Step into the renovation of Teressa Johnson’s floral studio

There is a certain whimsy located inside a flower. The best arrangements carry a story with them. Whether it’s in composition – how your eye jumps across the flower, from left to right – or color changes in the petal. The whimsical story is hard to ignore, and that’s exactly what floral designer Theresa Johnson brings to her (beloved) table.

“We are located in a quiet and charming small town in Sumner, Washington. Our house, which we called Mayberry House, was built in 1918 and we have been part of his schedule for seven of those years,” Teressa shares.

her own studio

With more than 20 years of floral design under her belt, Teressa’s initial setup was in a 6.5-foot basement, followed by a garage with no running water or insulation. “To say I received a promotion is a bold understatement, and knowing the sacrifice my husband took to give up his workspace – in addition to building this entire studio by hand – is an endearing love letter to me.”

Teresa’s vision came to life when she introduced herself to designer Katie Leclerc. “We met several times through mutual friends, but then we started working together and built a very dear friendship.” The seemingly charming studio is built around a table ready to tell stories and build whims. And it’s the perfect place for Teresa to give her creations a passion beyond flowers – a passion that revolves around the person at the table.

“Why are they here? What relationship do they represent? How do I make them feel proud? How would it feel to be one of these intended guests? I like to think of the details in order to create something deeply meaningful for everyone who has a seat at the table.”

Ahead, Teresa invites us on her journey and her gorgeous floral studio—plus, the designer shares three invaluable tips for arranging your flowers like a pro.

How long have you been designing flowers?

On my thirteenth birthday, I received three carnations from the grocery store. They immediately found their home on my bedside table, and I was delighted with how “plus” they were; How they turned into my sponge-painted bedroom in the early ’90s. I have a fond memory of vowing to myself that when I become an adult, there will always be fresh flowers in my house.

Where is the most inspiring place to find it?

Inspiration seems to be everywhere when I have the luxury to take the time to look around. I spend a lot of time in the car and most of the sparks start to fly when I see weeds in ditches, fallen vines falling over fences, dead, sun-bleached things bending over to the wind.

I come from a childhood (and I’m still in my life now) where we had to be creative to make ends meet, so I always have eyes set to look at the ordinary through imaginary lenses. This always enhances my work and inspires me.

It also helps me let natural matter dictate what I want it to be, and allows me to let go of it and dance with it, versus forcing it to conform to a calculated idea. This kind of layered inspiration not only tells me my approach to working with flowers, but it’s a common thread woven throughout my life. It’s a spirit that manifests itself through cooking, communicating with others, and dealing with the obvious fact that we really don’t have much control over life.

What was your vision of this space?

I wanted to stop the charade going up and down the stairs with the rose vines intertwined in my compositions. I wanted to stop hearing about my lovely kids, but they are busy from upstairs and I don’t have a quiet place for phone calls with clients. I wanted natural daylight and ceilings where I could lift the jar and not press on the top of a delicate branch in the low ceiling above.

Seeing this space was a reprieve from it all, and then I initially fell for the creative genius of Katie LeClercq. I think it was just one show and I could see what she saw – it was perfect. She’s the real deal and she understands space and aesthetics like I’ve never known before.

Describe your home studio in three words

Timeless, authentic, charming. The main farmhouse table here is a sacred space – it hosts many of the deep and important conversations that make the studio so much more comfortable for me.

Do you have a favorite piece or feature in your studio?

The sink and the farm table. They both come with a restoration story, which is a top priority for me and my husband.

The sink came with the 1918 house but was covered in paint and tucked away in the basement. After waiting two years to find a home in which we can see ourselves build our lives, we toured this home. The bones were tempting, but the kitchen was very small and it kind of dampened my hopes. Crestfallen, we went downstairs to the underground basement and I saw the sink! It was the turning point.

I left my kitchen reservations and made an offer on the house. Seven years later, this blessed sink has finally taken center stage and emerged from the basement into the studio’s highest focal point, and we still run our tiny kitchen. I would say it was worth it.

The table was part of the client’s family property and he didn’t pay much attention to it. After the project, they generously gave it to me, seeing that I was fainting because of it and they didn’t care much. We strapped it to the pickup truck, sanded it, and oiled it. It has become the lifeblood of the studio ever since.

I am happy to report that I currently know more neighbors with a wide range of variety, thanks to my endless need to mow, prune, and enjoy the foliage and flowers around us.

3 simple tips for creating floral arrangements

Get to know your basics

Hands are the most important tools for all of us. However, I have a special extension in my right hand, and this is called a pair of bypass scissors. I absolutely feel the most dexterity with this in my hand, perhaps more than using a pen, cell phone, or chef’s knife. Of course, there are many levels of quality within this category of scissors, but as long as they are sharp and sturdy, I’m happy. They planted it all around me…in the car, on the deck, in my studio, in my toolbox. I always needed those shears.

good source

Support all farmers! I can’t say enough about the dear people who have dedicated their lives to cultivating beauty for us. If you can grow your own flowers, do so. If you can’t, go support the small farms and the farmers who do all the work, in all seasons, to pitch to us. I’m in the Northwest, and we are blessed with many wonderful growers, who go out of their way to show us, take into account our colors and the nuances we tend to, and occasionally grow new varieties with specific designers.

Practice sustainability (there is a surprising benefit!)

As far as plants go, it is important to know how and when to prune in order to establish a symbiotic relationship with the plants. If one knows how to cut and prune, the plant is encouraged to grow and thrive, and it becomes a win-win situation. I’m not a professional gardener, but the basic instruction on this is to cut (using the above-mentioned bypass shears, not scissors) at an angle, just above the knot. This will encourage more growth in the plant and, of course, provide you with the cut flower or branch needed for home arrangements.

As far as relationships go, I’m a strong proponent of meeting your neighbors. If a neighbor has something growing in her yard and she likes it, I knock on the door and introduce myself. Compliments to the garden are never undesirable, and even better to offer to buy pieces of it. However, I usually end up with a new girlfriend, flowers that I love, and a batch of warm cookies in her hands as no neighbor has yet wanted any cash. Thus begins a new relationship that would not have happened otherwise. I am happy to report that I currently know more neighbors with a wide range of variety, thanks to my endless need to mow, prune, and enjoy the foliage and flowers around us.

resources:

Open cabinet paint: Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray
Built-in Cabinets Paint: Benjamin Moore Street Chic
Faucet: Chicago Faucets
Hardware: Smeg
District numerator: Woven Abode and Jean Palmer Home
Lighting on the big table: the first dip
Candelabra: Ramzi Konder
Pendant on a Small Round Table: Jayson Home
Plasterwork on the wall: Julian Johnson
Concrete Countertops: Concrete Project
Lower shelves: Regular company space.

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