I’m delighted to have been invited to guest post for Restoration Living. I love their maxim ..’do good, speak truth, rejoice in beauty.’ As an interior and garden designer I'm so fortunate to work with beautiful objects every day and to be able to create beautiful interiors and gardens for people to enjoy. To create spaces that hopefully enhance their lives.
A lot of my inspiration comes from nature. I live in a metropolis with no outside space so my nature has to come from what I see through my window and with flowers. Flowers really lift my spirits, without them my home seems lifeless and a little sad.
You don't have to have a designer made home to have a happy, comfortable sanctuary to come home to. Nor do you need a lot of money. I love up cycling street finds, or repurposing items I no longer treasure or have a use for. It gives me a great feeling of satisfaction to make something out of nothing. It's like making a meal from leftovers....it's incredible how good these can be. Our cupboard was bare the other day...all we had was dried pasta, a jar of capers and a tin of anchovies and some dried up chillies! add some olive oil, a stock cube and what a great pasta dish this made. It is now on our list of delicious meals to have again and again..quick and tasty and "cheap as chips" as the saying goes!
There are so many ways you can enhance your home, put your mark on it. For me though flowers make the biggest difference. I go to the flower market whenever I am at home in Hong Kong. I never tire of it. I love the feeling of anticipation and excitement thinking about the trip. Thinking about the flowers I'll find, will they have my favourites or might I find a new favourite. Flowers are expensive here, but I enjoy searching out the less expensive blooms, the unusual and locally grown. You get to know your favourite stores, what suits your home best after a while and when to buy the ones you like as well as when they are in season, how long they will live, and when they are available locally or within Asia as opposed to expensive imported flowers to save energy and reduce carbon emissions.
You can display them in gorgeous vases, jars, glasses, glass containers, be creative. Check out your local markets, junk shops, charity shops and look in your cupboards, we all forget what' in there!
Read on for some inspiration for your home!
Flowers are the greatest way to instantly brighten up your home. Easy and fast, it's one of the cheapest options too! Choose seasonal blooms to add a variety of colour and texture to your living space - bright, fresh and colourful in spring and summer, and warm and woody during the cooler months. Use plants and branches in the winter months when flowers are scarce. Herbs work year round. Overflowing bowls of herbs in the kitchen are beautiful and have a gorgeous perfume. I love walking into the kitchen in the in morning and being assailed by the scent of the herbs that have heightened overnight.
I especially love to have flowers in kitchens and bathrooms. Varied pots, glasses and vases spilling over with flowers are a joy to behold. When in London I never miss a trip to Columbia Road flower market. The sight of all the gorgeous plants and flowers lined up makes my heart sing. They never fail to make me happy come rain or shine. The varieties, colours, scents, sizes, textures are intoxicating. Going home overladen with flowers is always a very special treat. Looking forward to cutting the stems and arranging them once you're home, followed by that lovely moment when you can sit back and admire their magic.
It's a really good idea to find a local flower market or scout out a good shop or stall with a good selection of flowers and where you can get to know the florist who can then advise you what is available, their life expectancy and how best to look after them. Once you have built up a relationship they can even get flowers with you in mind. Visiting local garden centres will also help you identify what is available and when. Visit your local garden centre each season to see what's flowering in your region.
Spring is absolutely my favourite time of year and I eagerly look out for the bursts of life popping through the ground. Gorgeous daffodils and tulips are a joy to behold, plentiful, cheap and cheerful. I especially love the way tulips arch their stems toward the light craving its rays. We should not forget the grass dormant no longer. There is nothing like the smell of the first mow of the year. I love pots of cut grass and wheat grass as display in a clean, minimal interior.
We are coming into Autumn now. Leaves will soon start to colour and look stunning in arrangements.
Autumn bouquets are known for their rich colours and a mix of other natural elements such as fruits, vegetables, berries, leaves, acorns, nuts, seeds, bark and twigs which will naturally accent the flowers in bloom. Too many to list but here are just a few of what's available. Amaryllis, Sunflower, Chrysanthemum, including the gorgeous green Chrysanthemum, Gerbera, Allium, Agapanthus, Cosmos, Eryngium, Echinops, Freesia, Delphinium, Gladioli, Lily, Salvia, Yarrow, Camelia, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Scabious, Sedum and Roses are all seasonal autumnal flowers. A lot of them quite sculptural like the Echinops and Eryngium.
In fact, you might be surprised at the amount flowers blooming in Autumn.
It’s fun to look for natural elements to add to your displays. Just look around your gardens, parks and woodlands for fallen treasures. How lovely to wrap up and go for long walks.
Despite the cold Winter months there are some gorgeous blossoms thriving including Amaryllis, Carnation, Chrysanthemums, Cyclamen, Gerbera Daisy, Ginger, Helleborus, Lily, Narcissus, Orchid, Pansy, Phlox, Protea, Roses, and Snap Dragon.
My ultimate favourites are back too, the Tulip, Holly berries, along with winter flowering Jasmine.
Look out for unusual vases and containers to display your flowers. You don't have to spend a fortune, check out your local flea markets, charity shops and look in your cupboards to see what 's hiding at the back, teacups, teapots, jugs, watering cans, bowls, tureens, egg cups, can all be used to display flowers around the home. Blocks of colour look stunning, just fill each vase with a single flower and group the varied vases together. Sometimes the flower dictates what vase to put it in, is it a wispy wild flower or a statuesque and showy bloom.
Most of all have fun and experiment.
Anji Connell is an award winning internationally recognised interior architect and landscape designer, and the brains behind design firm ACID+.
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ACID+ Anji Connell Interior Design + Interior Architecture, Garden & Landscape DesignStudio: Unit 1315 13/ F Harbour Industrial Centre 10 Lee Hing Street Ap Lei Chau Hong Kong Mobile: (852) 9387 1953 Office: (852) 25800113