Distinctive Botanicals

Patti Porter, owner of PattiPorter Designs and co-owner of The Rusted Chandelier, explains the art of a custom floral arrangement.

Edited by Melissa Mauzy
Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton


Patti Porter designs custom floral arrangements that reflect your personality and style for any space in your home. With the holidays around the corner, floral arrangements add an extra touch of something special for your holiday guests.

SLHL: What spaces in a home work best for an arrangement?
Start with the front door and foyer table, and then move to the dining-room table, mantel and kitchen table. A small piece in a powder room is nice, but it could also be a single stem in a small mercury glass container on the nightstand.

SLHL: What information does a homeowner need to provide you for a floral arrangement?
A good description of the space where you want it to be — the depth of a mantel, the size of the table and the distance between the tabletop and the chandelier, etc. Then, consider the height you want the arrangement. A picture of the space on your phone is always a good idea, too.

SLHL: Do I need to bring my own container?
You can certainly bring your own container if it works well in the space. I love to re-work and re-use stems and freshen up an arrangement. When you buy good stems, they can last for years. You can also choose from the many containers I have in the shop if you want something fresh and new.

SLHL: When choosing a container, how do you determine the size?
It depends on the space you want to put the arrangement in. For a rectangular table, for example, you need to have an oval or rectangular container - something that makes a statement. The mistake people make is they go too small, and the arrangement looks like something for a coffee table instead.

SLHL: What makes the biggest impact?
I find that if you use less variety, say lush pines and magnolia leaves with just a touch of colorful berries and fabulous ribbon, it makes an elegant look. 

SLHL: When hosting or entertaining for the holidays, what is the best idea for a dining-table display?"
First, it's important to make it low so folks can see one another and aren't trying to talk around the arrangement. Second, I encourage you to use a container that can be used throughout the year and add arrangements that can be changed throughout the year. Adding ribbons for the holiday is essential. 

SLHL: I loved an arrangement I saw at a friend's home. Can you copy that arrangement for my own home? 
I can't make a copy of the custom arrangement because I want it to be special for that customer. However, we can certainly come up with your own special look by changing a few items to make it yours.