Living Space

Match plants with traditional or contemporary décor

Tribune Media ServicesJune 14, 2013 


For simple plants that pack a colorful punch, select bromeliads.


A home just isn’t a home without plants. When we have plants indoors, they bring our living spaces, quite literally, to life. Besides adding that much-needed touch of living, green energy, plants are good for our homes, too. But does any plant look good in every décor style? Not always. Some plants look better in contemporary homes, and others look better in traditional styles.

Traditional choices

Some wonderful plants – the standards – are commonly seen indoors. These include ficus trees, pothos ivy, peace lily and Chinese evergreens. These plants go well in both contemporary and traditional styles. Other good options include ferns, English ivy, spider plants and diffenbachia. When you have a traditional-style home, you can confidently use these plants, and they’ll look and perform well.

Palms are another good choice. Classic and elegant, palms lend a timeless look. If you need something to fill up a lot of space, the wide leaved dracaena Janet Craig is perfect. Its dark green foliage is the perfect backdrop for a corner or a spot needing an intense dose of green.

Contemporary options

The clean, crisp lines of contemporary home designs really call out for plants that mimic their same clean look.

Good examples include mother-in-law’s tongue ( sansevieria), sometimes called snake plant.

Even cactus, which doesn’t look great in a traditional home, blends in well in contemporary settings. The simplicity of the cactus echoes the spare lines of a contemporary home.

For simple plants that pack a colorful punch, select bromeliads. Easy to care for with a little water in the cup at the center of the plant, bromeliads have simple, thick waxy leaves and often sport a bright bloom that lasts for weeks.

The paddle plant will also add softness to a modern interior. Part of the kalanchoe family, the paddle plant is low on the care scale and is a stingy drinker. So, if you forget to water, this hearty specimen will stand up to neglect.

If drama is what you need, then a tall, spiked dracaena marginata, or dragon plant, can fill a corner and add clean-lined interest to your home. As with all plants, try to place them close to a window or source of light and they’ll perform well.

Make the most of plants

Whether you use a small ivy on a bedside table or a grouping of tall, medium and small plants, each gives a unique feel and that touch of green interest every room needs. If you’ve got a bare spot or empty corner, use plants to fill it. If your home is contemporary, try a grouping of three plants. Place a tall dragon plant, next to medium-sized mother-in-law’s tongue and then fill in with a smaller paddle plant.

If your home is more traditional, try a grouping using a traditional arrangement. A tall urn with a palm looks fabulous when pothos ivy is planted around the base. Or, go for a trio arrangement with a tall ficus tree, medium dracaena Janet Craig and a pot of variegated pothos ivy.


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