Decorating With Plants for Beginners | Ana Marcu | Skillshare

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Decorating With Plants for Beginners

teacher avatar Ana Marcu, Home Wellbeing, Licensed architect

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (25m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Your Plants, Your Space and You.

    • 3. Planter Types.

    • 4. Planter styles.

    • 5. Composition.

    • 6. Overall Aesthetic

    • 7. Class Project

    • 8. 10 Final thoughts FINAL

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About This Class

If there is one low cost improvement you can do to your home that would have a massive impact on your health and wellbeing would be to add indoor plants. Plants clean the air, regulate humidity levels in our homes, they regulate our moods, speed our recovery in times of sickens,  and there is even some scientific evidence showing that plants make us more empathetic towards each other. 

The class covers three topics: 

1. Understanding the needs of the plant, your needs and the requirements of the space. You want to bring home plants that you can care for and that find in your space a hospitable environment. 

2. Flower pots are of utmost importance in styling so understanding their limitations as well as the different types is important.

3. Finally we will look at composition types and overall aesthetic to determine our final look. 

Thank you so much for taking this class, and let’s get started.

You can use this Pinterest board to follow up on the photos. 

**Captions available 


If you liked this class, you might also like this class: 


Who am I?

I’m a licensed architect with over a decade of experience in Vienna, Austria. I have a double degree in Architecture and "Building Science and Technology" and I am deeply passionate about design psychology and optimising interior design in order to create great emotional experiences for people. My goal is to design spaces that make people FEEL loved, happier, healthier, and more creative.

In my classes, you will find tips and strategies that will help you design a great home. You will learn how certain design decisions can influence your emotions and behaviour and what you can do to create a home that will make you feel happier and supported in your goals.

You can also check out my class How to Think Like an Architect.

Books and Media I recommend.  


Links to other classes

A Hygge Home: Danish Interior Design Principles for Cosiness and Comfort.

Room Fragrances. How Scents Influence your Performance, Wellbeing & Interior Design Experience.

Color Psychology. The Influence of Color on Emotions & Behavior in Architectural & Interior Design.


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Meet Your Teacher

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Ana Marcu

Home Wellbeing, Licensed architect

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About me: 

I'm a licensed architect and have over a decade of experience in the design and architecture industry. I have worked as an in-house architect on various projects with a strong focus on furniture, interior design and experience design. I have a double degree in Architecture and "Building Science and Technology", and I am deeply passionate about design that generates great emotional experiences for people. I've recently started my little design studio, and I'm excited to teach you everything I've learned to help you create a great home for yourself. 


Transform your surroundings, transform your life!

Your home environment profoundly impacts your mood, thoughts, behaviour, performance, and overall well-being.

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1. Introduction: If there is a low cost improvement that you can do to your home that would add a massive benefit to your health and well-being would be to add indoor plants. Plants clean the air, they regulate humidity levels, they speed our recovery in times of sickness, they regulate our moods, and there's even evidence that plants can make us a little bit more empathetic towards each other. The list of benefits from plants is long, but decorating with plants can sometimes be difficult, especially if you want plants to support a certain style and make the design of your home look intentional. Hi. My name is Ana Marcu. I'm a licensed architect. I have my own practice in Home Design and Home Well-being, and my passion is to create spaces that make people feel happier, healthier, and more creative. In this class, I'd like to teach you the basics of decorating with plants. We'll first look at the needs of the plants, your needs, and the requirements of the space. Then we will have to look at flower pots and the role they play in styling. Finally, we will look at various ways to arrange plants in your home in a way that looks intentional and supportive of the overall look. For the class project, I would like you to share a photo of a room where you have decorated with plants and share a few words about your design process. Thank you so much for taking the class, and let's get started. 2. Your Plants, Your Space and You.: Before you start decorating with plants, you have to understand the three factors coming together. The plants, your space, and you. By meeting the needs of the plant with the conditions of your space as well as your needs, you'll be able to make the right decisions. So first, let's have a look at the needs of the plant. One of the most important aspects is light. Look at the exact place where you want to put the plant. Every plant comes with its own set of light requirements. If you place a light-loving plant in a low-light environment, the plant starts to expand in order to absorb more light. If you have a plant that likes low light but you put it under six hours of sunlight daily, it might burn. Leaves might fall off. You want to know the light preferences of each plant you have. Water. Take a look at how sensitive a plant is. Ferns really like to stay moist, but other plants like to dry between watering like succulents and cacti and are more comfortable with more neglect. Humidity. Some plants are tropical and like more moisture around them and others don't. So be aware that if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, your plant will get quite dry. If you have humidity-loving plans, you will spend a lot of time misting or might have to buy a humidifier for your plants. If you are a beginner or want to make sure that humidity is not an issue for your plants, use plants that grow in your climate. Toxicity. Some plants are more toxic to kids and pets. If you have a kid or a pet, make sure you research the toxicity of your plants so you can keep a safe environment for them. Other things you might want to consider are drafts. Some plants like the Fiddle Leaf Fig in the right side photo don't like drafts and don't like to be too close to the heater because they dry out. So be aware that some plants are a bit more sensitive and will drop a ton of leaves when they meet inhospitable conditions. What I want to say with this lesson is that plants are living beings and you need to make a bit of research on them in order to understand what the perfect conditions for them are. Now that we understand what the plant needs are, let's have a look at your needs and the requirements of your space. Looking at the lighting and humidity conditions of your space. Find spots in your home where a plant would go well, and try to understand if you have the kind of environmental conditions that the plant requires. Some plants are happy in low light, some need 4-6 hours of direct sunlight. Is this something that your space can offer? Be aware of the cardinal directions your windows are facing, and match your plants with the right lighting conditions. Are your rooms well lit or not so much? Do you live in a humid climate or is it very dry? There are many plans that are hardy and resilient, and you have lots of options. Just don't get distracted by how beautiful plant a looks, only to bring it home and have it die on you due to inhospitable conditions. You have to have a realistic look about how much care you are able and willing to provide to your plans. If you are new and you forget to water your plants or you have to travel a lot, start with a couple of plants from the cacti family who thrive on neglect and a little water. Succulents and Snake Plants will do great. If on the other hand, you already have a watering ritual due to other plants, then remembering to take care of them will not be a problem. Make sure you match the plant, not just with the space, but also with your habits. That way, you are more likely to keep the plant alive for a very long time. What additional benefits does the plan bring? is it particular aromatic and can help you sleep better? Does it provide you with fruits? Can you eat it? Can you add it to your dishes? Can you make tea from it? Personally, I always like plants that bring more than one benefit. Perhaps with this prompt, you start thinking about that too. If, for example, you want a plant to add a fragrance to your home, you might want to bring in Lavender or Jasmine to add their sweet natural scent to the room. If you want to hear more about scent, head out to my class "Room Fragrances". You will learn about all the ways fragrances influence our health, well-being, and behavior. So now that we have the trifecta of needs covered, we have everything we need in order to start styling. But an indoor plant never comes alone, it comes attached with a pot. And although many people neglect it, the pot is actually a very important part of the styling. Let's have a look at what pots we can use and all the ways we can style them. 3. Planter Types.: Although having plants in your home is very important, when it comes to styling, choosing the right pot for our plant is equally important. No detail is left to chance. In this lesson, we will learn about the different types of pots, as well as the challenges that repotting brings. Let's look 1st at what are the basic components of the pot, in order for the plant to thrive. Typically, what the plant needs is a pot and a saucer. The saucer collects water, in case you have poured too much in the pot. This really helps preventing the roots of the plant to rot. But as a design lover, I have to say that a lot of the times, the pots just look much nicer without a saucer. So what can you do then? Well, in that case, you have three options. You can go for the pot and pot technique. That way, your eye only sees the outside planter, but there is a space between the inner and the outer pot where water can accumulate. There are decorative pots that mask your pot and saucer. You still have your classic pot and saucer combo, but it's not visible from the outside. It's covered by beautiful decorative pots. This can be made of wicker baskets which you can reuse later, cloth and paper bags can also be useful reusable containers for plants. The 3rd option is to pick a pot without a saucer. I would only recommend doing this to people who are a little bit more advanced when it comes to plants, because without a place for water to escape, the roots of your plant might rot. Here are a few things you need to think about when taking this route. Place the plants in a sunny place. That is, if the plant likes that too. The sun allows for the earth to dry quickly. Look for plants who are able to handle fluctuating wet and dry conditions, Spider and Heartleaf plants are a good place to start, and finally, add the drainage layer at the bottom made of pebbles or activated charcoal to allow for water to trickle through. By all means, if you decide to pick a pot without a saucer, make sure you consult yourself with a florist or a gardener in deciding what is best for your plant. Finally, don't forget that plants are living creatures, they grow and expand. Some plants might need to be moved to a bigger planter every year or every couple of years; and others might just need a change of the soil but remain in the same pot. If you have a certain pot style in mind or your plants are in a group, make sure you buy pots that you can easily find again in the same or similar style but bigger shape, or pots that look like they are part of the same family of pots in the room. You don't want to buy pots that are so unique looking that when the time comes to move some of the plants in new pots, you are left with a very disorganized composition. So keep that in mind when designing your space. So now that we understand what type of pot we need, let's have a closer look at its style and how it can support an overall desired look of our home. 4. Planter styles.: The style of the planter can enhance the beauty of the plant and can complement an overall desired look. When it comes to choosing the style of your pot, you want to be aware of several things. The first thing you want to think about when styling a pot is choosing the color palette. Are you working with neutral colours? Are they colder tones? Here I picked up the tones of the room, which are black, light gray, beige, and brown. So the pot goes in metallic dark brown. The aim here is to make the pot look like it's from the same family with the object of the room by keeping it in a shade of color in a similar tone. The second thing I want to look at is the material palette I am working with. This is especially useful if I already have a room that is more or less finished and I am looking for a pot to fit into the landscape. Then I want to know what other materials do I work with. In this image, I chose a more bohemian style, which is very textures. There are a lot of plush surfaces to sit and lie on. The coffee table has a texture on this side, which reminds me of wicker. Deciding to get a hand basket made of wicker for the plant is probably the right decision. You are matching not just the material, but also the shape by picking the basket with exceptionally large and round handles. Now the new pot that is being added to the room in this setting looks like it's part of the family of objects in the room and it is strongly related to the coffee table. Of course, when you speak about color and material, you have to speak about style. Some styles come with their predefined colors, textures, and material palette. If I haven't designed my room just yet and I know I want it to look in a predefined style, then I can just pick out pots and furniture from similar sets, like the pots and the side table on the left, or if I know I want to achieve a cold, minimalistic look, and I'm working with a lot of grey tones, I know a pot made of concrete is going to support that overall raw look. Is the plant an attraction point? Am I able to admire the plant and the pot from multiple sides? Is the pot in a prime location like the middle of the room or at eye level? This is important because if I know it sits in the middle of the room, like on the photo on the left side or at eye level on the mantle piece like on the right, then I want to choose the surface of the pot very carefully. I might want to capture the attention of the viewer with a shiny material like glass and polished brass. I might even want to add a bit of texture because here I can properly observe it and give it the right amount of attention. But if on the other hand, the pot is on the floor, behind the couch, underneath massive plants, then my gaze is going to go to the plants and I am probably not going to see my pot. Here the surface and the quality of the pot is not that important. If I have more than one plant, how do I create a relationship between the pots? Here I want to create a sensation of a family. I have pots in different sizes, but the shape appear to be similar and the surface of the pot seems to be similar. It is not one-to-one an exact copy, but both groups appear to create a family. Had I put a pot from the left side with one from the right, that would not have made sense. Similarly, the plants appear to be from the same type of climate. The ones on the right speak of the Mediterranean climate, while the ones on the left could be from a more temperate climate. Another way to create a family is the create a design where none of the pots really stand out in any obvious way, but together they create a unified surface. In this specific image, the pots are very similar in size, mostly white with little variations; some are round, some have a metallic grid around them, some have a texture. But because they are spread all over the shelves, they make the eye move up and down, left and right without stopping at any particular pot, but having a distinct feeling of looking at a unified composition. Now that we understand more about planters, let's have a look at how we can arrange the plants in the room. What might be some good composition rules and what affects are we trying to achieve? 5. Composition.: When it comes to arranging our plants in the space, it is important to understand a few rules of composition. The first rule of composition I want to talk about is "simplicity". "Simplicity" is used often because it gives our brain very little work. We feel relaxed around design that is simple because it's very easy to decipher it. What might simple design look like? Simplicity can mean a limited number of colors in terms of pot colors. If the pots are also from the same family, the composition is even easier to perceive. The composition looks intentional and well put together. Having just one or two different plants in a room can enhance rhythm and it can create a simpler kind of aesthetic. When the pots of the flowers are reduced to the minimum, in this case, only a frame and a glass, it's a playful idea that also speaks of simplicity and reduction. The focal point is about one object placed centrally in a composition. It can be a vase with fresh cut flowers placed in the middle of the table, which marks the symmetry axis of the table it is located on. Symmetry can also be a great way to create simplicity and the feeding of order and balance in a room. We can use plants to emphasize either an already symmetrical composition or to frame an object like a table or a door. These are a couple of ways in which you can use plants to create simplicity. Now, let's have a look at our next composition rule, "the triangle". "The triangle" is the most commonly used arrangement style when it comes to placing objects together. You have probably seen this in many still life paintings, and it is used in many compositions with or without plants. The triangular composition typically has a couple of features. It is made of three or more objects grouped together in the shape of a triangle. The bigger objects are typically at the back slightly to one side and the smaller objects in the front. Repetition of the same colors and materials, as well as objects of similar size can be seen throughout the composition. In this photo, we have two compositions that combine the triangle with simplicity by picking pots of similar shapes and colors. This strategy can also be applied to table arrangements. Again, the taller objects in the back, the shorter in the front. The composition on the right is unified by very geometric pots in colour tones of blue and grey. The composition on the left side is unified by similar types of cacti plants. The triangle composition can also be extended to other objects. It can be a combination of objects on the table, but also objects on the wall, like we see with the mirrors on the right side. Finally, the triangle can also be seen in between plants and furniture where tall plants can mark the tip of the triangle and the furniture the base of the triangle. Again, it creates a very dynamic but also very pleasing to the eye kind of aesthetic. Now that we have "the triangle" figured out, let's have a look at our last composition style, "The row and the surface". The row typically marks a line of great importance in the room, either vertical or horizontal, in order to highlight a specific side of the room. This might be a mantelpiece or a window sill, or perhaps marking the invisible line between two zones like the corridor or the kitchen. Often what defines "the row" are pots from the same family arranged in a line. The pots can be all the same like in the left photo or they can be similar in shape but different in color, or the same color but slightly different shapes. The important thing is that they look like they are part of the same family. A surface typically means several pots of plants arrange two-dimensionally to create a surface composition. This could look in very different ways. For example, it could be a room divider. Check out how you can turn a clothing rack into a frame for your crawling plans. You can find various types of structures that can contain plants. The frames can be metallic filled with wooden boxes or ceramic pots or it can be a design piece in itself, like the frame on the left completed with LED lights. The next surface type is the kind where you can see an underlying structure of pots spread on a wall. The pots are similar and so to us, they appear to be part of the same family, which creates a unified surface. Finally, we have the plant wall. What is remarkable here is that you cannot see an underlying structure of individual pots, it is just a green surface which can add that green lushness of a forest to the room and it can make any space in the house stand out. Now that we understand the most important composition types, let's take a step back and have a look at the room as a whole and try to understand how to create an interesting arrangement with plants within a certain style. 6. Overall Aesthetic: Finally, picking your plant and a planter is highly dependent on what do you want to say with that room. Let's put together everything we learned so far and see how we can create a stunning-looking rooms with plants. If we live in a certain part of the world, there is often a local style specific to that region, and so it makes sense that the plants we use are part of that design language and of that local landscape. Not only because they make sense in a design style, but also because they are more likely to survive that specific climate. If you have a local style like the Mediterranean, some suitable plants might be citrus tree, the olive tree, or the rosemary bush. The terracotta pots, although pretty plain looking, are very common in rural areas in Italy and fit in style with the overall look. A house in Nevada might have some deeper browns, as color tones, and might benefit from succulents, cacti, and a plant like "bromeliad". They look great with the background of patterns and textiles. Perhaps you are trying to achieve a feeling and not a style with your interior design, like a feeling of joy. Pastel colors of turquoise and pink can really bring those happy vibes to the room. To support that explosion of colors, you might want to add some fresh cut flowers in various nuances of pink. Perhaps you are looking to bring the vacation vibes in your home. In which case, you might want to incorporate plants from a warmer climate in your design. This, of course, only makes sense if you can provide the care that the plants need, and your space can provide the light and humidity conditions necessary for the plant to thrive. This works well if you have a lot of windows and a lot of light in the room or a greenhouse extension. You don't have to travel to faraway places to feel like you are on vacation. For example, the Orange Tree or the Bird of Paradise Plant can achieve that feeling. Sometimes it's not a feeling but a value you want to express. Perhaps your home is full of clean lines. You care about the environment and you want to express that "less is more" kind of vibe. Then you might go for plants that are equally made of those long, thin vines and have small and delicate leaves. Or perhaps, you really love plants. So much so that you want to put them everywhere. An abundance of plants can really change the air climate in the home, and they can take away the attention from the home decor. Before the plants were supporting the decor, now the plants are the decor. The question is, how does everything else support this kind of "jungle look"? In the photos here, you can't see a lot of furniture. In the photo on the left side, the walls and the staircase are painted in a light colour to provide contrast to all the green. The couch, also green, blends itself in the scenery. Because of the long plants, the pots aren't really visible. They too disappear, and all we see is green. The problem becomes when you have too many pots with plants in all shapes and sizes, and the pots are not hidden either because the plants are too small or the location is in sight. Then I hope you remember what we said about pot families and making sure that the pots have a cohesive look. 7. Class Project: For the class project, I'd like you guys to share a photo of a corner in your home where you have decorated with plants. Do share some ideas of how this corner came about. What did you take into consideration when arranging the plants and how does it integrate with the rest of the room? Was there a color palette? Did you look at materials and surfaces? Did you look at composition styles? I can't wait to see your projects. 8. 10 Final thoughts FINAL: Congratulations, you have made it to the end of the class. I hope you learned some new things and already feel inspired to apply them. I enjoy teaching this class a lot, and I can't wait to see what you have taken away from it. So I invite you to go to the Project & Resources section and share your class project with me and other students of the class. I will make sure to give you feedback and help you on your way. Do comment and encourage other students on their class project, it will help you make some new connections on the platform. Please use the Discussion section to let me know your thoughts and questions about the class. I'd love to help you clarify any concepts you do not understand, and it also helps me improve my classes so you can learn better. If you enjoy this class, I would appreciate a review. It tells Skillshare that you like my class and it encourages other people to discover my work. 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