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Houseplants, y’all. If you spend any time on the ‘gram you’ve likely seen that houseplants are having a moment, and have been for a while now. COVID lockdowns really are the reason for their growth in popularity (pun intended). I know, for me, that’s when my houseplant obsession really took off.
Before I go any further, this needs to be said – I am a former houseplant killer. Untold amounts of plants came in my house alive and well and left in a garbage can. What I didn’t understand is that certain plants are very easy to care for, and others are ridiculously temperamental. Begin with easy plants that are less prone to die. You can find our favorite beginner friendly houseplants here.
While houseplants have benefits in and of themselves – reducing stress, upping the indoor air quality – they are AMAZING additions to your home for aesthetic reasons. Bringing in something fresh, lively, and green brightens up a space in a way a vase or marble doo-dad just can’t compete with. Something to do with our brains and connection to the outdoors. It’s science.
Even pre-COVID, we at TLD love using plants as décor. We often would (and still) bring in faux houseplants to add in that extra bit of life and freshness to a space. Now that I have a pretty solid knowledge of what plants are the easiest to care for inside and what their ideal conditions are, we’ve moved towards bringing live plants into our clients’ homes.
But how do you start bringing them in, marrying the aesthetics with the care they need? Here are 8 ways to use plants in your home décor. We’ll start with the basics and then work our way up to more advanced moves!
STYLING A CONSOLE OR TABLE
Adding a plant to a console or table is the simplest way to start. Having something organic on top of furniture with more harsh lines creates amazing contrast and is a go-to for designers.
Always put the plant towards the side of the table that gets more natural light, even if you’re using a low light tolerating plant. Even if they tolerate low light, they will love a bit of extra sunshine.
The Philodendron Selloum in a hammered metal pot breaks up the harsh corner where the console meets the TV.
Ficus Tineke (rubber tree) on left, Pothos Silvery Ann under cloche, Spider plant on right. The colors of the pots all relate to the artwork and the rug, so they will be a compliment, rather than competition to the other statement items in the area.
This Birds Nest Fern has the prettiest wavy lines, and compliments the art and the lamp perfectly.
Plants are always a welcome addition to a coffee table, adding height, drama, and verticality.
This Bromeliad is a favorite in commercial interiors, and it confounds me as to why it isn’t used more in homes. They are so colorful and sculptural and do great with medium light.
A LIVING CENTERPIECE
Our clients often struggle with styling a dining table. You want something there so the table isn’t naked, but it needs to be easy enough to move around if you need the table space for serving. If your dining room gets some natural light, adding a living centerpiece is a great way to go. This can work for both formal and informal eating areas.
A plant or two nestled in with your salt and pepper shakers is just enough to carry a table and give you something interesting to look at, without overwhelming the space. This is our only dining area in our house, so we want the vibe to be casual enough that people feel comfortable plopping down and eating here. I rotate plants in and out of this area all the time because it gets nice lighting. On this particular day, I have a Monstera Deliciosa in a terra cotta pot.
If your dining space is more formal, then you can use a more formal centerpiece. This guy is full of cacti, and the modern lines of the planter + the acrylic steaks really up the sophistication level.
Much like a console, there are so many ways to style a fireplace mantle. A few ways to incorporate plants in this major house focal point:
Use the plant(s) as a stand alone statement on a mantle for a minimalist look. I LOVE how simple the mantle is at our house. The textured brick plus two easy care plants makes enough of a statement for me. The Pothos Silvery Ann is a trailing plant that cascades down the mantle, again softening the harsh edges (are you seeing the theme here?), and the Snake Plant adds height.
TIP: Snake Plants are THE EASIEST houseplant to care for, so if you aren’t sure where to start, begin with that one.
You can up the ante a bit and layer in books and candleholders (or various other mantle styling doo-dads) and have your plant be part of the bigger picture. This Chinese money plant has visually pleasing circular leaves that we love.
MAKING A STATEMENT
Sometimes one big plant is all you need to make a statement. Here’s a few ways to try this out.
This corner was feeling a little blah but adding furniture or art or something of that nature would feel cluttered. Monstera Deliciosa to the rescue. I kept the pot super simple to let the plant be the star of the show.
Same thing in our entryway. This corner is RIGHT between our front door and office doors. The big Snake Plant fills the corner up wonderfully. A couple of small pieces of art – that otherwise would be too small for this wall – round out the vignette. I opted for a pot on legs to get this guy up off the floor and to add some height, which helps it have more presence in the room than if it sat on the floor.
Our kitchen island gets used and abused. It’s the area where school papers are unloaded, meals get prepared, and art takes place. I keep this area extremely simple décor-wise, with nothing but a ZZ Plant in a simple white pot that feels like it’s growing out of the countertop. ZZ’s are another insanely easy care plant. I water it once a month, do nothing else, and it grows.
REFRESH YOUR WORKSPACE
Whether you work from home or in an office, adding a plant is a phenomenal way to bring a little of the natural world inside. Admittedly I’m a little woo-woo when it comes to plants, but having one on my desk gives me something relaxing to look at when I need it. In addition to keeping a plant on my desk, I also have a terrarium in my office filled with tiny plants in their own little greenhouse.
Monstera Deliciosa propagating away in a glass vase; a tiny conglomerate of Peperomia Clusiifolia, Lemon Button Fern, and Starling Ivy holding down the fort in the terrarium.
A Monstera Deliciosa soaking up the rays on the console.
This ZZ plant will tolerate low light in this moody office.
ON YOUR WINDOW SILL
This is an easy one. Plants light sunlight, and there is a lot of sunlight on a windowsill, making this aneasy choice. But a word of warning–exercise caution here. I think we all have that aunt/grandma/olderlady that has1000 ugly plants hanging out in her kitchen window. Be a curator here and keep it simple.
This Monstera creates a rainforest-y feel in our shower. It loves the sunlight and humidity and is growing like a weed! People usually forget about plants in a bathroom, but most of them LOVE it in there.
On the adjacent wall, I have a Pothos Ivy in the other window that cannot be contained, it is so happy. It has quadrupled in size in the last year. Also a small grouping of Cacti that soak up the leftover sun.
In my kiddo’s room, two dinosaur planters holding succulents are battling it out. These were once real succulents, but after being dropped over and over (and over) again, I swapped them for faux.
CREATE A RELAXING RETREAT
Grouping your plants together makes a greater impact and can set a relaxing vibe. Once you have the hang of one or two plants, you can go big!
I have a big Fern (not sure of the variety, but it’s the regular common one you see at the grocery store)and a Philodendron Heart Leaf in this sunny corner of our bedroom.
Here we used one small plant on each side of the bed (in his and hers pots) for a little fresh touch to each bed side table. His is a Philodendron, hers is a Pothos Ivy.
This Maidenhair Fern loves humidity, making it theperfect bathtub companion.
The Donkeytail plant trailing in the shower is a FAKE! There isn’t enough daylight here for this kind of plant, but we wanted one anyway. He is a favorite of ours–if you look closely you’ll see her in tons of our projects. You can buy him here!
Oh look, here he is again!
Really, if you’ve learned nothing else from this post is that plants should go in bathrooms as a rule. Our tried and true Pothos Ivy on the left, and Monstera Deliciosa on the right.
PLANTS AS WALL ART
For our last tip, we’re going to go a little wild andtake the plants off of horizontal surfaces and put themon vertical ones!
I have a sunny wall in our eating area that I use to propagate plants (taking cuttings of houseplants,letting them sit in water to grow roots, and then re-planting them). Here’s a photo from last Thanksgiving when it was particularly full of little baby plants.
If you REALLY want to go for it, you can create a living wall of plants framed as a piece of art! While these can be truly living plants, most are created with preserved moss and faux plants, like we did herein this Jewelry Store. I’ll link at the bottom of the post a book that has step by step instructions for how to create one on you own!
I have 3 favorite books on houseplants, and all three are by the same author, Hilton Carter. He’s amazing. If adding plants to your home is something you are into, he is the one stop shop for plant care and inspiring interiors that celebrate plants. They also have gorgeous covers that are great as coffee table books!
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