Book Review: Living Decor by Maria Colletti

Publication Date: March 5th, 2019. Publisher: Cool Springs Press. 176 pages

“Plants make people happy.”

If you are looking for a book that could be affectionately known as “decor porn,” then Living Decor is the right book for you. It is filled with gorgeous pictures of plants in immaculately decorated homes. The colour scheme in this book is vibrant. It shows how plants can warm up a minimalistic decorated living space.

“Plants can reduce dry skin by increasing humidity indoors, which makes us look and feel healthier. Plants also purify our air indoors, which improves our respiratory comfort.”

Living DecorThe book is a guide to taking care of your own “urban jungle.” The book tells you to “greet your plants every day like you’d greet your children, partners, and pets.” It stresses the importance of the right amount of sunlight and water for each specific type of plant. Grow lights can help plants that need a lot of sun to flourish in the winter, but even a regular, everyday lamp placed near the plants can help. It says to keep in mind the direction the window you put your plant in faces. East, for example, gets direct morning light and is perfect for orchids. Southern windows get afternoon sun. Western windows are often hot in the evening during the summer and thus require heartier plants. And northern windows receive very little sun.

Rotating your plants so all the leaves get some exposure to the sun is important or else they will not all undergo photosynthesis. In terms of watering, it is important to pay attention to how your plant reacts to the water you give it. If it looks vibrant and the leaves look healthy, then maintain that level of watering. If not, determine whether you should water it more or less depending on the species. This is called “threshold watering.” Making sure excess water can drain out of the plant is also extremely important.

This book introduced me to the names of several plants I didn’t know, including the fiddle-leaf fig (popular in IKEA catalogues), the Swiss cheese plant (Monstera Deliciosa), the rattlesnake plant, the Chinese money plant (not new to me. I have one in my bathroom), the snake plant (which sounds indestructible, and may therefore be the right plant for me), the elephant ear plant (beautiful with a cool name), the air plant (Tillandsia), and the zebra cactus (a succulent). Each of these comes with instructions for how to care for them.

There is a section on how to protect your pets from getting sick from eating your plants and how to protect your plants from your pets. This section was very interesting to me. I bought some “cat friendly” ferns a few years ago only to have my cat eat them and lose her appetite for a few days. Not knowing about her plant nibbling habits, I rushed her to the vet for all the tests. Baby (my cat) has always had a healthy appetite, so I knew something was wrong. When it turned out to be my new ferns I a) felt terrible and like moron and b) was so disappointed that i’d have to put them up on a high shelf where she couldn’t get them.

The next section involves how to style your plants to fit your decor motif. This author favours a boho look, but also references retro and kitsch decorating techniques [Side note: did you know that “kitsch” refers to a time in 19th century Germany when inexpensive art was all the rage. I didn’t.]

“Planters elevate outstanding houseplants.”

The author discusses planters in some length (as you do when plants are your life). Her point is that they can be both functional and beautiful. She talks about how different coloured planters play well with the deep greens of the plants themselves. She suggests finding cool planters at flea markets (and there is an index of some cool flea markets in the United States in the back of the book).

Throughout the book there are spotlights on different plants (for example, aloe and holly fern) and it lists how much sun and water to give them as well as how to incorporate them into your decor (“design mixology”).

The part of the book that most interested me was how to plant and take care of succulents, because I have a lot of them.

The author includes a step by step guide to making a hanging wire chandelier for plants to rest in. This is one of many “projects” in the book. You have to find the wire chandelier yourself (I was hoping we’d be making it ourselves, even though that would probably be beyond my skill level), but then she teaches you how to set it up properly.

The joys of moss are expounded heavily in this book. The author lists the different kinds of moss and there is even a project to make a moss jar garden. Moss and plants have a symbiotic relationship. Terrariums are also discussed at length.

I really enjoyed this book. It is filled with tons of great projects and ideas to create your ideal “urban jungle.”  It inspired to to add a few more plants to my living space. The highlight of this book is definitely the pictures. I wasn’t joking before when I called it “decor porn.” Each photo makes you wish your home looked as lovely, peaceful, and plant filled as the living spaces depicted.

Thank you to Net Galley and Cool Springs Press for the Advanced Reader Copy of this book.

Grade: A

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