Decorating with plants indoors has been a passion of mine for years, so I was thrilled to learn that I’d won the popular new book Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants ($16.95, St. Lynn’s Press) by Kylee Baumle and Jenny Peterson. Last month on her award-winning blog, Our Little Acre, Baumle held a giveaway of this wonderful design stylebook, and has graciously agreed to a little Q&A:
Q: So tell me, Kylee – how did you and Jenny decide to write this book? And what do each of you bring to it?
A: Jenny and I met on Twitter and we later found ourselves writing for the same publisher for a project. Through that, we became better friends and found that we had a similar writing style. I’m not sure which one of us mentioned writing a book first, but we both had it as a personal goal. Jenny is a landscape designer, so design is her strong suit, whereas I have lifelong experience growing houseplants so the plants themselves are where my interests lie.
Also, we live in very different climates – Jenny’s in Texas and I’m in Ohio – so we both expanded our knowledge about what can be grown indoors. For example, Jenny was astounded that we grow agaves as houseplants here in the north. In Texas, they’re such a common outdoor sight that they aren’t a typical houseplant there.
Q: In the book, you pose the question: “What’s your style?” and then help the reader answer that with a review of eight different indoor décor styles. Each style features pictures of plants used stylishly. How is this understanding of styles helpful when it comes to designing with plants indoors?
A: For so many years, houseplants have not been thought of as an integral part of our décor, but as more of an afterthought or impulsive addition. Plants come in all sizes and shapes and growth habits and they have style too! I liken using our book to that of a cookbook with recipes. With so many ideas presented, the book can help dwellers enhance their décor with plants just like in the many photo examples, but it will also inspire the readers to come up with uses for them that are specific to their own situations and tastes.
Q: I also love the step-by-step plant décor projects for each style. My favorite was the twig planter (I can imagine my 6-year-old daughter helping with it). What’s yours?
A. I have several that I love, but if hard pressed, I’d have to say the moss ball. That project is so versatile. You can change out the plant easily if you get tired of one and want a different look. I like it too, because it’s not a common way to display houseplants. I love the unexpected.
Q: Talk a bit about the “Houseplants at a Glance” charts. I’ve long wished for someone to compile something like this!
A: We tried to make the book as practical as possible, because for some reason, people tend to be intimidated by growing houseplants. By having these handy charts, readers can decide how involved they want to be with the care of their plants.
Q: The book also explains why plants are beneficial indoors, not only for aesthetics but for health. Discuss.
A: Studies show that even in a work environment, people are happier and more productive when there are plants present. It’s not just that they produce oxygen and filter toxins from the air, but also that they give a sense of place. Live plants tell you that someone lives (or works) there and cares about the place where they spend a great deal of their time – enough to want to invest a little bit of themselves in their surroundings. Plants can soften the edges and are a way to personalize your space.
Q: Hit me with three quick indoor plant design tips.
- Choose plants that fit your lifestyle. If you travel a lot, you’re not going to want plants that require a lot of care.
- Consider the container when using plants as a design element. Once you find a plant that you like and can grow well, you can adapt it to your particular style by your choice of container.
- Plant foliage has personality. Leaves come in colors! And patterns! Use that to your advantage just as you would another accent piece, such as a pillow.
Q: Anything else you feel is important to add?
A: The number one thing that we hear from people regarding growing houseplants is, “I just don’t have a green thumb when it comes to indoor plants.” Let me assure you – there isn’t a gardener out there that hasn’t killed a plant or two (or three). Just like growing plants outdoors, growing plants indoors is a learning process, and that’s what keeps things interesting (in a good way).
I think we need to change the way we think of our houseplants, change our expectations. When we plant annuals outside in the spring, we fully expect them to be dead after the first frost in the fall. We’re okay with that. Most houseplants don’t cost any more nor require any more care than those annuals, but for some reason, we’re intimidated by the possibility of them dying. If you get six months out of your houseplant, it’s worth it! If you get years out of it, that’s a bonus in my book, but if it dies, that’s just an opportunity to try a fun new variety.
If you’d like to learn more about this helpful book, recently listed as one of Amazon’s “Top Books of 2013 in Gardening and Floral Design”, please go to the Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants website! You can also visit Kylee’s blog, Our Little Acre and Jenny’s blog at J Peterson Garden Design