Susanna Salk


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DESIGN STEAL
Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Sometimes I throw a dinner party not to socialize but to have the excuse to set my table and buy fresh flowers.

(Not to mention the left overs the next day: is there anything better than brie and half a baguette for breakfast?!…)

I used to get anxious about how to dress up my table so it would look welcoming and stylish to whomever tucked into it. But did I really want to spend oodles on flowers for them only to fade the next day like my red wine hangover?

There’s something so Eighties about sitting at a table with a formal floral centerpiece that so clearly smacks of the host phoning in for “something low and beautiful” to her florist that morning. Sometimes good, careful taste can be as disappointing as the flower arrangements in Architectural Digest. (Can anyone explain to me the appeal of placing pink lilies stuck into a tall vase in an Aspen billiard room?!)

I love it when I go to someone’s house and it looks like the hostess actually chose the flowers herself.

People don’t understand: flower arranging is SO easy!

I learned this when I interned post college at Marlo’s Flowers, the florist to all the ladies on Park Avenue, from Jackie O on down. (I remember my first day when I answered the phone and the caller identified herself only as “Jackie” and I was dumb enough to ask, “Jackie who?”

Then she proceeded to place an order which she begged “to not cost more than a car.”)

Anyway, Marlo was one of the first people to show me that the beauty and luxury of in arrangements was not in the stem size but what lay at the end. In other words, cut to the flower. And that’s exactly what she did, to the gasp of people as thousands of dollars worth of flowers were shortened in one single swoop of her shears. I immediately started doing the same thing to the rose bouquets my husband-then-boyfriend brought me. “Look how much better it looks!” I explained, plunking them into the little silver vases Marlo had everywhere.

“But I paid extra for the long stems!” he would say, exasperated. “Well that’s just what is wrong with everything,” was my only answer.

So here, in my opinion, is the right way when you don’t have a lot of time or money and someone wonderful is popping by. (Or better yet, when no one is and you are in need of cheering up)

Buy three bunches of white tulips for fifteen dollars. Chop the stems short and plunk them into silver-plated mint julep cups. (I really can’t sing enough praises about my faux mint julep cups. Once bought from at an online wedding supply outlet, I cast aside all my gangly glass vases that suddenly felt so FTD.)

Plunk the now tuliped-cups along the middle of your dining table and dare I say the effect is as fitting for a visit from an interior designer (pressure!) or my mother-in-law (another kind of pressure best describe on another kind of blog). And can we wax poetic about orange dragon tulips in julep cups? Or purple hyacinths. I could go on and on.

But this blog isn’t about floral arranging, much as the intense, little joy it brings me.

It’s about finding ways to express my style for not a lot of money. Or time.

The best thing about personalizing great design? Its one of the few mediums where you can plagiarize and won’t have to confess on Ophrah the next week. You can take my idea and spin your own way in your own space because lets face it, I’ve just done the same thing from someone else. Whether it’s from David Hicks or West Elm Catalogue, there’s a lot to be inspired from out there And knowing how to bring it to life in your own life is surprisingly easy: it just takes a little confidence and courage. And maybe a few mint julep cups at the ready to drink or to display from.

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