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pink peach and purple pastel flowers in silver vase

The 10 Fundamentals of Flower Arranging

Floral arrangement consists of selecting flowers and foliage to create beautiful and delightful designs. It’s an artistic activity that offers a way to express oneself creatively. It is also an art form in which there are fundamental design elements that are used to create a pleasing outcome. To help you create gorgeous and gratifying flower arrangements, our experts at Cascade Floral Wholesale have put together a list of ten fundamental design principles that are essential to creating professional-looking floral arrangements. 

10 Essential Floral Design Principles 

1. Lines

Flower Arrangement with Pink Roses and Ferns
Flower Arrangement with Pink Roses and Ferns

Whether you’ve consciously noticed them or not, professional floral arrangements feature linear-based designs, which encompass four different types of lines:

  1. Actual Lines – These lines are actually present in your design. Everything you use has lines. For example, stems, bamboo shoots, or a row of red roses are all actual straight lines. The curve of a leaf or twist of a willow branch represents actual curved lines. 
  2. Implied Lines – Your arrangement will create implied lines, where the mind’s eye connects two similar elements or continues a repeated pattern. 
  3. Static Lines – Static lines give the impression of a lack of movement. Vertical and horizontal lines that do not lean or incline are considered static. Horizontal lines tend to represent rest, peacefulness, and quiet, while vertical lines, like the columns of a great temple, represent power. 
  4. Dynamic Lines – Dynamic lines are neither perfectly vertical or perfectly horizontal, but rather slanted, curved, spiraled, or zigzagged. These lines create the impression of movement within your design. 

If a design appears too rigid or cold, add in a dynamic line or two. Conversely, if your design looks too chaotic, give it more structure with static lines. Usually, a combination of different types of lines creates a visually dynamic and well-balanced floral design. 

2. Shape/Form

Pink and Yellow Roses in a Vase
Pink and Yellow Roses in a Vase

Once you’ve considered the types of lines you will use in your design, you’ll need to think about the shape or form your lines will come together to create.

Think of shape in terms of two dimensions and form in terms of three. If you’re creating a design that will only be viewed from one side, then you can focus mostly on shape. If you’re creating a centerpiece or arrangement that will be viewed from all sides, then you’ll need to focus on three-dimensional form. 

Floral arrangements can be created in a variety of shapes and forms, but some are more popular. For example, you can make an endless variety of designs using crescents, circles, triangles, ovals, spheres, rectangles, spirals, and other shapes. Working toward creating an overall shape will create a cohesive look, preventing your design from appearing messy or thrown together. 

3. Balance

Pink roses and lilies bouquet
Pink Roses and Lilies Bouquet

Balance does not mean that your arrangement needs to be completely symmetrical. It’s better to think about balance in terms of visual weight and negative space. If you have a particularly large bloom on one side of your arrangement, it’ll likely look odd, if you don’t balance it with another large bloom or a similarly sized cluster of smaller flowers on the opposite side. View your arrangement from all angles to make sure you don’t have any unsettling empty spaces or overly full spots. 

4. Color

pink peach and purple pastel flowers in silver vase
Beautiful Pastel Flowers

All flowers are beautiful, but when paired within a well-planned color palette, they can truly stun the viewer. When it comes to color combinations in floral design, you can do just about anything you like. Feel free to play with monochromatic designs, contrasting colors, pastels, and saturated hues. When working with multiple colors a good rule of thumb is to choose three basic hues, two complementary colors that will dominate your design, and an accent hue. 

In floral arrangements, color is more than just visually important. Different colors and flowers have symbolic meanings. Before you settle on a color pallet for your design, you might want to look into the symbolism of the colors you plan to incorporate.  

5. Texture

peach violet and pink assorted flowers in vase
Beautiful Arrangement of Flowers in Vase

When you think about texture, you’ll be closely inspecting the surface quality of each element in your design. Due to the way light reflects, rough surfaces will naturally retreat into your design, while smooth, shiny surfaces will pop out with greater intensity. Thinking about texture in your design will help you create more visually interesting creations. Try to incorporate different textures within your arrangement to create a floral design that interests a viewer the first or fiftieth time they see it. 

6. Contrast

Georgeous flower Arrangement in Pink and Purple
Gorgeous Arrangement in Pink and Purple

Contrast adds drama and visual interest to a design. You create contrast when you place opposite elements side by side. For example, light colors and dark colors, soft textures and coarse textures, or big blooms and small flowers. Contrast is an important design element, but it’s tricky to get exactly right. Be careful to avoid incorporating equal amounts of contrasting elements — choose one to be more dominant. With too many contrasting elements, your design can become overly busy and erratic, resulting in the loss of your design’s rhythm and balance. 

7. Space

Wildflower Bouquet in White vase
Wildflower Bouquet

It’s important to think about the spacing of flowers within an arrangement to prevent it from looking crowded or to create an intentionally crowded look that seems to burst from the container. Whether you’re going for a line or mass arrangement make sure your flowers are adequately spaced so that viewers can get a good look at each special flower in your design. 

8. Size/Proportion

red and purple flowers in clear vase in white living room
Gorgeous Floral Arrangement in Living Room

When creating an arrangement, it’s important to think about the location where it will be placed. Create a design that will be the right size for its intended placement, neither overpowering the room nor getting lost within it. For example, you wouldn’t want a tiny arrangement to act as the focal point of a large room or a large arrangement that doesn’t fit into the corner it’s intended to fill. 

9. Rhythm

Exotic Floral Arrangement with red roses and greenery
Exotic Floral Arrangement

Just like repeated beats move us through music, visual rhythm in floral arrangements helps move an observer’s eye through the entire design. You can create rhythm by repeating colors, textures, or even lines throughout the arrangement. For example, long stems that radiate in a fan-like pattern or bright bursts of yellow throughout will give your design plenty of rhythm. 

10. Focal Point

Beautiful Flower Arrangement with Succulent
Beautiful Flower Arrangement with Succulent

While your viewers’ eyes move through the rhythm of your floral design, it’s also important to provide them with a focal point on which they can pleasantly rest their gaze. You can easily create a focal point within an arrangement by using an unusual, large, or unexpected bloom within your arrangement. Consider using a flower cluster like a hydrangea, a peony, or even a large rose. 

Lavender colored flowers on table
Luscious Lavender Standard Mix

Using high-quality materials and applying these basic design principles to your floral arrangements will make all the difference, transforming your designs from home-made efforts to professionally designed works of art. For more floral design inspiration, we welcome you to contact our floral design experts at Cascade Floral Wholesale