Bright Ideas | Plant Power


Architect and designer Benjamin Massey believes in the power of the plant kingdom. While Massey’s talents are firmly rooted in residential architecture and interior design, this New Orleans native has a penchant for perennial plants and lush landscapes. “Greenery is beautiful and integral to our environment; however, in design, plants and flowers are sometimes overlooked,” says Massey. “Plants are a crucial element of design and an essential part of living well.” With a green thumb passed down from his Southern mama, Massey believes flora can resurrect and transform spaces. Over the last year, we’ve learned how our surroundings can pick us up or bring us down. With a fresh season upon us, the New Orleans- and New York-based architect suggests using a little plant feng shui to bring the outdoors in for vibrancy and life this spring.

Tip 1: Enhance a Room’s décor with plants. Without plants, the room is yet to come alive. Massey suggests looking at each room and assessing the light. This will help determine what kind of plants you pick. For instance, snake plants, maidenhair ferns, and ZZ plants need little sunlight, while fiddle-leaf figs, ponytail palms and hibiscus thrive in the sun. Choose plants specifically for each room. Then select unique pots and urns to break up a monotonous, store-bought feel, Massey says. Mix and match. Be creative.

Tip 2: Group potted plants into clusters. Arrange potted plants to create, what Massey calls,“the garden effect.” He says, “Rather than just placing one flower pot in a corner of a room, group three to five potted plants of various shapes and sizes together. It makes for a more interesting aesthetic, and is reminiscent of how a garden grows.”
Tip 3: Organize plants by windows. Not only will plants appreciate the light, but also the foliage will filter the sunshine to add shading and depth to each room. Rotate plants every few days or once a week, Gardepending on the plant, to ensure every side is nourished by the sun. A bonus, Massey adds, is that window plants can provide privacy from your neighbors.

Tip 4: Position greenery in front of mirrors. “Plants and mirrors are good friends,” Massey says. The architect suggests placing mirrors on walls, mantels, credenzas or on the floor. Then, to make it more interesting, arrange plants in front of the mirrors. “It creates a cool effect,” Massey says. “It visually doubles the amount of plants, adds dimension to each room and allows you to see plants from multiple angles.”

Tip 5: Fill your bathroom with foliage. When nature calls, be surrounded with greenery. “Bathrooms are actually a perfect place to nurture plants, as many plants thrive in warm, humid climates created by the moisture and steam of the shower,” Massey says. Guests delight in a bathroom bursting with foliage: It enlivens any space, no matter the size. Also, for an added health bonus, plants clean and freshen stale air.

To view Benjamin Massey’s architectural and design projects, or to get into touch with Massey, visit:


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