Interior designers spend time and money on the finishing touches that bring a room’s design together. Simple additions like living plants and fresh cut flowers can add a sense of calm and breathe life into a room’s design. But these are all too often ignored.

Over the last decade a lot of research has shown that indoor plants not only beautify interior spaces, but they also make them a healthier and more productive place to live in.

Research sponsored by NASA has shown that plants such as the bamboo palm and Madonna lilies can reduce the levels of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. Other chemical absorbing varieties include ivy, spider plants, palms, dracaena, peace lilies and dieffenbachia. They can also improve the humidity inside buildings by up to 20 per cent and help remove pollutants such as cigarette smoke.

A lot of work has also been done by researchers to show that people feel better about an indoor space with greenery than they do about one without. People were shown to be more relaxed, which can reduce stress and blood pressure. They have many psychological benefits.

Health benefits aside, it is the effect of living plants on interior design that is equally impressive. Lush, healthy houseplants add natural colour, texture and life to any interior setting. A sterile-looking or dull room can instantly be brought to life with the addition of a well-placed potted plant.

Plants can be used in every room of your home, but make sure you check their lighting and watering needs, as well as their temperament, before placing them.
In the kitchen: place an herb garden on the sunny sill over your sink. Plant a small peace lily in a contemporary pot and arrange in threes along the counter top. Small pots always look better placed in threes.

In the bathroom: place an African violet on top of the toilet cistern. Orchids love the humidity your shower creates and they add beauty and sophistication to your bathroom. Try hanging a spider plant in front of the window or in the corner of the room.

In the bedroom: placing a potted peace lily on either side of your bed is one of the best ways to bring in oxygen and remove the carbon monoxide you generate by breathing.

In the living or dining room: put a pair of trailing ivy in sculptural or contemporary pots and place either side of your mantel piece. If you have a real fire, these will help to absorb any gas residue or carbon monoxide. The end of a table and coffee tables are ideal locations for displaying plants in unusual containers. There’s always an
empty corner that can be softened by a tall palm or fig tree.

Placing healthy, living plants around your home is also good feng shui. Practitioners recommend that only healthy, living plants and flowers should be brought into the home. Any dried or artificial flowers or plants are considered to be bad feng shui.