Bring some life into your home with plants — Bonnie Pressley and Gina Archie tell you how.
A well placed and chosen plant can light up an entire room. Unfortunately, lending these sparks of greenery and life to our domestic spaces requires more than just a trip to the local garden store. Placement is key, as all plants will not thrive in any area throughout the home. You must also think about design elements, such as how the plant will mesh with your surrounding decor and personal style. To help navigate these complexities — and show you how to add a dash of spring to the indoors — we enlisted the help of two experts.
Bonnie Pressley, home decorator extraordinaire, has owned Fort Worth’s Decorating Den since 1988. For decades, Fort Worth homeowners have sought out her tasteful expertise for help with everything from full remodels to small-scale redecorating projects.
Gina Archie, wife of Randall Archie, the fourth-generation owner Archie’s Gardenland, knows a thing or two about plants. For the shoppers that have made Archie’s Gardenland Fort Worth’s premier garden center, Gina stands as a sage source for advice about the care, feeding, and choice of indoor greenery.
Tell us about your experience decorating indoors with plants.
Gina: When I married Randall, they had me come into Archie’s and get my feet wet learning about the indoor plants and working up front. I just fell in love with this new world. I discovered the beauty of different plants, and learned about light requirements, and how plant textures work together with the color and shapes of pots. I feel like that’s what I’ve really been able to share with our customers. A big part of it is keeping up with certain trends, the new colors and styles, along with the needs of customers. For example, if someone says they have a really modern home and need something sleek, what plant can best serve that need.
Bonnie: I’ve often turned to plants in decorating, whether they’re real or permanent, because they soften the room and bring in some nature. I’ve always recommended Archie’s Gardenland to clients, and pull from their outdoor pieces and displays.
How do you go about planning a customer’s project?
Gina: Whenever customers come in, it’s important to get a grasp of what they have in mind. Most people do have some idea, whether it’s a picture on Pinterest, or something they saw in a magazine. We then take them around, give them different options, and tailor choices as much as possible to suit their needs.
Bonnie: Sometimes real plants won’t work because of the need for a certain size and shape that can survive the particular light requirements. If that’s the case, then we will start to look at permanent plantings. If we’re going to use real plants, we just have to be particular about what we pick. I try to shoot first for style, then the size of the plant, and what kind of design it’s going into. Everything depends on the individual needs of each project.
What are some of the more common requests or needs you encounter?
Gina: We do a lot of custom arrangements, and things like terrariums are a very popular request. Sometimes they can intimidate people, and we like to walk people through it, as they’re a very easy thing to build. We get a lot of requests for things to go in the kitchen or on the tabletop. For these, we need something that has a low profile, but will blend with the rest of the decor. We also get a lot of people who have an office space, usually with fluorescent lighting, and they want something green with height for a corner.
Bonnie: I’ll get a lot of comments where people will think that greenery is no longer fashionable. I always say that isn’t the case, but that less is better; you want fewer, more prominent pieces so they make a statement. Succulents are probably the most popular plant right now, as they can go pretty much anywhere. I do a lot with succulents and orchids, actually.
What are some simple ways for people to spruce up their indoor spaces on their own?
Gina: A lot of time, people will come in with a container, something they’ve picked up at an estate sale or elsewhere, that they want to use in their home. That’s when we determine what kind of light they have and what amount of care they can devote, i.e. whether they want something they can ignore or something that does well over time. We try to find out their care habits, whether they tend to overwater, and otherwise serve their needs.
Bonnie: Customers can use real succulents in lots of situations. There are some very colorful ones available. Anything that blooms is certainly wonderful, even if it only blooms temporarily. If you have something outdoor that blooms, you can take taller cuttings to place in a vase. Another project I often work on is the back porch. You can put pint-sized pansies or something else in a container that you can occasionally move inside for some seasonal color.
What are the benefits of professional guidance?
Gina: A lot of people get intimidated by plants, and that’s when we like to walk them through it, show that it’s not that hard. Once we know what level of care people are capable of, we can tailor plants to their homes.
Bonnie: A professional will look at the aesthetics of your space, in addition to what kinds of plants will work. I’m looking at size, shape, the weight a plant adds to the room, and the overall design concept, as opposed to just buying a plant and sitting it on the table.
For people who have difficulty keeping plants alive indoors, what are some tips you have?
Gina: If you have difficulty keeping plants alive indoors, there are certain plants we can recommend. The mother-in-law’s tongue, also known as the snake plant, is kinda a good go-to. It’s in the succulent family, so doesn’t require a lot of watering, and is easy on light requirements. It can be in a bright or dark space, so fits practically anywhere. In general, succulents have been a big trend from what I’ve seen. People love their variety and longevity. Peace lilies are a good choice if you want green foliage in a darker space.
Bonnie: Plants are usually more hardy than you think, and overwatering is the biggest problem. Otherwise, I tell them to call Archie’s. It’s a little more difficult indoors as far as making choices for plants, and I would turn to Archie’s for more tips.
For help decorating your space with plants, stop by Archie’s Gardenland at 6700 Camp Bowie Boulevard, or visit them online at www.archiesgardenland.com. To add some greenery to any home, or get help for all your decorating needs, visit www.bonniepressley.decoratingden.com.