Lush Green Plants Bring Life to Neutrals
Jun 11
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Embracing the Neutral Plant Lady Lifestyle

Are you someone who gravitates towards lush greenery and neutral palettes? Do you find yourself drawn to textures, shapes, and quality over vibrant pops of color? If so, you might just be a “Neutral Plant Lady” – and there’s nothing wrong with that! In fact, embracing this minimalist yet dynamic aesthetic can transform even the most mundane landscape into a serene oasis.

As the founder of Sofa Spectacular, a custom sofa company in the UK, I’ve witnessed firsthand how the right combination of neutral plants can breathe new life into any space. It all started when I launched my design business, Fawn Renae Designs, with the goal of bridging the gap between interior and exterior style. I wanted to take those boring, monotonous landscapes and turn them into something my clients could truly enjoy.

Uncovering the Neutral Plant Lady’s Aesthetic

During my design process, I begin by asking a series of questions to better understand my clients and their style preferences. One of the most telling questions is, “What colors give you life?” For the Neutral Plant Lady, the answer is likely a resounding, “Cooler tones like greens, whites, purples, and blues.” Once we’ve determined the color palette, I can start crafting a landscape that aligns with their aesthetic and creates a sense of peace and tranquility.

Take, for example, the case of my client Claire. When she came to me for a total transformation of her English Tudor-style home, she knew she wanted a neutral color palette. She loved different leaf textures, shapes, and styles, but she couldn’t stand bright or loud plants. My team and I got to work, selecting varieties that would thrive in her Zone 7 garden with partial sun exposure.

Layering Neutral Textures and Shapes

Since Claire wanted to see the red brick on her home painted white, we decided to start with larger plants next to the foundation to act as anchors for the landscape. Then, we layered in more plants like Gardenias and PeeWee Oakleaf Hydrangeas to add depth and interest.

The existing landscape already had great height from the large oak trees, so we added Limelight Hydrangea Trees to draw the eye back towards the front entrance without being overpowering. I love incorporating larger-leaved plants like Hostas and Heucheras into a neutral scheme because they add so much character and charm.

To balance the bold foliage, we chose smaller blooms that offered hints of white and purple, such as Caryopteris, Astilbes, Lenten Rose, and Iris. And to create a whimsical, free-flowing effect, we selected low-maintenance plants that sway gently in the breeze, like Blue Fescue and Oakleaf Hydrangea.

The Power of “Plant by Numbers”

Each design from my team at Fawn Renae Designs includes a numbered plant list, which we affectionately call “plant by numbers.” It’s the same concept as those paint-by-numbers activities you loved as a kid – you get the design image with a number on each plant and a corresponding plant list. This ensures that every plant is carefully selected by a horticulturist to thrive in the specific growing conditions of the client’s yard.

For Claire’s landscape, we made sure to include a mix of evergreens, perennials, and deciduous shrubs to provide year-round interest. While the dormant plants may lose their leaves in the winter, the evergreen ferns and Gardenias will stand strong, ensuring the space maintains its charm even during the colder months.

Combating the Green Reflection

One common challenge that the Neutral Plant Lady often faces is the dreaded “green reflection” problem. When you have lush greenery surrounding your home, it can sometimes cast a sickly green hue onto your neutral-toned walls and furnishings. I’ve personally experienced this dilemma, and I know just how frustrating it can be.

Take Tricia, for example. As the eDesign Director at my company, she’s been obsessing over her living room and how the green from outside is turning her lovely shade of cream into a lime-sickly green. She’s tried sampling a variety of colors, but she really just wants the room to be a clean, creamy white – not greenish.

Maria Killam, a color expert, had the perfect solution for Tricia: add more orange undertones to the paint color to help counteract the green reflection. After testing a few shades, they landed on a beautiful creamy white called “Wedding Cake” by C2 Paint, which perfectly balanced the cool shadows and warm sunlight streaming in from the large windows.

Finding the Right Neutral Balance

The key to conquering the green reflection is all about finding the right neutral balance. As Tricia explains, if you add too much orange, you’ll end up with a peach-toned living room in the winter when the green reflection is gone. But with the right amount of warmth, you can create a space that feels light, bright, and airy all year round.

For my own home, I’ve found that a slightly peachier cream, like C2’s “Breathless,” works beautifully to offset the green cast from the trees outside. The warm undertones help to balance the cool shadows and create a harmonious, serene atmosphere.

Embracing the Unexpected

Of course, not every neutral palette is created equal. Sometimes, you have to embrace the unexpected and be willing to stretch the rules a bit. Take Tricia’s living room, for example. While the new creamy white walls are a stunning success, her vintage chair and sofa have a slightly pinker beige tone.

In a perfect world, we’d all have flawlessly coordinated furnishings and finishes. But the reality is, sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got. And in Tricia’s case, the warm wood tones of her retro pieces actually complement the creamy walls beautifully, creating a cozy, inviting atmosphere.

The Joy of Neutral Landscapes

As a Neutral Plant Lady myself, I find immense joy in curating landscapes that are both visually striking and easy to maintain. There’s something so calming and satisfying about surrounding yourself with a harmonious palette of greens, whites, and neutrals. It’s like a breath of fresh air for the soul.

Sure, vibrant colors have their place, and I can certainly appreciate a bold, eye-catching garden. But for me, and for many others like Claire and Tricia, the true beauty lies in the subtle elegance of lush, green foliage and soft, neutral hues. It’s a style that exudes sophistication, tranquility, and a touch of whimsy – everything you could want in a harmonious outdoor oasis.

So, if you’re feeling drawn to the Neutral Plant Lady lifestyle, don’t hesitate to embrace it. With a little creativity and the right plant selection, you can transform even the most ordinary landscape into an extraordinary haven of serenity and style. And who knows, you might just inspire others to ditch the bright blooms and join you in the pursuit of the perfect neutral garden.

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