Decorating with House Plants | Interior Design How-To

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You know that feeling when you’re scrolling Instagram and you see a living room decked out with ceramic pots filled with beautiful plants and indoor trees? Or a rainy cottage kitchen with windowsills overflowing with succulents and ivy? For some, that feeling is a core memory; An ancestral call to surround themselves with life in honor of the earth. For others this may elicit worry about creepy crawly bugs.

As designers, we believe in the power that plant life has on interiors and on humans. In addition to providing that finishing touch to make our decorated spaces feel complete, there is a very real and scientific connection to reduced blood pressure and increased energy. We also know that keeping our plants alive and our homes pest-free is another way to help with blood pressure. Finding the right balance is essential. There are countless ‘how-to’ blogs on keeping plants alive, so I will instead focus on the considerations we, as interior designers, make when introducing plant life and how to make the best choices when bringing the green into your home.

Credit: Gabriela Herman

Size & Shape

One of first tools designers use when designing a space is called the ‘schematic phase’. This is when we evaluate the layout and aesthetics of the space to determine where things will go, without deciding specifically what those things will be. In this phase, we want to sketch (or just imagine) the visual blocks of the space; What’s tall, what’s short, what’s long, what’s useful, etc… and place them in attractive groups. Round looks good next to square, long looks good next to tall, useful items work best near other useful items, and continuing on going with what feels right. This schematic planning is a great way to narrow down what species of plants to select. If the “long” is your sofa, then the “tall” might be a new snake plant.

Credit: A Beautiful Mess

Which plants to choose?

Another big consideration for choosing plants is to think about what will thrive in the space. We, at Housewarming, pay extra attention to this, as the gothic gray of the Pacific Northwest can make many species of indoor plants just plain unhappy. Access to light, the safety of our pets, and ease of care are all questions that need answers. Once you’ve selected the size and shape you want, research such topics as “medium-sized plants for low light” or “is ____ safe for animals?”. These results will help you hone in on specific species, and from there you can research how to care for your leafy new housemates.

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Maintenance and Care

With houseplants, the single most common phrase we hear from our clients is “I love plants, but I kill everything I touch.” We know the struggle! A home full of empty planters and dead leaves quickly builds lost hope. I would be lying if I said, even with my green thumb, I’ve never killed a plant in my life. I’ve killed many. The best tip I can give is this: Most plants don’t need your intervention as much as you think. Our anxiety to keep them alive can often lead to overwatering, too much movement, or inconsistent lighting routines. Many plants will tell you what they need, when they need it, and will give you plenty of time to react. Leaves going yellow? Too much sun. Leaves dry and crispy? Time to water. Leaves soft and limp? Too much water. Once you’ve cared for them, give them a few days to adjust before trying anything else (This is where many anxious plant parents slip up). Change the soil once a year, water once a week, and take a couple minutes to research the plant before purchasing. If you want a plant that is so dramatic that it tells you what it needs weeks in advance, try a peace lily! They’re safe for pets, thrive in most lights, and can propagate easily.

Credit: Ralph Anderson

Picking the right planter

This is for aesthetics, but also very much for care and maintenance too! First and foremost, ensure your planter has a drain hole at the bottom. These are not standard for many planters you find in department stores, so take a peek just in case. Drain holes will ensure that water doesn’t stagnate at the bottom of the pot after watering, which can cause root rot and pests. Most plant boutiques will have them, or will offer to safely drill one before purchasing. We also suggest a plant saucer that complements the planter,  as this will allow water to drain directly into the saucer rather than requiring you to move it over a sink first.

For aesthetics, consider the planter as you would any other piece of décor. Does it want it to stand out as a piece of art, or would it rather fade into the background? Do its patterns, colors, and shape complement where it sits in the room? Do they complement the shape and color of the plant? We’re using our design brain just as before here!

Credit: Lur

With these few considerations in mind, we designers can invigorate a home with new energy and offer a therapeutic routine for our clients. Plants are living, breathing entities; Ones we evolved instinctively to be custodians for. When we invite them into our spaces, they return gifts of health, peace, and a connection with our natural self. They’re also sometimes the only thing that will look good next to that battered suede sofa we’re waiting to give away, so design freely!

2023’s Revolutionizing Interior Design Concepts

Now that the long winter is upon us and sunlight seems like a distant memory, our attention goes to the quality and mood of our indoor spaces. Reimagining our home’s personality can be daunting, but with intention and patience, we can get in touch with interior energy that represents and empowers us.

At Housewarming, we like to remind our clients that the interior design trend cycle is a forever swinging pendulum with no right or wrong ways to design. In fact, leaning too strongly into trends and changing our homes around one flashy new concept can often leave us with regrets later. Trying to replicate trends can be tricky. However, indulging in new ways of thinking and finding inspiration in others’ work can realize positive results. Using trends to educate and inspire us is the most useful relationship we can have with them, and we can create deeply personal concepts by using a thoughtful blend of ideas, old and new.

No matter where on the pendulum you sit right now, 2023 has so much to show us! New designers’ voices are being heard all over the world. We want to share with you some trending concepts that bring a breath of fresh air, and a healthy dose of “Oh, I never thought of that.”

Design freely! Just… be careful with the bouclé.

Latter-day VictorianCredit: Zoffany

Paper, paper, paper!

Very recently, cottage-core took over Instagram with shaker furnishings and potted plants galore! Now we’re seeing designers delve into its more opulent satellite: American Victorian.

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The historic Victorian style was heavily influenced by a gothic revival; One brought about by new easy access to materials and goods. This barely mirrors its resurgence today.

Biophilic Design

Credit: Stuart Isett

Biophilic design is more than just houseplants and jungle wallpaper; It’s defined by reintroducing its users to their evolutionary roots to create wellness.

Credit: Decorilla

All elements of the concept attempt to be an ecosystem of natural parts that support our modern lives. That pendulum sure swings far back!

Old Hollywood

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While France’s Art Deco style is having its own huge resurgence, the intricate forms of 1920s Hollywood are making their own small statement too.

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This branch of the Deco movement is more cinematic and indulges in far more international forms than its partner. Think, “could I see Audrey Hepburn in here?” If so, it’s probably Old Hollywood.


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China’s history in the arts is longer than many of us in the West can really comprehend. ‘Chinoiserie’ (not the fabric) is a word used by Europe historically to identify the idyllic spectacle of Chinese forms and motifs.

Credit: Baptiste Bohu

Danish Pastel

Rooted in colonial plunders and eclecticism, this style has since relaxed a bit and is now reinventing itself as a traditional powerhouse for older homes.

Credit: Holly Becker

Danish Pastel made a huge statement back in 2020 as social media influencers began twisting Scandinavian hygge into something more playful. Now it’s a fully matured design style with its own unique gestures and terminology!

Credit: Emma Omeara

Often created by mixing pastel furniture and fixtures inside white rooms, the interactive zone of the style is always brimming with joy and curiosity. We, at Housewarming, love to see the sunny disposition.

We believe that no matter your inner style or outward ability, you should feel entitled to be represented in your home. So, take notes, feel the rhythm in others’ work, and you’ll begin to piece together your own puzzles. But as always, let us know if you need help!