Mon, May 21, 2012 – by Kate Arcieri

DIY Sleek New Centerpieces

Looking to break out of the red-white-and-blue carnation crowd for Memorial Day table decor? Think about putting together a modern flower arrangement that, while decidedly stylish, will still look right at home on a table full of burgers on the back porch.

You’ve probably seen Ikebana, traditional Japanese flower arrangements, in flower stores and home design magazines. But you may not have known that these minimalist creations actually have centuries of tradition surrounding them. The art of Ikebana was for generations a required skill for marriageable Japanese young women, and a practice on which hours and hours was spent.

But if you like their look all you really need to know is that these arrangements bring a fresh feel to almost any kind of interior. The beauty of Ikebana is how it makes the flowers look like they haven’t yet been picked, like they're still growing—in fact Ikebana means "make flowers come alive" in Japanese.

To get started choose a low container, like a candy dish or a plate with a lip. Place a flower frog (that’s the little round item, either glass with little holes or metal with little needles, that holds stems exactly where you put them) in the center. Then choose three stems. Take your tallest stem and use it to measure how far to clip down the other two flowers or greens. The second stem should be ¾ the length of the first, and the last should be half the size of the first. Then cover the frog with attractive rocks or any other natural material. Ikebana create the look of a triangle, thus the three stems of differing lengths. But if you would like a fuller look you can place multiple three-stem arrangements in one container (see above) and still achieve the very measured, precise style.

And there you have it, an easy, inexpensive (you’re only buying three stems!) arrangement that will liven up that holiday table.