Going Green: Home Décor with Plants

There are so many reasons to incorporate houseplants into your design scheme: they enhance oxygen and purify the air, they can improve attentiveness and focus, most of all, they’re just plain pretty.

Home décor with plants is stylish and easier than you might think – just see our decorating tips below.

Place an orchid in the bathroom -- it naturally soaks up the added steam and humidity. (Photo via Euphoric Feng Shui)

Place an orchid in the bathroom — it naturally soaks up the added steam and humidity. (Photo via Euphoric Feng Shui)

Transform a corner with an air purifying plant.

Large fig (ficus) trees are some of the most purifying plants you can bring into your home, and because of their size, they’re a great way to brighten up a corner.

Instead of placing an occasional chair in an empty corner, try a fiddle leaf fig tree in an attractive ceramic pot.

A Rubber Tree is another variety of ficus that looks great indoors due to its glossy, thick leaves.

Decorate a desk with succulents.

Have an at-home office space? Beautify it with low-maintenance succulent plants that require very little watering.

Depending on which vessel you choose to house the plant, you can achieve different types of décor. Try a rustic terracotta pot for a traditional look, or opt for a high-gloss, pure white ceramic pot for a minimalist and modern feel.

You can also make your own terrarium for a similar effect.

Make plants moveable.

We’ve already discussed how a large fig tree can bring life (literally!) to a corner – but what if you want to move it to another room later on?

A rolling plant caddy is an easy and affordable solution.

Beautify the bathroom with orchids.

There’s nothing quite like a long, hot shower at the end of a long day. Take advantage of all that humidity by placing a beautiful orchid in the bathroom.

Orchids love steamy environments, so they’ll thrive in the bathroom while also adding a pop of color.

Remember, these plants also enjoy light, so move them to a light-filled room from time to time if needed.

Try a topiary.

Rows of topiaries look great on the mantle, particularly for those who prefer a romantic or traditional design style.

Live ivy topiaries are affordable and reasonably low-maintenance – as they grow, they give off a whimsical, fairytale ambience.

You can also copy the look with faux topiaries (we won’t tell!).

P.S. What if you’re worried your thumb isn’t so green?

Check out our definitive guide to caring for indoor plants.

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Decorate with Pantone Colors of the Year 2016

Each year, Pantone picks a new color bound to serve as inspiration for interior looks or even clothes and makeup. But for 2016, the international color-matching company couldn’t choose just one. For the first time, they picked two colors: Serenity, a peaceful, wisteria blue shade, and Rose Quartz, a pale and warm rosy hue. The two shades are at opposite ends of the color wheel, making them complementary colors. While they’re a little trickier to incorporate into design schemes than, say, the 2015 Color of the Year, Marsala, we still have some ideas on how you can spruce up your space with a bit of Serenity and Rose Quartz (sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?). They’re surprisingly versatile across any room in the house – just check out our guide below.

The Pantone 2016 colors of the year, Rose Quartz and Serenity. (Photo via Pantone.com)

The Pantone 2016 colors of the year, Rose Quartz and Serenity. (Photo via Pantone.com)

How to Decorate with Pantone Colors of the Year, Serenity and Rose Quartz

Kitchen

Serenity

Studies show that blue dishware can actually deter overeating, so think of Serenity as your big chance for a blue plate special. We love this pale blue dishware for so many reasons: it’s microwave safe and nicely fits both rustic and transitional design styles.

Rose Quartz

This subtle pink hue is warm and relaxed – exactly the way you feel when you’re in your home kitchen. We like this ethereal table runner, which would look beautiful across a countertop (and, frankly, even as a scarf!).

Living Room

The "Pink Moon" print from West Elm features both Pantone colors of the year. (Photo via West Elm)

The “Pink Moon” print from West Elm features both Pantone colors of the year. (Photo via West Elm)

Serenity & Rose Quartz Artwork

Why not get a two-for-one dose of the colors of the year with selected, affordable artworks that incorporate both shades? Because of their complementary positions on the color spectrum, they work with a range of existing shades and serve to really pop when paired together. West Elm has two affordable prints we’re loving: Pink Noise gives a graphic and modern feel while incorporating darker hues, and Pink Moon features painterly strokes and a splash of deep red (hello again, Marsala!).

Bedroom

Serenity

This blue hue is one of the most calming we can think of, which is ideal for the bedroom. Use it in bed linens like these, or add just a touch of color with a beautiful accent like this ombre velvet pillow.

This pillow is pricey, but features real, hand-applied quartz for a literal take on the trend. (Photo via abchome.com)

This pillow is pricey but features real, hand-applied quartz for a literal take on the trend. (Photo via abchome.com)

Rose Quartz

This hue is also well-suited to the bedroom, particularly if you prefer a romantic or rustic-country decorating style. Use these lush curtains from West Elm to add to the romantic look, or if you’d like to splurge, do it on one amazing piece: this pillow from ABC Carpet & Home features real quartz hand-pressed into it for a literal take on the trend (Urban Outfitters offers a similar style for a much lower price).

Bathroom

Serenity

Our top pick for where to incorporate this hue in the bathroom might be a bit surprising – a bath mat! It’s a bit deeper than the rose quartz hue, which means it hides stains better. It also extends a calming, relaxing, and eclectic vibe similar to a European spa.

Rose Quartz

Take the trend figuratively and choose rose-scented products. This multi-use hand and body soap has a bold, graphic pattern and a beautiful scent. You can also browse rose-scented products from L’Occitane and Bath & Body Works.

 

Holiday Gift Guide: What to Buy for Your First Apartment

If you’ve just moved into a new place, first things first: check out our First Apartment Essentials list and Moving Checklist. After you’ve sifted through these resources, your next step is decidedly more fun – it’s time to decorate! With the holidays coming up, we’ve put together a gift guide on what to buy for your first apartment. Share it with family members or use it yourself to help create a chic, inviting space at home.

For the Entryway

monogrammed-tray

A monogrammed tray is a great place to place mail and keys. (Photo courtesy West Elm)

Pretty storage. Ask for unique pieces like a monogrammed trayhooks, or a small side table so you have somewhere to place your keys and mail as soon as you walk in the door. Attractive storage helps alleviate clutter and create a streamlined – yet decorative – look.

For the Living Room

An area rug. Bringing color and comfort to your space is as easy as purchasing an area rug. Choose a neutral color scheme or pick a bright hue that complements your existing decor.

Artwork. Framed artwork instantly pulls your space together. Look for one oversized piece, or hang several together in a gallery-style arrangement.

Mirrors. Similar to artwork, mirrors provide that extra decorative pop on walls. The bonus? They’re much easier to gift than artwork – no mulling over which print to pick out or whether to choose something traditional or modern! Mirrors also maximize space by reflecting light, doubling their impact on a blank wall. Ask for a hanging mirror or a jumbo-sized one to lean casually against a wall (you may want to mount it for extra security, especially if you have pets or small children).

Throw pillows. Pillows are an easy way to add bright pops of color and texture; they can easily change the whole look of your couch or other upholstered items. As local interior designer Whitney Jones shared with us, “Pillows are a really good way to update a space and make an apartment look totally different without spending too much money.” Anthropologie, West Elm, and Target all have a wide selection of beautiful throw pillows.

For the Bedroom

Bedding. High thread counts are extra-sumptuous but can be pricey. Asking for high-end bedding as a gift helps cover the cost and treat yourself to something you’ll use every single night.

Throw pillows. For all the awesome reasons why, scroll up to the “For the Living Room” section!

For the Kitchen

kitchenaid-blender

KitchenAid blenders are a high-quality kitchen tool that will last for years. (Photo courtesy KitchenAid)

A blender. You can find them for $20, but when you have to replace them over and over, is it really worth the deal? Ask for a nice, name-brand blender, and you’ll be making smoothies and milkshakes for years to come.

Pans. Quality is key here. Non-stick saute pans from brands like Calphalon are expensive but will last and last. You can also look for a black steel skillet, which combines facets of cast iron and stainless steel into one seamless piece.

Knives. Just like pans, quality determines price. Extra-sharp knives do the work for you, tackling laborious kitchen tasks like chopping and cutting with ease. A chef’s knife and a serrated knife should cover most of your needs.

5 No-Money Apartment Makeover Ideas

The Internet makes it easy to shop from home, or you can take it old-school and turn on the television to watch QVC. But why not actually shop at home – as in, using the things you already own for a whole new look. Learn how to borrow from other rooms of the house below. You can give your apartment a fresh new look with some creative “shopping” – just make these five easy swaps from room to room.

Chair

Where it is now: The dining space or office

Where it should go: The bathroom

Why: Adding a chair to the bathroom instantly gives the space a chic, spa-like feel. You can also use it as added storage – place a stack of fluffy towels on it, or a tray topped with bath products and an orchid. Even if you never actually sit in it, the effect remains: your bathroom will feel more like a destination and a sanctuary than ever before.

chair bathroom

A chair in the bathroom makes an unexpected statement. (Photo via decorpad.com)

Bar Cart

Where it is now: The dining space

Where it should go: The bedroom, the office space, the living room, the kitchen – anywhere!

Why: Bar carts are incredibly versatile and offer streamlined, portable storage. Fill one with books and nighttime accessories like lip-balm or hand cream for a unique bedside table, or try it in the living room filled with your favorite magazines. In the kitchen, stock it with pantry essentials or cookbooks. For your home office space, you can fill with necessary items like notepads, reference books (dictionaries or encyclopedias), mason jars filled with pens, and more.

bar cart nighstand

A bar cart is surprisingly at home in the bedroom when used as a nightstand. (Photo via mkandcompanyinteriordesign.com)

Dresser

Where it is now: The bedroom

Where it should go: The living room

Why: Use a dresser for storage in the living room just as you would for clothes in the bedroom. It provides the look of a console when topped with a TV and decorative elements like potted plants, picture frames, and a candle.

dresser living room

Put a bedroom dresser in the living room for a console-like effect. (Photo: blindsforslidingdoor.com)

Bookcase

Where it is now: The bedroom or office space

Where it should go: The kitchen

Why: We make sure our properties offer plenty of cabinet space, but some kitchen items are just too pretty to keep hidden! Place your attractive kitchen items like cookbooks, beautiful bowls, or vases on a bookshelf for major visual impact (and added storage).

bookcase

A bookcase in the kitchen can hold tools, spices, recipe books, and more. (Photo via Pinterest)

Loveseat

Where it is now: The living room

Where it should go: The dining space

Why: Give your dining space the vibe of a high-end restaurant when you swap chairs on one side of the table for a loveseat. This works best with a settee-style loveseat that has a high back and sits higher up, but you can always test it out and see what works – experimenting is half the fun!

loveseat

A loveseat in the dining room is an unexpected twist on seating. (Photo via robertblinfors.blogspot.com)

 

The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Indoor Plants

Looking to add a little green in your life? We've got the ultimate guide to caring for indoor plants! Head to 1stlake.com to learn about the best types of indoor plants, plus tips for caring for them. Foliage in your apartment can really make a space feel fresh and with the right indoor plants, you can literally purify the air in your home.

A little greenery can make a big impact and brighten up the room, but caring for houseplants can be tricky. After all, they are living, breathing beings, and each one is different.

These tips can help you approach the task responsibly so that you can enjoy beautiful indoor plants in your apartment for years to come.

Choose The Right Type of Indoor Plant

Different plants have different needs, and some plants are better for indoors than others. Some plants that tend to flourish in apartments include Cast Iron Plants, Chinese Evergreens, Philodendron varieties, Peace Lilies, Orchids, and Snake Plants.

Air Purifying Plants

Houseplants aren’t just pleasing to the eye; many also serve a beneficial function such as purifying air. NASA has even executed studies on common household air pollutants and found that certain household plants filter a stunning amount of toxins.

Ficus plants are at the top of the chart when examining air purifying qualities. Plants of this family include the Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica) and Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina).

Other beneficial plants that will thrive in New Orleans’ climate include the Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia), Caladium, Spider Plants (Chlorophytum), ivy, and ferns.

If your apartment gets little light, choose a plant with low light requirements such as an Umbrella Tree (Schefflera), Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue – also known as Snake Plant – (Sansevieria trifasciata).

Beneficial Flowering Plants

For filtering and fragrance, choose a flowering plant to improve indoor air quality. Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum), for example, can filter toxic benzene. Persian Violets (Cyclamen), African Violets (Saintpaulia), and Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus Tazetta) perform similar functions, serving to sift dangerous chemicals from the air.

Chrysanthemum, too, are excellent purifiers. A study by NASA in the late 1980s indicated that a single chrysanthemum filtered more than 60 percent of toxic formaldehyde from a small room in just 24 hours.

Low Maintenance Houseplants

The best houseplants are pretty while are deceptively easy to keep alive. Philodendrons only require moderate light and water levels, so no need to frequently water or worry about light exposure. Not only do ponytail palms sound cute, but they look cute too, and only need watering once every one or two weeks.

The snake plant (also called mother-in-law’s tongue or its formal name Sansevieria trifasciata) is another great indoor plant that is virtually impossible to kill. With a little TLC every now and then, this houseplant can grow in almost any indoor condition.

Print this free indoor garden pocket guide to herbs and vegetables. It will come in handy when you're shopping at the garden center! Head to 1stlake.com to learn about the best types of indoor plants, plus tips for caring for them.

Herbs and Vegetables for Indoor Gardens

Grow delicious herbs and vegetables year-round in your indoor garden. A freshly harvested tomato will add some extra zing to your salads, and a sprig of fresh mint is the perfect addition to any cocktail. Print out our handy pocket guide from 1st Lake Properties for easy reference. 

Poisonous Houseplants

As many great houseplants as there are to choose from, there are also some to avoid as to not put any pets or small children in danger. Many are only poisonous if ingested, but be on the lookout for these different species when shopping for houseplants.

10 Houseplants For Pet Owners To Avoid:

  • Anthurium
  • Calla Lily
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Elephant Ear
  • English Ivy
  • Oleander
  • Philodendron
  • Schefflera
  • Spathiphyllum

A great solution for pet owners is to grow wheatgrass at home: it’s safe for pets, cats love it, and it even helps to neutralize pet odors!

You might also want to try making a terrarium, to keep the plants away from prying paws.

Need more help deciding what type of plant to choose? Bookmark our handy infographic:

Looking to add a little green in your life? We've got the ultimate guide to caring for indoor plants! Head to 1stlake.com to learn about the best types of indoor plants, plus tips for caring for them.

Picked Your Houseplant? Start Planting!

Now that you’ve determined the right types of plants for your apartment lifestyle, it’s time to plant them and get them set up in your home.

Pick The Right Type of Pot

Obviously, you’ll want to choose a beautiful pot that matches the rest of your apartment’s décor. But choosing the right type of pot is about more than just how it looks.

All pots should have at least one hole on the bottom. You’ll need to pair your pot with a tray underneath to catch any water. Line the tray with about an inch of aquarium gravel – this will help disperse the water and help it evaporate. You never want a plant to sit in water, because the plant’s roots will rot if they sit in water for too long.

If you are placing your plant on a wooden or painted surface, be sure to use a trivet underneath the tray to avoid condensation that can damage wood and paint.

Sunlight

All photosynthetic organisms need light to live and grow, but some need more than others. Depending on the direction your window faces, you’ll be able to get more or less sunlight.

This light can be measured in what are called foot-candles, with each foot-candle representing the light on a square foot of surface 12 inches from a single candle. A plant requiring “Low” light needs around 50 foot-candles, but “High” light plants require around 200 foot-candles of light to flourish.

When living in an apartment, you’ll want to find plants that grow well in indirect or filtered light conditions if your window faces north or south. Once you’ve picked a plant, make sure you know its sunlight needs to place it accordingly.  If possible, place your plant near a window.

If the sunlight coming through your window is very intense, you may need to position your plant about 12 inches away from the window. You can determine if the window is too hot or too cold by putting your hand there – if you place your hand on the window in the summer, and your hand gets hot quickly, it’s probably too hot for the plant. If the window gets very cold in the winter, move your plant further indoors to keep it warmer.

Rotate your plants periodically so that all of the parts of the plant get some sunlight.

Watering Your Plants

Regular watering is important for plants, but you never want to over-water.

For most plants, you’ll want to water them until you see water emerge from the bottom of the pot. (This is why you should always use pots that have at least one hole in the bottom!)

Make sure that your plant has good drainage, as well, so the roots don’t rot. Make sure to include something underneath the pot to catch any drips and condensation.

Spritzing the leaves with water can be just as important as watering the roots, depending on the type of plant you have.

Large plants in larger pots need to be watered less regularly than small plants in small pots, which dry out more quickly.

Often, tropical plants do well inside, so in the winter, when the weather can be drier, you’ll want to treat your tropical indoor plants to the shower steam in the bathroom every so often.

Too busy to water your plants often? Look for plants that don’t need to be watered regularly, like succulents and cacti.

Have trouble remembering to water your plants regularly? Set a recurring reminder for yourself on your smartphone’s calendar, ensuring that you water your houseplants regularly.

Clean Your Plants

Cleaning your plants might sound silly, but indoors, dust get can get everywhere, and to keep your plants healthy, you’ll want to make sure to keep them clean.

Wipe down their leaves, prune them as needed, and make sure they are dust free. They will look more beautiful and live longer that way.

Keep an eye out for pests, like spider mites, whitefly, scale and mealy bugs.

Pest Control Tips

To keep pesky insects from snacking on, or living in, household plants, try an organic solution before rushing out to buy harmful chemicals.

One way to keep the buggies away is to pack used coffee grounds around the base of a plant, as insects are deterred by the bitter but nutrient-rich waste.

If you’re not a java fan, mix Cayenne pepper and water in a spray bottle and spritz the leaves and stems of houseplants to keep pests away.

Where To Buy Indoor Plants in New Orleans

Of course you can go to the national home improvement chains to pick up plants, but a city like New Orleans also offers plenty of locally-owned options to shop for houseplants of all shapes and sizes. Here are just a few of our favorites:

Perino’s Garden Center

Perino’s Garden Center in Metairie offers a variety of houseplants, not to mention furniture and seasonal decorations.

  • 3100 Veterans
  • Metairie, LA 70002
  • (504)  834-7888

The Plant Gallery

The Plant Gallery, located on Airline Highway, features plenty of indoor plants and home decor.

  • 9401 Airline Highway
  • New Orleans, Louisiana 70118
  • (504) 488-8887

Laughing Buddha Nursery

Laughing Buddha Nursery in Metairie offers a holistic approach to gardening, with organic gardening gear including composted soil they make in-house.

  • 4516 Clearview Pkwy
  • Metairie, LA 70006
  • (504) 887-4336

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