December 15, 2014

Flora Etc founder, Razak Ahmad, on decorating a happy, festive home.

If you're lost on how to decorate your home this festive season, Razak Ahmad of Flora Etc has the insider scoop on how to impress your guests with your most stylish home yet.

With only 10 days left to Christmas, the countdown for the merriest, most festive time of year has begun. 
By now your turkey orders should already be in place, the bulk of your Christmas shopping done and your home all spiffed up ready to welcome guests into your abode. 
Fret not if that last part hasn't been seen to. We spoke to Razak Ahmad, founder of Flora Etc on how to best turn a family home into an instant party venue.
"Decor plays an important role in cultivating a festive mood in the house as it helps a lot in spreading cheer and joy to others," says the passionate florist and interior decorator, who was also our Malaysia Tatler 'Master of His Craft 2013' winner for his expertise on transforming regular spaces into breathtaking event venues.
Read on for what his tips are for the in colours this season on top of what flowers to best use to achieve your most stylish home yet.

What's the importance of one's home decor in cultivating a festive mood in the house?
Decorating can bring a family unit together as they try and decorate their home in as grand a manner as they can. Decorations during the festive season ensure that your home is full of brightness and sparkle. Having a bright and cheerful home during the festive season really will help in spreading the festive mood or spirit to those around you, plus it helps you enjoy it more too!

When a festive season draws near, how soon do you personally start putting up the decorations? 
For me, 2 weeks is a good time to get a head start putting up some decorations. It might seem a little early but there’s nothing wrong with getting in the spirit early. People should be able to freely put up their decorations as early as they want. I believe every festive season should be celebrated to the fullest, which means from the moment you start putting up the décor.

Every festive season, which part of the house do you always pay the most attention to when it comes to decorating, and why?
Personally, I would definitely pay more attention to the dining room as I am very sure you will spend good amount of time with your family and friends there, alongside good food. Make your guests feel welcomed by adding special personal touches to your dining table such as personalised place cards or any personal homemade decorative items.

Share with us some inspiration for table decorations.
If you want to keep your décor simple then small centerpieces in each of your reception tables will look beautiful and give you a simple and elegant feel. People always say less is more! But if you prefer something more luxurious or extravagant then tall centerpieces with lush flowers will look stunning. Try to also incorporate beautiful lit candles or candelabra that will glow and tinkle in the background to have that wow-factor.

Table setting by Flora Etc

From experience what is the ideal size of the table centerpiece during dinner so it isn’t too big that it blocks the view of the guests but not too small so the table looks empty?
Try to figure out an appropriate size in relation to your table and room. At the same time, incorporate live elements like fresh flowers whenever possible. Multiple arrangements can look fabulous, but if they’re too big, they can overpower a space. A medium size flower arrangement in a clear glass bowl would be ideal if you want to make an impression but at the same time not block the view of your guests.

What’s the easiest way to make a house look decorated for those who are short on time?
What you can do is just do a walk-through of your house and take note of any area that you think deserve a little bit of decoration. The easiest way is always play around with lights, use a lot of luminaries and candles to brighten up your house. Your home will be more inviting simply by lighting a few candles around the place.

In the debate of fresh flowers versus artificial flowers, which side are you on, and why?
Fresh flowers of course! It makes a lot of difference. I believe that keeping fresh flowers in your home breathes new life into your space. It brightens up the space and will make your home look luxurious while giving it soul. Nothing says luxury like fresh flowers.

Is there a special theme for decorating that you’re most fond of? Like the use of a certain flower, or a certain colour?
I always like to create something of my own signature style. However I tend to be more classic and conservative -- I play a lot with monochromatic colour palette with subdued colours. As for flowers I like to use fresh flowers that have variety of colours. Flowers that can complement well with any colour scheme are hydrangea, phaleonopsis, hyacinthus orientalis, peonies, tulips and, of course, roses.

This year, what’s a new trend in decorating homes that you would like to share with readers?
In 2014, we see a lot of people opting for a versatile neutral base colours and using big-impact accents to easily change their decor. There’s also a trend where people go with dark and moody backgrounds and coordinate it with metallic accessories. It looks very dramatic and glamourous when you pair it with vintage or one-of-a-kind pieces.

Personally, which part of the house do you think makes a home?
The living room. It’s a crucial space where the first impression of your house begins; the living room is where visitors will first get a glimpse into your lifestyle. You should decorate it to your personal taste because it mirrors your characteristics as an owner.Please don’t feel compelled to adorn every empty space -- think of your living room as your sanctuary and it's very important that you make your guests feel at ease without unneccessary clutter.