How To Style Up The Joint - With Houseplants!

I really love those old Better Homes and Gardens decorating books from the 70's. You know, the ones with the great pics of the chic bohemian pads with the floor cushions and all the groovy unkempt houseplant jungles. I would have plants all over the place if I didn't have such a black thumb. But I'm really picky about what I think is cool enough for an Interior (capital !) plant. A trip to the local nursery inevitably ends in disappointment for me because the typical selection of houseplants is pretty sad. You're either stuck with the disposable palm (cause you just know that thing isn't going to make it 6 months) or the one houseplant that will survive the coming apocalypse along with the roaches - pothos.

If you have the ability and right lighting conditions though, some sculptural greenery inside can really add some life and interest to your interior. Here are some awesome examples of exactly what I'm talking about...

The incomparable Emily Henderson (who I'm totally in love with, shhh! don't tell me wife...) recently used some awesome fiddle leaf figs in the living room she redid for Bri Emery over at DesignLoveFest. At first glance, there seems to be sooo much going on in the room that the plants are too much. But it works, and here's why: Even though the plants are all different scales and textures, grouping them all together makes your eye kind of read them all at once. Really great room (I have to focus on the plants though or I could write all day about the stuff I like going on in there).

I've been really kind of over Jonathan Adler for years now, (Don't yell at me, I know he has some great stuff!) but I still love his place from a few years back. Another great use of the awesome scale that these fig trees provide. And check out the planters. Awesome.

Here's another one... How much less interesting would this space be without the big planter and fig to break up the lines of the room? Lots. That was rhetorical. Rhetorical questions always seem odd when they're written down. Anyway...

Plants don't have to just be accessories either. They can be the focus of the room. Clearly that's the case here with this Living Wall. I would kill to have one of these in my place! How freakin' amazing is that? (Ok, that rhetorical question was waaay better, right?) I love how they've used it in such stark contrast with the other textures and (lack of) color and warmth in the room.


You don't have to use overscale (and overexpensive!) plants to achieve a dramatic look either. You can score major Wow points by getting creative with container, species, and placement too. This tall vase with water hyacinth in it is stunning and doesn't take up much floor space. Just be prepared to maintenance it or it'll go from chic to bleak in a wink. Now I sound like Dr. Seuss.

Look up. No seriously, look up. Are there any opportunities to hang plants or use them in ways that won't use your floor space. Places like the skylight well in the picture are great for hanging plants. You just don't want to use anything that'll have to be watered every day. Spots like this are great for pencil cactus or clumps of tillandsias or even a staghorn fern! All very cool looking and low maintenance.

Lastly, what about in the bathroom? I have always wanted to use plants in my bathroom. Even in a walk in shower! But alas, almost every bathroom I've had doesn't have the space or light to even grow a spider plant, let alone anything as beautiful as this! There are a lot of species that would thrive in the heat and humidity of a shower or bathroom if they have enough light as well...

Seriously. Right there in the shower. Love.


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