Indoor plants: house takeover

by Rhiannon James

What do you get when you let a bunch of stylists take over an empty house with armfuls of greenery? The Green Open House event saw an unsuspecting north London terrace transformed from top to bottom with plants.

The project was the brainchild of industry body the Flower Council of Holland, who asked stylists such as Joanna Thornhill and Marianne Cotterill to pick a room and transform it with their take on some of 2015’s key houseplant trends. The three themes were ‘Eco Luxe’ – giving natural materials a luxurious feel with metals, sleek lines and strong shapes; ‘Unexpected Wild’ – celebrating nature with unfinished and rough-hewn materials, earthy shades, and homemade touches and ‘The Happy Life’ – focusing on playfulness and vibrant colour.

Master Bedroom

Marianne Cotterill uses plants to add drama and opulence to her eco-friendly but elegant master bedroom design. “I wanted natural materials like stone, copper and recycled wood with that green colour that’s quite uplifting,” says Marianne.

Master bedroom 1

Plants with strong sculptural shapes such as Dracaena and Sansevieria cylindrica and the cut stems of the spectacular Fritillaria imperialis in combination with outsized and geometric containers make a strong statement.

Master bedroom 2

Softer, more feminine touches are created with ferns, hyacinths and lily-of-the-valley. “I picked lily-of-the-valley because of its perfume because I think it’s nice to have a sensual aspect as well,” explains Marianne.

Marianne has some great container ideas. Standard plastic plant pots are wrapped in thin sheets of on-trend copper and cork, available from many art and craft shops, for a very simple but stylish makeover.  On the wall, individual wine corks are planted with tiny succulents. “They last for about six weeks and if you put a touch of water into the cork they last even longer,” says Marianne. “I’ve got a huge wall display of them at home and they look great.”

Dining Room

The same mix of earthy shades, metals, wood, ceramic and fresh foliage makes for an inviting dining space, designed by Red magazine’s interiors editor Sarah Keady.

Dining room


A feeling of untamed luxuriance is key to the look in the bathroom created by Ian Drummond, who has designed planting for the Elton John AIDS Foundation White Tie and Tiara Ball and the Baftas amongst other events. “I loved working on the bathroom, it was a real joy,” says Ian. “I love the fact that the plants dominate the room. And it’s practical – there’s no reason why this bathroom couldn’t stay exactly as it is.”

Big Boston ferns cascade from the corner, Vanda orchids drape from the chandelier and ivy tumbles over mirrors and out of cupboards. “Ferns are quite tricky but if you’ve got them in this environment where there’s humidity – it’s perfect, they’ll do really well,” he adds.


Downstairs, Ian continues the theme with a lushly planted fireplace and cupboard and gorgeous living pictures which use a mix of ferns, spider plants, scindapsus, ivy and narcissi. They use a Mobilane system, which is covered with moss and strips of old boxes and pallets to give a handmade look. “I included a small splash of colour because I thought you could treat that amount like cut flowers and replace one or two pots seasonally for a different look through the year,” he explains. “And, especially if you’ve got no outside space, it’s quite nice to bring a little bit of the outdoors in with daffodils.”



Joanna Thornhill brings a pretty whimsicality to her design for the study, which combines vintage finds and quirky detailing with soft romantic planting. “I tried to bring in lots of handmade and natural-looking items so textures such as linens, hessian and oxidised metal – suggesting things that have been hand-forged – with wood and rope,” Joanna explained.


Pots are wrapped in fabrics such as hand-printed batik tied with raffia while narcissi in glass bulb vases mixed with vintage bottles makes a pretty feature for the windowsill.


A consultant in A&E by day, Geraldine Tan still summons up enough energy to create pretty and playful designs for interiors in her spare time. Sunflowers, narcissi and gerberas in brightly painted pots create extra pops of colour in this sweet-as-candy kitchen design.


Child’s bedroom

In this bedroom, it was all about having fun with some classic container ideas with lego heads planted with colourful gerberas and a toy giraffe casually munching from a terrarium.

kids bedroom


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