header photo

Monday, February 22, 2010

Houseplants-A Forgotten Design Element?

It's ironic that despite the movement in green design, plants are often absent in much of the interiors I've been seeing in shelter magazines lately. Plants can help purify the air and bring a wonderful design element into a room, but sadly, they are often absent, ignored or an afterthought in the design process. Plants can soften the edges of a room and bring in a much needed color and textural element. I'm really loving the idea of citrus, succulent, bonsai, palms and dish gardens-revisited and restyled to be current and fresh. I recently found myself guilty of overlooking this important design element in my own living room. In fact, I think "overlooked" is a bit of an understatement. Let's face it, life is busy, and I rarely have time to play around with accessories in this room, but I've been making more of an attempt lately to update. It suddenly dawned on me one day that my two - 12 year old scraggly, sad ficus trees stationed on either side of my fireplace, having witnessed so much family life, were fighting with the rest of the room and overtaking it. (This pic circa 2005-guitar hero playing relatives keeping the trees company)In the middle of slowly adding some mid-century touches and color to my otherwise Deco-ish room, the ficus trees and their thinning branches seemed to be shouting “hello 1990's”.......as they had since, well, the 1990's. Overwhelmed by the thought of uprooting them and finding a new, loving owner (I couldn't bare to toss them in the gardening bin) they continued to dominate the room for a time. They were survivors in our move from San Jose to Oakland after all. I finally decided to replace them with ferns. I don't know where this idea came from but it was also accompanied by a fear of 1970's ferns...... and having lived through that decade, I was determined to avoid that! Retro touches are great but some things (like macrame) are meant to stay in the past.

Along with Ficus trees, ferns are especially wonderful at air purification and even help remove harmful chemicals such as paint VOC's from the room environment.
Searching far and wide around the local stores, I ran into a few large ferns that I deemed too“70's” The lacy ferns that fit the bill with their delicate, rounder leaves.....were not tall enough for the 18 inch pots I wanted to keep. I finally found some larger ones at a gardening center in Walnut Creek and bought their entire stock of 6 Adiantum ferns. The ignored ficus's found a loving new owner on Craigslist and hopefully my new ferns have the room pointed in the right direction......forward!

Other inspiring ideas for plants:

Love this!
I would like to see this idea using kumquat trees as well!
Photo Source

Even a great new pot can revive the look of a plant
Photo Source

An inspired cactus garden:
Succulent Garden ideas courtesy of Apartment Therapy
Jean-Marie Massaud Missed Tree Flower Pot-This unique vase is nearly 4 feet tall!
From the Houston Garden Show: Mini biospheres in a container garden


MB said...

I love the ideas here. I felt the need to have some plant life inside yesterday and bought some cut flowers. A live plant is an even better idea.

Unknown said...

i love the reminder to bring in some fresh, soft leafy stuff into decorating. I have a tendency to kill just about any living greenery that needs more attention than neglect, so i'm still on a quest for the perfect houseplants

great ideas!

Unknown said...

I agree plants are not as popular. When I lived in Vegas I had a company that came out and set up plants for my installations. As a service to my clients I would include 1 years worth of maintenance with their contract. But here in Nashville we dont have any plant services, and most clients fear live plants

Mary-Frances Cimo said...

I'm in the plant-phobic category, but love them! They bring so much vibrancy to a home.

Unfortunately, I have taken pity on the plants and left them to other homes to rescue.

I'm with Rachel. If I could find something unkillable and pretty, I'm there. Yes, people have suggested cacti, but they're not very soothing to me.

Those ferns are delicious!

Mary-Frances Cimo
Color Designer

Marie Brady said...

Yes, cacti are usually my favorite either but I guess they'd be hard to kill, lol! I was surprised how well my ficus trees did for all the years they were neglected. They're usually known for being hard to care for.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I'm terrible with plants! Tend to just snip from the garden or see who's got the best deals locally for fresh flowers.

Maria Killam said...

I love green plants in a house we just have to remember to water them :)