mother’s day: diy breakfast in bed tray

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My poor mother. She has received a boat-load of Mother’s Day gifts that were handcrafted with love and personality: hand-cut heart-shaped cards, finger-painted murals, and discombobulated pottery to say the least. And hey – I grew up to earn a fine art degree so I had some skill as a child, right?

Let’s face it, when it comes to DIY, we can’t all be Martha Stewart. But that doesn’t give us the right to give up! Ladies and gents, you have a week to get your act together and serve your mum breakfast in bed in style. Introducing, the do-it-yourself serving tray: durable wood, clean-safe stained glass, and stylish copper handles. Trust me – you can do this!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 14 x 14 inch cut smooth wood  (this is your base)
  • 12 x 12 inch stained glass (find tons of pre-cut color/pattern choices at Hobby Lobby)
  • 1/4-inch copper pipe, 2 pieces at 12-inches long
  • 1/4-inch copper elbows, 4 total
  • permanent adhesive glue
  • paint and primer
  • power drill and 1/4-inch paddle bit

BLANC_DIYSupplies

Step No. 1: Prep your base

Start by sanding your wood base, if needed. Apply a primer, then the paint color of your choice. I chose to paint my base an off-white to allow the copper and marble green to really pop.

Step No. 2: Adhere the glass

Using a strong adhesive glue, coat the back of your stained glass. Place in the center of the painted wood base. Let dry.

Step No. 3: Attaching your handles

Start by applying permanent glue onto each end of your copper pipe and then attach the copper elbow. Do this for both sides of your pipe and let dry. This will be your handle. Position the handle on your tray and measure the length from each elbow’s center point. Mark the center points on the tray with a pencil.

Next, use your power drill and 1/4-inch paddle bit to drill partially into the wooden base (roughly 1/8-inch). You may want to seek assistance with for part if you have never used a power drill.

Finally, fill your newly created intention with permanent adhesive. Insert the handle elbows into the intentions so they fit snug. Let dry.

Step No. 4: Mimosa’s and Mom

Surprise your favorite lady with fresh blooms from the garden and a bubbly mimosa to start her day. Happy Mother’s Day!


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Don’t forget to share your creations online! Tag @blancblog and hashtag #boldwithblanc

xoxo

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skinny iced coffee at home

Blanc Iced Coffee

If it were up to me, I’d have a Starbucks barista awaiting my sleepy-eyed self Monday through Friday. Each day I would wake up and decide if I was craving a non-fat latte or a iced passion tea. The choices would be endless! Unfortunately for me, I live in the reality and such fantasies are only saved for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. I guess you could say I’m a diy-er at, well, everything… including my morning caffeine.

Let’s break it down a bit. If one were to order a medium/grande sized coffee four times a week at Starbucks (~$3.00/drink), he or she would spend $12.00/week, $48.00/month, $576.00/year on coffee. WHAT?! My Mint budgeting app is not liking the sound of that… So, rather than spend “the big bucks” on my morning energizer, I make it at home.

1 skinny vanilla iced coffee coming up!

Blanc Iced Coffee

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • cold coffee (non-flavored) – 3/4 cup
  • almond milk or soy milk – 1/4 cup*
  • vanilla extract – 1 tsp
  • agave syrup as a sweetener – to taste!
  • ice

*Add more or less to taste

Here’s how:

1. The night before: Make a cup of joe and put it in the refrigerator (it will last about two days)

2. The morning of: In a glass, pour coffee, almond/soy milk and vanilla extract. Add agave syrup to taste. Stir

3. Add ice and enjoy!

Why Skinny?

Substituting almond milk for regular milk or creamer can save loads on your calorie and fat intake. It is also high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, iron, fiber, zinc, and calcium. Agave syrup is a natural sweetener that is low cal (21 calories/tsp!). The natural sweetener is sweeter than your standard sugar, so many feel that they need less in their drink. Bonus: you’re getting more water than hot coffee because of the added ice!

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Happy Tuesday! Enjoy! 

 

Secretary Desk Facelift

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When you grow up and it’s time to leave the nest, you take many things with you: life lessons, mom’s sugar cookie recipe, and, for most of us, your childhood bedroom set. Nothing says adulthood like a throwback to middle school sleepovers. My lucky inheritance: a 50-year old, Amish secretary desk.

I’ve squirmed at this desk since my 11-year old, tomboy-self noticed the “flowery” carvings at the top of the secretary. Thirteen years later, there I was: still under-joyed by the handcrafted piece of furniture. It was finally time. I had to bite the bullet and paint the sucker.

Rules Worth Breaking – never paint over the natural look of wood, whether it’s furniture, trim/panelling, or an antique trinket. 

The fact of the matter is, sometimes things need a facelift… a fresh perspective… a little light. Take it from the experts at Domino (shown below) who are no strangers to painting a wood panel or two in order to make a statement.

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Here’s what you’ll need to know before you dive in:

1. Does the wood furniture need to be sanded?
Yes if the wood is pre-finished. Lightly sand enough to dull the finish so the new paint will stick better. 

2. Do you need to prime the wood?
No if you are using chalk paint. Chalk paint serves as a paint and primer duo and can be sanded down to achieve a distressed finish. Ask your hardware store’s paint specialist what kind of primer is best for your specific furniture.

3. Will I need multiple coats of paint?
Most likely, yes. If the wood has not been finished before, it will soak up the primer and paint, thus needing more layers of paint.

4. How do I know what paint finish to choose?
This is by preference. Most design guru’s are going for a matte finish as seen in the Domino images above. If you want a glossier undertone, move up to a glossy finish. For a distressed look, try coating your piece with chalk paint and then lightly sanding it down.

 How to make it your own:

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 1. New Hardware.
Knobs can make all the difference. They are the accessories of a piece of furniture. Find funky, unique knobs at Anthropologie or Hobby Lobby. I chose to stick with the original (handmade!) ceramic knobs on my secretary desk for an understated look. To add femininity, I spray painted all of the screws/hinges gold. It’s the little things! 

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2. Add a surprise.
Drawers leave room for some fun. I painted the inside and sides of my secretary’s drawers a soft mint color to mimic the pattern of my bedspread. The hidden pop of color adds an extra surprise to the desk. Looking for a bigger impact? Paint the entire backing of the desk a bright color.

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3. Dress it up.
This secretary had some growing up to do. No longer a tomboy’s homework station, it’s now used as my vanity. Since I went with a light cool gray color, I brought in lots of bright color with make up trays and jewelry bowls. 

Blanc_HutchRoomShow me your refinished furniture projects by using the hashtag #boldwithblanc.

Happy DIY-ing!

Brush Stroke Lamp DIY


blogger’s note: I’ve been getting lots of inquires about the brush stroke lamp I created out of a Goodwill find. This post was originally published as a collaboration with one of my favorite health and style bloggers, Peaches to Pearls. The Jana Bek inspired design is a quick and easy weekend project that makes a statement!


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Hello Peaches to Pearls readers! I am so honored to be guest blogging for Luisa today! Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Tarah. I’m a 24 year old graphic designer from Charleston, South Carolina. When I’m not painting, eating up the holy city (literally… yum!), or sending beach pics to my freezing loved ones in Chicago, I write Blanc – a lifestyle blog for professional newcomers.

Besides being President and Vice Pres. in the 5’2″ and under club, little Miss Luisa and I have a lot in common: we believe a pop of color makes the outfit (or room), a doughnut is better with sprinkles, and that you don’t have to spend big to go big. Oh! and we can’t pass up the J.Crew sale rack.

Today, I want to share with you a little about Blanc. It is my mission to relate: to share my experiences and to tell you the tales of what young 20-somethings could really use in life (or just for fun!), rather than which $59 platter you should buy. Because at some point in our lives, we are all new. We are a clean slate, we are fresh eyes, we have yet to be molded. We are blanc.

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If you’re starting to say say “cut to the chase Tarah – how do I make that damn lamp,” then don’t worry, I got you girl. Today I’m going to share with you a designers hack: my $25 lamp created to mimic one of my favorite interior designers Jana Bek’s (http://janabek.com/the-shop/) legendary beacon.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A lamp (obvs) – pick something with a smooth surface that can easily be painted
  • Spray primer & spray paint (I used Krylon’s 2-in-1)
  • Acryllic paint, color of your choosing
  • An inch and a half wide paint brush
  • Metallic paint pen (optional)
  • Clear acryllic gloss finishing spray

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Step #1: Let’s start with the lamp. I found this show stopper at Goodwill for just $5! Notes on finding the perfect fit: pick a lamp with a large surface area. This allows your pattern to translate easier.

Photo4Step #2: Spray prime and paint your lamp. Be sure to hold your spray can at least 8-inches away from the lamp in order to get an even coat.

Step #3: Let the painting begin. Create a scene of large and small overlapping ovals. There is no proper way to methoidize this step, so just go with the flow! Painters tip: I used an paint brush with hard brissles and mangled them pre-painting. Since the goal is to get a brushed look, I wanted the ends of the brissles to be a little flared.

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Step #4: Accenting the lips. Every girl loves a good stained lip and so will your lamp. I chose to paint my base a metallic gold to add a pop of sophistication. I used a paint pen that I had on hand, but metallic paint will work as well.

Step #5: Seal the deal. Coat your final product with a gloss finishing spray to add dimension.

Step #6: Add the accessories. I topped my designer-look alike off with a geometric lamp shade I found at Target (on sale for $24.99).

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When always looking your best is our #1 priority – let’s face it, we all want Luisa’s closet…SWOON! – we tend to forget to dress other parts of our lives: our home, our creativity, and sometimes our diet. I challenge my fellow Peaches to Pearls followers to do something creative this weekend. Create your own Jana Bek look-alike, organize your closet (see my tips here (http://blanc-blog.com/2015/01/19/team-organization/)) or simply make a Valentines day card for a friend. Share your findings with me on social media via @blancblog and hashtag #boldwithblanc.

Cheers my loves!
xoxo,

Tarah

gallery wall guidelines

Blanc Statement ArtAs I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m a sucker for a good piece of art.

Men, that’s easy. I like them confident, cleverly funny, and with a smart head on their shoulders. Classic or new age, screen-printed or hand-painted, black and white or color galore: I have no “type” when it comes to art. In fact, I may or may not have chosen to live in my teensy carriage house based on the fact that it had tall ceilings where I could create a killer gallery wall.

I believe that you have to have an eye for art and that everyone’s eye is different (just like in choosing men). If I was forced to narrow down my style, I would say it is bold and eclectic. I like that no piece matches another and that there is never a theme throughout my collection work (unless of course, it’s accidental!). Today, I’ll be sharing my tips for hanging art, along with designer and blog-guru Erin Gates’ tips from her book, Elements of Style.

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Erin’s tips on ways to hang art :
(in the words of yours truly)

1. The Statement (as shown in my living room above) – Use one piece of art that is large enough to anchor the room and make a lasting impression. Artwork that is too small will get lost on a large wall. This particular piece was DIY-ed after a piece of artwork on one of my favorite blogs. I added the spray painted corner brackets that I found at Ace Hardware.

2. The Leaner – For a more casual look, lean a grouping of artwork on a shelf or mantel up against a wall. Layer the frames over-top one another for a cohesive look.

3. The Gallery Wall (as shown as in the first image above) – You may not know it, but gallery walls are surprisingly simple. The best come from simply winging it with no measurements at all. Erin’s tip: trace all your art on newsprint and arrange them on the wall with painters tape first. Then let the hanging begin.

4. The Grid – Arrange matching frames in a grid for a crisp look (a grid of black and white photos is my fav!). For smaller frame sizes, keep each 1-2 inches between frames. Larger frame sizes can have up to 4 inches between frames.

Adding a Blanc twist:

1. Balance – I like to keep the largest pieces of my gallery wall near the bottom of the grouping. Visually, these pieces carry a lot of weight so you don’t want them “squishing” a smaller piece of art. Balance sizes and colors throughout your wall rather than grouping them. Also keep an eye out for the type of art you are displaying. Balance abstract art, photography, drawings, etc.

2. Think out of the box – Ditch the frame. Adding unframed pieces to your collection can add dimension. Try using metallic animal heads, gold urchins, mirrors, or photo hangers (pictured below, find at Target) to add interest.

3. Stick to a theme when framing – using all the same frame type can give you a unified and tailored look. On the opposite end of the spectrum, using all different types of frames can give you an eclectic feel that will unify itself on the wall.

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Happy Hanging!

Questions on the techniques or images shown? Comment below!

 

springing a green thumb

BlancTulipsWhat’s that I hear on the local news? Seventy degree weather coming up?! Yes, please. Spring has finally arrived ladies and gentlemen, and I couldn’t be more joyous. Peace out winter jackets, 5-o’clock sunsets, and Frozen sing-alongs. In simplest terms, bye Felicia and hello sunshine!

My favorite way to bring spring into my home is with fresh, seasonal flowers. I buy inexpensive flowers at Trader Joe’s and place them into a favorite vase as-is or I create an arrangement of my own (see the how-to here). Flowers are a great way to add color and a hint of freshness to a tired winter apartment. Grab a $3.99 bunch and you have an instant centerpiece.

The trick to the madness is knowing the basics of making your cut or potted flowers last. Let’s discuss the theories:

Theory #1: Spring flowers need lots of sunlight.

False. Spring flowers are cool-weather flowers and should not be placed in direct sunlight. In fact, most flowers will bloom and die quicker in a warm space than a cool one. If you want your flowers to last longer (say, until your guests arrive for the weekend) place them in the refrigerator.

Theory #2: Cut your stems on an angle.

True. Cutting stems on an angle creates a larger surface area, allowing the plant to drink in more water. For thirstier flowers, like hydrangeas, cut up into the stem creating an X and let them drink up!

Theory #3: Add sugar, Asprin, or even a penny to your flower’s water.

Let’s go with a maybe on this one. My best advice is to change the flower’s water and cut the stem-ends every other day. Don’t just top the water off. You can also use the fertilizer packets provided with most grocery store flowers.

Theory #4: Water potted plants everyday.

False. I have killed many succulents in my day… I’ve even killed a cactus. How, you ask? Over watering. The amount of water a plant needs depends on the specific plant. Do your research and take notes on your plant’s behavior. Watering volumes also correlate with amount of sunlight and the constant temperature.

Theory #5: Keep cut flowers away from fruit.

Surprising true. Fruits release a type of gas that causes most cut flowers to age, leading to a quicker wilt.

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Wishing all my followers a lucky green thumb and a happy spring!
xoxo

beetle necklace how-to

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From Charleston’s own Croghan’s Jewel Box goldbug earrings  (photo below) to J.Crew’s most recent window displays, the fashion industry is bugging out – pardon my pun. 

Springs hottest new trend: bugs. 

I am all over this trend. I’ve always liked the creepy crawlers; in an artistic sense, that is. Even my gallery wall has watercolor painting of 8-legged creatures. There’s something a little cool about bugs in the artistic world.

Croghan's Jewel Box Goldbug Earrings, $110
Croghan’s Jewel Box Goldbug Earrings, $110

Today I’ll be teaching my fantastic followers how to make this killer necklace. It’s the perfect pairing of edge and feminine, summer vibes: the bright-white, nautical-inspired base, the happy-go-lucky neon color pop, and of course, the statement beetle that I found at Hobby Lobby. All and all, this necklace cost about $30 – a steal compared to the Croghan’s find above!
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Here’s what you’ll need

  • Rope (roughly 1 yard)
  • Textured leather or fabric (metallic will catch the eye)
  • Nuts or other metal detailing
  • Thread or twine (I chose neon for spring)
  • A medallion or statement bead (my beetle)
  • Hot glue or super glue
  • Wire

Step1

Step #1

Cut your yard of rope in half. Start with one half of the rope and string 5 nuts about 10 inches up the rope. I chose verdigris shaded nuts which means they have a slight aqua tone. One you’ve strung your 5 nuts, tie a knot just below them to hold in place and to add dimension to your necklace.

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Step #2

Using your hot glue gun or super glue, adhere your leather or fabric to the rope by rolling it around the rope and gluing in place. I used hot glue because I had it on hand, but super glue will be much thinner and easier to work with. Once stable, tie a knot in the rope at the bottom of the leather/fabric piece and string 3 more for a patterned look.

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Step #3

Tie a knot below your last three washers. Then, string one more. This final washer should be about an inch below the knot. Using the final washer as a center point, create a ‘U’ with your rope. Using about 5-inches of wire, wrap the ‘U’ together to form a loop. This will be where side 1 of your necklace ends. Cut off all excess rope.

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Step #4

Attach your medallion or statement bead by wrapping its loop with the final washer using 3-inches of wire.

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Step #5

Finally, add a pop of color! Hide the looping wire in Step #3 by wrapping it with neon thread. Careful, this step takes longer with thinner thread so try doubling-up your strings when wrapping. Secure the neon thread by tying a knot in the final wrapping. For extra strength, I added a small drop of glue to the back side.

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Step #6

Repeat Steps #1-6 on side two of your necklace. I chose to attach the two ends casually by tying a knot.

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Share your buggin’ DIY necklace with me on social media (@blancblog) and hashtag #boldwithblanc 

xoxo

 

collecting art

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An knowledgable man once said, “creativity is intelligence having fun.” Good old Albert Einstein predicted the future in not just the world of knowledge, but the creative world as well. Little did he know that creativity would turn into passion. That passion could then turn into the art of collection.

For me, my passion of collection is art (could you have guessed?). I truly believe the art one buys or creates is a direct reflection of their inner self. For example, one of my favorite pieces that I own is my bright yellow ‘Have Mercy’ palm screen print. I bought it at a small, eclectic shop in Asheville, North Carolina for $25. It wasn’t an investment piece. I didn’t research the artist for hours. I didn’t have to ponder for two seconds about whether or not I was going to purchase the 20 x 30 inch poster. I bought it simply because I liked it.

It is graphically bold, it is colorfully bright, and it has a message. It became the focal point of my gallery wall as soon as I got home.

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Accompanying Mr. Have Mercy on my walls are framed illustrations that I ripped out of Communication Arts magazines, an abstract wood panel painting my good friend Natalie Taylor made for me, and vintage posters I’ve found over the years. It’s all collected – all random. Each piece has a significance.


Rule #1: Art should feel collected.


Stay away from the stock pile people! Yes, that means you, Hobby Lobby enthusiasts. A significant collection of art should develop over time. Not every piece needs a dramatic story, but some pieces do. Collected art gives your home a personality. It’s what makes your home different.

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How to Collect the Goods:

  1. Art Fairs & Student Work– Fairs are a great place to find local artists outside of their galleries. Most art fairs will sell unframed art which is usually cheaper than buying it pre-framed. Pair the purchased piece with a painted Goodwill frame and you now have an original piece. Local universities also have art shows throughout the school year. In the case of having creative friends like I do, ask a friend for an original piece and offer to compensate them for it.
  2. Souvenier the right way – Following in my mother’s path, I like to look for new artwork when vacationing. It’s a chance to scope out local artists that are unknown to your home town. Plus, it makes for a better memory than that Mexico coffee mug.
  3. Online – websites like Etsy and Society6 offer loads of original work at a range of prices and sizes.
  4. Look at more than just “art” – Calendars, greeting cards, or even pages of art magazines or books make great framed artwork. I framed Rifle Paper Company‘s Chicago greeting card above my stove for a little piece of home in my kitchen (above).
  5. DIY the art you love – Having a fine art degree, I tell myself “you can make that” a lot. Mimicking art you admire is one way to display personality in your home. The trick is to put your own spin on it. I created the abstract gold circle painting (shown hanging over my couch, above) on an old Hobby Lobby canvas and added spray painted L-brackets I found at Ace Hardware. The piece was inspired by abstract art I found on Pinterest. Note: Be sure to respect the artist’s work and abide by intellectual property laws!
  6. Found art – let me explain below…

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Found art is just as it sounds: found objects that are turned into art. My friend Skipper introduced me to the concept one Saturday afternoon over a bottle of champagne.

“Most of my artwork is found art,” she explained. “My family has always collected art and turned it into new things. My grandmother loves to paint and my mother loves to create art structures out of found items. The bamboo fish on my walls (below, photo #2) are made from bamboo she found in the mountains. The vintage pin up girl posters (above) are advertisement drafts from when my great grandfather worked at an advertising agency long ago. The illustrator actually went on to illustrate for PlayBoy.”

Skipper goes on to explain how she not only inherited the artwork of the role models before her, but she also inherited their love of found art. The distressed gold mantle hanging above her tv was found on the side of the road on King Street.

“It was a piece of a broken frame that I found outside of an art gallery in downtown Charleston. I just loved it.” (shown in below, photo #1)

Blanc Skipper

 

Bottom line? There really are no rules. A piece of drift wood is just as much of art as a painting. What’s important is the self expression and originality behind the art. Make it you – not just a filler piece – and collect away!

Thank you Skipper for letting me photograph your tremendous collection! 
xoxo 

 

blanc’s guide to floral arrangements

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Girl Problem #12892582: We all want flowers, damn it.

Well, if you could look up a yearbook picture of me in middle school, the quote underneath my photo may have been something along the lines of  “b-ball > flowers”. In fact, I spent half of my childhood playing hot wheels with my little brother in the back room of my mom’s flower shop – which has always been something I majorly regret. Why didn’t I pick up a stem and start crafting? As boyish as I was at age 10, I was artistic enough to dabble, wasn’t I?

Today, I find myself in quite the opposite predicament. I have become a flower-loving female for Pete’s sake! And I don’t waste any time nagging* my boyfriend for them when my BFF Instagrams her “just because”/”he’s the best” valencia filter, flower shot. It’s all in fun… he knows I’m kidding…….. right?

*Sidenote: He does get me flowers (amongst many gifts). I’m just greedy and think it’s fun to get on his nerves. Evil? Maybe. 😉

With the holiday of chocolates – I mean love – coming up, I thought to myself: what could be more useful than a cheat sheet to creating the perfect floral arrangement? Why this thought popped into my head, I’m not really sure considering I have honestly never made a floral arrangement in my life. But then I’m reminded, floral arrangements are an art form, and art all follows the same rules. So, my Sunday afternoon consisted of a $15 trip to Trader Joe’s, a handful of flowers, and some crafting.

Flower Arrangement Anatomy

FlowerAnatomyBlancGathering Tips:

  • Choose flowers with various sizes: large, medium-large & medium-small, and small
  • Look for textures (I added a succulent I had in my kitchen)
  • Pick from your yard (I have a great magnolia tree next to my entryway. The greenery is from that!)

My Flower Choices (from left to right): hydrangeas, astartea (also called wax flower), and gerber daisies.

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Arranging Tips:

  • Create a focal point and build around that (highlight it with greenery or small budded flowers)
  • Overlap the lip of your vase (this adds dimension). This is called “breaking the edge.”
  • Vary sizes, colors, and textures throughout your piece
  • Think balance (not symmetry): in size, colors, and height

Blanc Floral TutorialMy motto: just go for it. There is no wrong way and the more you practice, the better you will get. Gift your creations to a teacher, a boss, or a loved one this Valentine’s Day. Share your arrangements on social media with the hashtag #boldwithblanc.

Have questions? Comment below.