Deck The Halls

Many love the warm feelings the holidays evoke, so it’s no wonder red, green and all things merry and bright come out earlier these days. Once the Halloween candy is bagged up, it’s not uncommon to see decking-the-halls in motion. Corporations and public buildings are no exception. Thankfully, businesses like Flowers & Home can ease the burden that holiday decorating can sometimes bring and make those warm and fuzzy feelings come to life.

Once again, this holiday season, Flowers & Home will decorate the entire interior of the state Capitol. We’re talking thousands of decorations and huge wreaths, some 4 feet tall. The specially decorated Christmas tree is just one piece of the grand display inside the historic structure.

“We decorate every doorway, the grand staircase, the Senate and House, the governor’s office, the entire interior,” says Flowers & Home owner Monroe Cranford.

The process starts mid-November, and with a staff of about seven, it takes three days to complete. “Not many businesses like us can do what we do. It’s a huge process to staff and execute.”

The century-old Capitol contains 247,000 square feet, according to the Secretary of State’s office, and the distance from the ground level to the top of the cupola is 213 feet.

“We have been very happy with the work Flowers & Home has done decorating the Capitol, and the company came highly recommended to us,” says Chris Powell, assistant director of communications and education with the Secretary of State’s office. “They are very professional and efficient and do a great job of creating a beautiful holiday atmosphere. We are excited to begin redecorating the Capitol again soon for this upcoming season.”

The centerpiece of Flowers & Home’s work is the Capitol Christmas tree, Powel notes. “It is always very elaborate and larger than life. It is the centerpiece of their work,” he says. “The garlands they string along the staircase banisters really give a grand holiday feel. And, the outdoor wreaths really bring to life to the outside of the building and grounds. This will be the third year they have decorated the Capitol, and each year, they surprise us with their creativity and artistic talent.”

The Secretary of State’s office enlisted the Saline County business’s expertise a few years after it opened in Bryant. There’s also a Flowers & Home in Hot Springs, which opened three years ago. In Saline County, Flowers & Home recently relocated from the Highway 5 location in Bryant to the new shopping center off I-30 alongside TJ Maxx, HomeGoods and other big retailers.

“We started with what they already had and built on that,” Cranford says. It’s definitely a traditional look. Everything is taken apart, even the wreaths (over 90), from year to year, and stored there.”

The décor also boasts a more natural look, Cranford says, by mixing in natural pine cones to give it a fresh flair. Cranford’s main job for the Capitol is the wreaths. “We have 15 that are four feet tall.”

During the interview for this article, Cranford was busy preparing for a holiday open house at the new store, which provides more much more square footage than the old location. As he talked, his hands and fingers were at work building a large table piece complete with pine needles, pine cones and pretty bows and ribbon.

Cranford has been in the home/interior design business for nearly 25 years. He grew up in Malvern and now lives in Hot Springs. “When you are born with a talent and are good at it, you can make a career out of it,” he says.

Flowers & Home is a full-service florist, also offering wedding planning, silk floral design, and interior design. In the store, furniture, home décor, lamps, oil paintings, candles and gifts are sold.

“We’re very diverse in what we do. You can’t be stuck in one thing.”

One might think people begin decorating for the holidays earlier and earlier each year. This demand means businesses must prepare. Cranford says this year’s Christmas stock was purchased the second week of December last year.

Cranford, partner Tom Bynum and the rest of the Flowers & Home crew agree that what they do is for the customers. “What we do makes people happy,” Cranford notes.