House of Flowers: How it all started

With the release of my debut book just around the corner, I wanted to share with you the story of how the House of Flowers came to be and what you can expect to find inside

The initial idea

When I first started sharing my floral arrangements and interior design posts on Instagram, I could never have imagined that those posts would one day inspire a book. As many of you know, each week, I go live and demonstrate different flower design tutorials to our community on my Instagram platform, every Friday at 8pm.

Two years ago, after watching my tutorials for a while, an editor reached out to ask if I’d be interested in creating a floral project book – a physical representation of my Instagram lives that people could keep and refer to throughout the year. We had an initial meeting, and my imagination immediately took flight! I had so many ideas, it was difficult to know where to start, but I was certain that any book I created should reflect my commitment to making floristry accessible to all.

A concept starts to bloom 

The concept that started to emerge was a book that would showcase floral arrangements for every season. I wanted to shoot the photography at home to ensure that the pictures resonated with our community and people would be encouraged to recreate the projects in their own spaces. There are 30 different projects featured in all, several of which are small, accessible designs such as place settings, bud vase table designs, hand-tied bouquets, seasonal wreaths, and planters. I’ve also included one larger project per season, such as garlands and fireplace designs using different types of flowers, to help readers develop their skills.

Faux Flower Arrangements
Image credit: Helena Dolby

The book is a comprehensive guide for anyone looking to start creating with flowers, as well as experienced florists in need of a new challenge. I’ve included pieces of my floristry knowledge on every page, so that you can discover the tips and tricks I’ve learned from experience, alongside a guide to where you can source your flowers, the best tools to use, and the sustainable mechanics to include. There’s also a detailed flower directory featuring all my favourite flowers and the seasons when they look their best.

Flower Arrangements

At that time, The Suffolk Nest was still very much in its infancy. I had so many ideas and plans for the business and that was primary focus. Chris wasn’t yet officially working for the company, and we had no other employees, so to say we were already overstretched would be an understatement!

Preparing to shoot

Despite my full schedule, those who know me will know that I’m an ‘all or nothing’ type. Once I got started on the designs for the different projects, it was full steam ahead. I completely lost myself, often working into the early hours of the morning, as I sketched out new designs and plotted out how they would come to life. 

Our first shoot for the book was scheduled for late August to highlight our summer projects. Unfortunately, by the time we were ready to move forward, the flowers I most wanted to include were already past their best and the growers were moving into autumn, so I decided to push the shoot back to the following year. This decision ultimately delayed the entire launch of the book, but I knew it was the right thing to do. 

We shot our Christmas and winter projects in the first week of January 2022 – it was very surreal filling our house with festive foliage again, so soon after packing it all away! This was quickly followed by our spring and summer projects, timed so that I could feature the very best peonies.

faux-white-peony-stem
peonies
Image credit: Helena Dolby

Pulling everything together

While I’d always planned to shoot in our home, it didn’t immediately occur to me that I’d need to source and style everything myself, not only the arrangements but also the candles, plates, tablecloths, and even new furniture.

If you’re a regular viewer on my Instagram lives, you’ll know that our kitchen island is one of my favourite places to work because the light is always very good, and the flowers look beautiful displayed against a neutral background. But I didn’t want to offer you an entire book of arrangements shot on our kitchen island! Instead, I sourced new furniture for our bedroom as well as buying new chairs and side tables so that we could mix things up and hopefully inspire you to get creative too. 

It was a mammoth task for one person, especially someone who was already running a business full-time. Each season features around eight projects, which all had to be shot back-to-back. We could only guarantee the light between 10am and 4pm, so I needed to create and style every project within this short time frame.

The shoot days were my favourite part of bringing this book to life. It was amazing to see my sketches, iPhone notes, and PowerPoint graphics come together and become real. Each day, I would drop the girls off at nursery, treat myself to a Starbucks coffee to try and steady my nerves, and pick up our incredibly talented team at the train station: Helena, our photographer, and Sarah, our Art Director. I’m not an athlete, but I imagine the feelings I experienced were akin to those a sprinter experiences before the start of a 100m race: intense butterflies that remind you that you’re embarking on your biggest challenge to date.

House of Flowers 

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and it was challenging to get everything done to my desired standard in such a short time frame. With my workload not easing anytime soon, I needed to embrace a more organised approach to make it through! I had to know exactly which flowers and props were needed to be featured in each project, even though the house had been turned completely upside down with furniture moved, buckets of flowers dotted around the floor, and props left all over the place. There was a moment when I looked around and realised, I had created this beautiful chaos. 

Image credit: Helena Dolby

Once the first shoot was complete, and I felt a small sense of achievement, it dawned on me that I now had to write up every project and plan the next shoot. Being a night owl does have its perks sometimes!

If you’re curious to see how everything came together, you can find a copy here: The House of Flowers: 30 floristry projects to bring the magic of flowers into your home. I hope it inspires you to create your own floral arrangements to celebrate each season.