Evoking iconic visions of the 50s, the leafy palm is making a style comeback. While models wearing dresses covered in foliage make their way down runways, forward-thinking interior designers look to wallpaper, throw pillows, and area rugs featuring this classic silhouette. And of course, nothing pulls the look together like a living, breathing palm plant placed in the perfect planter.
Kelly Reid, principal designer of Specify Design, says she is seeing the palm leaf resurge in her up-and-coming projects. “Trends tend to be cyclical, and the palm leaf has finally made its reappearance,” Reid explains. “As designers, we see interior trends directly follow fashion. Take a look at the runway styles of spring 2016 and the correlation will be apparent. Think Frank Sinatra, mid-century South Beach and Hollywood glam. There is a huge insurgence of mid-century decor right now, which has led to the inevitable popularity of the palm or banana leaf.”
While mid-century design is very prevalent today, the new take on this coveted style makes it thoroughly modern. “High gloss lacquer, brass and Lucite integrate seamlessly with the trend,” points out Reid, “while the addition of sleek minimalist furniture sets it apart from the vogue of decades past.”
The addition of potted palm trees helps create a living bridge between the decades and can green-up a minimalist backdrop or hardscape. “The bulk of my work is contemporary design,” says Reid, “which pairs well with beautiful large-leafed palms in simple planters.” Square metal planters and large rectangular planters fit the bill.
While it’s exciting to see palm trees having a moment, these elegant plants have always been a stylish accent to any space. “Real palms are on point,” says Reid. “The addition of living, breathing greenery makes a room feel more welcoming. Potted in a living room or foyer, they add warmth to any space and bring the outdoors in.”
Palms, being tropical in origin, generally need light—lots of light! Moderate watering (soil should remain moist) with good drainage is the key, as well as, avoiding dry conditions near air-conditioners and heating ducts.
These three species do well indoors:
- Alli Ficus: This tree with its slender leaves adds grace to any room and can tolerate a variety of light conditions making for an outstanding indoor plant. (Grows 6-8ft tall and because it’s tropical, likes to be watered with lukewarm water.) A diamond shaped planter adds great angles when showcasing a tall tree.
- Kentia Palm: The broad, dark-green fronds of this tree add drama to a well-appointed lobby, intrigue to a hallway or touch of class outside an elevator. (Very tolerant of indoor conditions and tends to live long; water when dry.) The fluted Alicante tapered planter effortlessly adds texture and charm to this timeless tree.
- Weeping Fig: This popular pick has a pleasing arch to its bough and flaunts teardrop leaves. (Can be pruned to fit any room size; likes bright indirect light and barely moist soil to stay healthy.) This exemplary tree furthers a more classic design when paired with a timeless terracotta-finished planter.
Palms play well with other tropical plants, complementing one another both in style and their light and water requirements.
The palm leaf motif offers a more sophisticated take on floras and adds an element of organic beauty to any room. Duvet covers, framed prints and wallpaper designs are coming alive with botanical silhouettes. And with the added dimension of living plants, this trend really pops.