Bringing the outside in - styling indoor plants with stylist Ashlyn Gibson
We recently shot our new collections at the Clapton Laundry, a shoot location in east London run by stylist Ashlyn Gibson. In addition to her interior styling work, Ashlyn runs children’s lifestyle boutique Olive Loves Alfie and is the author of two best-selling books Creative Family Home and Creative Children’s Spaces.
Ashlyn shares our passion for bringing the outdoors inside. Here she shares her tips on how to ‘green up’ your home.
1.Everybody seems to be plant happy at the moment – why have indoor plants made such a come-back in the home?
I come from a family of botanists so plant life has always been part of the furniture in my homes. They add so much to a space so I am really glad that plants have made a come-back. Nurturing plants encourages us to slow down, to appreciate nature and to see the value in something that is affordable yet makes a dramatic difference to a space. Plants are for everyone and I love that.
2. What is your favourite indoor plant?
Oh I have so many favourites but I love the delicate nature of maiden hair ferns and being a size queen I love fiddle leafs that can grow to a great size.
3. Are there any plants that are off limits in the home?
Philodendron, Pothos, Arrowhead, Lily, Peace Lily, Dieffenbachia, Mother In Laws Tongue and Ivy are all toxic in varying degrees. They can affect cats and dogs and children so do your research to know what you are dealing with. Generally they are ok in your home but you may need to keep them out of reach. Pothos Ivy, Philodendron’s and Weeping Fig’s are also great for purifying the air so it’s not all bad!
4. I’m not exactly green fingered. How can I keep plants alive and looking good?
The biggest problem is often over watering. Plants have a big growth spurt in the spring but the size of the pot will determine how healthy and how big they will grow. Take time to repot your plants early in the season and feed them until the autumn. Think about where plants would grow in their natural habitat and try to give them a place in your home that emulates that as much as possible.
5. What are your top plant styling tips? Any secrets?
Create an arrangement by mixing shades of green, sizes and shapes of leaves and of course the pots you put your plants in. Find a space to devote to plant life in your house whether it's a simple shelf or a vintage step ladder. Don’t overlook hanging plants - you will need to be careful and find a beam to screw into but hanging plants give a room height and a new focus.
6. Have you been to any homes with your styling work that make good use of plants or indoor greenery?
Lots of the homes that I have been to have made plants a really big focus - from a 70’s hand spun element with lots of macrame to an indoor garden with cuttings in scientific bottles and vases of different shapes and sizes.
7. You recently renovated your home, the Clapton Laundry. What special features or materials did you incorporate?
It’s a old factory space so we wanted to celebrate the industrial heritage of the building but felt it was important to create a cosy family home too. We stripped the main space back to brick and left naked plaster walls that have a beauty and simplicity that is really striking and calming. We designed a fireplace that we call our ravens wing - it’s a deep dark blackened blue steel. We sleep in the other side of the building where we created a two storey wooden shack that perches on the first floor. It is a house within a house with a very different feel to the rest of our home. We don’t have a conventional garden so we incorporated lots of internal shutters to give the space a feeling of being outside.
8. Apart from plants what are some other ways we can improve our living spaces?
It’s all about scent - when the Jasmine is in bloom in the alley way that leads to our front door it's such a sweet welcome. I always pick a piece on my way in and put it in a vase on the kitchen table. The same with lavender - I love to pick that when it has been raining and put it under my pillow. I am never without scented candles and have different fragrances in different rooms at home and different fragrances in different seasons. Right now I love Anis Patchouli in the bedroom and Black Jasmine by compagnie-de-provence in the living room.
Light plays a huge part in creating an ambiance. A mix of lighting in a room means you can transform the space at the flick of a switch. I love oversized pendants, or a trio of lights but perhaps off centre or even in the corner of a room. Wall lights become a decorative element to a space. I bought some art deco lights from an old hotel that have a sense of history and story to them. Task lighting makes a space work hard.
Think about what you do in different spaces in your home and light them accordingly.
9. Must have in your home?
10. When travelling?
Haeckels Dog Rose/Birch Bath Oil
11. Where do you go for inspiration?
More and more I just want to be outside in the big wide open. My mum and pa live in the Hebrides where we have a beach hut on a beach at the bottom of the garden. It’s restorative and inspirational. After 30 years she is moving to Shropshire. I haven’t been to the new house yet but they have already started working on the riverside garden. I know it will be a new inspiration. In London I love the hidden fern garden at the Royal Academy - I have lived in London for over 30 years and only discovered it a few weeks ago.
12. And the faux vs real question – do you have strong ideas on that?
Don’t fake it in any way. Real, authentic, genuine all the way.
13. Do you have a go-to place to source your plants?
We live close to Columbia Road Flower Market so that is my favourite place to pick up plants on a Sunday morning. When I am shooting I get up at the crack of dawn and go to the wholesale flower market in Vauxhall.
Photos by Christina Bull Photography