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The one thing you can do today to perk up your home

If you open up a magazine and look at any well-styled home, you’ll notice a designer’s best secret: plants.

Since I’m a pretty good student and I do weird things like study the rooms I like, I’ve caught on to this fresh greenery idea and have fully embraced it.

I joke that the older I get the more I’m becoming a crazy plant lady. I literally get so excited when a new leaf sprouts and spend at least once per week tending to my growing collection (feeding, clipping, watering, etc.).

I wonder if because I’m not longer growing babies and doing my best to keep my toddlers flourishing that now I can focus a teeny bit of attention on other growing things. It’s quite possible.

Regardless, I so enjoy entering this phase of life where plants and flowers bring me such joy.

When I talk about plants, please know a couple of things:

  1. I’m no expert. I honestly have very little idea of what I’m doing. I google and ask around and take advice from people who know much more than I do.
  2. I’m convinced that anyone can keep a plant alive if given the right set of circumstances – decent soil, natural light, regular watering, occasional feeding.
  3. Check often at your local hardware store or nursery for anything that catches your eye. I often don’t know the name of what I buy – I just go off of the color, texture and size.

Perhaps you noticed all the green in the spring studio tour? I went slightly overboard and I absolutely adore it.

I thought it might be helpful to talk through what plants I have in the studio and ways you can add fresh greenery to perk up your home, too.

Here’s a look at what I have in the studio that fall into four categories: potted plants, trees (not shown, but just to the right lives the fiddle leaf fig), clippings and cut flowers.

Let’s talk about each category.

Potted plants

Potted plants are readily available at your local hardware or nursery and a good-sized plant can be purchased for less than $20. You’ll want to look at the indoor plants (sometimes called Tropical) and check the tags for any details on specific light/temperature/humidity requirements.

My go-to for potted plants are ferns. They are easy to find, inexpensive and have the best texture.

Boston Fern

Maidenhair Fern

Leatherleaf Fern

But don’t just stop at ferns. There are so many other cool options.

This gorgeous dripping potted plant steals the show in the studio.

I have no idea what it is (the tag just says 8″ assorted hanging – I know, really helpful). It was in the hanging plant section at Home Depot for around $14. I just snapped off the plastic hanger and set it up high on the shelf to cascade down. This one wouldn’t work great on a flat surface as the plant does trail, but it sure looks great up on a shelf.

Once I bring home a new plant, I typically pop them in a different container. If the container doesn’t have drain holes, just put the plastic pot it comes in into the container and pull it out when you water. Try using a basket, old silver sugar bowl, a thrifted soup tureen, cement planter – anything that catches your eye that is large enough to hold a plant works great!

Trees

The second category of fresh greenery you can add to your home for an instant refresh are trees. Obviously, trees are more expensive and have slightly different requirements from small potted plants.

In the studio, I put this rescued Fiddle Leaf Fig tree near the window to see if I could nurse him back to health. I bought it from Home Depot a few months ago for a discount because of its poor health and figured it was worth a shot. So far, it seems to be doing really well in this spot.

Fiddle Leaf Fig trees are everywhere in magazines and online – and for good reason. They add the perfect organic shape and color to any space. I wrote a post this fall with more inspiration photos and details for how to care for these mildly finicky trees (read it here).

Check with your local nursery for indoor trees. Most have a tropical look, but you can also find citrus, olive and ficus. I bought a gorgeous little orange tree last month and it is doing okay inside. A citrus tree is probably not quite right for my climate, so just be sure to do a little bit of research before investing and bringing home a tree.

Clippings

Free greenery?! Yes, please.

With spring finally here, the trees and shrubs are sprouting and flowering and perfect for bringing indoors. Just grab a pair of sharp clippers (I like these) and cut a branch or two.

Myquillyn had a great tip in her spring tour: she says to cut the branches two times longer than you think. That way, you’ll get that organic, tall, quirky look.

Our trees are still bare in the Pacific Northwest, but we do have a big camellia bush in our front yard with these pretty, waxy green leaves that I cut and popped in the sweetest little bud vase in the studio. Free and easy!

Cut Flowers

One last way to perk up your home is to add fresh flowers. I mean, who doesn’t just love flowers?!

I like to stay away from mixed bouquets and instead choose one type of flower per vase. Right now, tulips are in season and they are super easy to arrange. Just cut the stems at an angle, pop into a wide-mouth container and let them bend as they will.

Another favorite way to arrange flowers is to cut short and pack tightly (tutorial here).

Carnations – which are very inexpensive – can look so elegant when arranged this way. And bonus! they last much longer than other cut flowers.


So, if you’re looking for a way to bring life to your home this spring (and forever, actually), may I suggest adding fresh greenery. You’ll love how it awakens a space.

28 Responses to The one thing you can do today to perk up your home

  1. Oshra April 24, 2017 at 3:04 am #

    Amazing post! But what do you do when you’re really bad at keeping your plants alive?

    • emily April 24, 2017 at 10:50 am #

      The key is remembering to water! Try setting a recurring alarm on your phone to remind you to water. Make sure your plants have adequate drainage and plenty of natural light and you should see an improvement in keeping your plants alive.

  2. Vanessa March 20, 2017 at 8:31 pm #

    I was watching a gardening show (wow, I sound super old right now) and they put used water bottles under the large potted plants for drainage. I liked that as an alternative to recycling (or throwing them in the trash).

    Also, odd side note — I actually hated fresh flowers for a really long time because they were so depressing when they finally died. Lol. I’m over that now, but I still enjoy fake flowers if they look especially nice!

  3. Rita March 20, 2017 at 7:33 pm #

    Looking to do a school room in our house we’re currently building. I’m doing pretty much the same look as your office. Love it! Where did you purchase the wide white file cabinets?

  4. V Valencia March 20, 2017 at 6:02 pm #

    Beautiful flowers and plants! I had to take a second look when I read the flowers in the last picture were carnations. Carnation are the “Rodney Dangerfield” of flowers!

  5. Christy Jones March 20, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

    Lovely! I’ve been pleased with the fake fiddle leaf fig plants from Target. Thy are pricey but the most realistic I’ve seen. I read about them on Young House Love’s blog and immediately bought the smaller one. After having it for a month I’m ready to invest in the big one. The best part – I can’t kill it!!

  6. Jennie March 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

    Love, love, love! Where did you find those nice magazine holders? I’d love to know! Thanks!

    • emily March 20, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

      The magazine holders on the shelf are from Target.

  7. Rachel Winchester March 20, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

    That hanging plant is gorgeous!

  8. Sarah March 20, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

    Tulips are definitely my favorite flower. I learned a great tip from my best friends mom when I was a kid. Just drop a penny into the water and it will perk up any droopy stems and make the tulips last longer!

  9. Jill March 20, 2017 at 12:15 pm #

    Love this! I feel the same way about bringing greenery and plants indoors. They just make me so happy. You need this shirt! :)

    https://shop.magnoliamarket.com/products/plant-lady-t-shirt

  10. Natalie McGehee March 20, 2017 at 11:52 am #

    Love this! Could you please tell me the source of the little side table under the cut tulips?!? I’ve been looking for something just like it!

    • emily March 21, 2017 at 11:06 am #

      I found it recently at HomeGoods.

  11. Sally's March 20, 2017 at 11:13 am #

    A tip on using pots with no draining hole. Place a layer of pebbles, then the soil and plant. Adjust water to add to your plant accordingly.

  12. Marva March 20, 2017 at 10:31 am #

    I love how you use greenery throughout your home. I want to do the same but there isn’t enough natural light in some of my rooms– the light source is from ceiling lights or lamps (which aren’t on if we’re not in the room). I have resorted to using artificial plants in these areas though not my first preference. Do you have other suggestions?

    • Debbie March 20, 2017 at 2:56 pm #

      I have the same problem in my new house, but there are options! I have a pothos and peace lily doing great in a room with VERY little light – these are just two varieties that really don’t need much light at all. A philodendron will also do great and you can let them grow so they trail all over the place.

      Just use care with kids or pets-pothos and philodendron are toxic. But a few Google searches helped me find some good choices for our house on a heavily wooded lot. 👍

      • Marva March 21, 2017 at 5:43 am #

        Thanks for your suggestions– I’ll try them out!

  13. Aviva Shaw March 20, 2017 at 10:22 am #

    I would love to know what the hanging plant is! Maybe someone will say in the comments. It looks like some sort of ivy to me.

  14. Amy Reber March 20, 2017 at 8:47 am #

    I have been purchasing plants lately as well, here is my BIG question….there are so many pretty pots out there but there are no drainage holes? I don’t get it? I have multiple plants right now that are just sitting in their original plastic containers IN the pretty pot because I’m scare to plant them without a way to drain…..

    • Chris March 20, 2017 at 10:56 am #

      I replant mine (make sure the soil is correct for the plant type) in a terra cotta pot a little bit larger than the original plastic one. Terra Cotta pots have a big drain hole and can usually be found at any nursery or home improvement store for just a few bucks. Some will soak the whole tc pot before planting, in water, to let it soak up the moisture, but I don’t do that. Just make sure to give it a good watering right after replanting other wise the pot will pull moisture out of the new soil. Leave it in the sink until no more water comes out of drain hole. Then place it into a decorative ceramic over-pot. This is why over pots do not have drain holes. If placing in a basket, make sure you place a saucer or low bowl under the tc pot.
      Remember roots of a plant need water, but also air, to survive and flourish. Over-watering will drown and suffocate the roots (and is often worse than under watering as roots will start to rot) , so lift your tc pot up out of the over pot to check frequently to make sure that your plant is not standing in old water. Most plants thrive if toy let the soil dry out enough before re watering…if you can stick you finger in the drying soil about a half an inch or an inch or so until the soil feels moist and cool, it is time to water again. But read up on the plant type as some need more water than others.
      Sorry for the long post, plants are a passion and hope this helps someone.

      • emily March 21, 2017 at 11:08 am #

        Thank you so much for sharing!

      • Amy March 21, 2017 at 11:41 am #

        thank you so much for the tips!

    • Jan March 20, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

      Add a few inches of Ricks to the bottom of your pot so they soil can drain and problem solved!

      • Amy March 21, 2017 at 11:42 am #

        thank you, will check it out!

    • Christy Jones March 20, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

      I’ll buy a pot a little larger than needed and then put pebbles in the bottom (or cut up plastic pots that my little annuals come in) to raise the other pot with the plant up a bit. Then when you water the plant, it won’t sit in the water. You can either reuse the water that drains to the bottom of the larger pot or mine eventually evaporates in the dry climate.

      • Amy March 21, 2017 at 11:42 am #

        okay, thank you so much!

  15. Lisa M. March 20, 2017 at 8:42 am #

    Great tips! Thank you!

  16. Lori March 20, 2017 at 5:40 am #

    Your shelves look especially beautiful because of all the plants !

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