Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to use plants to add interest and life to your space – successfully

Have you noticed the lack of life – plant life, I mean, in images of beautiful interiors? There’s often a fabulous bouquet or two of cut flowers in a vessel of some sort, be them large or small, but I’m talking about actual plants. In pots.

I find these next 2 rooms suggested by Cattalen Italia *stunning*. And many would argue that you can’t plop a plant into rooms of these stature. {How dare I even suggest it?!}

Well – take a good look at them. What are they missing? Besides some obvious colour (and I’m a huge fan of monochromatic and simple colour schemes), I believe they are missing some life to them.

I am not for a minute suggesting that you go take your aunt’s collection of green plastic potted plants from her window sill and adorn the above – or any – space with them.

But the right plant – in the right vessel (doesn’t have to be a ‘typical’ pot) – can bring life to the room, add warmth and comfort, and enhance the overall look and feel of your space. Even if you’ve gone contemporary.


Ok – so I’m exaggerating a little. If you’re reading this blog, I know that you’re not likely to go off track that far. I just wanted to be clear that I am not advocating plants for the sake of plant life.

So what’s an example of a carefully chosen plant and vessel for the space?

I’ll start with one of my own rooms. This is a sitting room opposite our family room – fairly monochromatic in its tones.

It’s eclectic with a mix of contemporary furniture, flooring that is both traditional and contemporary, traditional architectural details, and a bit of ‘exotic’ thrown in with the Kim Taylor Reece photo of a beautiful Hawaiian woman with a lei around her neck.

I chose a ‘birds of paradise’ house plant, in just-the-right-height so that it would lean into the photo a bit – not so much that it would block it out, but enough that it would enhance the exotic element in the room, while adding colour and interest.

I kept the vessel simple, neutral and light-coloured to let the plant take centre stage, but still elegant, as that's the overall feel I wanted for the space.

Here’s another example of where a birds of paradise plant adds a finishing touch to the space that makes it – quite literally – come alive. (Notice how Alison Spearaia further added colour by using a brightly coloured pot, which is a complementary colour to the red credenza.)

Can you visualize the above space without the plant in the corner? If you can, doesn't it suddenly lose its life / look a bit 'blah'?

Not everyone has the space for a birds of paradise or other sizable plant though, and those are also not necessarily going to be the right plants for your space. Here are some data points to consider before buying plants and vessels (pots) for your space:

1) Exactly where would you put the plant? Don’t define just which side of the room, define the exact spot – will it be on the floor, a window sill, shelf, table?

Then write down how much space you have to work with. ie. what are the maximum width & height measurements the plant can be (with vessel), given where it will be fitting into?

2) How much light does that area get? Direct sunlight (ie. sun will shine on it for a few hours/day), indirect natural light (it’s well lit with natural light in that area, but the sun’s not shining on it directly), or is it a low-light area?

3) What is the overall feeling you want your room to have / what is the current look, if you are staying with it (including its colours). ie. do you want to add a bit of an exotic feel, do you want to continue to support its contemporary look, do you want to add frivolity, whimsy or an industrial feel? Etc etc.

You now have enough info (to be dangerous and ...) to go to a plant store and begin your search for the plant(s) that is/are going to bring your space to life.

If you’re not horticulturally inclined (as I am not), don’t be afraid to ask for advice at the plant store – make sure you know how much care is involved in looking after the plant*, and that you can live up to what is needed, because if you’re going to end up killing the plant, it’s not only a waste of your money, it is truly a waste of a life that gives us a gift.

*I was given a great tip wrt the birds of paradise plant:  when watering it, make sure the water is very warm (not hot, but also not just luke warm).  Because of where they hail from (warm climates), their make-up is used to warm rains.  Our plant has been thriving fm day one, and it requires minimal care -- so it pays to ask! 

In this lively interior below, they’ve used plant life in vases at a minimum.   I think this space is *screaming* for a fabulous tall plant in an electric blue pot! (And/or smaller plants in colourful vessels on the ledge above the beds.)

Don’t you?!

It's Your Space, Your Place, Your Life -- if you want a great-looking space that's right for you and embibes the feel you'll love living in, contact Liz to help make it happen!


No comments:

Post a Comment