The secret to magazine-worthy interiors? Ditch the stems, pronto. To perk up a room with a natural hit of the unexpected, try using well-composed arrangements of budding branches instead of fresh-cut florals. While Pinterest no doubt holds thousands of creative uses for a bare branch, from DIY lighting to faux headboards, sculptural flowering boughs add an element of romance—plus volume, texture, and shape—in any room with very little effort: simply fill a glass cylinder (or urn, or bowl) with some water, add branches, set on a knotty-wood side table or a slick marble countertop, and you're ready to roll.
Don't live in California or the South, where flora-filled tree limbs are in abundance year-round? You can still enjoy the beauty of a flowering branch even in the throes of winter. Just follow these simple steps.
1. Opt for branches that are about ½-inch in diameter. Most need about six weeks of dormancy, aka a "cold period," before you can force them back to life. Once you've selected the type of branch you'd like (see below), use pruning shears to cut branches from a tree or bush. Trim at the ends to remove any leaves or buds that will be under water in your desired vase (because they will rot).
2. Carefully cut ½-inch-long slits at the end of each branch several times to create a crosshatch pattern, then smash the ends against a hard surface so that the branch frays out. This will increase surface area and encourage the branch to absorb water.
3. Submerge branches in a container of lukewarm water mixed with flower food (you can add up to a tablespoon of bleach to prevent bacterial growth) and let soak. Keep the branches in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks and add water as necessary.
4. Once buds start to bloom, you're done. Bring them out for all to admire.
Or, you know, pick some up at the local flower market. Here are 10 of our favorite varieties.
(Ok, technically this is a leafy branch but it's too pretty to omit.)