Ruth Chafin Interior Design

The Inland Empire's "voice of Experience" since 1979

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Birch branches add outdoor touch to your indoor environment

Floral design is an aspect of interior design that I have had much luck applying my design skills to. Over the years, I have worked with both natural and silk materials, and I’ve often achieved the best results by combining the two, especially when it comes to creating artificial trees. I am constantly on the lookout for branches. My warehouse is full of twigs and branches of all sizes and types that I’ve collected in my travels, which I then use to create “trees” for rooms and offices. My favorite branches to use for these projects are birch branches. Their white bark makes a wonderful accent to just about any color scheme. My most recent project was for Chris Bugg’s All State Insurance agency, located in Yucaipa, CA.
The room in question had a 10 foot ceiling along an 11 foot wall. This provided me with quite a “canvas” to work with. The office had an existing tree in it but it just wasn’t enough. It wasn’t large enough for the space it was to fill, nor was it real enough to imbue the room with the sense of naturalness the client was seeking.

birch branches
Before: Existing tree did not properly fill out the space.

After scouring my and other neighborhoods, I finally came across the perfect tree: a dead birch tree still in the ground. I knocked on the homeowner’s door and asked if they had any plans for it and, if not, I’d be happy to take it off their hands. They were delighted to give it to me. Their trash became my treasure. In fact, the homeowner even cut it down for me and delivered it to my workshop!
The birch branches from this tree had lovely wind-swept boughs that gave them a beautiful volume that would fill the space I was working with nicely. They were also still covered with dried leaves, which contrasted nicely with the white bark. Once in my workshop, I set the cluster of birch branches into plaster of Paris and allowed them to dry. Most of the tree was assembled at the client’s office. I loaded the plaster-set branches into my van along with an assortment of high quality silk foliage and other floral design materials and headed for the project site.
Birch branches
Silk foliage at the base filters the illumination from the flood lighting.

On occasion, I will hot-glue silk leaves onto real branches to achieve a natural effect; however, the dried birch leaves that were already on the branches served this function nicely. The office in which I installed this tree is arranged such that the base of the tree would be visible to clients working with the insurance agent. Therefore, I placed the set branches into a larger terracotta pot and used the silk foliage at the base of the tree in order to camouflage the plaster and to provide a secondary focal point for the piece as a whole. As a final touch, I added a flood up-light to the base of the tree that will bathe it in soft light. The end result was a lovely tree with much more volume than what was originally there and which was much more “natural” looking.
Birch branches
Final results