How To Pick Colors Like a Floral Designer

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Most of us have a sense of what colors we prefer, and can even name a favorite or two. But when it comes to floral decor, there’s a whole lot more to creating a gorgeous color scheme than just pointing to the hues you like best.

We caught up with Carly Cylinder, Creative Director of FlourLA and the genius behind the wedding flowers on Bravo's Shahs of Sunset , to get her insider tips.

(Really into it? You can pick up more flower power from Carly in her Bluprint show, The Flower Kitchen .)

Where do you start when working with clients to pick a color scheme?

Pinterest and Instagram help a lot here. Clients usually send me a few images that speak to them, and I can see patterns right away, since people tend to gravitate toward the same palette over and over again — it’s just what strikes them. I think that’s because we all have an emotional connection to certain colors.

It’s also good to think about the overall mood of the event. Is it modern? Romantic? Calming or minimalist? When you walk into the room, how do you want to feel?

Are there common mistakes people make when choosing colors?

Yes! A big one is assuming that all flowers come in every color and are available all the time. Really, a lot depends on the season and what’s naturally available. (We can dye flowers using floral spray paint, but that requires lots of extra labor.) If you know you love specific colors, that’s great, but you might need to be flexible about the type of flowers. In general, the colors you pick are more important to the finished effect than the specific types of flowers.

Another mistake is choosing which colors work well together. This is where a professional florist can really help. We can guide you to unexpected color combos you might not have thought of, or let you know if your favorites are actually going to look odd together.

Your recent work on Mercedes "MJ" Javid's wedding on Shahs of Sunset definitely showed off the power of a creamy, monochrome palette. What’s the story behind that design?

MJ really wanted something classic and timeless, so I knew right away there’d be a lot of ivory and cream. We were going to add in pops of plum and burgundy, too — but after talking with the show’s production team, we decided not to risk it looking bad on camera. Those deep colors could look like a hole, since there’d be so much contrast with the white. (Photo by @TheFlowerChef )

We’re not all having parties like MJ's wedding! What are some of your tips for really making a statement, even if you’re on a budget?

The big secret is to use a lot of flowers! Of course that’s not always realistic — but the same idea can be applied. It’s more impactful to have four bunches of beautiful carnations in a single vase than just a few garden roses. The roses are pretty too, but they won’t bring the drama!

Do you have a personal favorite color scheme or flower combo?

When I first started out it was hot pink and light green — definitely a throwback to my 1980s childhood! Right now I love various shades of pinks with peach and pops of red with some simple, true green greenery.

Any color trend predictions in floral design for 2019?

People in the industry usually say the Pantone color of the year, but I’ve never seen that actually be true for what people want or order. One thing I’ve noticed is that people are gravitating toward color in general, since the natural garden look is so popular. Basically all the colors of a pretty English garden are what’s trending.

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