With the autumn months almost upon us, and outdoor gardens starting to fade from bloom, now might be the right time to bring the garden indoors. For those who’ve struggled to keep potted houseplants alive—or been looking for a unique way to add some color to their living environments—here are three customizable solutions that purify the air and invite in some creative flair.
Preserved Moss Wall Art
Maintenance level: None
Various shades and textures of moss interact in a dynamic, framed artwork, custom-created for your space by Beth Tirapelli and Mari Breitenbach, co-owners of Urban Garden Studio in Danville. "The nice thing about moss is that you don’t have to have a green thumb," Tirapelli says. "Once it’s put up, you don’t have to do anything; there’s literally no maintenance." That’s because the moss has been naturally preserved to maintain its look and feel through the years. The designers can make moss art in any size or shape, build an elaborate (or basic) reclaimed-wood frame for it, and tailor the whole piece to your environment. urbangardenstudio.com.
Maintenance level: Low
Rather than a traditional potted houseplant, consider a different type of presentation, such as a glass-walled terrarium (pictured above) or hanging air planter. Sloat Garden Center, with five locations across the East Bay, creates custom planters for clients who want their greenery to blend with—or stand out from—their decor. Alexandra Friedman, the head of community outreach at Sloat’s Pleasant Hill location, has even made planters out of client-provided seashells and hand-carved woods. She notes that terrariums and air plants—which derive most of their nutrients from the atmosphere—are particularly low-maintenance, only requiring watering once a week and clipping and grooming once a year. Sloat also offers workshops to help people design their own arrangements, as well as plant-care classes. "We are dedicated to helping our guests succeed with plants," Friedman says. "It’s more than selling a planter; we make sure it’s the right one to fit their lifestyle and tastes." sloatgardens.com.
Maintenance level: Moderate
Looking for a vibrant vertical installation that changes and evolves over time? Emeryville’s Planted Design specializes in living walls, encompassing many different types of plants, for indoor and outdoor spaces. "Based on the environment where the wall will live, we select plants from hundreds of species," explains Amanda Goldberg, the company’s founder and CEO. "We consider color, texture, pattern, fragrance, and size in order to achieve the greatest aesthetic effect." These installations require water, sunlight, and occasional pruning; however, Planted Design can recommend irrigation systems and offers maintenance packages and education programs to support the living wall’s needs. For those who aren’t ready to commit, the company offers customizable living-wall rentals, too. planteddesign.com.
Plants aren’t the only way to add color or visual interest to your home.
By Sonia Mahajan
Oakland Art Library
The Oakland Art Library is the Netflix of art—that is, the old Netflix, where subscribers would get a movie in the mail and return it after watching. Founded by Luke Fraser of Bart Bridge clothing, the library allows members to borrow artworks for a month, return them, try a new piece for the following month, and so on. With this singular service, wowing guests with the ever-changing aesthetics on your walls has never been so easy. Art lovers are given the opportunity to peruse the gallery—situated inside the Trending Inn in downtown Oakland—every third Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. oaklandartlibrary.com.
Bay Area Toile wallpaper
The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone, Andy Samberg, and Akiva Schaffer have made people laugh since their days at Berkeley High, but several years ago they added "wallpaper commissioners" to their résumé. The group channeled their Bay Area love into a unique wallpaper design depicting local luminaries—including Alice Waters, Angela Davis, and former KTVU anchor (and Pleasanton resident) Dennis Richmond—and landmarks such as Children’s Fairyland and the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland. Hayward native Matt Ritchie hand-drew the wallpaper’s repeating design in a French toile style (toile meaning "linen cloth") using Flavor Paper’s signature "ballpoint blue" hue. The result may not be ideal to cover the whole house with, but it certainly makes a small space pop—and highlights the homeowner’s Bay Area pride. Check it out in person on the walls of the San Francisco restaurant Fiorella. flavorpaper.com.
Color and Paint Analysis
Using the right colors throughout a home is essential for bringing it to life, but not all of us have the intuition of a painter. Luckily, the experts at the Walnut Creek interior design firm First Impressions provide assistance to homeowners trying to select a color palette. They evaluate rooms, taking not just walls but also furniture, window treatments, and accessories into consideration. The First Impressions team gives clients the chance to be thoroughly involved with the color- and paint-selection process, or have the designers take over after a palette is approved. As the company puts it, color has the ability to alter a room’s mood by the slightest shade. frstimpressions.com/color-paint-analysis.