How to Create High-Style Floral Arrangements—Even if You're a Beginner

One of L.A.'s buzziest floral designers, Tabia Yapp, shares the secrets behind her bold and beautiful arrangements.

Tabia Yapp launched her floral design business, Bia Blooms, in 2020, after years of arranging flowers for friends. Word spread about her bold signature style—defined by luscious flowers and daring color mixes—and one morning, she woke up to an email about appearing in a Pharrell Williams and Jay-Z video spotlighting Black entrepreneurs. “It was a bonkers thing to happen for my business so early on,” says Yapp.

tablescape with bright flower arrangements

David Tsay

Since then, Yapp and her team have created floral installations for Alexander McQueen, the Black Panther movie premiere, and the Grammys; in addition, she offers individual special-occasion bouquets locally (subscribe to her newsletter to learn about pop-up sales). Here, she gives us a window into her approach for creating VIP–worthy floral designs, with beginner and budget-friendly tips along the way.

Bia Blooms creator Tabia Yapp

David Tsay

Tabia Yapp was immersed in the creative world even before becoming a floral designer. In addition to creating arrangements for high-profile clients through Bia Blooms Floral Studio, she owns a boutique talent agency, BEOTIS, that represents writers and artists of color. Yapp also runs the Arrange for Change project, raising funds and creating community floral arrangements for local nonprofits. "Flowers make people feel seen and celebrated. I love being a part of that," she says.

Tips for Stunning Floral Arrangements

Flower arranging can be a form of meditation, says Yapp, who often finds herself gathering stems into a little bouquet at home even after a long day. "Flowers are still a way for me to appreciate what's here and now." Create your own magical floral moments with a few of her secrets and insights in mind.

1. Create an easy centerpiece that pops.

floral centerpiece with pink flowers

David Tsay

A foolproof trick for a celebratory centerpiece: line up a few smaller arrangements to create a visual river of flowers. Just place flowers in low vases with wide bases that allow the stems to splay and reach out to one another—here, Yapp grouped roses, anemones, ranunculus, allium, and dahlias. Playing within a single color family like pink, takes guesswork out of the design (just add a little contrast, like this bright green anthurium). If you're decorating a table for an outdoor party, set flowers out right before guests arrive to ensure they look their best through the day.

Yapp recommends creating a grid out of clear, waterproof florist tape at the top of vases to invisibly hold stems.

2. Make the most of foliage.

floral arrangement with vines in modern blue vase

David Tsay

“Foliage is a great way to add movement and texture,” says Yapp. For this arrangement, perfect for a side table or to give as a gift, she started with anemones, lisianthus, and roses cut at different heights (a couple of flowers jutting above the rest add an unexpected touch). She left some rose leaves on for heft and tucked in jasmine vine, which she loves for its fragrance and “dancing quality”—it also echoes this vase’s squiggly handles.

Let a statement vase do the heavy lifting, says Yapp. Even a single bunch of greenery or branches from a tree in your yard look striking in an interesting vase.

3. Go high and low.

table with colorful floral arrangements

David Tsay

Varying heights brings excitement to a tablescape or mantel arrangement. Here, Yapp used narrow glass cylinders made to fit into candlesticks to raise yellow roses to hero status above smaller arrangements of lisianthus, gerbera daisies, and spray roses. Though she’s mixed a variety of colors, there’s an order that makes it sing: “Start with a flower you love, then find a color link to another flower and keep going,” she says. “The yellow plays in the neighborhood of the peach, which plays well with the pink.”

"It can be tempting to just take flowers out of the grocery store sleeve and toss them in a vase. But by simply cutting the stems at different heights, you'll add dimension and personality to a design."

Tabia Yapp's Creative Inspirations

Influential Book

Floret Farm’s A Year in Flowers by Erin Benzakien, which she first read when she was planning her wedding years ago. "It was an early intro into the world of flowers."

Work Soundtrack

“I’m either playing high-energy music like Megan Thee Stallion or Beyoncé or sad girl bops like Phoebe Bridgers—nothing in between.”

Favorite Flower

Dahlias, but I’m also a big fan of anemones and sweet peas.”

Most Memorable Event

A family party in 2021, the first since the pandemic started, for which she arranged flowers with her sister Saidah Mayo (who runs a floral business in Omaha called Of The Vine Florals). “We called it ‘the everything we missed party,’” Yapp says.

"When you're doing an arrangement, you can't go wrong if the flowers excite you. Choose one flower you really love, then move on to the supplemental flowers or greenery."

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