It was our architect who first came up with the idea.
‘We want to build cupboards all the way across this wall,’ she said, tapping her pen on the floor plans, ‘but what do you think of keeping an open area of recessed shelving in the centre? We can backlight it, and create a beautiful display area.’
OH and I looked at each other excitedly; we’d never had something as grown up as a display area before.
The cupboards were being installed in the new space our side extension had created, almost as soon as the units began to go in we could envisage how great it was going look.
Five-and-a-half months after our renovations began (have a nosey at the before, during and after photos), we had our dream open-plan kitchen-diner, complete with new display shelves lit by under-shelf spotlights. Now I just had to fill them with the perfect objets d’art.
Which, as it turned out, was easier said than done.
Because, weeks after the work had been completed, I still had absolutely no clue how to fill the shelves. We retrieved all our stuff from storage, but once all the boxes had been unpacked I realised we didn’t really have any classy knick-knacks. I’d moved countries twice – the second time to the other side of the globe – then lived in four houses in as many years, which made it pretty hard to accumulate stuff.
Then we bought our London flat and had two babies in two years, and then there was no point buying nice things, because they’d only have been dribbled on and broken. Before we renovated we had no space, then fast-forward eight years and we had all these lovely display shelves, but nothing nice to put on them.
I had loads of framed photos so tried putting some of them up there, but they just looked a bit drab. I left the shelves empty for a few weeks, hoping that inspiration would strike me, and the one day it did.
CREATING OUR LIVING PLANT WALL
I had a couple of pot plants I’d managed to sneak past OH (who’d always had a strange aversion to houseplants), so I gathered them all up, moved them to the shelves and took a step back. Straight away I loved the way the green looked against the shades of grey.
Suddenly I could see it in my mind – of a living plant wall of lush greenery, a softening counterbalance to the sleek industrial design we’d chosen for our kitchen-diner.
Over the next few months I put ‘The Plant Plan’ into action, buying two or three each month from sites like Waitrose Garden and Bakker.com, as well as from my favourite local florist. Each one varied, depending on the type of plant and pot cover, but I usually spent around £12 – £15 on each combination, and never more than £20.
I wanted the wall to look a bit wild and unkempt, rather than perfectly manicured, so made sure to choose different looking plants each time – a hanging plant, then a succulent, then a cactus, etc… I also chose pot covers in all different shapes and patterns, so there was a real mishmash of looks.
I kept waiting for OH to stage a pot plant protest, but he didn’t say anything, so I kept buying… two plants turned into four… four into eight… eight into 20… The shelves were filling up nicely and (most of) the plants were thriving, and I loved the way the living wall was growing and evolving.
Then, one day, I noticed OH staring at it – was he going to demand it be dismantled?! ‘You know,’ he started, ‘I love all those plants; in fact, that wall is probably my favourite part of this room… ‘
Could. Not. Be. Happier (as an aside, I took his comment as carte blanche permission to go completely plant crazy, and the house is now beginning to resemble a tropical rainforest).
It hasn’t all been I’ve had to figure out the personality of each plant baby (who demands daily water love, who prefers to be left to photosynthesise in private), and I won’t lie – there have been some botanical casualties along the way.
Overall, however, the living plant wall has been a huge success and visitors are always commenting on it – in fact, two separate people have told me it has inspired them start building their own!
It’s the perfect, quirky design element to complete our kitchen-diner, helps to convert all that pesky carbon dioxide, and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s turned out.
Inspired to raise your own plant baby? Read about How to Propagate your own Monstera from a Cutting