Before and After: A $500 Renter-Friendly DIY Plant Wall Makes for a Dreamy Green Oasis

published May 17, 2021
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: Blank wall with window in center
Credit: Kelly Malone

Plants add splashes of color and vibrancy to the rooms they inhabit, and — as many plant parents know — once you start with one plant, it can be hard to resist adding more and more green beauties your collection.

Credit: Kelly Malone

Renter Kelly Malone (@kellymalonemakes) wanted to make a showcase wall for the monsteras and more that she amassed over quarantine, but she needed a temporary, renter-friendly solution — one that didn’t sacrifice storage space. “I just moved into a very storage-challenged house with a tiny kitchen and awkward living room,” Kelly says. “I also only have one really good window that gets light for plants, so I needed to really pack a lot into a small space.”

Credit: Kelly Malone

Kelly opted for two IKEA IVARS ($90 each) that didn’t scream storage “like a bookshelf would have” but still offered plenty of it. “It took me a while to get these cabinets since IKEA is sold out of a lot, but I signed up for notifications when they came in stock and grabbed them right away,” she says. “They are my favorite IKEA product and in a simple, nicely made pine — real wood — no MDF here.”

Credit: Kelly Malone

To customize the plain wood cabinets, Kelly added deep green paint, hairpin legs, and large gold pulls from Amazon. There’s another detail you might not notice unless you look closely: “I made one side of the window all white pots and the other black just for fun,” Kelly says.

Kelly loves how versatile the cabinets are. If she grows tired of the green, the IVARs are ripe for future DIYS. “You really can do a lot with these, from wallpaper to paint or staining,” she says. “You can repaint them each year and grab new peel-and-stick wallpaper with a current graphic or for a color change.” The trickiest part of assembling the IVAR was attaching the doors, but she found a YouTube hinge installation tutorial to make it easer.

For the walls, Kelly selected a panther-patterned peel-and-stick wallpaper that perfectly matched her IVARs and cut arches using a craft knife. “It took me a few tries to get it right,” Kelly says. “It’s not perfect, but thankfully layering in all the plants took the focus off any imperfect spots.” For future peel-and-stickers, Kelly recommends ordering an extra roll just in case. She plans to use her leftovers to line the cabinets inside, a clever detail that will make the room feel extra complete.

Above the plants are open-bulb swing lamps, “for drama and also for my plants,” Kelly says. Once a week, she also pops in a plant light to really give her plants some focused faux sunshine.

Credit: Kelly Malone

“I love coming home to this,” Kelly says of the plant-filled space. “It gives me so much relaxation, and my cats are always sleeping in the window.” Kelly managed to store all of her cat food and supplies in one cabinet and pantry supplies in the other. “I have no less than 100 cans and boxes of food behind one of those cabinets,” she says — a major storage win.

Credit: Kelly Malone

In all, the project cost her about $500: $180 for the cabinets, $38 for the paint, about $70 for the hardware, $128 for the lights, $40 for planters — some thrifted, and some from Target — and $38 per roll for the wallpaper.

Renter-friendly, space-saving, and about $500 total? This plant wall is a DIY victory.