MilkWeed: Plants Need Not All Be Green

Editor’s note: Please welcome our newest contributor, Kara Bartelt of kara b. studio and toHOLD. She will be taking over the MilkWeed column, which focuses on how to incorporate modern plants in and around your home, garden trends, plant care, and more. Learn more about Kara on our About page.

I love concrete, glass and steel as much as the next modernist, but too much black, white and gray make a boring home. When I saw filmmakers Guy Mossman and Lisa Hepner’s modern hillside home on Mount Washington in Los Angeles, I knew I had met kindred spirits. Guy and Lisa moved from Brooklyn in 2010, purchasing a “fixer-upper” and went about the daunting task of finishing and furnishing a bare glass and steel box. Long stairwells and landings line the home inside and out, so Guy and Lisa created colorful compositions with an assortment of Gainey ceramics pots.

Each time I visit their home, I find the pots move finding new friends and groupings. Staging them on landings, on decks allows the space to change with the landscape’s shape and season.

As the perfect blank canvas, a modern home can take red, yellow, orange, blue in a variety of hues, shapes and sizes. Not plant people themselves, Guy & Lisa followed their cinematic tendencies and created visually interesting compositions and contrast within and around the property. They mixed and matched succulents with more attention to creating opposites than similarities. As the plants grown and, um, move on…, they simply pop a new one in its place. A new character comes on stage.

One of my favorite features in the home is this collection of pots poised outside a transom window. Thesucculents outside take minimal watering, so even though they are always in eye’s view they don’t need to be constantly tended or perfectly maintained.

So don’t shy away from brightening up your own modern home – mix and match colored pots from IKEA, Home Depot or even paint your own pots yourself. Don’t know what paint chip to pick? Check out Pantone’s color trends for fall and head to your local paint store. Just don’t be afraid of a little color.

Kara Bartelt is a design strategist in practice at kara b. studio. Kara enjoys the design process on all scales via her architectural practice, Lettuce Office, or by creating botanical art with air plants, via toHOLD. She wishes at 11:11 each day at Kara writes the Design Milk column, MilkWeed.