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How to Decorate with Indoor Plants to Create an Inviting Space

Houseplants are often overlooked in home decor, but they add a fresh, green and appealing quality to any room. Here are 16 ideas for how to decorate with indoor plants.

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Stylish botany composition of home garden interior with wooden mock up poster frame, filled a lot of beautiful house plants, cacti, succulents in different design pots and floral accessoriesFollowTheFlow/Getty Images

Decorating with plants

Maybe you scour home decor magazines and pin your way through Pinterest, looking for just the right combination of furnishings, color schemes and accent pieces for your everyday living spaces. But are you overlooking a major design element—one that doesn’t involve committing to an expensive couch or a wall color you’ll soon tire of? Look no further than the humble houseplant. Decorating with plants is a fun, creative and usually inexpensive way to enliven—literally and figuratively—your domestic spaces.

“Plants are the best way I know of to add life to a space,” says Justin Lievano, lead florist at UrbanStems. “Introducing plants to any decorating scheme immediately makes a space feel fresher and less sterile.” Plus, as Lievano points out, studies have shown that keeping and tending to plants is good for our mental health—and many plants act as indoor air purifiers too. By making us feel better all around, having plants, Lievano says, “enhances our ability to enjoy a well-curated space.”

When it comes to decorating with indoor plants, Lievano says there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules. “Your relationship with plants should be about what you love and what plants will thrive in your space,” he says. So as you shop for plants, either in garden centers or from online plant retailers, think about your setting, as well as the greenness of your thumb. You may want to start with some low-maintenance indoor plants, or shop for plants that do better in low light.

To provide some design inspo, let’s look at some ideas on how to arrange plants and make decorating with plants an integral part of your overall interior design strategy.

Plants are nature's poetryDelmaine Donson/Getty Images

Think texture and variety

Just as you don’t want every texture in your living room to be the same, so it goes with plants. “Given that most plants are some shade of green,” says Lievano, “the best way to create visual interest is with form and texture. By varying the foliage in a room, he says, “you can really add interest and visual richness. For example, the broad glossy leaves of a rubber ficus next to the cute bright foliage of a Chinese money plant are instantly pleasing for the eye.

We love that the designer fully committed here—the assemblage of plants against the orange wall is the focal point of the room.

Stylish composition of home garden interior filled a lot of beautiful plants, cacti, succulents, air plant in different design pots. Green wall paneling. Template. Home gardening concept Home jungle.FollowTheFlow/Getty Images

Make plants part of a color scheme

With their varied shades of green, as well as yellow, white, red or variegated leaves, plants can add pops of color to any corner of the home. But they’re not just accents. Consider this arrangement of plants in different shades of green against a bold teal-blue wall. No artwork needed, and not a matching pillow in sight! Succulent sedum dasyphyllum has a pretty, dusty blue-green color, while alocasias come in a huge range of variegated to dark-green shades. Caring for succulents can be harder than you might think, so be sure to read up on how to take care of them.

Portrait white frame mockup on retro wooden bedside table. Modern white ceramic vase, dry grass. Cup of coffee and books in bed. Beige linen pillows in bedroom. Scandinavian interior.Kseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty Images

Wake up to wellness

Many types of plants are known for their air-purifying qualities. So by putting plants at your bedside, you not only wake up to a cheerful scene before you, you’ll have had a healthier sleep, thanks to a nightstand full of VOC-filtering green helpers. According to NASA, the best air-filtering plants include peace lilies, corn plants and heart-leaf philodendrons.

luxurious light interior in the Baroque style. A spacious room with DIY wooden stand for flowers. Plant stucco on the wallsMalkovstock/Getty Images

Combine styles

We love the combination of classic white ornamental plasterwork, rustic plant stands and, of course, the green flash the plants provide. Lievano says that when decorating with plants, it’s important to think about visual balance. “If you have a large floor plant in one corner of the room, it will be really eye-catching, and smaller plants in the same space may go unnoticed,” he says. The wooden plant shelf pictured here allows for similarly sized plants to grab equal attention.

Wooden shelf for home plants against wall.Evgeniia Siiankovskaia/Getty Images

Think small

Apartment dwellers or those with small spaces to work with can still decorate with plants. “A little collection of potted plants near a window (maybe spread across a table, the windowsill or hanging nearby) allows each plant the attention and space it needs to shine,” says Lievano. “Interesting vases and contrasting forms and textures make this succulent assemblage cheerful in a small area.”

Succulents, cacti and spathiphyllum planted in metal potsWestend61/Getty Images

Go for the unexpected

Talk about upcycling! This clever use of old copper pans as plant holders is proof that there are ways to reuse just about every item. The copper creates a nice contrast against the green foliage too. For a set-up like this one, it’s better to use succulent plants or epiphytes that need to be watered infrequently. Otherwise, keep the plants in small plastic vases that are lower than the rim of the copper pot so you can take them out for watering.

House plants and herbs in the wall planters.Polonina Irina/Getty Images

Create wall art with plants

What a simple, elegant idea. Instead of hanging photos or artwork on a wall, decorate with plants. These triangular hanging vases are designed to sit flush against a wall, creating a look that’s 3D yet low-profile at the same time. Once again, succulents are a good option here, as are air plants that don’t need watering. Play around with different vase shapes and sizes to create your own “work of (plant) art.”

indoor plants growing in clear glass jars with roots in waterDuKai photographer/Getty Images

Skip the soil

If concerns over messy potting soil have kept you from decorating with plants, consider growing plants that can thrive in water, bark, moss or on lava rock. Pothos, philodendrons and most plants from the aroid family, as well as several varieties of ivy, can grow in water, or as hydroponics. Just be sure to change the water every couple of weeks. Orchids, like other epiphytes (air plants), can grow in bark, moss or attached to a piece of a tree stump or lava rock.

beautiful plants in balconyDuKai photographer/Getty Images

Create a hobby corner

If puttering with plants is your passion, convert a section of an indoor or covered outdoor living area into a potting corner. If you commit to keeping your space orderly, with some nice shelving and a few plant stands, a gardening corner can be a pleasant addition to your home and a place that will provide lots of enjoyment to you and spark interest among guests who visit.

A landscape shots of decorative house plants in shelves on a white wallKseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty Images

Brighten up a kitchen

Whether your kitchen is modern or classic, a green plant or two, even on a small shelf over the sink or tucked into the spice rack, will add color and cheer. To keep a plant from taking over valuable counter space or growing dangerously close to heat sources, stick with smaller plants or those that can easily be cut—with golden pothos, for example, you can keep growing new plants from its cuttings. The top of the fridge is a great place for a larger climbing or cascading plant. Or just stick to an indoor herb garden on a windowsill.

Collection of hanging green plantsHildaWeges/Getty Images

Look up!

Lush, cascading hanging plants are a great option for hanging above eye level. They’ll fill a bare wall or corner and, with the right play of shapes and textures, will create visual interest, as in this alternating arrangement of mistletoe cactus and heart leaf philodendron. Just make sure you have a step stool handy for watering! This is another nice example of what looks like upcycled materials—with vintage enamel containers repurposed as planters.

houseplants near the window still at home in white potsCarol Yepes/Getty Images

Let there be light

If you have a too-bright corner, a sunroom or a low-ceilinged space that’s otherwise wasted, fill it with plants! By using mostly white containers and playing with heights and texture, this plant lover has taken a corner that might not have been comfortable as a sitting space and turned it into a restful green haven. And those inexpensive rag rugs can be tossed in the washer if they get stained or dirty. Just be sure the plants will thrive with full sun. If you’re not sure what that means, find out in our plant lighting guide.

Orange living room with vintage style furnitureKseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty Images

Create a cozy nook

The soothing ocher, wicker and wood tones in this little corner make us want to escape here with a good book—or just sit and talk to the plants! Again, this is an example of how plants set at varying heights can fill a “dead” space that might otherwise be hard to activate. This is a potentially inexpensive solution too, if you hunt thrift stores for a vintage chair and folding screen and stick with a simple wooden plant stand.

Potted Plants On Table Against Wall At HomeMerethe Svarstad Eeg/Getty Images

Use beautiful containers

One hot tip for decorating with plants? “Containers!” says Lievano. “Stylish containers are a great way to marry your plants with your decor.” For pretty containers, it’s worth checking out local resale shops and discount home stores like HomeGoods. Lievano recommends leaving your plants in their grow pots and dropping those into containers and baskets. “This lets you treat the pot like clothes that you can change when you need to,” he says, “and it makes moving your plants much easier.”

Woman gardener holding macrame plant hanger with houseplant over grey wall. Hobby, love of plants, home decorationDima Berlin/Getty Images

Remember macramé?

If you came of age in the 1980s, you probably remember the macramé craze, when plant holders, wall hangings, purses and even clothing were being knotted out of macramé jute. While those macramé purses may be out of style, macramé plant holders are just as fun and functional as they were last century. Buy inexpensive versions on Amazon, or learn to make your own.

Stylish composition of home garden interior filled a lot of beautiful plants, cacti, succulents, air plant in different design pots. Green wall. Beige sofa with plaid and coffee table. Template. Home gardening concept Home jungle.FollowTheFlow/Getty Images

Swap tchotchkes for plants

Instead of cluttering a coffee table, end table or shelf with whatnots, why not make plants the conversation pieces of your living room? Think of all the elements you can incorporate—different colors, shapes and textures of foliage, a variety of vases and other containers. Together, they impart a fresh look in your living area, and they won’t gather quite so much dust! These are our favorite living room plants.

Source:

Justin Lievano, lead florist at UrbanStems

Elizabeth Heath
Elizabeth Heath is a travel and lifestyle writer based in Italy. Her writing on travel and sustainability appears in national and international publications and she is the author of several guidebooks. For RD.com and sister publication FamilyHandyman.com, she writes about pets (especially dogs!), books, seasonal gift guides, home improvement, and outdoor living.