh flowers and pretty foliage, PVA glue and a glue brush, clean, smooth glass jam/jelly jars and votive candles. Place the flowers face down between the pages of the flower press or in a book lined with blotting paper and leave them for 7–10 days. Glue the pressed flowers around the outside of the jars, creating a pattern as you go. Brush glue over any edges that don’t stick down straight away. Once dry, put votive candles inside and they are ready to use.


1. Flower votives
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