Casey Godlove knows his way around a greenhouse. As the Creative Director of PlantShed, a Manhattan-based company offering residential and commercial botanical design services, he specializes in crafting lush, layered interiors for his clients. Whether he’s putting the finishing touches on a floral arrangement for a pop-up event, teaching a terrarium-building workshop, or sourcing a six-foot-tall cactus for an office refresh, there’s never a dull day in the life of an interior plant decorator. Steal Casey’s tips on designing a verdant vignette and find out what it’s like to work with a green-thumbed stylist.
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BuzzBuzzNews: What are the aesthetic and health benefits of decorating with plants?
Casey Godlove: Aesthetically, foliage can work as both an accent and major design element. Plants add texture, build layers and bring a lot of warmth to a space. Personally, they are the element that makes a space feel like home and often are a focal point, whether grouped together or standing alone. Caring for plants can be a cathartic and rewarding process that helps reduce stress, lowers blood pressure and improves concentration (yes please!). They also improve air quality and studies show that workspaces that include plants and foliage increase efficiency among employees.
BBN: What types of residential clients typically seek out your help? Are they fairly new to decorating with plants, or more seasoned plant owners who want a curated look?
CG: Many of our residential clients approach us on a mission — typically looking to improve air quality, find a pet-friendly plant, or find a plant that they remember having growing up. Our clientele runs the gamete of plant lovers that visit us weekly and many that are curious about trying their hand at growing some green. We have a great following of aspiring horticulturalists that source out rare and hard-to-find varieties from us, and many clients looking to finish their space with a few natural elements.
BBN: When consulting with a residential client, what sorts of questions do you ask to better understand your client’s lifestyle and plant needs?
CG: Typically, we start with paying attention to lighting conditions — we always want your plants to thrive and be a rewarding experience. Gathering information about how often you travel or how much time you want to invest in maintenance is also really important to make sure we pair you with an appropriate plant. Of course, we like to ask what type of plants you envision seeing in your space: Jungle vibe? Clean and minimalist? Lush and tropical?
BBN: How do you go about choosing the right plants for your clients and how do you decide where to place them?
CG: This really comes down to paying attention to current décor in the space — we either aim to match their existing aesthetic, provide contrast, or add a subtle pop of green where needed. Playing with light and shadows can be a really interesting concept when working with a blank canvas, but overall, we want the plants to feel like they were part of the original design concept and belong in the space. Working with the scale and proportion of existing furniture and décor is important to placement. You don’t want the plant to get lost of feel like it is overshadowing important pieces. Sometimes this involves trying different plant options and other times the finished look is totally effortless.
BBN: Do you have any styling tricks for staging a space with houseplants?
CG: Using containers that are unexpected or vintage always creates a major focal point and instantly gives a layered, eclectic feel. Groupings or collections of the same plant with different leaf variations provides an impactful moment that feels tailored. Playing with contrasting colors using foliage and accessories can make a bold statement, too.
BBN: Once the plants have been installed, do you provide your clients with care tips?
CG: After installation, we give a basic rundown of care and watering needs. This can vary depending on seasons and other conditions, but our plant specialists are always available to help. We want your experience with plants to always be positive — so when coming to us with questions it’s always helpful to have photos or a leaf sample so we can make recommendations.
BBN: What are some of the best large plants for making a statement?
CG: My go-to for statement makers are the large, six-foot-plus cacti we source from Arizona. With a muted and tonal green hue, these showstoppers don’t take up much room (hello tiny apartments of NYC), but have serious impact on a space. They do best in a high light situation and require very little water — so perfect for the New Yorker on the go. Another favorite for a lusher, jungle vibe is the Kentia Palm. Towering at eight feet, these Hawaiian-grown palms are easy to care for and have long, arching fronds that cast beautiful shadows, can perfectly frame a window, and are a rich emerald green.
BBN: Could you share some tips on designing interesting tabletop vignettes with plants?
CG: This is a great spot to pull in that vintage or unexpected container. An old copper pot or a polished stone vessel can add an eclectic vibe. Pairing plants with other natural elements like driftwood or a natural wood picture frame can create a minimalist vignette. Pay attention to scale and make sure the plant is able to fully fit in the space without being confined or squeezed in.
BBN: If you live in a small space, what are some creative ways to display houseplants?
CG: Take to the walls! Mounted staghorn ferns are a favorite to hang in a bright, humid spot. Also wall-mounted macramé’s are back in and can make for a big visual impact. Utilize shelves to display collections and provide extra room for more plants! If you’re needing a floor plant in a tiny space, look for things that have a vertical growth pattern, like snake plants, as their footprint in the space can be more manageable.
BBN: Where do you like to source your planters from? Are there any planter trends you’ve picked up on lately?
CG: I find that Instagram is great place to discover really talented ceramic artists. Handmade pieces paired with plants really offers a casual and eco-friendly aesthetic. I tend to stick to white/off-white with many of my planters as they show a lot of natural flaws or color variance in the clay. You will also find me at Housing Works browsing vintage wares to plant in, or estate sales looking for something that just can’t be replicated today. I’m a huge fan of pots that change over time, like terracotta, that will eventually grow mossy with plants that prefer a damper environment. Also, many metals will start to patina over time and that can add so much depth that is hard to replicate.
BBN: Are there any items that can be upcycled and turned into stylish plant stands?
CG: I currently have a snake plant in my living room that sits on an antique metal beaker stand — and while it only elevates the plant eight inches, that contrast is really striking. Vintage and retro outdoor side tables with chipping paint or woven rattan transition nicely into eclectic living spaces. You could even integrate a bar cart to house not only your plants, but gardening supplies and containers.
BBN: What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
CG: Plants can be really nostalgic for many of our clients — I know personally we had two plants indoors growing up, a Jade and an Aloe Vera. Many clients have clippings or plants that were passed down to them and it’s such an honor to be trusted in including them into a client’s space. Since picking plants is often done towards the end of a design project for many of our clients, they are super excited to add those finishing details and often remark that they wish they had left more space for added plants. I think the unexpected happiness expressed by clients around the joy in growing plants, followed by their soon-to-be obsession is a really authentic and connective experience that feels great to be a part of.