AdviceInterior design

Decorating with House Plants

I am obsessed, literally obsessed with decorating with houseplants. They enliven, enhance and bring to life areas of your home like nothing else I know! Although at times it feels like they don’t get quite enough attention. We concentrate on the paint, the wallpaper, the furnishings, the art, but then ignore these little room enliveners (as I like to call them).

Think of decorating with house plants in the same way you would any other accessory. Like a painting or a fabulous find that you bought at the flea market, these items round out a room. There are tricks of the trade of course. If you purely go for a couple of small pots in a room scattered here and there it can look way too fussy or if you go for lots of large plants it can suddenly feel slightly overwhelming.

Look at houseplants like you would an accessory. Think about their shape, their colour and their texture; many of them have the most amazing sculpture adding bundles of liveliness to any shelf, mantle or console. There are so many ways you can go with plants and unlike flowers you don’t have to worry about the arrangement.

Ideas for decorating with house plants

Still lifes

decorating with house plants

I like to create little still lifes with plants so I gather on mass a whole host of say succulents, which look super sweet and like a mini installation. This is a go to trick I use for every accessory actually. When you group things as opposed to leaving gaps your eye will look at the thing as a whole and it will look a lot more impactful! Succulents almost look like mini sculptures. Group them together for an intriguing still life.

The trick is always to mix things up. As odd as this may sound, we want to create some friction. If everything is potted, for example, in round and shiny pots it will read as a big yawn and look super dull. So what you want to do is to mix up pointy plants with feathery plants and matte containers with shiny containers as well as round with square.

On mantles

house plant ideas

Plop on a mantle and/or on the hearth and see just how transformative houseplants are. You can also go one step further and plop on adjoining side tables or in urns flanked either side of the mantle – super stately! Think about your plant type topiaries that have been left wild to add a more relaxed air – they have that garden gone wild feel. Ferns (which I happen to obsess over), with their feathery leaves add texture and a rich sumptuous shot of green turning drab rooms into fab rooms.

In front of mirrors

best indoor plants

Image: Appartment Therapy

One of the easiest decorating tricks is to put plants in front of mirrors. Mirrors are great tools for adding depth and expanding horizons so placing a beautiful plant in front of one will look amazing. Another trick is the put a plant on the opposite wall to the mirror so it gets reflected back at you.

Focal point


You can also use plants as a focal point. Placing a tall tree, like a fig, in an empty corner brings it alive. The trick, if you can, is to go bigger than you would normally dare because then you are creating some Alice in Wonderland magic. If everything is the same size in a room it can read as a big yawn, but once you actually start putting things that are a little too big in a room you will find that you will be creating the most amazing exclamation point adding instant drama. This is a trick that I use time and time again.


large indoor plants

Your choice of pot is also worth considering and a lot of that choice depends on your vibe. Little baskets lend a casual air to a plant, concrete pots are a lot starker and add a more urban twist. I actually like to mix things up because as I mentioned earlier when you mix different materials together the end result is far more intriguing.


Maintenance is fundamental and you don’t need green fingers as most plants take little care. A regular watering, a wipe of the leaves with a damp cloth every now and then and then a check on the light is pretty much it. If you dare you can do as I’ve just done and introduce faux ones. We have just sourced the most beautiful collection of faux’s for my store from ferns to cactus. The best thing is that you can’t even tell the difference, I’m actually considering putting some outside but let’s not tell anyone about that!

Happy planting

Abigail Ahern

Interior designer and author Abigail Ahern has been hailed as ‘style spotter extraordinaire’, by The Times. Her style is as unique as it is affordable and is characterised by glamour, wit and show-stopping colours.

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