The Most Important Decorating Tool You’re Not Using

updated Jul 23, 2020
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Plants add color, shape and life to a room and for that alone we love them. But they are also surprisingly versatile and — like artwork, furniture, and other decor — are a powerful tool in your design arsenal. Use them as a major feature of the room, a last minute styling detail, and so much more.

Room Divider: A shelf full of plants in the middle of the room divides the space and delineate different parts of the room. Use them instead of more opaque furniture or screens like Sam & Linsey did in their Chicago home.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Statement Piece: One large well-developed tree adds height and drama to a room. Case in point: the ginormous split leaf philodendron in the above living room from Red Milk Magazine.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

An Opportunity: Clusters of plants especially work well in room corners where nothing else fits and in otherwise awkward and wasted spaces. This grouping from Restored is a huge contrasting mix of sizes and shapes that you could look at for hours.

(Image credit: Urban Outfitters)

Living Sculpture: Plants that spill out of their containers add a nice sense of movement to a room that you can’t get with other things. This warehouse in Brooklyn has a special shelf on the landing which allows plants to cascade down onto a lower level.

Wall-Mounted Decor: Danielle and Patrick’s bedroom is clean and minimal and the lone staghorn fern above the bed adds just the right amount of warmth and interest.

Table Centerpiece: Cut flowers are lovely but fleeting. In contrast, potted plants can live a long time as a focal point on your furniture. Use them on coffee or dining room tables as living, breathing decorations.

Hanging Art: Plants are really like organic modern mobiles that fill dead air space with fantastic shapes and colors. And hey, they don’t have a footprint, which is great for small spaces.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Final Styling Layer: Dabito uses both inanimate tchotchkes and plants as styling props on his shelving unit. They are a good alternative to the usual go-to lacquer boxes and books (although those are nice too).

A Collection: Vivian & Leonard‘s plants and planters all sit together to form a little indoor mini garden. There’s more oomph when multiples hang out together and make a collective statement.