Some of us happen to believe that plants make the absolute best housemates (sorry, pets), but if you disagree, we have some proof that will easily sway your stance. For starters, filling your pad with greenery has all sorts of science-backed benefits: plants help purify the air and have a cooling effect on the spaces they occupy, plus they help regulate humidity. On the less scientific side of things, there's the undeniable beauty of a leafy living space. During the pandemic in particular, plants have taken on an essential role in the daily lives of many people who rely on the mood-boosting abilities of their favorite foliage to get them through these trying times.
One person who credits plants for helping to neutralize some of the pandemic-related stress is plant and thrifting enthusiast Kristine Sumner. After moving into her first apartment last July, Sumner gradually transformed her new place into her very own boho-chic botanical garden of sorts, documenting the process on her Instagram page. The light-filled space is layered with neutral tones, comfy throw pillows, and enough plants to cheer you up in an instant.
"Plants have helped me cope with the life changes brought on by the pandemic. I always think to myself, 'Did I save plants? Or did plants save me?'" says Sumner. "The start of the pandemic was very hard for me, between being furloughed from my job, a death in the family due to COVID, feeling hopeless and depressed, all while trying to adapt to this new life. I went from caring for a couple of succulents/cacti plants, to owning over 60 plants! Caring for plants is a form of self-care for me. I found love, light, and positivity in nurturing and caring for plants. Being at home with my plants is my safe space."
As Sumner explains, decorating with plants requires attention to detail, as each piece of greenery is arranged in alignment with its size and light requirements, among other factors. "When I moved into my first apartment, the first thing I checked was the amount of sunlight I [would] be getting and where the windows are facing. I got lucky to have windows facing in every direction that would bring enough light to the plants in my home," she explains. Her advice: "Get plants that will survive with the lighting you receive in your home."
When it comes to plant ownership, planning and positioning are vital: "Make sure you are ready for the commitment of caring for plants. This includes checking for pests, cleaning leaves, knowing when to water and fertilize the plants, repotting, etc."
Sumner also suggests arranging plants by size: "I place my larger plants in a corner and gather smaller plants around it. I love to place my trailing plants higher up on cabinets and shelves."
And as can be expected from any well-seasoned plant parent, Sumner has a few gems for taking care of your greenery: "Make a plan for where you'd like your plants to be placed: on a shelf (plant shelfies are a thing and I'm here for it!), hanging on a hook off of your ceiling, a coffee table, etc. Purchase a variety of sizes and species of plants once you're familiar with the care needed. Gather your plants that require high humidity together (not all plants need to be next to a humidifier)." Sumner also recommends purchasing grow lights that complement your decor.
As for plant parent no-nos, Sumner warns against gathering new and old plants together. "This will help minimize the spread of pests and disease," she explains. "Isolate your plant for at least 30 days to keep an eye on your new plant to see how it is acclimating in its new environment."
Not only is Sumner's home a secure, plant lover's paradise, it's equally stylish. Using Pinterest and Instagram, she pulled together images to create her dream aesthetic: an earthy combo of calming browns and cream shades paired with wicker and rattan furniture and accents, along with a variety of vases. Here's how to get a similar style in your own home.
"I recently purchased a cabinet from IKEA to do the IKEA greenhouse hack. It’s the prettiest pale gray-green color, and it pairs perfectly with my plants and rattan/wicker decor in my living room. I’m in the beginning stages of designing it and adding plants.”
The cabinet features tempered glass doors and has adjustable shelves and feet to help stabilize it on uneven floors.
To recreate the earthy feeling of Sumner’s space, sprinkle in natural-toned accents, like this beautiful rattan mirror.
We love how Sumner added a sleek, sophisticated energy to her plant haven with these High Pile Faux Fur Pillows (Five Below, $5) and cotton canvas cushion covers. The pillows can be wiped clean with a damp cloth; the cushion covers are made from organic cotton and can be machine-washed with cool water.
Plants are absolutely vibrant on their own, but that’s no reason to slack on the way you display them. Among Sumner’s extensive collection of vases is this lovely rounded vase, which gives off artsy-hippie vibes for days. Shop fast—this vase has a tendency to sell out.