Urban Jungle: Designing With Plants

Design in general, and home décor in particular, is a world where trends change in the blink of an eye. But there are some refreshing constants in this dizzying realm of changing colours, styles and finishes. Topping the list of design elements we will never fall out of love with, greenery acts as the perfect finishing touch to both simple and elaborate spaces. The use of indoor plants in urban homes has skyrocketed in recent years – a pattern that is hardly surprising given how plants literally breathe life into a design scheme, exude serenity and good vibes, and act as the perfect antidote to city blues.

To call the use of houseplants a design trend would be a misnomer of sorts. After all, the presence of greenery has never stopped being a vital consideration in home decoration. When our homes could flank lush open spaces, we did our best to create gardens, landscaped terraces, and verdant views from every room. Today, when space is a luxury and every square foot counts, designers have found gorgeous ways to bring the outdoors in. Their explorations have created spectacular spaces freshened with ferns and succulents, and inspired numerous popular looks centring on the colour green.

Pantone officially heralded the age of the urban jungle back in 2017, by declaring “greenery” as the colour of the year. Their shade of choice was a vibrant, zesty green that would probably not make it to the same palette as whites, greys and other neutrals. Even so – and as Pantone rightly reminded us – bright, lively green is “nature’s neutral”, and a hue that we are programmed to love. Because the best examples of green exist in nature, the most effective way to introduce this colour to your home is through the use of plants. Fortunately, the possibilities there are endless.

To begin with, plants make no demands as far as displaying them is concerned. The beauty of nature lies in its unrestrained spirit, and plants help you channel the same in your living space. This is one design exercise that gives you unlimited freedom to experiment with form, organisation and layering. A single potted fern or terrarium can give a minimally designed room an instant makeover. Houseplants are also a great treatment for dead spaces, odd corners, foyers or passageways, livening them up without requiring extensive wall treatments or colour matching.

Indoor greenery is the perfect finishing touch for a design scheme built around natural finishes and earth tones. Pair any number of houseplants with wooden furniture and flooring, or set them up around large windows in airy, naturally lit rooms. Greenery can also be introduced to compact spaces by combining low-maintenance ferns and vines with lighting fixtures or storage units.

Indoor greenery is wonderfully endearing in how it lends itself to even the most austere of spaces. In fact, urban jungles are often created using the seemingly mismatched combination of metal, concrete and houseplants. A generous dose of green acts as an effective counterweight to the industrial look of these spaces, and helps create reading areas or cosy corners within otherwise functional setups.

Amid all the clean-lined crispness and organised simplicity of contemporary urban homes, plants let us feast our eyes on pure, unrestrained, and often chaotic beauty. Unaffiliated to the usual tenets of form, space and order, they free us from the burden of adhering to rules and trends, and allow us to actually have fun while decorating our living spaces.