Soon it is time to bring all my plants inside again from their summer vacation on the porch and backyard. Every year I face the challenge of how to decorate our living room with plants especially since their size and shape keep changing tremendously over the summer growing period. In today’s post, I want to talk about how I tackle this decorating challenge.
How to decorate your living room with plants
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As I just said, this is a challenge every year due to the fact that their size and shape keep changing and a lot of them don’t necessarily fit in the same spot where they used to be. Another issue is that maybe you would love to have a grouping of plants in a certain spot but the plants don’t like that spot because it either doesn’t have enough light or too much sun. That definitely makes the decorating part much more difficult. With regular home decor accessories, you can just place them wherever you want, with plants you can’t do that because they have a mind of their own. My cats also add another challenge to decorating with plants.
I find myself playing constant musical chairs with my plants.
However, decorating your living room with plants is a great way to add natural beauty and a touch of greenery to your space which makes the extra challenge so worth it. Not only do plants improve air quality and reduce stress, but my favorite part is that they also create a calming and inviting atmosphere in your home. Here are some of my tips to help you get started.
Choose the right plants for your living room
That might be a no-brainer for some of you but for me and many others it’s a challenge when you see a plant at the nursery and are blown away by its beauty and you just want to bring it home not even considering where you could possibly put it. I’ve done that so many times and brought new houseplants home without having the right spots.
When you try to select plants for your living area, consider the lighting and temperature of the room. Some plants require direct sunlight, while others thrive in low light conditions, and some of my favorites are toxic and high maintenance. Definitely try to choose low-maintenance plants that fit the size of your space but as I already said the sizes change constantly.
I have to admit that if I have a dark corner where I really want a plant to live, I mix in an artificial plant here and there. Also, check out my post about how to choose artificial house plants. In my book, that’s perfectly okay because there are great options out there.
When in doubt, buy a snake plant (aka mother-in-law’s tongue, Dracaena trifasciata), spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), or pothos plant (Epipremnum aureum). My all-time favorite low-maintenance plant is a Pilea aka Friendship Plant or Chinese Money Plants. They are easy to care for live plants and look great. Keep in mind that snake plants which are low-light plants are toxic to cats. They won’t kill them but cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if consumed. My cats don’t bother with ours though because they have many other tasty options to eat and they can also go into their cat enclosure and eat catnip.
Carefully consider your plant placement
This goes hand in hand with choosing the right plants. When placing plants in your home, you have to consider the layout of your furniture, the flow of foot traffic, the scale and size, and of course most importantly the lighting. I see interior designers using plants for photo shoots and you can clearly see that the plant or plants couldn’t survive in that spot and that the placement was solely for the look of the photo and not for long-term use.
A good example is the below photo of my fireplace sitting area. The plants look great on the mantel and around the fireplace. However, this obviously isn’t a great long-term location. When the weather gets cold and we actually use the fireplace they have to get moved. They would die in a day or two if I kept them there.
Since I’m not a minimalist and have a lot of stuff, I try to avoid everything looking too cluttered. You can get to that point quickly! This is another reason you have to put thought into the placement of your plants and home decor accessories.
Create a focal point with large plants or a group of small plants
Use large plants to create a focal point in your living space. My favorite spot for this is the corner of our living room where I have a larger end table. I had several tall plants in that spot already which for example were a bird of paradise, parlor palm, fiddle leaf fig, and for the Holiday season a real Christmas tree.
If you don’t have room for a large statement plant then group plants together and keep the rule of three or odd numbers in mind with varying heights. Tiered plant stands are a great way to make a plant grouping. I have one in my bathroom for my high-humidity-loving plants.
Here is the example of the real Christmas tree in that corner that I just mentioned. For sources and more photos check out my blog post about our live tabletop Christmas tree.
Mix and match plant foliage and leaf shapes for extra interest
I love picking plants and always try to find different colored leaves and shapes for different textures. When you mix and match different types of plants you can easily create an interesting display. Combine tall and short plants for different heights too.
The plants on and around my living room bookshelf are a good example. They all have different colors and leaf shapes. I’d like to add some more plants this fall and winter. I kept the rest of the decor in the same neutral color family with all the baskets and light terracotta vessels. The only blue item is actually my printer which looks like a book and how I hide my home office in my living room. The baskets also serve the purpose of hiding printer paper and other supplies.
Use your favorite planters and pots and don’t settle for less
Since planters can be expensive, some people settle for the store-bought plastic pot which doesn’t look pretty. If you can’t afford to get a pot for your plant that complements your home then you should probably skip buying the plant. My favorites are terracotta pots (but they are mostly for plants who like dryer soil), baskets, and vintage containers. The large brass pot is one of my all-time favorite Goodwill finds and I’ve had it for many years.
Make your own planters
As I just mentioned planters and pots can be rather expensive and thrifting them isn’t always an option. So make your own which I do quite often.
I made the below pots in collaboration with my friend who is a potter. She made the vessels and I added the macrame. We ended up with one unique flower pot for both of us. (Check out her Instagram profile. She makes such beautiful items.)
The best indoor plants I like to use that aren’t toxic
- Spider Plant – Chlorophytum comosum (I own one)
- Areca Palm – Dypsis lutescens
- Boston Fern – Nephrolepis exaltata (I used to own one but found it to be way to messy)
- Staghorn Fern – Platycerium bifurcatum (I own one)
- Kangaroo Paw Fern – Phymatosorus diversifolius (I own one)
- Parlor Palm – Chamaedorea elegant (I own one)
- African Violet – Saintpaulia
- Watermelon Peperomia – Peperomia spp. (I own one)
- Prayer Plant – Maranta leuconeura (I own one and it’s one of my favorites)
- Rattle Snake Plant – Goeppertia insignia (I own one)
- Polka Dot Plant – Hypoestes phyllostachya
- Baby Rubber Plant – Peperomia obtusifolia
- Christmas Cactus – Schlumbergera (I own one)
- Friendship Plant – Pilea involucrata (I own several and they are one of my favorites)
- Wax Plant – Hoya carnosa (I own one)
- String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) (I own one)
- Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
- Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
- Zebra Plant (Haworthia attenuate)
- different cacti
There are some popular plants that are toxic but not fatally toxic. An example of a very popular choice for a living room is the popular Monstera deliciosa with its beautiful leaves but I don’t own any as of now because of my cats and because they tend to get very big. Or a ZZ plant (Zamioculcas) which is very popular and mildly toxic.
Decorating your living room with plants (and the entire house for that matter) definitely requires some thinking and planning but is so worth it in the end. I hope I was able to give you some ideas and help.