How to Create Gorgeous Centerpieces

6 tips and styling strategies for easy floral arranging

Intentional flower placement is key even in Layered Vintage’s naturally inspired compositions. “Let flowers fall how they may,” owner Jill Fausner advises. “Never force a bloom into position.”

Jill Fausner, the creative force behind Layered Vintage floral design, thinks way outside the vase. She’s artfully suspended a garland of pampas grass above a dinner table and created stunning draping installations using loads of flowers. Though they’re all breathtaking, it’s the way she uses colors and textures in her floral compositions that made us want to pick her brain and get her tips for creating gorgeous centerpieces that look effortless, elegant and oh-so chic.

Tip: Gently peel back the petals of roses, tulips and other flowers to open them and make them look more full and lush. For best results, the flower should be room temperature so the petals are more flexible.

1. Find your flowers.

“For any arrangement, you need focal flowers, filler flowers and a few different types of greenery,” Jill explains. You want to pick flowers that are in season. Start with the focal varieties. “Dahlias are gorgeous this time of year and come in a variety of rich hues,” she adds. Others readily available this month include garden roses, strawflowers and Queen Anne’s lace.

While Jill visits the wholesale markets, she suggests shopping at your local Trader Joe’s, farmers markets or Wholesale Flowers and Supplies (, which is open to the public, to find the prettiest, seasonal blooms that are easy on the wallet. Or forage in your yard for greens such as eucalyptus, which makes a fragrant, earthy addition.

2. Select a palette.

It’s easiest to choose two colors and then an in-between shade as a third complement. “Pick yellow and orange as the main colors and peach or pink as the in between,” she recommends.

Tip: The shears you find in the garden departments aren’t actually the best ones to use for floral design, Jill explains. She likes Corona’s long straight snip tempered steel shears. You can find them on Amazon for less than $10.

3. Choose the vessel.

Jill’s advice? Find something that resembles more of a pot than a slim-necked vase. She likes to use one that’s 5 inches wide by 5 inches tall as a good starting point. “It gives you space to create, and the flowers aren’t all straight up and down,” she says. “And don’t use floral foam because once you place a flower, you’re kind of stuck. It’s not forgiving if you change your mind.”

Instead, she prefers chicken wire to help mold her creations. She cuts an 8-by-8-inch square and shapes it into a ball. It will be a little bigger than the mouth of the vase, but you can wiggle it in place and it will hold. Fill the vase halfway with water and floral food if you have it.

Tip: If you like to change things up often, you can give a centerpiece a totally different look by simply switching out a few key pieces. “Leave 90 percent of the greenery, and keep the in-between shade the same,” Jill says. “A yellow-and-orange design with soft peach could easily transition to a beige-and-blush scheme for a party.”

4. Shape up.

Start with the greenery and loosely follow a V-shape formation. What does that mean exactly? It means that you want your final product to more closely resemble nature. “Look at a rose bush, and you’ll see that all the flowers grow in different directions,” Jill says. She suggests putting stems in at an angle along two opposite sides of the vase first, giving a bit more length to one side so the centerpiece doesn’t look too symmetrical.

Do the same thing with the filler flowers. Then step back and assess. “You want to make sure you’re filling spaces in the front, middle and back of the arrangement,” Jill adds. “You want to create depth.” But show restraint as well.

5. Go big.

“The focal flowers need to be done in odd numbers—three or five blooms are best,” Jill says. With these, she explains that the focus is low, medium and high, meaning place some focal flowers near the mouth of the vase and others at different heights within the composition from there. “You also want to be careful that you’re not lining them up vertically,” Jill cautions. “Place them on the left and right too.”

Intentional flower placement is key even in Layered Vintage’s naturally inspired compositions. “Let flowers fall how they may,” owner Jill Fausner advises. “Never force a bloom into position.”

6. Time to blend.

Add those blooms in your in-between color. “This is where you look for holes,” Jill says. “Spin the vase; you don’t want it to look good only from the front.” This is also the time to remove any flowers that aren’t falling the way you’d like or add one more filler flower if you spot a gap. 





Categories: Garden Guide, Gardening, Home Design, How-To Guides, Tricks of the trade