5 Surprising Plant Styling Tips to Steal from Small/Cool Designers

published Jun 24, 2021
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Credit: Rikki Snyder

The Small/Cool Experience is a shoppable online home design showcase and social event full of decorating tips and tricks from your favorite designers. Thank you to our sponsors BEHR® Paint, Genesis G70, LUMAS, Overstock, Tuft & Needle, Chasing Paper, and Interior Define for making this experience possible.

It’s no secret that plants — real and faux — are a designer favorite. They bring a little color to a neutral room, a little grounding to a maximalist space, a little sculptural oomph to a minimalist space, and a little feeling of liveliness and nature no matter where you put them. So naturally (pun intended), plants made a strong appearance in designers’ Small/Cool 2021 rooms — and with smart styling tricks that make them feel extra fresh (pun also intended). Here, five great ideas to steal as you style up the plants in your own home.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Make a statement with a matching pair.

At the entrance to the “Serenity Now” space, curated by Ayesha Curry of Sweet July with Parisa O’Connell, two matching birds of paradise make a bold statement (without a lot of clutter). Get the same look in your own home by choosing two large matching potted plants and placing them on either side of a door or other entry. Instant style!

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Surround a potted plant with vases.

This idea, pulled from the “Make It Maximalist” space curated by David Quarles IV, is an easy way to make an existing plant look brand new. Rather than grouping a few plants together, Quarles made one large palm the focal point in the corner of this room. But in true maximalist style, Quarles added a couple faux aged terracotta vases on the floor around the palm to help the display look more substantial.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Let your art mimic your plants.

Give your plants some extra spotlight by choosing wall art that echoes their shape. For example, in the “Bringing the Indoors Out” space, curated by Liz Kamarul in partnership with Behr, the wall mural is made up of banana plants in silhouette — a pretty close match for the faux palm she added to one corner of the room. In adding her leaf artwork to all the walls, Kamarul makes the space feel like it’s buried in a cozy tropical forest.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Give trailing plants a unique platform.

Trailing plants like pothos and philodendron look stylish hanging from a hook on a wall or in a window — but displaying them on a piece of furniture they can wrap around is next-level. Take a cue from designer Estelle Bailey-Babenzien, who curated the “Biophilic Beauty” space, and hang trailing and climbing plants from an indoor cube frame or canopy bed. From below, it looks like you’re surrounded by greenery.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Play with scale in your plant groupings.

Whether it’s a tabletop planter placed on the floor or a large planter placed on a console, displaying plants in unexpected places can add lots of interest and drama. This “Moody Musings” space, curated by Jaclyn Journey and Amanda Jacobs, is the perfect example: In one corner, a small plant is grouped with larger ones to create a graduated effect; on the other side of the room, a larger potted palm complements the substantial console table. Remember: If you’re placing potted plants on the floor and you have pets or kids, make sure to choose a variety that’s safe for both.