Many of us love companions in our homes, such as family members, friends, and pets. But, what about plants?
Some of us have no desire to maintain plants. Other people impulse-buy a potted beauty or two and try to keep them alive. A few of us revel in that green thumb, surrounding ourselves with leafy vegetation of all sizes and shapes, even getting lost in a jungle inside our homes as our potted friends flourish.
Whichever category you fall into, consider using plants to enrich your home experience in an artful way.
Plants add a natural, grounding feel to a space, and even just the color green can relax and calm us. If you are a member of the first group and really don’t want to take care of plants, you might want to consider a few other options.
You could paint a wall or whole room green. Dark green is popular now and very soothing. The best way to pick a shade is to find a painted wall you like and compare paint chips to match the hue.
I have rarely picked a color off a paint chip and been satisfied with the wall results. Research before you commit. You can also buy small paint samples, so you can paint a section of your wall to make sure you like it in the space with your light sources.
If you don’t want to care for plants, you can also incorporate a two-dimensional art piece showing one plant, foliage, or multiple plants. Murals or photographs can be almost as good as the real thing, and Georgia O’Keeffe’s work shows that plants can be stunning, even abstract.
Tall paintings of palms, square images of mighty oaks, or a photograph of rows of colorful vegetables can all ground your room and bring life into the space. Imagine a painting of lacy rows of Italian lavender fields or a photo of red peppers tucked amid emerald leaves.
When you choose artwork or plants, keep the basic principles of art in mind. Let’s review.
Art principles: unity, balance, variety, emphasis, contrast, proportion, pattern (including movement & rhythm).
Plants unify your home by bringing the natural world indoors. You can also place similar plants in various rooms to unify the space or use the same type of plant indoors and out. For example, cultivate bamboo and nandina in your garden, and keep a lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) on your desk. Flowers can do the same thing—rose bushes outside, cut roses in a vase on your table.
I use plants to fill empty spaces, such as corners or edges of rooms which need softening. I have a trailing plant hanging down the side of my refrigerator to soften the space, and I place interesting, fatter plants to fill corners of my family room (a great feng shui technique that softens the look of a home and keeps the corners from feeling stagnant).
Looking to incorporate variety? Try plants with different hues (colors) or values (dark foliage versus lighter tints). A tall ficus might look better with some frothy ferns to soften the pot, or a dark leaf might benefit from a contrasting colorful plant. Remember the color wheel and use it to choose your plant colors—yellow undertone or blue? Maybe red. Variety is the spice of life!
Emphasis happens when you highlight a plant. Is it the centerpiece of the room? Orchids love to do this. Place a blooming beauty on a table where it takes center stage.
Larger indoor plants create drama, but plan ahead and make sure you know how large a particular plant will grow. It may need regular trimming, or might need to be moved to another space to accommodate its growth.
Light sources are very important, so know what each plant needs. Direct sun or indirect light? Some plants even do well in almost total darkness. Make sure your plants are compatible with your lifestyle and light sources (windows).
Also, if you have children and/or pets, research your plants. Many popular ones are poisonous, and pets are especially prone to snacking.