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Bringing Plants Indoors: Not Your Grandmother’s Greenhouse!

Now that Spring is officially here, I’m excited to share some of my design inspiration for using live plants indoors. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are plenty of ways you can use plants to enliven your indoor space.

I started using indoor plants more and more because I really liked the way my house feels at Christmas. The home always has a special warmth and coziness from all the sumptuous trees and live greens, and I began thinking about how I could use plants as a design element during the warmer months, too. I wanted that atmosphere in my home year-round, while adding some healthiness too!

I’m always influenced by historical design, and this is true for plants as well. If you look at places that have been around forever, the plants always seem to take over: creeping up walls and growing through ceilings. I like to channel this feel for some of my plants, so I keep them really obvious in the room and use the greenery as a living statement piece.

They key to having plants look great indoors is really all in the scale and the container. Of course, it’s always a good idea to try to keep your plants healthy too!

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The Layered Look

For balance, I usually think in terms of layers. When I’m trying to get a fuller or more layered look to a room, I use plants to fill in the spaces that furniture can’t.

In this room, you can see that the ceiling is really tall – it’s almost 15 feet! Even with the art tableau, I felt the scale was still off with just the chairs at first. When I pulled in the layer of plants, it really added to the vertical scale and completed the look – even with using lots of them! Your eye can now step down gracefully from the ceiling and complete the vignette.

Thinking in vignettes is another really handy design tip. By creating a vignette, you’re trying to make a space look more like a landscape, a mountain, or something else that’s more natural in shape. Plants are really key to letting you do that indoors!

Contain Yourself

For containers, you can go in a couple different directions depending on your goal. If I’m integrating a plant into a setting, I look for a container that will disappear in the space instead of standing out. If not, I try to find something that’s really got some age and authenticity. I particularly like to use terra cotta and other materials that are worn, not brand new, to give a feeling of history. I constantly keep an eye out for these type of containers at thrift stores and antique stores, since the selection is so varied. I’m especially keen on antique garden stuff, and since it’s not easy to come by I always grab it when I see it!

Here in Santa Fe, I’ve found some great pieces at Look What the Cat Dragged In. I love shopping at this thrift store because they take all sorts of donations, plus everything you spend benefits the Humane Society.

Scaling Down

Even though the jungly look using many plants is such a trend right now, you can also go natural but sophisticated in a space with a different design feel.

Matt’s space is a great example of this. It’s on a much smaller scale, so he brought in small pieces like cacti that work well here to add texture. In a more modern space or paired with modern fabrics, I’d probably use a different type of plant like succulents. For the plants themselves, don’t be afraid to experiment and find out what lives best and looks best in your home. We keep a continual rotation of plants and try to find a spot where they can grow really well.

There’s also no shame in replacing a plant if you don’t have good luck! Check out your local farmer’s market to grab new varietals and see what’s in season. One of my favorites at our Santa Fe market is Sam with The Succulent Garden.

Getting Local Plants

Beyond farmer’s markets, there are tons of other great options where you can get some plants of your own. I go to local nurseries like Newman’s (the best place for trees!) and Payne’s, where I got my beautiful fiddle-leaf fig tree that lives indoors year-round. My palms are from Lowe’s, and they stay inside all year as well. My ferns will go outdoors once they’re ready and all chance of cold weather has passed. I set them on little garden tables and side tables outdoors; in the winter the whole table comes in and they all nestle together.

Finally, a really unique way to use plants indoors is to take cuttings of trees or bushes. I trimmed the peach tree that lives behind our house, which was growing beautifully but overtaking the walkway a bit.

Based on a video from Garden Answer, I decided to take a cutting and see if I could force some blooms. After giving the tree a haircut, I put some of the twigs inside, and they’re all blooming splendidly! Now I know this is an awesome method for creating your own blooming arrangements indoors, even if the plants are out of season.

If you’re looking for more online inspiration for your indoor plants, check out some of my favorite resources at Terrain, which is owned by Anthropologie, and Gardenista from Remodelista. Make sure to follow these folks on Pinterest and Instagram to see their beautiful ideas!

Happy planting!

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