Find the Eclectic in Your Houseplants

We often become eclectic designers as we grow older. We gather items from our travels and things we like and then put them together in a design that is pleasing and unique to each of us. In the same way, we gather objects, we also gather houseplants, with each of them having their own unique qualities.

What is an eclectic design?

In a nutshell, eclectic design is a thoughtful display of patterns, textures and colours that cover various time periods and are as individual as the people who gather them. The key is to achieve balance with a range of vibrant colours, florals, prints and textures.

How to achieve it

There is much to learn about getting eclectic design to look harmonious and balanced, and sometimes it will happen by pure luck. The interplay between colour and pattern will often make it work. Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Use a consistent colour palette as a base tone throughout the space, and then add accent colours for energy and contrast. The thread of one colour in varying tones will keep it all cohesive.
  • To make sure that your pattern play does not end up looking chaotic, use scale – one pattern large with a smaller pattern next to it; mix up styles – vintage and modern together; use patterns as focal points – a patterned cushion rather than pattern the entire couch; add areas of rest where patterns are avoided; and remember that texture can be a pattern too.
  • Create a rich narrative by fusing furnishing from different style periods. It’s about telling stories with your pieces rather than clutter and allowing each piece to have its own story in history. Transitional objects are the key to bridging the new and old together – a lamp with classic lines and a vintage chair with modern upholstery are just some examples. Timeless pieces that tie it all together.
  • Texture is a great way to build an eclectic style, and it’s not only a velvet cushion or a steel table. Think about the warmth of wood, the coolness of glass, the patina of time on metal, the smoothness of silk, or matte versus the shine. Remember that too much is not always a good thing. Neutral colours and repetition are good ways to unite objects in a space.

The art of mixing and matching to achieve a unique look is a way to tell a story, a reflective journey that is both rewarding and full of personality. Write your own design story.

Eclectic plants as focal points

Here are a few houseplants that will fit nicely into an eclectic design style.

Polka Dot Begonia

Begonia maculata, with its distinctive, quirky foliage and white-to-silver dots on an olive-green background, is unique and perfectly positioned as an eclectic focal point. It will be a talking point on a coffee table or sideboard, where everyone can enjoy its remarkable form and turn the leaves over for a glimpse of burnt orange underneath.

Care notes

Mimic its tropical rainforest origins for the best results.

  • Partial or bright indirect light.
  • Water only when the 2-3cm of soil has dried out. Do not overwater; they are susceptible to root rot.
  • Normal room humidity or above is best.
  • Feed every 2 weeks in spring and summer with liquid plant food.

Coloured Arums

Zantedeschia sp, arums lilies, or calla lilies are all names for these hybridised arums known for their amazing flower colours. Rich dark purple, sunny yellow, tones of apricot and pearly pink are some rich colours that pair well in an eclectic design. They also have varied foliage, some plain dark green and others spotty.

Care notes

Our local lilies prefer growing near or sometimes in water; the potted varieties are similar.

  • Place in bright light with a bit of direct sunlight but not enough to scorch the leaves.
  • Keep these plants evenly moist and never let them dry out.
  • Feed regularly in the growing season with a liquid plant food.

These lilies can be grown outside in full sun as long as they are hardened off. In the garden, they will go dormant in winter.

Delicious Monster

The iconic Monstera deliciosa is one of the larger houseplants that fits the eclectic design idea. It has also become a symbol of a retro theme, which, mixed with a modern aesthetic, fits the bill too. Interestingly, the origins of this plant under the canopy of tropical rainforests brought about, over centuries, the Swiss cheese look of the leaves so as to get the sunlight to the rest of the plant.

Care notes

Find a good place for a monstera with plenty of space:

  • Bright indirect light is a must. They will adapt to medium light but will become leggy.
  • Water regularly, allowing the soil to dry out between watering.
  • Feed once a month with a liquid plant food.

These plants are grown by LVG Plants and are available from retail outlets and nurseries.

The Gardener