• Jessica Bellef

Stylist's Tool Kit: Twigs and branches

Join me on any of my photographic styling jobs on location and you will be sure to find a stash of nature - florals, greenery, dried elements- in my prop haul, usually making an unavoidable mess in my car. I often lean on verdant boughs of greenery and blossoms bursting with petals to give a nook a hit of fresh energy, but lately, I've found myself calling on twiggy elements to make a statement in space.

Arrangements of bare branches and twigs can conjure a wintery, dramatic mood, however, they aren't just for rainy days. I love their ability to evoke organic elegance with a pared-back wabi-sabi look. Like a small scale art installation sitting on a dining table or sideboard, a bundle of artful twigs adds movement and a sculptural focal point, at a fraction of the cost of an art piece.

Whether they are oversized and reaching upwards like a tree, or restrained and contained like dainty embroidery, an arrangement of almost naked branches can transform a space.

Keep scrolling for examples of how to inject twiggy goodness into your home.

Image by Gillian Stevens

When quiet elegance is the home-style goal, a little gesture from nature in the form of a dried twig or two will add just enough movement and finish to a minimal space. Arranged in an organically tactile vessel made by hand with natural materials, a few fragile pickings will become a poetic moment that begs the eye to linger.

Image by Amy Elise Wilson

Proving that a vessel of branches doesn't have to be just for wintertime schemes, fig cuttings are my favourite type of twig to work into a space. Sculptural with full stops of figgy, lush green pom poms, the shape makes me smile. While the glass vase above is beautiful, I prefer to display the figs in a heavy opaque vessel, balancing out the bounty at the end of each stalk.

Image by Kara Rosenlund

A heavy ceramic pot houses an armful of magnolia cuttings in photographer Kara Rosenlund's curated studio. The good thing about these types of cuttings, and most of the cuttings shown in this post, is that they will last a long time. Magnolia branches have a strong shape that tapers and dances elegantly, so make the most of it by keeping the branches tall. If you happen to grab them just as the flowers are opening, you're in for a treat. The simple beauty of the magnolia flower is hard to beat.

Image by Colin King

Japandi style, where Japanese and Scandinavian design sensibilities merge, is simultaneously grounding and fleeting. In the image above, the fragile single stem is in harmony with the perfectly imperfect hand-shaped ceramics. It's telling of the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging known as ikebana, where the process of creating an arrangement is a form of meditation. It should be a silent act that allows the arranger to observe and meditate on the beauty of nature and gain inner peace. This image also imparts a sense of calm.

Image by Kristofer Johnsson for Elle Decoration

I'm actually not sure what this plant is (I assume it's potted and not cuttings) but it provides a textural contrast to the collection of crystal bottles and the sturdy timber sideboard. The plant adds an unexpected edginess that wouldn't be achieved with a vase of blooms; the black and white photograph, unframed and affixed to the wall with a clip, highlights the eclectic charm while still telling a story of a bygone era. Love it.

Image via bhg.com

Twisted tendrils and roots look at home in this vignette on top of a whitewashed console. It's a type of plant matter that you might discard into the green waste bin during a gardening session, but look at how it can be elevated when lovingly arranged in a prime postion. Its rustic look is reflected in the console's finish and offers counterpoint to the formal symmetrtical arrangement.