11 Genius Plant Styling Tips We’ve Learned from Apartment Therapy House Tours

updated May 24, 2021
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You’ve grown your plant collection and learned how to provide each member with proper care, but that’s only half of the equation — figuring out how to style your houseplants is a whole other feat. Luckily, the assortment of Apartment Therapy house tours below is filled with greenery and can provide you with a jolt or two of inspiration. Sow these ideas around your space, and enjoy the view. 

A quick heads-up: Note that any specific plants mentioned in this story or any others may be toxic to pets or humans. “Toxic” plants can induce symptoms that range from mild (upset stomach) to severe (possible death). If you have a cat, dog, or kid, make sure you research the plants ahead of time on a reputable site like ASPCA.orgPetPoisonHelpline.orgPoison.org, or by calling your vet or pediatrician.

1. Use Plants to Break up a Space

Linsey Burritt originally built a plant shelf for Sam Rosen in their Chicago home because the couple was running out of places to stick greenery. But the DIY project, made with wood salvaged from a fire in a nearby neighborhood, has served new purposes. “It also acts as a room divider,” Burritt says. “The biggest challenge with this big open space is making it feel divided but not shut off. The plant shelf was the perfect balance for dividing the room but allowing it to still feel airy and open.” 

Credit: Carina Romano

2. Turn a Clothing Rack into a Plant Rack

Looking for a project that’s a little less intense? Follow the lead of the couple that showed off this loft-style Philadelphia apartment. “To maximize the ratio of plants to square footage, we repurposed an IKEA clothes rack as a plant stand and we made our own macrame hangers to take advantage of the abundance of vertical space,” they explain. 

3. Hang Plants Under the Stairs

Sometimes, the best styling happens by accident. That was the case in Chelsea Coffey and Warren Creavalle’s Philadelphia apartment, where a trail of leaves adorns the underbelly of their staircase. “Warren hung the center ivy below the stairs to water it one evening, and I melted,” Coffey says. “I grabbed two more, and now we have such a lovely way to display one of my favorite plants from our collection.” 

Credit: Minette Hand

4. Give the Illusion of an Ivy-Covered Wall

Turns out, you don’t have to wait for ivy to grow across your space to get the look of a lived-in, plant-covered wall. In Jean and Jeff’s Lower East Side loft, the couple draped philodendrons over a tall white wall, and: voila! 

Credit: Erin Derby

5. Consider Putting Big Plants up High

Liz Moody may not have a ton of space in her 600-square-foot Brooklyn home, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in height. “We’re on the ground floor, so we have super high ceilings,” she explains. Moody emphasized this vertical space with elements that draw the eye up, such as adding “big plants placed on high shelves, so their leaves just brush the ceiling.” (Obviously, safety first here!)

Credit: Viv Yapp

6. DIY Some Plant Shelves

Arranging a group of plants on a shelf is a trusty go-to. You can even make your own, à la the DIY example in Ron Goh’s New Zealand loft. “I made some plant shelves using cinder blocks and the old timber from the balcony handrail we replaced last year,” he says. Simply stack a strong wooden board on two or three spaced-out cinder blocks to create your own. 

Credit: Carina Romano

7. Use Step Stools or Chairs as Plant Stands

While reinvigorating your space can involve bringing in new items, sometimes it can mean repurposing what you already own. Valerie Green’s Philadelphia pad is a prime example of this, and she says her best home secret is to not get fixated on an item’s function. “Step stools and chairs can be plant stands, rugs as wall hangings, blankets made into pillow covers, cups into planters,” she says. “Think outside the box!”

8. On a Decor Budget? Go with Plants

If you’re growing bored of staring at your current setup or simply want to add more flair, Marita McCausland recommends adding in some greenery. “When you can’t afford expensive items to decorate such as art or new furniture then throw in some indoor plants!” she advises in the house tour of her Melbourne weatherboard digs. “They have an amazing way of transforming and freshening your space. Then just rearrange them when you need a change!” 

9. Remember: Lighting!

If you’ve ever tried to snap a selfie in a badly lit space, you know the power of good lighting. Turns out, your plants can benefit from the same treatment. Follow the lead of Reilly Carpenter’s Hollywood, California, duplex, and place an uplight on the greenery to let it shine. “I always encourage everyone to think about lighting because the right light can be a whole room makeover,” Reilly says.

10. Create a Plant Wall

You’re likely familiar with the idea of creating a home gallery wall with art, but what about taking the same approach with your plants? That’s just what Darcie Tashey did in her Chicago bungalow. “I headed off to the hardware store with drawings and measurements. In total, I spent $110 for the wood (bought in large planks and cut down), stain (six coats), and metal standards and brackets (bought white, spray-painted gold),” she says. 

11. Experiment with Mounting

This is another tip for those with more plants than they know what to do with. If you’ve used up your floor, shelf, and hanging space, where do you go next? In Alicia Mazzara’s Washington, D.C. condo, the answer was: You take to the walls. “When I was running out of room on the windowsill, I started experimenting with mounting my plants so I could use the vertical space as well,” Alicia says. 

Apartment Therapy’s Styling with Plants vertical was written and edited independently by the Apartment Therapy editorial team and generously underwritten by Greendigs.