Indoor plants can be plenty of work, but when the perfect balance of light and moisture can be found to keep them happy, they have a way of totally transforming a space. Whether you live in a bustling metropolis and need someplace to admire nature, or you simply want to tie your rural home’s interiors into its exterior, houseplants are a delightful fix that lend themselves to all types of decor styles. Below we’ve rounded up some of the best plant-filled spaces featured on Clever.
A lucky corner spot in Lisbon
“Good light is crucial for me,” Joana Astolfi says. “The building’s location, at the corner of a major intersection, brings an abundance of natural light through its many windows into all sides and rooms.” This is what convinced the Portuguese artist, architect, and designer to move into her 1,400-square-foot apartment nestled on the fifth floor of a classic Estado Novo building in Lisbon, which she shares with her daughter, Duna, and dog, Lola.
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Even though Joana is renting the flat, she made it her own through very personal decoration. “I painted all the walls, central corridor, and kitchen cupboards, choosing different colors for the different spaces,” she says. Joana transformed two of the four bedrooms into a home office and a room that works as a library and music and guest room, combining comfort and playfulness in every nook. The sense of history is what characterizes her interior design and architectural work, and she applied the same vision to her home, which is filled with mix and match furniture and accessories, accented by lush plants. —Karine Monié
A space with rumored Marilyn Monroe roots
Rumor has it that back in the day, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio dined in what is now Sophie Lou Jacobsen’s Carroll Gardens apartment. As far as rumors go, it’s a believable one, since the apartment was once an Italian restaurant called Cafiero’s. “Apparently it was a total neighborhood spot,” Sophie says. “Sometimes we meet older Italian couples walking around, and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, you live in the old Cafiero’s. I used to go there as a kid,’ and it’s quite funny. I love the history.” It’s got original crown molding and storefront-style windows that let in the kind of light plants dream of. Those windows don’t open, but Sophie and her boyfriend, Adrian Harwood, make it work by opening the door in the summertime—which seems appropriate, considering the home’s backstory. —Katja Vujić
Light flow comes first in London
When a massive cold wave with heavy snowfall hit London a few winters ago, architect Ben Allen was wholly unprepared. He lived in a concrete high-rise built in 1957, so the walls were uninsulated and the Crittall windows were single-glazed. After experiencing the bitter chill from inside his maisonette, Ben knew he needed to make some updates.
What began as an effort to add underfloor heating and protective layers of glass turned into a full-scale remodel, with a bold new kitchen to replace the sterile white one he had. “We were renovating and just thought, We’ve come this far, we might as well push on and do the whole thing,” he remembers.
The result is at once whimsical and utilitarian. Sea-foam-hued concrete countertops mingle with oak cupboards, while colorful crockery hangs from a grid of chunky brass rods drilled into a gray tile backsplash. A turquoise storage unit completes the room, lightly separating it from the adjacent living area with a set of wood lattice shelves that exhibit plants and ceramics. Plus, indoor plants abound. —Morgan Goldberg
Organic grandeur for a MoMA Researcher
“I really didn’t have any other parameters other than prewar,” says Kayla Dalle Molle, collection specialist at the MoMA, of her hunt to find her next home. On a Bed-Stuy street chock-full of Victorian-style row houses sat an 1892 brownstone with the sort of iconic period details any history buff or design lover would fawn over. But the hand-carved crown moldings and 10-foot ceilings weren’t the only reason the art researcher felt drawn to the space. After moving back to the city following a short stint in Connecticut, Kayla’s tolerance for clichéd horrible apartments was nonexistent. “I knew what Manhattan had to offer, and I knew what I could afford,” Kayla says of the harsh reality of New York City real estate. “I’ve already lived in a classic dungeon-like space.”
Cue the opulent apartment that most definitely warrants a double take. It’s no shock that Kayla—a researcher by trade—was able to secure the first apartment she saw, as she was in fact “very prepared.” “My work follows me into every facet of my life,” she half-jokes of her role at the famous museum. “It can be funny but also burdensome.” She was able, however, to set aside her analytical nature for one quite important task: the design process.
Accomplishing what many art aficionados crave but rarely master, Kayla’s Brooklyn abode feels more like a lived-in gallery than an 800-square-foot apartment. But don’t be fooled: Her home is not a place for snobbery. “There’s a no-shoes rule, but that’s it,” a valid ask for living in a city as vibrant as New York. “You can create warmth and comfort and not sacrifice on great-looking art—the two are not mutually exclusive,” she comments on the approachable nature of the space. She credits her plants for providing such an inviting feel. Sitting comfortably in an array of self-watering pots rest 30-plus indoor plants all contributing to the relaxed air encompassing the space. —Gabriela Ulloa
Rustic simplicity in upstate New York
David Krause didn’t intend to relocate to the country. He spent 15 years living in New York City, first as a student at Pratt Institute, then as a fashion designer, and, most recently, while cofounding vegan skin care company Alder New York. But when the pandemic hit, he decided to fulfill his chief creative officer duties from the historic Catskills home he’d recently purchased as a weekend getaway. It soon became his permanent abode.
“I didn’t realize how much I liked it until we got up here and I was like, Oh, I don’t miss the city at all,” David says of his quick acclimation to Freehold, New York, a small hamlet about two hours north of Manhattan. “I like being outside and having a garden. I have 14 chickens. I’m really doing the full country thing.”
But before David and his husband, Ayan Chatterjee, settled into their new rustic life, they had to address the complications that come with a 1830s house. “We thought it was inhabitable when we first bought it,” David remembers. “The bathrooms weren’t really functioning, and the roof was leaking. We literally had water coming through the ceiling and no hot water. It was a real mess.”
Once the bones of the building were fixed, the couple could focus on curating the tranquil aesthetic they’d originally planned for their vacation retreat. “The idea was that it was going to be super peaceful and serene and relaxing and a little bit Scandinavian,” he explains. “We have a really neutral palette. We painted all the floors black and most of the walls white. And we have lots of natural materials.”
David dedicated the dining room to his indoor plants and the beloved urn that he picked up at Martha Stewart’s tag sale. The ornate cast-iron vase inspired his now growing collection. “My husband says I have a problem, and he needs to have an intervention,” David jokes. “I’ve been buying them at auction. I have two gorgeous ones in the front and two flanking each side of the pool. I’m not going to stop. They have so much personality.” —Morgan Goldberg
A professional plant lover’s place
Whether you’re a complete novice or a semi-crazed botany fanatic, you probably know the deeply satisfying joy that caring for a plant can bring. You also know the bewilderment of mysterious wilting or yellowing that leaves you stumped and feeling like a poor excuse for a plant parent.
No one knows these feelings better than Jarema Osofsky, better known on Instagram as @dirtqueennyc. She’s a botanic designer and plant mom to a massive collection of green friends large and small—including the plants occupying the second bedroom of her Prospect Heights apartment and the ones she offers for sale in a private and semisecret plant store where customers can shop one at a time and by appointment only.
“One-on-one interactions with customers keep it more like a plant consultation, and an intimate retail experience, and it is pretty rewarding for everyone involved,” Jarema says. “It’s nice to be able to know where you’re getting your goods from. Because they’re in my house, I feel like I’m hosting, and I want them to have a good experience.” It’s important to her that her plants do well, so she’s always giving out advice on how to keep them alive, and she carefully pots each plant so that it’s both healthy and beautiful. Jarema began her career in the art world, working at galleries and trying to discover her creative medium—until she started keeping plants. Soon, they became her medium. —Katja Vujić