Reality Star: 4 Questions for Simply Beautiful Flowers The stylish staff members offer their best holiday decorating tips.

By Kimberly Uslin



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Pikesville’s Simply Beautiful Flowers and Gifts could not be more aptly named. The aesthetically inclined partners behind the longstanding brand—Rennie and Brian Friedlander, who founded the company in 1992, and their partners, Debra Carey and Courtney James—beautify Baltimore with their spectacular flower design and interior decorating. Here, they lend their best tips and tricks for creating a stunninglybedecked holiday home (and producing the perfect winter-wonderland wedding).

What are a few favorite ways to decorate a holiday mantel that our readers could try at home?

Decorating a holiday mantel gives an opportunity to bring warmth into the center of the home, where everyone gathers during the season. Start by placing a lush pine garland down for your base. (Faux evergreen is fine, and won’t dry out of shed like fresh pine.) Then choose a theme—sometimes we’re inspired by something as simple as a fabric or a holiday ribbon, or a feeling such as woodland botanical, featuring organic textures, gorgeous plant material, gilded birds and feathered ornaments. Other favorites include a traditional Christmas theme with rich reds and gold, using boxwood and red velvet ribbon, or winter metallic, using white pine and white French tulips in vintage mercury glass for a bit of sparkle.

What are your favorite living winter elements and how do you use them to decorate inside?

There is nothing more beautiful than using nature to decorate a home—especially during the winter months. We love all of the aromatic evergreens: white pine, Fraser fir, Douglas fir and  incense cedar with its warm, golden color. Magnolia is also wonderful for a strong, bold element, and lasts all holiday. We fill entryway containers with large domes of magnolia, sugar pine cones and red ilex berries to create an inviting, stately entrance to our clients’ homes. Winter bulb plants such as amaryllis and paperwhites presented in French wire baskets or natural mossed terra-cotta bulb pans add natural beauty to any indoor space, and Phalaenopsis orchid plants festively dressed for the holiday are always classic and elegant.

How can we create a great centerpiece that’s unusual and festive?

For a more organic and natural arrangement, we like to use a textural container such as a wooden or birch box and fill it with a variety of gorgeous white blooms such as roses, amaryllis, freesia, anemone or hydrangea, and beautifully frame the flowers with seasonal greenery such as pine and seeded eucalyptus or winter berries. Another great seasonal look is to use a gilded bowl with rich reds and garnet jewel tones. We are always adding crystals, sparkles, glitter and gold-dusted leaves during the holiday.

We have to ask: What kinds of flowers do you use to set a winter wedding scene?

Our favorite look for a winter wedding is all-white flowers with layers of rich textures. Fluffy white peonies, soft and petal-y Japanese ranunculus and fragrant white garden roses with just a hint of warmth would be the perfect start to a dreamy, winter-white bridal bouquet.

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