Interior Design – Top 10 Ways Plants Contribute

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Interior Design receives more contributions from Plants than you think…

Interior Mall Atrium Seating
Plants are more than a decorative touch in interior design. Nature and living things subliminally touch our lives in positive ways.  Science continues to study and conclude these work toward keeping us emotionally and sometimes spiritually grounded in ways we are still learning to understand.


These are my top 10 thoughts on why Plants contribute so much to our Interior lives…


Plants add life

Live plants bring outdoor life to an interior design setting. Plants bring people together, help them relax and provide an atmosphere for enjoyment and time together. Playing an important role in interior design, plants bring a living feature that is mobile and alive.  Foliage is alive, growing and allows an ability for change that is much more economical than a structural addition.  Plants change the environment and feel for the space, both realistically and perceptually. They add color to any design and enhance the atmosphere without changing the primary function of the design. The texture of plants adds depth to an otherwise hard surface area, that while beautiful of its own design, needs softening to balance out the full spectrum of what is found in nature.  They bring us back to a state of completion.

 Walkway Border Planting

Plants as focal points

An interior plant acts as a focal point.  It will pull your view to it as a central piece of artwork.  A magnificent palm or Ficus tree, and plants with interesting or unusual shapes, twists or braided trunks, become living sculptures.  A plant can stand alone or be enhanced by complimentary lower to the ground varieties.

Plantings in mass of one variety are also used as focal points. These are used in a subliminal way to help create traffic patterns.  For example, people tend to walk more quickly through an area because identical plants are used in a straight border.  This is helpful in a situation where traffic may become congested as in the photo showing a college atrium.

Plants Framing a Focal Point

Plants act as a frame

Plants Framing a Hallway Entrance

In interior design, plants frame a specific focal point by using pairs of identical varieties, one on either side an object. This is also done if you want to accentuate a destination point.  Using plants in this way will take the focus off of the plants and direct your attention toward the item or destination.  They provide a subliminal framework, filling a void with life, depth and texture.  They guide you to feel the pull of nature without the use of directional signage.

In home settings, plants as a frame are used as a welcome at entry points on one or both sides of the doorways.  In either design, these plants can be decorated with seasonal touches to create an ambiance that is inviting and festive.  Plants positioned and enhanced in this manner make it easy to change throughout the year.

Plants act as sound absorbers

Interior plants help in muffling sound. Without altering the design, they reduce the amount of noise in areas.  Plants have the ability to reflect and diffract sound waves, because of their structure of leaves, bark on their trunks and the soil surfaces.  Plants are placed to assist in blocking the reverberation and bounce of sound levels.  You will see plants strategically placed in high-end restaurants and hotels to help provide privacy for guest conversations.  The subliminal message is always more comforting than any structural sound barriers or noise mufflers.

Plants create depth and texture

Live plants in an interior design plan create visual depth.  Plants will break up areas that may seem large and intimidating.  They turn into more comfortable, cozy spaces.  The feeling of vast space in a mall or large atrium is huge and sterile.  Once in the door, you want to step back and get your bearings. You stay focused on your footsteps, rather than feeling welcome in the atmosphere.  Plants in the interior, just like in nature, provide pathways and spaces to move through.  They allow you to slow down and internalize your thoughts. You find shade and comfort, because you sense the calm that comes from the variety of sights.  This touches our senses by virtue of those textures and variations of depth because we no longer feel encased by walls or surrounded by sterility.

Groupings of plants in an interior design can be utilized as natural walls because they can be moved for any need.  Many home designs are fully embracing an open concept plan.  Plants allow a design to create changes within those spaces where hard walls are being removed.

Plants add color and additional visual interest

    Color variety

Color as well as texture is created in an otherwise monotone setting when live plants are used in an interior design plan.  Most of us think of plants and we automatically think green.  The designer color wheel is full of shades and tones of green.  Plants are the same way with variations of color in their leaves.  Vibrant colored plants stand out while plants of lighter or darker variations compliment the textures. These variations create a unique interest by being visually subtle or vivid.  Plant colors are a rich palette of green flavor to the eye.  Adding interior blooming plants promotes those striking colors.  They become the focal point because of this principle.

Plants enhance the design

The use of plants is viewed as accessories to the interior design plan.  Plants add to the completion of the overall plan because they are the finishing touch for the look and feel of the space. The varieties that are chosen can complete a theme, add to the luxury or exclusiveness, present an image of contemporary or casual creativity.  Plants allow for the full sense of nature indoors since the idea is bringing that feel into those closed walls.  A good plan for acclimation, continued care and maintenance is a key ingredient.  As accessories and enhancements, plants are easily modified with any design.  Plants will always adapt to new containers for a fresh look because it easily provides an update without a huge investment.

Plants add to perceived value

Studies show plants add a sense of luxury and prestige to interior design settings.  People subliminally associate live plants in a design plan with success.  This is especially evident because most high-end luxury homes, hotels and restaurants have plants and flowers used in abundance in their locations. Corporate headquarters and prestigious office complexes are featured in designer magazines.  You always see features full of lush plants that insinuate their contributions to success.  We all want a piece of that success and the look of it as our own.  Plants are an economical way to bring that into our own places of business and home lifestyle because of this perceived value.

Plants Clean Your Air

Plants clean the air

For years, United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) studies, have proven that plants remove harmful toxins from the air.  Scientists in other countries have continued this research with the same results. Plants reduce toxic chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.  These chemicals are filtered out through the photosynthesis process of the plants.  They turn these toxins back into the air as carbon dioxide and water.  Because of this natural plant process, plants clean the air. Since plants clean the air, they also help eliminate health risks associated with reactions to these toxins.

Because of the results of the elimination of these associated risks, plants benefit our health and well-being.  Living among interior plants mean fewer headaches and less sore throats.  It also means reduced coughing and reductions in skin irritation and fatigue.  In some studies, plants help people with reduced blood pressure and optimizes attention spans.

Plants also stabilize humidity levels.  Because of this ability, the people working and living with plants as part of the interior design plan are more comfortable overall.

Plants stimulate productivity and positive energy

A great interior design plan will take advantage of this final point.  Because of all of the reasons listed above, plants are by far the design element that have the most positive impact on humanity.  Visual connection with plants reduces stress and fatigue associated with extended concentration.  People refocus quicker after just a short “nature break” among plants.  This refocus is calming, gives time for taking a breath, slows down anxiety and centers you back on task.  For many, it becomes like visual music for the soul, with scientific proof behind the way it affects our brains.

In conclusion
Plants fill the need interior design elements in all types of settings.  Plants cost less than expensive art and because they are mobile, they have no impact on the cost of the structure.  They contribute to more than the interior design by cleaning our air, improving our health and stimulating our senses.  As living things, they touch us in ways that no other design element can because they simply fill our lives with the beauty of nature.  Experience Live Plants!


CLDNylenCindy Doorn-Nylen is the President and Owner of Docter's Interior Plantscaping, Inc.  She has
been working in the interior plantscaping industry since 1981.  She purchased the company 
in 1991.  She received her Certification in Plant Management & Design from the University of 
Illinois in 1994 and completed the Master Gardener Certification in 1996.  She is dedicated 
to providing clients with horticultural information and services that she would expect for 

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