Tips For Decorating With House Plants

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Somewhere on your moving checklist (after packing, actually moving and unpacking) is decorating. You’ve either brought things from your old place, are starting from scratch or are somewhere in between. Regardless of your situation, you might discover that your space looks a little less than homey. It needs something, but you may not be quite sure what.

Consider the humble houseplant.

Adding a bit of nature to your decor can make your new place feel more comfortable, more cozy and more like home after a move. Plants are a quick and easy way to transform a room. They can add color and texture, soften hard edges and warm things up. They also help to clean toxins from the air, which can be especially helpful after moving, when your home is more likely to contain fumes from things like fresh paint and new carpet.

How to Choose Your Plants

As with any decorating element, plants should be chosen to work seamlessly with your particular style. Contemporary or modern interiors need plants with crisp, architectural shapes, like bamboo or spiky grasses. Traditional looks call for more delicate plants like ferns. Match the feel of the plant with the feel of the room for the best results.

Live plants require care and good conditions to thrive. When you are choosing your decorative plants, be sure you understand the type and amount of care they need. If you are away a lot or tend to forget things, look for low-maintenance varieties. You’ll also need to consider the conditions in the area you intend to place them. Keep plants away from working fireplaces and drafty spots, and make sure they have adequate sunlight for their needs.

Don’t forget interior decorating 101: Use color and texture. Choose a variety of types, some with darker foliage, some with lighter colors, some flowering, some not. Pick plants of varying heights. This will help you add interest to your space.

Five Places to Put Your Plants

A plant or an arrangement of plants can help create a focal point in a room, fill up blank space or simply add a decorative element to a flat surface. Here are some ideas:

  1. In the corner. Fill up an empty corner with a potted palm to help visually fill up the room. You can even use a plant in a corner behind a sofa or sectional. A small spotlight directed up at the tree will highlight it nicely.
  2. On the mantle. A smaller potted plant like an African violet will add some color over the fireplace. Another option is a large flowering variety placed in the center with a mirror hung in back. The mirror will open up the room and the reflection will make the plant look extra lush.
  3. In the fireplace. A decorative or unusable fireplace can become the focal point of the room when you tuck a great plant into it. A peace lily, with its glossy green leaves and delicate white flowers is a good choice, or you could opt for a healthy ivy or fern.
  4. On the wall. You can find plant sconces and even special plant frames to put a bit of nature on your walls. Some homes even have plant shelves built in. Flowing plants like philodendron work well here, as do more compact ones like succulents and air plants.
  5. On the table. A small plant, like a flowering cactus, can be just the thing to accessorize a coffee table. A taller plant can be the centerpiece of an entry or dining table. Make sure to match the scale of the plant with the scale of the furniture. A large plant on a coffee table will overwhelm it.
decorating with plants decorating with plants

Arrange Your Plants

Once you’ve chosen your plant type and have decided where it will go, you’ll need to figure out how to place your plants both for maximum impact and harmony.

  • Use odd numbers. One plant on the dining room table, three plants on the mantle. Always work in odd numbers—asymmetry actually feels more balanced.
  • Vary heights. Don’t put plants that are the same height together. You’ll end up with more of a bush, and some of the plants will get lost. Vary your heights and remember to put the tallest plants at the back. Even if you are placing a number of small plants on a table or shelf, use varying sizes of both pots and plants. Again, uniformity will end up feeling “off.” If the plants you are using are similar in height, you can set them on other items to vary their height. For example, a trio of cactuses on a coffee table can be placed at various points on a stack of decorative books to put them at different heights.
  • Tie everything together. While you don’t have to put all the plants in an arrangement in exactly the same pot, you should keep them in the same color family. You can play with pattern and finish if you like, but be sure there is something to tie the group together. A solid red pot next to a striped one that includes red will work just fine. You can also keep things cohesive by using pots with similar shapes.

Decorating your home with plants is an easy way to add color, style and fresh air to any room. When selecting the plant, be sure to find a variety that compliments your décor style and is appealing to you. Add the final touch with a decorative pot and you’re done!

This article was written by Megan Gordon for, an online resource for moving information, products and coupons.

Last Updated: June 12, 2012
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