The elements: Eight dozen red carnations (about $8.50 a dozen).
The container: A wooden salad bowl.
The tip: When working with mundane materials, the more the merrier. Cut stems to three or four inches, depending on the size of the bowl. Put a glass dish inside for water. Carnations are hardy, so if you change the water every few days, this arrangement should last two weeks.
Far from boring, this go-to neutral can take any room to new stylish heights.