Hilton Carter Reworks A Ho-Hum Greenhouse Into A Celebratory Oasis

These plants came to party.

Greenhouse styled by Hilton Carter

Courtesy Hilton Carter: Styling Juniper House Studio

For author and stylist Hilton Carter, plants and interior design are two sides of the same coin. “My goal is to make spaces more lush and tie together the interior with the exterior,” says Carter, whose new book, Living Wild: How To Plant Style Your Home & Cultivate Happiness, hits shelves on March 28. “There are so many plants that mirror the colors, textures, and shapes of the things that we bring into our lives, especially our homes.”

A look into the greenhouse

Courtesy Hilton Carter: Styling Juniper House Studio

In the chapter “Outdoor Glamour,” the stylist transformed a utilitarian greenhouse typically reserved for storing flowers in winter into a retreat primed for spring parties. (No greenhouse? You can execute a similar concept in any interior setting that gets ample natural light, like a sunroom or a window-filled dining area.) “The goal was to dress the space in greenery—but not so much that there wouldn’t be room for people to maneuver,” says Carter. Here’s how he pulled off the overhaul.

Greenhouse picnic

Courtesy Hilton Carter: Styling Juniper House Studio

Take Them Outside

“This isn’t gardening. It’s just styling houseplants outdoors (whether it’s a patio, deck, side porch, or greenhouse) to beautify a space for a particular occasion or time of year,” says Carter. When finding the right spot for the plants, it’s important to examine what type of light (direct or indirect) the area has and what direction it’s coming from.

Greenhouse pots
Don’t Forget About the Pots. Bringing spaces to life with greenery doesn’t just involve plants but containers too.

Courtesy Hilton Carter: Styling Juniper House Studio

Keep Them Happy

“When you’re trying to create a look for a themed event, you have to be mindful of the fact that you’re dealing with living things,” notes the author. “Plants are resilient just like we are, but to fully enjoy the area you curate, you have to find ones that will do well there.” Determine the level of care you’re willing to put into them after the party is over: Ferns need water often, while succulents don’t. Assess the climate too. Your spring outdoor plants will need to be moved inside (or somewhere warmer) in the winter if you live in a region that gets cold. Do your homework to ensure the options you pick will thrive, Carter says.

Greenhouse centerpiece
"Long-lasting plants make great centerpieces" says Carter. Here, he chose a rex begonia in a dusty mauve pot to complement the tablescape.

Courtesy Hilton Carter: Styling Juniper House Studio

Accentuate Your Design

The types of flowers and greenery you place outside can dictate the overall feel of the exterior, so you should consider how the plants and their containers will interact with your home’s existing style. In the greenhouse, Carter opted to include staghorn ferns. “I hung these because the distinctive antler shape of their fronds complemented the ceiling fan’s blades,” he says. You should evaluate more than their looks, though. These can also tolerate more heat than other ferns, making them more likely to flourish.

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