CYNTHIA'S FAVORITE ONLINE SOURCES FOR SEEDS
For a cutting garden, Cynthia recommends focusing on high performing annuals. You can start the seeds indoors, but it's not necessary. When spring comes around, just sprinkle the seeds in your garden following the package directions for beautiful blooms to cut all season long.
CYNTHIA'S PICKS FOR FLORAL ARRANGING BOOKS
CYNTHIA'S HOME(s) & GARDEN(s)
(All photos and design from Cynthia Zamaria)
Zandra Zuraw 0:00
welcome to the style matters podcast brought to you by little yellow couch. I'm Sandra, your host and I am so glad you're here. If you are struggling to figure out what's not working in your home, or you buy things, but you're not happy with them for very long or if you just feel like you don't have the time to make your home beautiful because life just keeps getting in the way, then I have got a place for you to start. Take the little yellow couch quiz, what's the number one mistake you're making in your home and then I'll send you some specific steps you can take to address that problem and get you loving your home faster, while spending less money and less time in that place of overwhelm where you don't know what to do so just go to little yellow couch comm and click on the yellow quiz button at the top. Okay, before we get started on today's episode, I have a couple of announcements. First, the podcast will be out unbreak next week, and then for the rest of the month of August I'll be sharing favorite episodes of mine from the archives that you may not have heard but are very much worth listening to. These are the best of the best. So we will be back with new episodes starting September 7. But in the meantime for the month of August, I didn't want to leave you hanging. Second, I have just finished a redo of our downstairs powder room and I'm sharing photos of it in our newsletter and on social media. For the past couple of years it was this kind of salmon coral color with a gallery wall of drawings that I took from one of my favorite calendars by rifle paper company. I loved it but as is typical of me and probably view I was getting a little bored and I was ready for a change. incomes a wallpaper company based in Sweden called photo wall. They asked if I wanted to collaborate with them and I saw their website and then jumped at the chance, they have both repeating patterns, paper and wall size murals to choose from. Now, I had already had in my mind something with a marble pattern. I imagined it for quite a while and they happen to have just what I was picturing. So I was psyched now. This was only my second time hanging wallpaper. And it's not as difficult as people make it out to be, but it is still a bit of a process and there's a little bit of a learning curve. So you right, you might remember that the first time I did this, it was in collaboration with who get in West for my den and who going west have been a favorite of mine forever, by the way. And the process that you use with their paper is pretty traditional in that you put the paste onto the paper first, and then you hang it with photo while it was the opposite. You brush the paste onto the wall and then you attach the paper and I have to say, I wasn't sure how this was going to go by Honestly I don't really have a preference both were fairly easy to do both had a little bit of pros and cons to them. Anyway I am so happy with the results in my powder room and I cannot wait for you to see it. So I will link to my blog post about it in the show notes page of this episode but here's the announcement part. Here's my whole point. Photo wall is offering you guys 25% off your order of any of their products for the next month. 25% off that is a really, really good discount. If you don't know anything about wallpaper. That's not very typical. Oh and by the way, not only do they do wallpaper and murals, you can also upload your own patterns or photos and they will turn them into wallpaper murals or large prints which is pretty cool. Now photo wall it's priced pretty much the same as any other wallpaper company, at least the ones that I would recommend. So you know that it's not necessarily an inexpensive thing, if you're going to do a whole room with wallpaper. But if you love wallpaper as much as I do, and have been thinking about dipping your toes in, I would definitely take advantage of this offer. I mean, 25% off, I like I said, I almost never see this kind of discount. So here's the code, it's a little yellow couch 25 I don't think there are any spaces in that it's just all one word, little yellow couch 25 with the numbers 25 you don't write out the numbers, which you would then apply a checkout and remember, it's only good through the month throat so through August 27 so jump on it soon. Again, I will put the link to my powder room and the discount code all that information in the show notes page of this episode and Adobe in the NYC the little yellow couch newsletter if you subscribe so you don't have to memorize it right here and now.
Alright, enough about my powder room and my obsession with wallpaper. As I mentioned, the podcast will be on break next week. But I could not be happier with the conversation you're about to hear today to wrap up this season of style matters. My guest is floral and interior designer Cynthia Zamaria. She is full of brightness, you can hear the optimism and positivity in her voice. But even more importantly, she really embodies the soul of this podcast, which is to tie together beauty and meaning, style and substance. We cover a lot of ground in this episode from her personal philosophy around beauty and decor to home renovations to specific suggestions that she has on what flowers to grow and how to build an arrangement. The show notes page for this one will be very helpful because I've taken notes on her suggestions and her book recommendations so that you can look them up later. You don't have to write anything down right now. Plus, you'll get to see lots of photos of the different homes and interior spaces that Cynthia has created. And by the way, she's from Toronto. And I've recently learned Yes, that is how you pronounce it Toronto. If you are not from Canada, it is not Toronto, which is how I've always said it. So I am, I am now in the know. All right here is Cynthia. Cynthia Zamaria, welcome to the style matters podcast.
Cynthia Zamaria 6:27
Thank you. It's amazing to be here.
Zandra Zuraw 6:30
Excellent. Well, I'll tell you my curiosity was piqued when I read on your website, it might have been your about page I'm not sure where you said that instead of buying a Harley motorcycle. You decided to start a flower farm for your midlife crisis, which I just loved. Tell us a little bit about your background. You're now a floral designer but you're also an interior designer and a stylist and all kinds of things. Have you always been interested in both floral and interior design? Do you see them as intertwined?
Cynthia Zamaria 7:02
Honestly, I think it would have been a lot safer and probably less expensive if I had gotten that motorcycle, and starting a flower farm and all of these other exploits that I had, but you know, it's really at my core, I think I'm a creative. I'm an artist, and I'm a beauty seeker. So and I think this manifests itself in different ways and through different channels. So designing homes and flowers, you know, is very much part of what I do, but it goes beyond that. It's more about a way of looking at things and finding beauty in every day and trancing translating that into things that bring us joy and pleasure. So that could be anything like, you know, setting the table or plating a meal that goes on that table or taking pictures of flowers or putting together an outfit. It's really these little details of life that we bring together to bring us happiness and joy. So, yes, I'm a designer, but it's, it goes beyond that. I think it kind of permeates me.
Zandra Zuraw 8:08
You know, this, I feel like we're gonna get real deep real fast because I feel like, that's what that's the essence of what I try to get at through the podcast and through the other things I do, which is what is the substance? Under the style? Why do we do it? What does it matter? What does it mean to us? So we're going to get into all of that. But before we do, I want you to tell us what the slow flower movement is, because you mentioned it pretty front and center on your website. And I was totally excited when I saw that because I'm in the process of talking about this, this philosophy that I'm kind of hitching my wagon to which is slow style. And I'm sure there's a lot of crossover. So So tell us what is the slow flower movement? How did you find it? All that kind of stuff?
Cynthia Zamaria 8:55
Yeah. So slow flowers is very much like a slow is food movement where you're looking at flowers that are grown using sustainable farming practices. You're looking at flowers that are harvested in their natural bloom season so closer to the time that you would normally get them source to you as close as possible and produced by florists to practice, practice green floristry. So they wouldn't use chemicals, they wouldn't treat their flowers with dyes. They wouldn't use floral for bone. So it's very much like a slow food movement, but applied to to floristry. And, you know, part of that came from a woman named Deborah singer who's a gardening writer and she wrote a book. Oh my gosh,
Zandra Zuraw 9:44
I have her book. Yes, those flowers. Flowers love Deborah singers. Yes. Like, yeah, my Bibles.
Cynthia Zamaria 9:50
Okay. She's awesome. So she's coined this term and started the movement. And it you know, like any movement, it's not just one thing. I think that brings Together, it's it's a cavalcade of things and you start to see where people are much more interested in their community and their local local things, and sourcing where things come from and the people who make them or grow them. So it's all of these things that have come together plus the need for all of us, I think, to get back to nature, and to have that pleasure in our life of connecting to something bigger than us. So the slow flower movement, kind of encapsulate capsulate that I often call it like the craft brewery of flowers where, you know, you're looking at, you know, things that are a little bit more specialized, small batch, you get things that taste better, because they're fresher, right? And you're experimenting, and you get to know the people who make it.
Zandra Zuraw 10:47
I mean, I don't think I saw a little video on your website. Yeah, the normal practices for the flower market. And, you know, I don't think I really wasn't surprised. But I don't think I really knew about how much energy is used both water and also electricity is used for these greenhouses so that we can have roses 12 months a year. Exactly, or whatever. So yeah, it's it's, it's wonderful. And is this is this kind of Was this the first step you took to having a flower farm?
Cynthia Zamaria 11:19
Well, I think, again, it was a hell of a lot of things I started. Most of my career has been spent in public relations and communications. And I think, you know, it was a great career. I loved it. But making a home and growing flowers was always a passion of mine. At some point in your life, you wake up and you think, Okay, what am I going to do? Am I going to do something with this? And either you have, you know, enough confidence, or maybe you're foolhardy enough to take that leap. But there's this one saying that I love that says, you know, sometimes on your way to your dream, you get lost and you find a better one. And, you know, that's kind of happened with us. We started we had this property where we start This flower farm in the country. And then we realized that maybe that wasn't for us at this phase in our life that we didn't want to go flower farming is really hard work. Really hard work. But along that path we found, we ended up finding this old Heritage Home. Coincidentally, in the hometown of my, where my husband grew up this 1857 Georgian estate that had been neglected and not loved. And we felt like we had to save it. So we said, okay, well, we won't do our flower farm, we'll buy this property instead. And we will we had had a big garden so we could have a large garden. And we spent two years fixing that place up and we're ready to move our family there. And then in the end, we just, we couldn't uproot our family from where we were in the city in Toronto, and we decided to stay back where we were here. So now I'm back in the city, you know, in a smaller house with a smaller yard, but I couldn't be happier. And we're just taking our garden and the things that we've learned along the way. And it keeps kind of getting distilled down and distilled down into something that where we feel really happy right now.
Zandra Zuraw 13:14
All right, so I need to untangle that just a little bit because I I'm looking at like, the houses that you feature. Yeah. on your website. So you were living in one place and then you went to the country for the flower farm. Yeah. And then you found the Georgian? Yeah, home. Yeah. And but are you living there? Are you now living back in Toronto?
Cynthia Zamaria 13:36
No, we're back in Toronto. We sold the house called Miller house after fixing it up and spending two years going through this incredible journey. And you know, it's funny, a lot of people would say to me, oh, Cynthia, you must be so upset to leave that house. And part of us was for sure. It was it's a magnificent home. But, you know, as my husband says, you take the recipe with you
Zandra Zuraw 14:00
Right. Well, and I think two things. One, I think you're addicted to new projects. But But also, I mean, I don't know about you, but not all of us want a forever home, I really enjoy moving. I really enjoy being introduced to a new space and figuring out who I'm going to become in this new space in a way that's different than I was in the last space. I mean, I just feel like there's such opportunity when you do when you do leave and start something new. So I imagine that that's kind of how you're feeling.
Cynthia Zamaria 14:38
Absolutely. You know, I have a really good friend who says to me, when she looks at her wardrobe in the morning, she decides what she puts on. She says, Who am I going to be today?
Zandra Zuraw 14:46
And you recently did a one room challenge where you created a cutting shed. Yeah, a garden shed. That's so gorgeous. But yeah, I didn't you don't you can't even tell that you're in the city, frankly.
Cynthia Zamaria 14:59
Yeah. Yeah, the one room challenge was a great experience for me. It's the first one I had done and it was coming at the tail end of while the pandemic obviously is still going on. But that that early phase where everybody was locked down, and it really gave us something to channel our energy towards and we did mostly everything ourselves, because we had to because we couldn't get anybody else here to do it. But plus it was it gave our children something to do. And it became a family project and it kept us busy. So yeah, we create there was just a mucky, long backyard that really had nothing in it an old shed that had been neglected. So we put in raised garden beds, we planted flowers, we did an overhaul of the shed to make it into my studio. And it all turned out beautifully. And it's not done yet. So there's still another there's Part B so stay tuned. Nothing is ever done. So
Cynthia Zamaria 15:57
nobody's ever done.
Zandra Zuraw 15:59
Honestly that You know, we're going to put some photos on our show notes page for the episode but but you know, it's one of those sheds cottage shed things that you we all drool over. You know, it's it's so beautifully, I don't even want to say designed, it looks so effortless. It's got beautiful natural baskets and, you know, a glass of little antique butter knives that you use for seeds. And I just, it's just so it's so lovely. So I can't wait to share that,
Cynthia Zamaria 16:26
you know, I've been overwhelmed with the response of that, that must be sent. There's been something there's something about that. I think that's captured people's imagination. And it's almost like, you know, a grown up Playhouse that, you know, we all kind of had this little desire within us of, you know, I want to go there and play and putter around and be creative and be surrounded by beauty and it's really stuff struck a chord with people and I'm so happy that it's offered some inspiration because that brings me a lot of happiness.
Zandra Zuraw 16:58
Well, so let's let's talk a little bit about some guidance you can give to people, first of all, what what are some, you know, your, your couple of your favorites, if you could just give us two favorites for spring, summer and fall. And then I'll make sure that all this is written in the show notes page so that people who are listening who are driving or jogging or whatever, they don't have to write this down, but some of your favorites for those seasons, and if you could make them ones that are not terribly fussy, so that us beginners can, can grow them.
Cynthia Zamaria 17:28
Let me start with some of the basics that i think you know, will help you and some of the people out there listening because my garden, the one that we planted here, I call it the coven garden because that's when we planted is filled with primarily flowers that are intended to be cut. It's a cutting garden. So I want all the flowers that are going to be that are that are there to be very high performing because I don't have a lot of space. They've got to be easy to grow without much fuss, right, that I could just throw the seeds in and do them. So some of the standards For that would be cosmos and zinnias. But, you know, a lot of people think, well, cosmos and xenios may be very basic, but if you go on rightful Yeah, you're beautiful. But if you go on to some of the seed supplier sites, which I can give you some examples of Also, you can find unique and different varieties that just have a little bit of something extras to them. So you know, cupcake, Kosmos or zinnias that grow in a beautiful blush pink or peach or lime that aren't just your standard, you know, reds and oranges, and then you throw in some really dramatic blooms like amaranth, amaranth is one of my favorites. It's a native plant. But it's amazing that the seed that you throw into the ground in the spring will grow six feet or more and these wild looking one that kind of every one of them that's a coral fountain amrap Yes, but there's other varieties that look almost like brushes, and They are just incredible. In fact, we have a little pocket of our friend, our front yard where we get the most sunlight. My husband is taken over, and he's planted broomcorn which is an ornamental corn that is going to grow six feet high. And these white, sorry, these bright red amaranth that are also going to grow over six feet tall. And he started them as seeds. And over the course of the last month and a half, it's it's over our waist now, but also don't overlook Herbes. Herbes a lot of her herbs are annuals, but many are perennials as well like sage and rosemary, that you can if you've got the right soil conditions and light conditions will just keep growing and giving you beauty and you can cut them and use them in floral arrangements and they smell beautiful and you can use them in your turkey. Right. So double bonus, right? Yeah, one of my favorites to grow would be deal as well. So there's ornamental deal that you can get. That's white It looks like Fluffy fluffy like bouquets and
Zandra Zuraw 20:04
mites McQueen Queen Anne's lace exactly yeah yeah you know in an arrangement yeah
Cynthia Zamaria 20:09
beautiful and very easy to grow and you can get that in white and yellow and and purples and chocolates as well so those are just a few other things that we have growing in our garden that are the ones that we go back to time and time again that you know you kind of have to grow on that really give you a lot of bang for your buck and for your space so
Zandra Zuraw 20:29
those that was thank you so much that was that was great that was such a useful like get me started without overwhelmed so yeah, but let's let's kind of transition from floral arrangement for flowers. Yeah into floral arrangements, but then also into you know how you approach a room and styling the room. You really can see in a floral arrangement, how shape and scale and symmetry and asymmetry proportion, all of those kind of design words how you can see how they play into a beautifully done bouquet? Do you feel like you apply the same kind of ideas to a room design? Or? I know you said it was very intuitive, but I imagine that there's some crossover there.
Cynthia Zamaria 21:18
Yeah, there is. And I think, you know, when you asked me that question, I think about it. And I wonder, you know, maybe there are more similarities than I think, right. And the things that I use to design a floral arrangement are also the same principles I'm using when I'm designing a garden or if I can extrapolate into an interior and let me explain what I mean by that. There are some fundamentals in doing a floral arrangement which of course, if you care to you can just throw out the window because there should be no rules, right? You should be able to do whatever you want and make everything every every everything is beautiful, you know, but there are some fundamental principles that if you go to a workshop or you know you're trained in floral that they'll they'll talk to you About to give you a start. First of all, when you're starting to make an arrangement, you look at a few pieces that are going to give you the architecture of the piece. So if you think about what you know, very popular right now are these, you know, kind of wild cast dating, almost foraged looking arrangements, right, that are very airy and light, beautiful. So if you think about creating something like that, you're first going to start off with maybe a few branches that are going to start to give you the shape, and move your eye right and start start the architecture. So you start off with the form, and then you start to fill in with what you call filler. So kind of the grasses or maybe something else that is really kind of sets the backdrop and is almost like negative space that you're going to put your flowers in against that to make them pop out right. So your filler can be anything but usually it's something that somewhat consistent and has a look and starts to create a fill in the shape of your arrangement and then you're going to take a look Look at your local flower, right. So that's going to be the star of the show some, you know, something, three or five or, you know, have some magical bloom that really is going to set the tone and be something that stands out. And then you've got your supporting tasks. So usually these are smaller flowers that are there to build out the story and maybe create a bit of tension, but somehow complete the look and often you're playing the shapes here, like you might use some spiky things or discuss, you know, rounds or balls. And then that sort of completes the whole look. So you've got your forum, you've got filler, you've got your focal flower, and then you've got your supporting cast. And if you take those elements and you think about a room, you kind of do the same thing. You've got, you know, obviously your shape of the room. And then you you you've got your backdrop and you're trying to create that with you know, your Paint or some negative space that you create in a room. And then you I always love to design with some impactful piece in each room, something that kind of makes you stop and think whether that's a huge gallery wall, or, you know, a killer couch or something that is a little bit unusual. And that's your focal point. And then everything else is the supporting cast, right?
Zandra Zuraw 24:23
Yes. And I do think that playing around with with a bouquet and the way that you're talking about I'm really thinking about those different elements, those four elements that you mentioned is it's a fun exercise to do that and then look at your room and say, oh, okay, so what are the four elements? How are they showing up in my room? And where do I maybe maybe I need a little bit more negative space because then you can't really see the silhouette of things or exactly yeah, I love it's just a fun it's just a fun way to think about interiors and and of course, what room is complete without flowers, no room No, no, I'm gonna I'm gonna switch gears for a minute. I want to get back a little bit to the process of restoring old homes because you are passionate about saving things that time has forgotten. I sound like I sound like a cheesy Hallmark movie. But But okay, but seriously, like, tell us a little bit about, um, you know what, what is the process really like? Because it looks great on TV, when they miraculously restore an entire house in a week.
Cynthia Zamaria 25:36
Yeah, not possible. No.
Zandra Zuraw 25:38
Real life like what are some of the things that you've learned from restoring the old homes you've lived in?
Cynthia Zamaria 25:44
You know, homes Teach me so much. You know, that first day I don't really see Homes is inanimate objects, right for me. They're part of the family and they're intrinsically connected to our lives and our stories. The place where our lives have been the milestones, right? the good and the bad. And, you know, the people that have been there and the pets that have gone through there and the parties that have been thrown. And I think that even it's just intensified when you think about that for an older home, you know, all the people who have lived there, but when I look at a home like that, the approach is very much to sit and listen to the home first. So it's kind of an emotional design process where you let the house speak to you, and you listen to her features, and you try to in many cases, you have to unearth her features. So one of the approaches that I always talk about is a gentle renovation, I try to not mess with the house as much as possible. So in most cases, it's peeling back the layers. So for instance, if somebody put a carpet bad layers of carpet or vinyl flooring on top of beautiful pine hardwood floors, what we want to do is we want to remove that so that we can let the house house breathe again and bring her original features to glory. And then to strip all of that back, it's so beautiful and it's so easy to see what needs to happen. The third thing is to keep her relevant because the best way I believe to keep home old homes standing and used is to make them useful for how we live our lives today.
Zandra Zuraw 27:18
I always say to live in the home for a little bit because I really don't. And unfortunately, I think people feel so much pressure when they're moving to get the renovation done before they even move in. Because it is easier obviously to do before you've moved in. But I mean, you just don't know the home well enough. And so you're going to end up going Gosh, I wish I had the stove on the other wall or I what you know, major things that then would be really hard to change. Yeah,
Cynthia Zamaria 27:44
you're absolutely right. Yeah, hundred percent agree.
Zandra Zuraw 27:48
Before we before but two things before we wrap up. One is I'm going to get back to gardening again because I don't want to leave without knowing a couple of your favorite books for reference books you mentioned And Deborah I've just lost her last name gender singer Deborah singer. Her books are fabulous. But what about for flower arranging Do you? Or is that not something that you actually have books on? Maybe?
Cynthia Zamaria 28:11
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, I have I have a huge stack. you know, there's so I get so much information and inspiration from from books and you know, where do I begin a fleurette? For sure.
Zandra Zuraw 28:26
Now, correct? Yep,
yes. So, if you don't if people don't know fleurette, head on over to her Instagram account, and you'll be one of the close to a million people who now follow her. Aaron Denton and her husband started are one of the I would say pioneers in the new flute, slow flower movement. There's gadget Washington farm and she has a couple of best selling books. Her first one is called cut flower garden and she's just come out with another one florets farm a year and flowers and she has the most beautiful pictures her home grown blooms and how to style and arrange them. And there's so many others. You know, Kristin geel is a Canadian who's written a book called elements of floral style, who's a really, if you're looking for understanding color and proportion, she really gets into the nitty gritty of that. And then there's, there's if you really want sort of a step by step, I would recommend the flower recipe book. Oh, yes, yes,
Zandra Zuraw 29:27
I heard that on. Yeah, a while ago. Yeah.
Cynthia Zamaria 29:31
And you know, and we were talking about earlier, there are no rules, right? And don't be afraid, like just, you know, try different things. One of my favorite arrangements is just taking rhubarb leaves from the garden. You know, when you've got that beautiful pink stems and beautiful green frogs and putting them in a clear vase and putting five or six of them together, and it's stunning on a table in spring.
Zandra Zuraw 29:54
I'd have to say recently, I just I wanted something really big, some kind of big, natural leafy thing on on top of my bookcase and I want it to be tall. And of course, a lot of people have like palm fronds and things. You see that a lot of pictures on Instagram. But you know, I live in Boston, you know, palm. No just went out to my garden and I have this huge, many huge hostas. Oh yes, the simplest plant in the face of the earth to grow with the leaves are huge. I just cut two leaves. They were so big. I stuck them in a in a glass pitcher. And they lasted I mean, for a month.
Cynthia Zamaria 30:33
Yeah, there you go. See? That's it. All right. Well, I
Zandra Zuraw 30:36
want to end with the question my signature question tell us about why style matters. And I think that you've already thought about this a lot. You put the value of beauty, front and center on your website, and we open this conversation up with you mentioning that and why does beauty matter? Why does style matter? What does it do for us as humans
Cynthia Zamaria 30:59
you know, for For me, beauty, beauty represents optimism. And I think more than ever, we need that now in everything that we're doing in our lives. And it's about being hopeful and curious and finding things that are unexpected and finding beauty in the every day. But beauty in of itself, I think can be hollow. So you have to be careful. It has, it has to have meaning for you. So, you know, because because I think we are also getting a little bit of myself I'm getting a bit immune to the beauty right? So you go you through scroll through your Instagram account. And there's there's so much beauty First of all, it can be overwhelming first. Secondly, it can make you feel totally inferior. And thirdly, you just kind of think, well, this all looks the same. Yeah, I've seen it before. It's in a right right. So show me something different. So and that's why I think beauty has to be so Personal.
Zandra Zuraw 32:01
Well, thank you for that such a very honest response to that to that question, and I really appreciate it. Cynthia, this has been so lovely to talk to you. And one of these days, I'd love to meet you in person. And definitely, you can hold my hand as we walked through my garden.
Cynthia Zamaria 32:17
Absolutely, I will do that. Thank you so much.
Zandra Zuraw 32:21
Hey, thank you so much to you listeners for being here. Remember, next week, we are in break and then the week after for the rest of the month of August, you'll be hearing some of the best episodes from the archives. Don't forget about the 25% off offer from photowall if you want to do a wallpapering project, and if you haven't already, be sure to take the little yellow couch quiz. What's the number one mistake you're making in your home and you will receive my very personalized response.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai