Stunning Made Simple

To put a fresh spin on getting in the holiday spirit, we tapped Michael and Darroch Putnam, the wildly talented duo behind the floral-design firm Putnam & Putnam. See how you can make your home feel like an extra-special winter woodland by trading tinsel and traditional bold hues for soft tones, organic textures, and lush accents plucked right from nature.


By PETRA GUGLIELMETTI
Photos by THOMAS LOOF

Think beyond the vase

Delight guests on sight with this enchanting display. To create it, Michael Putnam lined a long tray with floral foam; added amaryllis, hyacinth, and a variety of plants, including fern and evergreen clippings; and filled it in with moss. “Don't overthink this,” he says. “You could simply use branches and a fern and it would still be impactful.”

The Details: Habit + Form extra-large rectangle tray, from $14, shop terrain.com. CB2 Infinity brass square wall mirror, 31", $129, cb2.com. Cole & Son Apex wallpaper, cole-and-son.com.

Go wild, with intention

This is undoubtedly a next-level arrangement. But there's a method to Putnam & Putnam's creative genius that even amateurs can take away. They arranged mountain laurel and evergreen branches in floral foam set on a tray, then punctuated it with fresh-cut flowers, including amaryllis, ranunculus, and roses. Last, they filled in the spots on the mantle with moss and shiny metal ornaments.

Michael and Darroch Putnam, the married couple behind New York City floral-design firm Putnam & Putnam (putnamflowers.com), are the wunderkind of the flower world. In their lovely Fifth Avenue shop and Brooklyn studio, the duo have made a name for themselves creating unforgettable arrangements and breathtaking installations, often from humble and scavenged botanicals, like branches, mosses, ferns, and dried flowers. “There's a romance and an unkemptness to what we do,” Michael says of their unique style. And in Darroch's words, they strive for “elegance made with unexpected elements.” On these pages, they share some of their secrets. “We used materials that are easily available in projects that are attainable,” says Michael. So start playing, and feel free to improvise. We predict that some gorgeous new traditions are about to take root in your home.

Try a dreamy palette

Red and green are classic, but a romantic combination of muted rose, sage green, and gold (think Christmas shot through a soft-focus lens) is gorgeous. The skirt under the blue-spruce tree was fashioned from a swath of wool-felt fabric, and the presents echo the gentle color scheme.

The Details: Preserved billy-button craspedia (on garlands), $9 for 10, and giant thistles, in Burgundy Red Natural, $17 a bunch, save-on-crafts.com. Assorted pillows, from $86 each, ochre.com.

Add moments of loveliness

It may look complicated, but this diverse tablescape is greater than the sum of its parts. To re-create it, showcase small clusters of flowers, tree trimmings, and mini ornaments under glass domes. Then fill serving vessels with moss, fern leaves, driftwood—or even dried shelf mushrooms from a crafts store. Inexpensive red-thistle place-card holders and patterned napkins punctuate the plates.

The Details: Glass domes, from $36 each, jayson home.com. Heather Taylor Scarlet napkins, $78 for 4, heathertaylorhome.com. Astier de Villatte plates, $90 each, johnderian.com.

Let there be light

Borrow this trick for installing a dramatic display, inside or out. Fill lightweight urns with floral foam and insert large branches from outside (these are mountain laurel). Get out the stepladder and arrange tiny naked-wire LED lights on the branches to evoke icy foliage, then cover the bases with pillows of moss.

The Details: Classic urns, in Medium, $400 each, pennoyernewman.com. Warm White Naked Wire LED light strings, $9 for a strand of 40, jamaligarden.com.