October 4, 2023
This month, we shine the spotlight on two incredible masters of arranging beauty.
Arranging beauty can mean floral arranging and decor, styling a table or space, planning an event or gathering – and each person has their own unique approach to their craft. This month, we shine the spotlight on two incredible masters of arranging beauty: Paulina Nieliwocki and Kim Delgado. In this interview, Paulina and Kim reflect on their connection with flowers, talk about how to playfully weave objects (including candles!) into floral arrangements, and offer gems of wisdom on how we can all embrace beauty as a gift from nature.
Greentree Home Candle: Let's begin by defining "beauty." Can you share a moment or memory that captures how you perceive beauty in the world around you?
Paulina: For me, beauty is appreciating and savoring the small moments of life and details in the world that surrounds us, specifically through the elements of color. Since I was a child, I have always been in tune with colors and how they shape what we are viewing, doing, and even feeling. I pay close attention to how color is distributed, the patterns and interesting combinations, and the emotion you feel when your eyes receive a color. For example, when I see a vibrant pale blue I feel invigorated, a freshness that only that color really gives me! It's like taking a sip of super cold water on a hot day.
Kim: To me, beauty is an expression of freedom. When a living being is given the freedom to live and to be exactly as they are, there is nothing more beautiful than the face they give us. Following the natural curve of a stem, rather than trying to force it to move a different way, will produce a more beautiful result every time.
Above: Paulina Nieliwocki of Blue Jasmine Floral
Greentree Home Candle: What are some creative or fun ways that you invite beauty into your everyday life?
Paulina: I love to wear fun colorful clothing, mixing and matching new pieces with old ones to make new combinations – a bonus is when I match the event I am working on!
Kim: I always have flowers in my house – shocking, I'm sure! I have a garden of incredible perennials as well as a seasonal cutting garden that I am always snipping from. I make arrangements, bouquets, and big statement pieces depending on my mood and then they live in the house until they’ve completely wilted. I love all the life stages of a cut flower.
Greentree Home Candle: How would you describe your overall approach to design, and what are the basic elements that go into styling for a special occasion?
Paulina: Layers and movement are at the heart of our designs. We love adding petite and sweet details to highlight a specific bloom or texture. The best guideline to styling a beautiful table is to not forget the details in your hard goods. Textured vases or even a fancier water goblet can make a table and/or overall decor look more elevated and carefully considered.
Kim: I find the whole process of designing flowers – from the seed to the placement in the arrangement – to be a love letter from nature. There is no way that such a tiny thing as a seed can create such huge and impactful beauty and yet, every year, that is exactly what happens. Every April, when our eyes and hearts are starving for green, nature provides the greatest gifts. I try to keep this at the heart of my designs, giving flowers the respect and care they deserve.
Above: Kim Delgado of Mary Stuart Flowers
Greentree Home Candle: When you are tasked with styling a table or decorating a space, what might spark your creative process – do you envision a color palette, a theme, specific flowers or other objects?
Paulina: COLOR! I zero in on a color palette; what sparks the palette is always different and unique to each table or space. I may draw inspiration from a piece of art on the walls, the furniture, the warm wood tones, or perhaps a piece of stationary. From there, I interpret a color palette into a flower palette.
Kim: I turn to a single element in my design, and can most often draw a full color palette from that one element. For example, if I really want to use peach foxgloves in my table arrangements, I take some time to look at each part of that flower to see what shades it holds in its separate elements. There is peach, yes, but within the tiny freckles that decorate the petals, there is warm brown, often a mauve or a pink tone, and some cream. The outer edges of the petals can change from soft peach to a luminescent gold. The foliage is a deep green with subtle lines of chartreuse. All of these colors are living in harmony within one flower. Nature has done all the hard work for us.
Greentree Home Candle: We would love to learn about your connection with candles, and what role candles play in arranging beauty.
Paulina: I love candles, especially the interesting colors and shapes from Greentree Home. I believe that candles are essential to a tabletop – they add height variation and glow, setting a tone and a mood in a way that nothing else can. I once was taught the key to styling: something alive (flowers), something hard (candles), and something soft (linen). So, naturally, candles are a part of every event we serve.
Kim: Candles are so important when “arranging beauty” or styling a table because they can draw the eye throughout the story of the table setting. Often candles are not considered as a part of the color story of a tablescape because their main job is to provide that deliciously warm, flickering light – but I have seen many of my flower heroes use tapers, in different colors and shapes, to take a table from beautiful to supremely beautiful. Stately tapers in a deep sangria color will ground the table, while simultaneously drawing the eye up to all the elements living above table height. As someone who loves to use long and gestural stems, this is such a fun way to move the eye in and around my tablescapes.
Above: Arrangement by Paulina Nieliwocki of Blue Jasmine Floral
Greentree Home Candle: What are your favorite designs or colors from the Greentree Home collection?
Paulina: I love the square taper candles – they are so modern, yet traditional. As for colors, I love them all. The variety of colors allows one to truly get creative.
Kim: The cone taper (in natural) was the first Greentree Home candle I ever saw on a table; a dear friend and incredible “arranger of beauty” used them in abundance to make an unbelievable statement on a dinner table in Fano, Italy. The memories this candle evokes, as well as its warm presence, make it my favorite of the collection for sure.
Above: Kim Delgado of Mary Stuart Flowers
Greentree Home Candle: Lastly, do you have any juicy tips or sage advice for beginners, those who aspire to become masters of arranging beauty?
Paulina: Practice! Don't be scared to experiment! Arranging beauty is not just a visual art, but a tactical one. The more you touch flowers, the closer you become to finding your unique voice and aesthetic.
Kim: I have only two real pieces of advice, both of which continue to serve me very well:
1) Always admire, never compare. This is hard to remember because as humans we compare ourselves to others, especially with social media everywhere. It is absolutely natural to admire the work of other designers and artists, and it can be so educational to take certain elements of what you love and make them your own. But you can only ever be yourself, so don’t try to be anyone else.
2) Practice every chance you get! I know flowers are expensive – find some branches and flowers on a walk, or stop into your bodega or supermarket once a week to grab a little bunch.
Inspired by her grandmother's connection to flowers, Paulina Nieliwocki created Blue Jasmine Floral to embark on her own flower journey – and ended up finding a way to feed her creative soul. She loves sharing her idea of beauty and telling stories through her designs, workshops, and classes. Read more about Paulina and her services here. Visit Blue Jasmine Floral at 206 Sherman Avenue in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.
A lifelong lover of beauty and flowers, Kim Delgado created Mary Stuart Flowers as an extension and expression of the joy she finds in nature. Her designs feature flowers she grows in her own garden, and her business ethic centers farmer partnerships, local and seasonal blooms, and sustainability. Read more about Kim and her work here. Visit Mary Stuart Flowers at 208 Canoe Hill Road in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Below: Blue Jasmine Floral Studio