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Flowers help home bloom with joy

Back when Dan and I were dating, I lived in an adorable cottage in a historic district. I loved that bungalow, and by the time I was done fluffing and feathering each room, my snug little nest was decidedly feminine.

Dan was not so enraptured with my little home. The frou-frou English country cottage style that thrilled me just wasn’t masculine enough for his taste.

As our relationship got serious, Dan got nervous. He was worried that when we married and bought a home, he would be drowned in flowers. He stopped short of drawing up a prenuptial agreement prohibiting flowers, but he did make me promise not to use florals in our home décor.

The fact is, I simply couldn’t live without flowers. I crave a touch of vintage floral in every room in my home because, for me, flowers make a house homey and relaxed, a place you never want to leave.

I’m happy to report that Dan and I have resolved our war of the roses. He’s learned to trust that I won’t bombard him with blossoms, and I’ve learned self-control, now interjecting just a hint of floral flourish in every room.

The key, I’ve found, is to never, ever overdo the number of beautiful blossoms in your decorating. Instead, tuck in just a few flowers in a host of different ways.

One of my favorite tricks is to bring in bouquets through artwork. I’m over the moon for vintage and new botanical prints. I love the playful uniformity of a phalanx of flowers in unexpected places. That’s why I created a garden path of botanicals over the window seat in my living room, above the paneling in my dining room, and above the bank of windows in the study off my bedroom.

Likewise, my friend Angela, a designer at Nell Hill’s, used a set of botanicals to add pop to her ho-hum powder room. When Angela was digging through a stack of musty books at a garage sale, she happened upon an old horticulture textbook filled with fabulous illustrations. She knew she’d struck gold. She carefully removed her favorite drawings, framed them and hung them in a grid on the blank bathroom wall.

I also love to interject a touch of floral through fabrics. While I would shy away from upholstering a sofa in a bold floral print, I eat up accent pillows done in a vintage floral pattern.

For me, there’s nothing better than mixing vintage floral fabrics with menswear prints, like houndstooth check, herringbone, glenplaid or paisley. Or bring in much-needed color and pattern by selecting a floral fabric for window coverings.

When I entertain, I always freshen up my dining room table with flowers. I lean toward monochromatic displays, and my favorite bouquets consist of one or two long-stem blooms arching out of a narrow-mouthed vase of blue-and-white porcelain or crystal. I also adore tightly bunched bouquets of short-stemmed flowers displayed in diminutive vases.

Finally, look for unusual spots to add flowers so they catch your eye and make you smile. How about replacing the hardware on your dresser or vanity with ceramic pulls shaped like flowers? Or install wall hooks in your bath that have floral embellishments. Find a chandelier dotted with flowers for your dining room. Or display dishes decorated with floral designs on your walls, in a bookcase or on your mantel.

Mary Carol Garrity owns three home furnishings stores in Atchison, Kan., and wrote several books on home decorating. Write to Mary Carol at nellhills@mail.lvnworth.com. Her column is syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service.

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