Loose, garden inspired arrangement of dark pink dahlias, white and light purple anemones, and trailing vines by floral designer Mieke ten Have in a white pottery vase

Mieke ten Have styles a plucked-from-the-garden look with dahlias, anemones, and trailing vines.

Flower  Q&A

How do you approach floral design in general?

Mieke ten Have: I have a romantic and loose approach with floral design. I am not a trained florist, so I work in a way that is more intuitive and focused on composition as opposed to rules. I am not fond of a tight, constricted arrangement. I anthropomorphize flowers to a certain degree, and I think each stem’s personality should shine through, while establishing both tension and harmony with the others in the arrangement.  I always go for an asymmetrical composition and a variety of flower styles.

How did you approach the florals for this house in particular?

Before styling any project, I always look at the colors in the home and determine hues that complement and contrast the color scheme. The flowers I bring are always predicated on the mood of the home, the color story, and, of course, what’s in season. This home has a serene palette, punctuated by some vivid reds. In the living room, I chose scabiosa and cosmos to reflect that, while one crimson anemone punctuates, and nods to, the red elsewhere.

floral arrangement by Mieke ten Have on a coffee table in a formal living room

A floral arrangement by Mieke adds the finishing touch to a living room designed by Matthew Patrick Smyth in Westport, Connecticut. See FLOWER’s feature story on this home.

What is your favorite flower and season to work in?

Do you focus on seasonal appropriateness, or do you just like to go with what works? If it is for a magazine and slated for a particular month, I try to anchor the florals to that season. Otherwise, my mantra is always to have it look of the region, as though the homeowner stepped out the door with a pair of shears. I am always looking for a regional flower farm in summertime (like Cedar Farm in Ghent, New York). If I am on location somewhere remote, I love to forage (which I do anytime the season allows!). My favorite flower is technically a weed—Queen Anne’s lace, the most humble and elegant beauty in my eyes! I also have a serious weak spot for lilac, chocolate cosmos, and flame parrot tulips.

“I always go for an asymmetrical composition and a variety of flower styles.” — Mieke ten Have

flowers, pottery vases, and a stack of books on a cleanl-lined wood sideboard. An abstract painting with blue tones and pop of red hangs in the background in a vignette by designer Matthew Patrick Smyth

One of Mieke’s arrangements complements a contemporary painting by Emilia Dubicki.

What are some of your favorite kind of containers?

Ceramicist Frances Palmer  makes my favorite vessels for arranging, but I believe having a large variety of shapes on hand is a must for any job.

Mieke is an interiors stylist and a design writer. She was a longtime editor for magazines like Elle Decor and Vogue and now contributes to Architectural Digest and House & Garden UK. Find her on Instagram @mieketenhave.


By Cathy Still McGowin | Photography by John Gruen

See More from this Home

With a focus on historical authenticity and storied antiques, designer Matthew Patrick Smyth brings classic style and intriguing character to a Westport, Connecticut home.