Home & Design, Lifestyle, Self-Improvement

6 Floral Arrangement Hacks For Newbies – Vanessa Tai

Floral arrangement is no longer an old-fashioned pastime for housewives or “aunties”. According to Jaclyn Lim, founder & florist of Bloomroom.sg, more young and house-proud Singaporeans are buying flowers to display in their homes. Intrigued? Consider this your cheat sheet. By Vanessa Tai

In the past, Singaporeans will only think of buying flowers on special occasions such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries or Valentine’s Day. “However,” says Jaclyn, “lifestyle habits have since evolved and now young professionals (mostly women) are buying flowers to spruce up their home or simply to banish Monday blues.”

Contrary to popular belief, floral arrangement is not that expensive a hobby. Jaclyn explains, “Flowers are not exactly cheap in Singapore as most varieties are imported. But it is possible to mix expensive flowers like hydrangeas with more affordable blooms like baby’s breath or sweet william to achieve your desired effect.”

Oh, and if you think floral arrangement sounds like too much of a hassle, just give it a try and you may find yourself reaping its therapeutic benefits! Jaclyn says, “I think anyone can do flowers, even if they don’t feel particularly creative. For example, I noticed students who were easily stressed out started by holding on to flowers tightly, which created tightly bunched arrangements. However, over time, they loosened up and let go of their grip. The floral arrangements started to look more natural and were in fact, very lovely. So, any personality type can work with flowers … in fact, working with flowers may actually shape your personality!”


Getting Started

You can pick-up floral arranging tips from your regular florist, YouTube videos, and floral arrangement books. Then, start by buying fresh flowers to experiment with at home. For flowers such as lilies, roses, gerberas, chrysanthemums, and sunflowers, you can find them at your wet markets or supermarkets. To get more premium blooms such as dahlias, peonies, ranunculuses, and alstroemerias, you’ll need to visit an established florist.

Choosing Your Flowers

For a complete floral arrangement, you’ll need the following:

  1. Focal flowers: These are largest blooms in your arrangement and are often the centre of attraction. Examples include roses, gerberas, sunflowers, and tulips.
  2. Filler flowers: Typically, these are smaller than the focal flowers and are usually in clusters. Examples include sweet william, baby’s breath, and wildflowers.
  3. Textural flowers: For variations in height, directions or textures, you can add these to your arrangement. Examples include hypericum berries, billy buttons, matthiolas, and lotus pods.
  4. Foliage: The greens to provide support for your flowers, for example, eucalyptus leaves or ruscus leaves.

Prepping Your Flowers

  1. Remove flowers from packaging/cellophane wrapping.
  2. Clean your lower stems of thorns and leaves that fall below the water line. Submerged leaves will rot and cause bacteria to form. However, if you keep the water in the vase clear, your flowers will last longer.
  3. Cut stems at a sharp angle to create more surface areas on the stem. This increases water absorption, and again keep flowers fresh longer.

Floral Arrangement: Decoded

  1. Have an idea of what you are planning to create. For example, have a shape of the intended arrangement in mind, know what vase you’re planning to use, and the flowers that complement it.
  2. Work with only one type of flower at a time. Start with the biggest (more dominant) flowers because they can help to create the basic shape of the arrangement/bouquet, before going on to the filler flowers (smaller clusters of flowers) to fill up the arrangement. From there, you can continue filling up the “holes” in the arrangement with some greens.
  3. Try not to use even number of flowers (2, 4, 6) because the bouquet/arrangement can end up overly traditional/symmetrical. 3 or 5 are great to work with for a livelier bouquet.
  4. Always take a step back. When you’re busy adding flowers, you may be obsessed with the task at hand and forget about looking at the arrangement as a whole. You need take a step back, breathe, and judge the composition.
  5. Know when to stop. Sometimes, it can be tempting to keep adding flowers. One way to know when to stop is when there are no more obvious holes exposing the floral foam in the arrangement. Remember, it doesn’t have to be PERFECT. As long as you like it and it makes you happy, that’s enough.
  6. Go with the flow. By experimenting with different styles, you’ll get to learn how different flowers work within an arrangement. From there, you’ll also develop your own style.



  1. Sharp florist shears (MOST IMPORTANT): A sharp edge is desirable, not only because it is easier to cut the materials, but a sharp, even cut will allow water to enter the flower stems. A ragged, crushed cut edge may inhibit water and food absorption, causing your flowers to fade faster.
  2. Pruners: These are useful to cut woodier branches, like large eucalyptus leaves or wax flowers.
  3. Floral foam (optional): If you’re planning to create an actual flower arrangement in a wide-mouthed container, like a colander, you need to cut the floral foam to size, lay it in the container and use sticky tape to hold it in place. Available at florists.
  4. Floral tape (optional): This is great for making a tape grid to keep flowers in place.
  5. Plant Food (optional)

How to keep fresh blooms longer: 

  1. Change water every other day to ensure the flowers get fresh water that is devoid of any bacteria growth. Be sure to re-cut the stems at a 45-degree angle to ensure maximum absorption of water.
  2. ​Place the flowers in the coolest corner of the room, out of direct sunlight. They will last longer.
  3. Dissolve a pack of commercial flower food in the water to help cut flowers last longer. Chrysal packs are readily available in Singapore.

Get fresh flowers delivered right to your doorstep!


There’s something immediately calming and charming about having fresh blooms in the house. If you’ll like to have fresh flowers delivered to your home each week, register your interest here!

Current delivery areas:

  • Monday evenings: Tampines/Pasir Ris/Simei
  • Tuesday evenings: Serangoon/Braddell/Toa Payoh
  • Wednesday evenings: Hougang
  • Thursday evenings:  Sengkang/Punggol/Yio Chu Kang
  • Saturday afternoons: Joo Chiat/Marine Parade/Siglap/Telok Kurau

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

Home & Design, Lifestyle

Stationery That’ll Inspire You To Get Your Life In Order – Denise Li

Sometimes, I still find myself marvelling at smartphone technology and how it’s changed our lives so drastically in the last five years. I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t live without my Samsung Galaxy S4. As someone who’s constantly on the go and who helps run a digital portal, I need to be able to reply emails when I’m out and about, check on how this website is doing, update our various social media accounts, etc. But a friend – who still uses an old-school “dumb” phone – made a very pertinent observation the other day, he said: “When you’re constantly glued to your smartphone, you have no room to think.” In a way, I think he’s right. I used to look forward to long bus rides during my uni days because they are a form of “me-time”. I’d take the time to zone out, or look out and observe Singapore’s ever-changing landscape … I also used the time to think about the lecture I just went to, or on the book I was reading (I was an English Lit major) and formulate arguments for my essays.

Now, the moment I know I’m going to be travelling for a substantial amount of time, I – like 90% of the people here – whip out my phone to play Candy Crush, update Facebook, check for Twitter updates. I guess it’s no wonder that I feel constantly harried all the time. A smartphone tends to lend itself to that kind of “I need to share this news now or it will be sooo five minutes ago” kind of urgency,

Despite my smartphone addiction, I also make sure I never leave home without my Moleskine notebook. Although I also use note-taking apps such as Evernote, I still find it a great comfort to write all my appointments down. I also use it to pen ideas, simply because I can write a lot faster than I can type on a smartphone touchscreen. And tapping away on a smartphone screen just does not offer the same visceral satisfaction of writing. As someone who’s a big fan of writing, I’m very particularly about stationery. My pen’s tip must be a certain thickness, and I don’t just use any old notebook – it needs to be lined and the paper needs to be of good quality and absorb pen ink quickly so I don’t end up with ink stains all over my hands. So, although some people might balk at the idea of spending $30 on a notebook, I think it to be a fantastic investment.

Speaking of which, Kikki.K has just launched its range of 2014 calenders and diaries and I am absolutely in love. There are over 50 items to choose from, so you don’t have an excuse not to get your life in order!



Weekly leather diary, from $39.90

Cute weekly diary, from $19.90

Cute weekly diary, from $19.90

296C7788 296C7790

Wall calender, $24.90

296C7795 296C7803DIY desk calender, $29.90

Kikki.K is at #B2-44/46 Ion Orchard.

Material World was not paid to feature Kikki.K products. All opinions are the author’s own.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Besides stationery, she’s also obsessed with namecards. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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Quirky Home Additions You’ll Love

Spruce Up Your Home

Home & Design, Lifestyle

Quirky Home Additions You’ll Love – Denise Li

Just as you wouldn’t copy an outfit wholesale off a runway, or a makeup look completely off the pages of a magazine, you don’t want your living room to look like it was lifted off a showroom and plonked into your home. If you’re thinking about how to decorate your new marital home – or are looking to redecorate – remember, the end result should make your friends exclaim, “That’s so you!” Sometimes, all it takes is just one quirky centrepiece to transform the entire look of your living room or bedroom. Here are some pieces we love, specially handpicked from local retailers. They could also make great gifts for your friend’s housewarming party.

alcapa and puppy

These artificial turf animals are just the cutuest things we’ve ever seen. There’ve been lovingly called Cookie the Puppy (left) and Albert the Alpaca (never call it camel), and they go for just $13.90 each on hometown.sg.

And if you find yourself tickled pink by T-rex jokes like these …

trex jokes


… then you won’t be able to resist this handpainted cutie, $24, from hometown.sg.

Best part is, they also sell dinosaurs of other genus (also $24 each) too …


If you grew up in the 80s, you probably watched The Land Before TIme and, like us, were rooting for Littlefoot!

If you want a little reminder of your tenacity and perseverance to triumph over adversity …


… this repelling cast-iron man should do the trick. It retails for $225 at Gilt and Folly ($03-07 Scotts Square).

Known for being a jokester among your friends?


This cast-iron wall fixture is like a nod to your inner prankster. It doubles up as a necklace-holder too. Retails for $145 at Gilt and Folly.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. She’s still living at her parents’ but very much looking forward to decorating her own home in the future.  Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

Material World was not paid to feature products from Gilt & Folly or hometown.sg.

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Deborah Tan, Gadgets & Toys, Home & Design, Infographics, Lifestyle, Opinions

[Infographic] Selling Cars To Women – Deborah Tan

Cringe-worthy or inspiring?

This ad was made in the 60s. I think the stereotype still exists.

A part of me finds it hard to forgive the woman who sold me my first car. I loved my first car, I even gave her a name – Cecille. But I just wished I hadn’t bought her. Obviously Cecille was made for what car manufacturers thought new women drivers want in their cars.

1. She was small and cute

2. She was very affordable to keep

3. She did what she was supposed to do

And that was it, really.

Because of her small size, she got bullied quite often on the road. Because she was affordable to keep, her engine size and power were also pretty “economical”. Cars always ALWAYS seemed to want to overtake her. Whenever we got into scraps, Cecille fell apart quite easily – even though she was a “continental” car and they are suppose to be hardier. Cecille prefers to be driven at night, when it’s cooler. If you drove her at mid-day, she behaved like a real bitch. In our fourth year together, we decided we had to part ways.

The one thing that befuddles me every time I go for a car launch is the sheer number of men in the room. At any of these events, I could always count the number of women in one hand. But this is strange because more and more women are buying cars!

Although numbers are not available for Singapore, in the United States, women are responsible for 68% of car purchases. In 2010, women drivers outnumber males drivers for the first time. So why is it that advertising for cars continues to reach out to men rather than women? And when they do, they neglect that women buy into fantasies of adventures as much as men. Why is it that car magazines continue to be jargon-filled and “not women-friendly”? Why is it that the only way to promote a car show is to keep harping about the race queens from Japan?

Women are no longer adornments to cars. We OWN cars.

The most laughable thing I came across in my research on this topic is that a car maker actually once put a hole in the headrest of the driver’s seat so we can thread our ponytails through it. This is NOT making a car for women. You need to BUILD a car around a woman’s body, not just her needs. In 2011, researchers at the University of Virginia found that women drivers are 47 percent more likely to be seriously injured in crashes, in great part because cars are designed to protect men’s larger bodies. Because we are generally shorter, we sit up closer to the steering wheel and therefore suffer more impact when the airbag is deployed.

The infographic below will shed more light on the growing power behind women drivers and just what is it we look for in our cars.


About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and thinks that putting a hole in the headrest for a woman’s ponytail is NOT building a car for women. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

Beauty & Shopping, Home & Design, Lifestyle, Malls & Boutiques

Spruce Up Your Home – Vanessa Tai

There’s something thrilling about visiting a homeware store. While there’s usually a sense of purpose (to buy a new couch or to finally get that set of matching bath towels), it’s fun to stroll through the different showrooms imagining what it’ll be like if you could transform your living space. Since we have a long weekend this week, why not check out these homeware stores for a little mid-year refurbishment?

If you like clean and contemporary, check out … Air Furniture 


This homegrown furniture store designs their own pieces – only about 15 percent are imported – and have won many design accolades such as the prestigious Red Dot Award from Germany, Product Design 2010 of the Year. Their style is sleek, clean and dare we say it, minimalist. Perfect for the zen-chasing crowd.

Air Flagship is located at 28 Wilkie Road, #01-01 Sophie Flats, Tel: 6336 0662

If you like colour and cheer, check out … CB2


An offshoot of upmarket American homeware chain Crate and Barrel, think of CB2 as its sassier, more gregarious younger sibling. Here, you’ll get odd-shaped vases, hanging glass terrariums and pig-shaped bookends. Plus, it’s less pricey than Crate and Barrel, giving you much more bang for your buck.

CB2 is located at 178A Orchard Road, Peranakan Place Complex, Tel: 6732 5333

If you like the downright quirky, check out … Fred Lives Here


Viewing of this showroom is by-appointment only, and we’re guessing it’s probably because “Fred” is busy circling the globe hunting down the best of modern-classic furniture. Featuring designs by legendary designers like Philippe Starck and Salvador Dali, the furniture sold here are all top-quality reproductions that will surely be a talking point whenever you throw a house party.

Fred Lives Here is located at 108 Emerald Hill Road, Tel: 9641 7727

If you like DIY furniture, check out … Jekca


Modelled after the childhood favourite Lego, Jekca furniture works by re-arranging different pieces to get various types of furniture. So your book rack today could transform into a TV console tomorrow, and so on. It’s so simple to build; anybody can do it! By the way, Kwerkee is having a promotion with Jekca this week, so now is the best time check it out!

This blog post was intended for purely informational purposes only, and was not paid for by any of the above brands. 

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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