From Herb Gardens to Cacti: How to Find the Perfect Houseplants for Your Design Style

By Cindy Baldhoff

Houseplants just might be the ultimate design secret. Low in cost and relatively easy to maintain (depending on the types you choose), plants can change the look of a room and complement your overall style.

“Plants can really complete any design scheme, because most every room has corners that are not good for furniture placement,” says McLean Barbieri, partner and interior designer at Annali Interiors in Nashville, Tennessee. The plant with the greatest impact, she says, is a tree, because “trees add height, texture, and color” to a room.

You have many options for finding ideas for using plants in your own space. From social media sites to the pages of catalogs for contemporary stores, there’s no shortage of sources to help you jump-start your design wish list.

For students living off-campus, the right plants are particularly effective in creating a welcoming environment without having to buy potentially expensive accent décor. There are many different options, and the great news is none of them are “wrong” as long as you like them. “You can’t go wrong with choosing a plant you like,” Barbieri says.

Perfect Pairings

Some items naturally go together better than others, and Barbieri says that if you’re looking to match the design of your current furniture rental, it’s possible to find some easy pairings to suit your style. One of the most on-trend plants is the fiddle-leaf fig, which has become a darling among interior designers.

“Over the past few years, [it has been] featured in the corners of every Instagram interiors shot,” Barbieri says, explaining that it’s “a versatile plant with bold, shiny leaves and really pops in most rooms.” She says the fiddle-leaf fig is particularly popular for creating transitional and eclectic/layered looks.

If your design scheme leans toward the traditional, Areca palms and ficus trees are excellent choices. She recommends looking for a tree that is taller than everything else in the room to achieve maximum impact.

For more contemporary designs, the olive tree is a rising star, primarily because the sparse look of the tree provides a perfect complement to the clean lines that are prominent in contemporary furniture.

Succulents, which are water-storing plants that include cacti, are excellent design solutions for transitional and mid-century modern spaces. “They can be used both in tabletop containers and in wall-hung structures,” Barbieri says.

Finally, if you have a bohemian look to your space, consider adding houseplants in macrame holders. “Add a layer [of plants] coming down from the ceiling … and little else,” she advises.

Before you make your buying decision, Barbieri says to make note of the light in the room and ensure the level of light in the intended location is compatible with the type of plant you want to buy. Turn to your local nursery for input on how different plants fare with different levels of light.

If you want to take things a step further and create a different look for your entire space, CORT Furniture Rental offers quick and easy solutions to suit your design style. Choose complete student furniture packages to suit your style, and let CORT handle all the heavy lifting.