Plant Styling Tips for Small Spaces

Among all the trends that are part of this year’s Small/Cool NYC design showcase — a bold new “it” hue, sleek and practical built-ins, relaxing color combos — there’s one that will be especially exciting for plant lovers. That is, of course, all of the unique ways designers displayed greenery within their rooms.

Whether you’re looking for fresh ways to make the plants you already have look brand-new, or wanting to incorporate more plants into your home but aren’t sure where to start, these designers have ideas to get you going. Here, six creative takes on showcasing plants at home.

In her “Collector’s Eye” dining room, designer Peti Lau layers textures, colors, and styles to create a cozy space. “Think of yourself as the curator, and your home as the gallery of your collected eye,” she says of creating a similar vibe at home. One trick to pull from her design: To create a bigger-impact plant display without taking up too much square footage, choose a pair of small matching plants. Use the same style pots for both (here, they’re both black-and-white striped), but to give the arrangement a little more spice, prop the back one up on a small stand. The elevation adds a bit of shape to the arrangement, while doubling up on the same plant and pot draws the eye.

There are lots of things in designer Sourya Venumbaka’s “Bespoke Style” space that catch the eye — the handsome wainscoting, the double-patterned custom wallpaper, the rounded shapes of both the sofa and the desk. Another standout? The plants that pepper the room. It’s easy to cluster plants on one wall — usually the one with the window! — but if you have ample light in your space, it’s worth a little shake-up. Here, Venumbaka added a trailing plant atop the room divider, helping add to the feeling that greenery surrounds the entire space.

Make use of vertical wall space.

Designer Alvin Wayne’s “Take It Outside!” room is, obviously, outside — but his plant-hanging trick is one you can use anywhere with great light but not much floor space. Here, Wayne hung four ferns in a row near the top of the space’s slatted wood wall, keeping them front-and-center but still out of the way. “I’ve hung the ferns toward the ceiling to create the illusion of height, and the suggestion of a sky,” he says. That illusion comes in clutch if your space is a small balcony or enclosed patio, since it makes the most of the small square footage. Inside, too, you can follow Wayne’s lead and mount a collection of planters toward the ceiling to fake some extra breathing room.

When it comes to creating a calming, welcoming space, designer Jordan Ferney says she looks for three things: books, art, and plants and cuttings. She included each of those in her “[email protected]” room design, with striking results. What gives Ferney’s plants their big impact? Their wide variety in scale. In the foreground, she uses tall and bushy plants — a bird of paradise and an aglaonema — to help define the entry. Medium-sized plants on the coffee table and side table help ease the transition to the back of the room, where small plants dot the bookshelf. Steal this idea if you want to create a more intimate, enclosed feel in a small room, or a small area in a larger room.

Give trailing plants room to shine.

No detail is overlooked in designer Jessica Davis’s energizing “Memphis Deco” space. And while the whole room is bold and statement-making, Davis made sure it was practical, too. For instance, rather than including a full wall of open shelves, Davis stuck to just one half. “This is a small room so it’s both a better use of space and more interesting from a design perspective to leave it asymmetrical,” she says. Adding more drama to the shelving unit: a long string of dolphin plants that sits on the top shelf and wanders all the way down. Get the look by encouraging your trailing plant to grow long, rather than bushy — that means no pruning — and placing it on a high shelf. Instant drama!

Highlight your plants with colorful backgrounds.

There are tons of plants that boast shades of pink, purple, yellow, and white in addition to their tinges of green. And this decorating idea, courtesy of designer Jenna Pilant in her “Walls That Wow” room, helps highlight one of those uniquely colored picks. In what she calls her “Rubik’s Cube wall,” Pilant painted behind each of the open shelving’s cubes with a colorful paint. Most of the shelves hold a white spray-painted item to contrast against the bright hue behind it, but one shelf also displays a pink fittonia in a white pot. Its background color? A juicy red that helps give the petite plant’s pink leaves a visual boost. “I’m a firm believer in the power of color to fill both a home and life with joy,” says Pilant — and that philosophy goes for plants, too.

Small/Cool NYC is a shoppable, in real life and digital home design showcase full of decorating tips and tricks from your favorite designers. Visit us from April 22 to May 15, 2022, on weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) from 11 am to 7 pm ET at 515 Broadway in Soho, New York City. Check out our event schedule and the whole virtual experience online at smallcool.com and follow along on Instagram @apartmenttherapy. Thank you to our sponsors BEHR® Paint, Toyota Corolla Cross, Ashley, Yogi® Tea, and Chasing Paper for making this experience possible.

Megan Baker

Home Projects Editor

Megan is a writer and editor who specializes in home upgrades, DIY projects, hacks, and design. Before Apartment Therapy, she was an editor at HGTV Magazine and This Old House Magazine. Megan has a degree in Magazine Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She is a self-taught weighted blanket connoisseur.

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