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11 Ingenious Ways Houseplants Can Make a Room Look Bigger

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11 Ingenious Ways Houseplants Can Make a Room Look Bigger

February 17, 2020

Houseplants may be the single most important element of interior design: when deployed effectively, they can add depth, height, and airiness to any room. Here are 10 ingenious ways (culled from our archives) that houseplants can make any room look bigger:

Repeat a Theme

In a room with high ceilings, twin windows are flanked by foliage, both faux and alive. The shape and texture of a potted Ficus elastica&#8
Above: In a room with high ceilings, twin windows are flanked by foliage, both faux and alive. The shape and texture of a potted Ficus elastica’s leaves mimics a wall sculpture and adds to the sense of symmetry created by a pair of eBay armchairs. Photograph by Jersey Ice Cream Co.

The same idea, with a different twist: a potted plant cleverly echoes the theme. A leafy wall sculpture and a leafy houseplant word in tandem to focus attention on the view beyond the windows. See more in Remade in Maine: Jersey Ice Cream Co. Upgrades a Recently Built Rockport House on Remodelista.

Add Height

A closer look at the same rubber plant as shown in the photo above. Photograph by Jersey Ice Cream Co.
Above: A closer look at the same rubber plant as shown in the photo above. Photograph by Jersey Ice Cream Co.

When chairs go low, plants go high. The effect? Creating an instantly alluring corner where you want to curl up with a book.

Slim Down

In a sunroom on Long Island, designer C.S. Valentin unified a disparate collection of desert and tropical plants in pots made by his brother, David Haskell of DGH Studio. Photograph by Jonathan Hökklo, styling by Alexa Hotz.
Above: In a sunroom on Long Island, designer C.S. Valentin unified a disparate collection of desert and tropical plants in pots made by his brother, David Haskell of DGH Studio. Photograph by Jonathan Hökklo, styling by Alexa Hotz.

A clever trick, in a room with panoramic views, is to choose houseplants with slender trunks and branches.; you can look through them to see past to the garden outdoors. See more in A Colonial House in Bellport with Uncommon Style from French Designer C. S. Valentin on Remodelista.

Point the Way

At the end of a long, narrow Brooklyn townhouse hallway, a pair of potted plants directs visitors toward the open doorway at the back of the house.  Photograph by Pia Ulin, courtesy of white stair hall designed by Bangia Agostinho Architecture.
Above: At the end of a long, narrow Brooklyn townhouse hallway, a pair of potted plants directs visitors toward the open doorway at the back of the house.  Photograph by Pia Ulin, courtesy of white stair hall designed by Bangia Agostinho Architecture.

Short of painting an arrow on the wall, the floorplan couldn’t be spelled out more clearly. See more of this project at Brooklyn Makeover: A Homey Townhouse with a Modern Garret on Remodelista.

Fill Negative Space

An empty black fireplace becomes a shadowbox frame for an exuberant fern in architect Elizabeth Roberts&#8
Above: An empty black fireplace becomes a shadowbox frame for an exuberant fern in architect Elizabeth Roberts’ Bellport, NY beach house. Photograph by Dustin Aksland and Eric Striffler, courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts.

See more in Elizabeth Roberts at Home: The Architect’s Own Beach House in Bellport, NY on Remodelista.

Light Up the Shadows

Tried and tested, see nine of our favorite houseplants that can survive in low light in Best Houseplants: 9 Indoor Plants for Low Light. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.
Above: Tried and tested, see nine of our favorite houseplants that can survive in low light in Best Houseplants: 9 Indoor Plants for Low Light. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

Indoor plants for “low-light conditions” are tolerant of living in a dark apartment with one wall of windows (or possibly, one window). At the same time, their presence suggests sunlight even where little exists.

Add Color

 In an upstairs guest room/office in a Brooklyn townhouse, a large Fiddle-Leaf Fig Tree assists a red chair in adding color and pattern to an otherwise monochromatic room. Photograph by Brian Ferry, styling by Alexa Hotz.
Above: In an upstairs guest room/office in a Brooklyn townhouse, a large Fiddle-Leaf Fig Tree assists a red chair in adding color and pattern to an otherwise monochromatic room. Photograph by Brian Ferry, styling by Alexa Hotz.

Before & After: A French-Inflected Townhouse Renovation in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Peek Out

In a small, reconfigured mews house in Hackney, London (for a family of four), architect Craig Hutchinson re-jiggered the interiors, knocking down most walls in favor of half-walls, so light could pass through. Photograph by Helen Cathcart.
Above: In a small, reconfigured mews house in Hackney, London (for a family of four), architect Craig Hutchinson re-jiggered the interiors, knocking down most walls in favor of half-walls, so light could pass through. Photograph by Helen Cathcart.

A half-revealed plant peeks out from behind a half-wall and adds depth to the space. See more on Remodelista in Small Wonder: A Bright, Reconfigured Mews House in Hackney, Design Tricks Included.

Wallpaper with Vines

In a Brooklyn, NY dining, architect Kim Hoyt specified full-depth masonry planters below grade as part of a remodel, complete with integrated irrigation and drainage. They planted creeping fig as the main vine, with asparagus fern and rex begonia vine as accents. Photograph by Dan Wonderly courtesy of Kim Hoyt Architect.
Above: In a Brooklyn, NY dining, architect Kim Hoyt specified full-depth masonry planters below grade as part of a remodel, complete with integrated irrigation and drainage. They planted creeping fig as the main vine, with asparagus fern and rex begonia vine as accents. Photograph by Dan Wonderly courtesy of Kim Hoyt Architect.

To ensure the vines would cling to the stucco walls, the team applied a temporary adhesive to attach the two until the vines started to cling on their own. See more of this project at Architect Visit: A Dining Room Wallpapered with Climbing Vines in Brooklyn.

Breach Boundaries

In her Brooklyn kitchen, houseplant enthusiast Summer Rayne Oakes clusters plants on countertops, shelves, and tabletops. Photograph courtesy of @homesteadbrooklyn.
Above: In her Brooklyn kitchen, houseplant enthusiast Summer Rayne Oakes clusters plants on countertops, shelves, and tabletops. Photograph courtesy of @homesteadbrooklyn.

Says Summer Rayne Oakes: no surface should be off limits to plants: let them spill over the edges of shelves. Let them jockey for space with the tea kettle. See more of her 700-plant collection in Living with Houseplants: Four Years Later in a Brooklyn Apartment.

Create a Curtain

 Begonia ‘Angel Wing’ is a cane begonia, a tropical plant that thrives in bright light and moist, well-drained soil. Its lacy flowers and foliage also can filter light, adding depth to a window. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.
Above: Begonia ‘Angel Wing’ is a cane begonia, a tropical plant that thrives in bright light and moist, well-drained soil. Its lacy flowers and foliage also can filter light, adding depth to a window. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

See more in 8 Houseplant Ideas to Steal from a Grand Parisian Escalier.

For more inspiration, see our curated guide to Houseplants: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design for growing tips and ideas about how to design interior spaces with plants. Read more:

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