Decorating with artificial plants is no longer limited to the realm of tacky doctor's office waiting rooms. Artificial plants add color, texture, warmth and interest to your space without the hassle of watering, the mess of re-potting and questions about how to handle pests and disease. Additionally, you can put artificial plants in dark spaces where living plants would quickly die, such as windowless bedrooms, dim interior dining rooms and fluorescent-lit office buildings. As for selection, today's artificial plants go way beyond plastic roses dotted with drops of "dew" made of clear glue. Look for sculptural pieces such as a collection of cream-colored ceramic cacti, origami stems handcrafted from bark, cute quilted fabric daisies on ribbon chains and even faux houseplants with a sense of humor, such as versions crafted from neon lighting or photographs turned into wall decals.
Artificial trees are not what they used to be. Find high quality versions of ficus, hibiscus and other standards that look so natural you do not initially notice that they are made of fabric, wood and synthetics. Artificial trees are best for high-traffic areas and special occasions such as large parties where quantity and a feeling of lushness is the goal. Use them to soften conference rooms. Cover them in holiday lighting for an enchanted evening soiree. A child's bedroom is also an excellent place for a faux tree; attach crafted birds to nests in the crooks of the branches and hang stuffed monkeys up high for a happy and evocative playspace.
Vines of hot pink, red and yellow dollar-store rosebuds can add to the cheery feeling in a 1950s-style vintage kitchen. Wind the vines around curtain rods or attach them to the front edges of open shelving if you want a kitschy, playful space that is unpretentious and sweet.
Tissue paper flower chains in Mexican colors can enhance an eclectic living room or add vibrancy to a birthday dinner. Make them yourself for a meditative project or with children as a group craft. All-red flowers are ideal for a Valentine's Day baby shower, or to drape around an all-white cracked and water-stained bathroom that needs serious help but that you don't yet have the budget to revive from the ground up.
Chains of silk sunflowers are adorable when you drape them as garlands in a child's bedroom. They look especially garden-sunny against walls painted grass green.
Porcelain cacti are one of many modern artists' takes on the artificial plant idea. Visit small independent home boutiques, online retailers and large home accessory stores alike to track down unusual high-end pieces that give the organic shape you want from houseplants and the taste level you want in a modern home.
Elegant origami flowers made from rice paper or even from old brown paper shopping bags are a natural and enduring centerpiece for a wooden side table. Get oversized versions and place them in an antique metal water pitcher for an arts and crafts feel in a bungalow. Find carved wooden flowers at craft fairs. A single hand-carved and painted wooden orchid holds its own on a desk in a guest bedroom, and you never have to coax it to bloom.
Cut stems of fabric poppies last longer than the real thing. If they're one of your favorite blooms, install a vase full on top of a painted wooden hutch and you'll have Italian countryside chic all year-round. Tropical blooms in plastic or synthetics are essential for a tiki-themed basement, along with bamboo wallpaper, a faux palm tree and a stuffed parrot. You can also scatter wall-decals of Gerbera daisies on the tiles of your kitchen backsplash.
One white plastic window box brimming with unnaturally bright plastic flowers on the window of your shade-drenched garage is definitely not the statement for the average homeowner, but if you are an artistic spirit, you might see the potential for these synthetics to bring light to a dark corner and make an over-the-top statement that will make even the most conservative neighbors smile.
Vases of branches can add a vertical element to the corner of a living room or bedroom. Choose very tall artificial branches for drama. Spraypaint them an unnatural color such as neon pink to create a post-modern art piece. Hang necklaces or ties from branches attached horizontally to the wall for functional art with a forest vibe.
For a bombastic dressing room, mix bold, floppy silk flowers with purple feathers, glittery blue ferns and faux blue berries and put them in a gilded Chinese vase. Add and add is the ethos for this use of artificial plants. Lots of holiday lighting, a vintage vanity and a collection of kimonos are the natural setting for this look.