RUBY likes to bring the outside in, as can be seen with the abundance of plants and blooms adorning her Edwardian Glasgow home.
Working with flowers every day means I’m always aware of the changing seasons,” says Ruby, who opened her flower boutique Ruby Flowers in Glasgow ten years ago.
“When we first saw the house, although the inside felt a little tired, the fact that it faces a park and looks on to beautiful trees made me feel immediately at home.
“With three children and a floristry business to run, there wasn’t much time for house hunting, and in the end it was my mum who found this house for us. On the day we moved in, I had to phone her to double-check our postcode.”
Ruby recalls that one of the first things they wanted to address when they moved in was the lack of light and openness in the front living room. “I took the children for a walk in the park and by the time we’d got back, my partner Neil, who is a builder, had knocked through to the next room; it was a lovely surprise.”
In the following months, Neil not only renovated what was then a three-bedroom home, but also built a new extension. While the initial appeal of the 1910 villa was its well-proportioned, high-ceilinged rooms, original fireplaces and cornicing, the couple wanted Luke (15), Rory (ten) and Grace (nine) to have their own bedrooms, and ample play space. “Our vision for the extension was that it should be quite modern, while still working with a house of this period,” explains Ruby.
“A designer friend helped to pull all our ideas together for the plans. We wanted an open kitchen/family/dining room, an office/playroom and a fourth bedroom.”
Neil was responsible for the majority of the building work, and while the family had hoped to stay in the house during the building of the extension, the day that rain started pouring through the roof was when they decided to decamp to a rented flat for six months. “It was a stressful time, and Neil was doing most of the work himself,” recalls Ruby.
“He was too absorbed in the project to notice his surroundings and the extent of the workload he had taken on; all he could think of was getting it finished for us.
“Once the ground work was completed, friends and family all pitched in to help with painting and decorating, while my parents helped with the garden. Neil and I collaborated on decisions such as choosing tiles and kitchen cabinetry.
“It’s a good working kitchen, modern with walnut and high-gloss units and travertine floor tiles, but with a mix of inherited pieces, such as my mum’s table, and accessories I’ve picked up from buying trips for the shop. I’m especially pleased with the lights, which I bought when I was in Los Angeles.”
The new extension elevated the original living room, at the front of the house, to ‘best room’ status, although Ruby says the family use it all the time; in fact every room in the house is used to full capacity. With the open fire as its focal point, the living room is cosy, with brown velvet Chesterfield sofas, comfy chairs and a chocolate brown, lime green and hot pink colour scheme. Ruby is not one for poised minimalism, preferring the pretty romance of an almost country style. In fact, she admits to a hint of gothic, with grace notes such as her grandmother’s lace tablecloth.
As one of her children has an allergy, the house is kept as dust-free as possible, with wooden floors rather than carpets and blinds instead of curtains. The walls are mainly painted in Farrow & Ball’s evocatively named Smoked Trout.
Much of the colour in the house is courtesy of artwork, including an abstract piece by Fraser Taylor that Ruby came across at Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair, a more figurative piece by David Caldwell and, of course, the children’s own drawings.
As you might expect, this lived-in family home, with its tree-fringed garden, is always filled with flowers and plants. Ruby’s favourites include hyacinths, garden roses such as ‘O’Hara’, and every kind of foliage.
Ruby’s love of flowers stems from gardening with her grandfather as child. “He was a brilliant gardener, and when he wasn’t working in his garden he would be in his greenhouse potting up geraniums or clematis,” recalls Ruby.
It was while working as a hairdresser at Vidal Sassoon in London that Ruby first came into contact with the floristry maven Jane Packer, described by Ruby as someone who was at the forefront of floristry innovation. “She was the first person to come up with bringing the outside in, using things like moss and nuts,” explains Ruby.
“I used to visit her shop and sweep floors, put roses into pots and polish walnuts. Although I had no ambitions to be a florist at the time, I was fascinated as Jane made me look at flowers in a different way. She leaves a great legacy, and I was saddened to hear of her recent death at such a young age.”
Ruby believes that flowers always enrich a room, and even in the recession people continue to buy them, as spending a little can make a huge difference to your surroundings. Recently, she has noticed people are choosing arrangements that are comforting rather than showy, such as dusty roses in glitter wrapped with lace, and waxed apples against red velvet roses.
While Ruby derives equal pleasure from selling flowers to passers-by who put their head round the door to compliment her on the shop’s traffic-stopping window displays, she also creates arrangements for A-listers such as Kylie Minogue and Rhianna when they are town. “Rhianna asked for crisp, clean, short-cut white roses, gardenias and white freesias,” says Ruby. “It was quite precise, and they all had to be cut to a certain length. For Kylie, it was gorgeous pink glitter roses and peacock feathers.”
Whether it is in the shop or in her own home, Ruby’s sense of brio and generosity of spirit rubs off on everyone around her, as well infusing her flowers with a stylistic spark.
Just like her flowers, Ruby’s home comes with that enviable elusive quality that is her own innate style. “I love going home,” says Ruby, “and if I didn’t have to go to work and do the school runs, it would be so easy not to leave it.”
• Ruby Flowers, 187 Hyndland Road, Glasgow (0141-334 8666, www.rubyflowers.co.uk)