Design Styles

There are many different and accepted styles of floral arrangements – from traditional, to free style, to abstract. To help you get started and develop a feel for creating your own arrangements, some of the traditional styles are outlined below.

In describing the various styles of arrangements, certain construction elements are taken for granted.These are:

    • The container is an integral part of the design. Particular care should be taken to use a vessel that is suited to the mood of the arrangement and does not visually overpower the floral material.

    • The height of a vertical arrangement should be 1 & 1/2 times the height of the container. Horizontal styles should be 1 & 1/2 times the width (if the container is visible).
    • Designs begin with a framework of line, form or mass flowers that outline the finished shape. Further flowers and foliage are then added (always within the outline) to complete the arrangement.
    • With the exception of rounds and horizontal centerpieces, designs are composed with a focal point from which the eye moves to appreciate the arrangement. This necessary point of interest is located just above, or at the lip of the container and is created by the use of form Flowers, concentrating mass, or using darker colours.
    • The floral material is arranged at varying heights and depths to create interest. Flat planes and straight lines produce a dull and monotonous arrangement.
  • Open space is as much a part of the arrangement as the flowers themselves; overcrowding is chaotic and displeasing to the eye.


Round Arrangements

Round arrangements appear to be very simple but, because they have no focal point, great care must be taken to preserve the rounded shape from all angles and to balance the floral materials throughout the design.

    • While this style often contains several sizes and varieties of Flowers, use of one variety with a suitable filler for contrast, such as roses and baby’s breath, can be magnificent.
    • Using an appropriate container and floral foam held in place with waterproof tape, place form or mass flowers to develop the round framework.
    • Use as many as required to satisfy balance, remembering that in this style all the flowers converge at the center of the arrangement.
    • If smaller flowers and foliage are being used, they are added next for contrast and to help define the shape.
  • Fillers are placed last to fill in spaces and give a finished look to the piece.


Triangular Arrangements

There are four types of triangular arrangements, each based on one of the geometric triangle shapes.

Equilateral: All three sides are of equal length with the focal point at the center of the base line.



 Right: The vertical and horizontal sides meet at an angle of 90 degrees. It is visually most pleasing if the height is greater than the width and the high point is on the left side of the arrangement. The focal point is located at the bottom left.



 Isosceles: Two equal sides determine the height of the triangle. This form works well in all orientations from tall and narrow, to low and wide. Regardless of height, the focal point is at the center of the base line.


Scalene: This is an asymmetrical arrangement and works best if the height and focal point are both shifted slightly to the left of center. This design often uses a footed container to emphasize the dropped right hand point of the triangle.

Triangular designs are extremely popular and among the simplest to create. The shape is determined by the three points of the triangle and, while the entire triangular outline can be filled in with floral material, it is not necessary to do so. The arrangements are usually front-facing, but consideration must be taken for viewing from the sides as well. Some of the more open designs are meant to be seen from all angles, so balance and symmetry must be maintained throughout.

To construct a triangular arrangement:
    • begin by establishing the three points of the triangle with line or mass materials anchored in floral foam. This automatically defines the connecting lines.
    • Create the focal point next using form or mass flowers and then fill in as much of the triangular shape as you desire, graduating flower sizes from larger to smaller as you work outward toward the outline.
    • Remember to leave more space between flowers as you work away from the focal point.
  • Fillers can be added, always within the shape defined by the three points, to finish the design.
Horizontal Arrangements

Horizontal arrangements are designed as table centerpieces, or for use on low pieces of furniture, they are viewed from above as well as from the side. Consequently, they are usually symmetrical. If the container is completely covered by the floral material it is not necessary to limit the length of the arrangement to 1 & 1/2 times the diameter of the container. This allows for the creation of displays of generous proportions.

    • Begin by anchoring floral foam to the container with waterproof tape. The foam can be higher than the lip of the container to allow the placing of outward extending material in its sides. When saturated with water it will remain moist to the top.
    • Establish the length of the design with foliage or line material and the width with mass or form flowers.
    • Place another large flower in the center to fix the height – being careful to keep this in proportion with the length.
    • Add more flowers, working from the center to the edges. Although there is no actual focal point, decrease size and leave more space as you work outward to ensure an overall sense of balance.
    • Be careful to vary heights as this adds depth when the arrangement is viewed from above.
  • Filler material should be placed toward the center to soften and finish the design.

This is but a small sampling of the many styles that have been developed over the years. Many more, such as the Hogarth curve, crescent, and Japanese ikebana, are described in books of excellent quality that are available to help you delve deeper into this fascinating art form. Enjoy!


Home Floral Design, The John Henry Company, Lansing, MI, 1991, 79 pp.,
Phyllis Page, The Handbook for Flower Arrangers, Blandford Press Ltd., 1976, 170 pp.,
John Dale and Kevin Gunnell, The Flower Arranger’s Handbook, E.P. Dutton Pub., 1986, 224 pp.,
The Garden Clubs of Ontario, The Canadian Flower Arranger, Macmillan Canada, 1993, 105 pp.