For the most part, interior design is just what it says it is - a way of crafting and curating the inside of the structures that we live and work in so that they are comfortable and pleasing to us visually as well as physically. It's interesting, and maybe a little ironic to note how much of that process depends on the amount of the outdoors that we are able to bring in with us. Wood furniture, stone finishes and even animal hides on rugs and pillows are all little nods to the great outdoors that we love to surround ourselves with when we're inside. But for all of the different ways that we find to sneak nature into our man-made dwellings, probably the most important and most beneficial are with plants. When it comes to good design - whether at home or in the office - you can never underestimate the importance of having plants as part of your daily living space. In fact, when I am working with clients, it is never an issue of deciding whether the space should include plants, but rather which plants are right for the space that I'm decorating and the people who live in it.
There are any number of reasons to include a healthy dose of plant life in any and every room of your home - including your actual health. Beyond their aesthetic value, having plants in your home reduces toxins in the air, and improves air quality to say nothing of the many and varied aromatherapy benefits that particular plants can have. These benefits range from lowering blood pressure to energizing the mind and even encouraging deeper and more healthful sleep. Numerous scientific studies have proven that plants are especially beneficial for those who are ill, assisting in the lowering of stress levels among long-term patients. The consensus is clear: bringing green plant life into your home literally adds life into the space. Now whether your thumb is green, blue or any other shade in the rainbow, here's 6 great tips for ways to enhance your space through an old-fashioned approach to green living.
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Whether you are designing a space for a client or looking to bring a new look and feel to your own home, any good interior design plan should look for opportunities to add plants into the space. Plants bring plenty of advantages with them as decor accessories, including the range of colors and textures that they can be counted on to add. But one of the best things about plants is the versatility that they offer in terms of scale. They can be small enough to accent a tiny desk or small, open shelving, or they can be large enough to command floor space of their own. And if you have a room that has too little green and too much empty space, a floor plant can be just the right solution. So take a look around your home. The next time you notice that you have an empty corner, and the space just doesn’t feel complete, you might not need to fill it up with more furniture. A floor plant could be the missing ingredient that completes the room while bringing a new sense of freshness to the decor. It’s important to remember, however, that plants are living things. So there are a few things to consider before turning your favorite room into a floor plant’s new home.
When deciding where to place a floor plant in your space make sure there is proper lighting in the space. Also, make sure the size and scale of the plant makes sense in the room, a floor plant that touches the ceiling, while the rest of furniture is low to ground may feel like it’s consuming the space, so consider a 6- or 7-foot plant for most residential spaces. You may need a taller floor plant, however, if you are in a loft, or if you have cathedral style ceilings. On the other hand, if you're in a small apartment, consider floor plants that sit low to ground that come in around only 2- or 3-feet tall. These plants are a great alternative, and are a lot easier on your wallet as well.
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When you find yourself searching for plants to add into your decorating scheme, it’s always good to remember that green isn’t the only color that's available to you. Blooming plants have all of the health and aromatherapy benefits of green plants while also giving you an extra pop of color that can really set your room off. Orchids are a long-standing go to flower among stylists and interior designers because of their sculptural silhouettes and bright, engaging colors. No matter where you place them in a room setting, they make a statement that draws the eye and brightens the room, and with good care they can last a long time.
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For a shorter-term solution that requires less time and maintenance than caring for a plant, think about using cut flowers to add a little life to your space. In addition to being less time consuming, flowers can also be the less expensive option, depending on how often you choose to replace them. You can buy a bunch of cut flowers for as little as a couple of dollars. But the trade off is that they don’t last as long as a potted plant will (ideally), so if you choose to continually replace the flowers as they whither the cost can add up. Replacing your flowers, however, can be a great way to change up the look of your room without too much expense or effort. However you choose to go about it, cut flowers are a quick and easy option that can improve your mood, and add some much needed pops of color to your home.
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Succulents & Cacti
Not all of us are blessed with the greenest of thumbs. Caring for plants can be tricky, and depending on the type of plant, the climate that you live in and how much time you have to devote to the process, some plants can be much, much harder than others to keep healthy and thriving. But even if you haven’t had the greatest luck in the past with plants — which is to say, they keep dying on you — there are a number of very hearty house plants that are much easier to care for, and much more likely to reward your efforts with long and continued growth. For example, you might want to consider selecting a cactus or succulent plant for your home. Though green and lively, both are types of desert plants, and are well-suited to environments that would be less than hospitable to other plant types. In fact, these plants need only a little water and sunlight, and are otherwise very low maintenance, which makes them easy to care for. In addition to their strength and longevity, these plants also have an interesting look that works very well aesthetically in interiors with a more modern design approach because of their linear shapes.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Wall Hanging Herb Garden
There are any number of fun and creative ways to bring plants into the different areas of your home. The best ways combine the aesthetic beauty of the greenery and/or flowers with the functionality of the plant in ways that allow the plant to not only contribute to the look of the space but also be of some use — like having lavender plants in a home office to help chase stress away. Another great idea is to have a hanging herb garden in the kitchen. Using small planters it’s possible to keep a variety of wonderful, fresh herbs in your kitchen that will not only beautify the space, they’ll add a new dash of freshness to your cooking as well. Even better, it’s a breeze to set up. For a brick wall, such as the one seen in the picture above, use just a few small planters and some wood screws to create a gorgeous effect. By using individual planters rather than a series of shelves, you can create a simple yet interesting pattern that lets you use your plants not only as cooking aides but as wall art as well.
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Now, finally, if you absolutely, positively just don’t have the touch, the patience or the luck to be successful with plants of any kind, but you still want to feel like there’s a touch of nature to the look of your space, there are always ways to pay homage to the great, green outdoors without actually having any of it in your home. When you find that your thumb simply refuses to turn the right shade of green to keep the plants in your home alive and well, a bit of decorating with faux greenery is all it takes to get the feeling of plants without the hassle and the heartbreak.
When trying to evoke the feeling of plants in your home, look to your accessories, big and small. Anything from bringing in a large scale wall mural with a plant motif to finding pillows that include your favorite flowers, or even painting a floral scene on your ceiling, will all work to give you some sense of having plants around. You can even frame artwork that includes botanical imagery, or simply lifestyle your space with a focus on floral elements. For the aromatherapy benefits, there are a variety of scented candles, oils and diffusers that will fill your space with helpful scents much like a variety of plants will. It's likely that none of these options are quite as effective as having the real thing, but when that isn't an option, a great candle might just be the way to go.
Deng, Linjing, and Qihong Deng. The basic roles of indoor plants in human health and comfort. Environmental science and pollution research international vol. 25,36 (2018): 36087-36101. doi:10.1007/s11356-018-3554-1
Lee, Min-Sun et al. Interaction with Indoor Plants May Reduce Psychological and Physiological Stress by Suppressing Autonomic Nervous System Activity in Young Adults: A Randomized Crossover Study. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, doi:10.1186/s40101-015-0060-8