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Plant Babies

Today’s Trendiest Houseplants

Houseplants have always been an integral part of interior design. Their live element lends depth, cleans the air, and provides natural color. As with all facets of interior design, styles trend and plants do too. Read on to find out which plants you’ve been seeing in home decor and how to make them your own.

SANSEVIERIA (SANSEVIERIA TRIFASCIATA)

The delightfully evocative common names—snake plant, devil’s tongue, viper’s bowstring hemp (the fibers were used for bow strings), and mother-in-law’s tongue—are not what make Sansevieria a hit on the houseplant trending charts. People love its structural, vertical form (it can grow as tall as twelve feet) and range of colors. In addition to the green variety (dark- and pale-green markings enliven the foliage), Laurentii has cream colored leaves with dark-green, horizontal patterns.

Tough as nails Sansevieria thrives in difficult situations, including low light, dry air, and neglect. Put it in bright light if you can, water it once or twice a month, dust off the leaves once or twice a year, and don’t worry about misting—the plant loves dry air. As a bonus, NASA has identified Sansevieria as one of the top air purifying plants, capable of removing at least 107 pollutants. It is a great warrior against “sick building syndrome.”

CROCODILE FERN (MICROSORIUM MUSIFOLIUM ‘CROCYDYLLUS’)

Be gone boring Boston ferns. The latest trend in indoor ferns is the wrinkled, puckered crocodile fern. Despite the textured appearance resembling crocodile skin, the large, glossy, pale-green leaves with dark veining are ruffled, giving the plant a delicate and graceful appearance. At maturity, the plants are two to five feet tall and wide. Water when soil feels dry and feed with diluted water-soluble all-purpose fertilizer or fern fertilizer once a month during spring and summer.

Crocodile fern will grow in bright or low light, but it needs humidity. Either mist regularly or set it on a tray filled with gravel and water. It is susceptible to fern scale. If you notice flaky, white spots on the foliage or stems, apply insecticide oil to the affected leaves. (The high humidity that makes these ferns thrive also encourages fungus growth.) To avoid fern scale, trim off crowded fronds to encourage airflow and don’t overwater. If you still have a problem, fungicide foliar sprays and soil drenches can help.

DRAGON TREE (DRACAENA MARGINATA)

Named for the half-dragon, half-woman of Greek mythology, dragon trees bring an electric energy to a room. The spiky leaves spring from the plant’s stems like hair standing on end. There are several hybrids available: ‘Bicolor’ has pale-green leaves enlivened with clean pink edges; ‘Pink Tricolor’ has bright-pink foliage with white-and-green stripes; ‘Ray of Sunshine’ has bold yellow-and-cream stripes up the center of the green leaves.

Dracaena will survive in dim light, although it grows best in bright, indirect light. When moved from low light to a brighter spot, the new leaves will be stronger and the growth rate will increase. In the wild, this species will grow up to fifteen feet tall; however, you can control the size by lopping off stems when they grow too long. New leaves will sprout from the lopped off spot. Water when the soil feels dry, and feed with liquid foliage fertilizer monthly during spring and summer months.

MEYER LEMON (CITRUS X MEYERII)

The glossy-leafed, Improved Meyer Lemon makes a handsome houseplant. Its blossoms fill the air with a sweet, gardenia-like aroma and, if the tree gets enough light, it will bear fruit.

Begin by potting up your lemon, increasing the pot size from two gallons for a small plant up to fifteen gallons for a mature specimen. Use an acidic potting soil such as a peat moss mix or potting soil designed for cacti.

A south-facing window is preferred for the ideal eight to twelve hours of direct sunlight. If you can’t provide much natural light, set up grow lights and leave them on for twelve hours a day. To maintain humidity, place the pot on a pebble- and water-filled saucer. Mist with water when the soil feels nearly dry (typically weekly), and fertilize with NPK fertilizer every three to six weeks depending on the season. The lemon trees can withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees F, so move them outside during the summer when they can soak in as much sunlight as possible.

Nest Building

RENOVATING WITH FAMILY AND ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY IN MIND

Lots of beige, lots of brown, plus ketchup red and mustard yellow thrown in for good measure: that’s what greeted the new owners of this circa-1910 Wrigleyville, Illinois residence, who realized their converted two-flat was in dire need of a makeover. Enter Guinevere Johnson, owner of Chicago/NYC-based Third Coast Interiors, a full service interior architecture and design studio. “This home needed a complete renovation,” says Johnson. “The structure was sound, so we didn’t knock down walls or rearrange rooms, but we changed every finish and fixture in the home.”

This was the first stand-alone home for the young couple with a toddler who shortly expected the arrival of their second child. Johnson had only two months to execute the refresh before the new baby arrived. The homeowners completely trusted her with the design, but had an eclectic wish list of elements for each room. By the clients’ request, a jewel-tone sofa found a home in the living room, teal trim was the order of the day in the dining room, and a hammered sink provided a focal point in a powder room. “I took their direction for each space and then developed the room around it,” explains Johnson.

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Contemporary Cool

IN BROOKLYN, THREE STORIES TELL A NEW ONE

When a couple purchased this early 1900s fixer-upper in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, they were able to look past the dark rooms and general disrepair to see the potential of the space. The creative professionals quickly amassed a long wish list. At the top? Update the top two floors of the home where they planned to open the layout to allow for plenty of natural light. The ground floor would be turned into a rental. But the three-story building’s long, narrow footprint and dated floor plan did not make this easy.

“The upper floor was divided up into a warren of small rooms to accommodate two small apartments, and [it was] in very poor condition,” says architect Jeff Etelamaki, principal of Etelamaki Architecture, the firm hired for the renovation. “The second floor was also in disrepair, though less so, and dark.” Etelamaki proposed a plan for gutting the top two floors, including cutting holes in the ceiling to make room for two large skylights, and tearing down interior walls to open up the floor plan. He also suggested relocating the staircase from the side to the center of the house. This move would accomplish two design goals: open up the building’s interior to bring in more light from the new skylights and create a more graceful entryway to the upper-floor flat.

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Just Beachy

OPENING SPREAD: Located in Georgia’s barrier islands, The Sea Island Resort is one of the South’s preeminent luxury beach resorts. BELOW: Bike paths and walkways are shaded by centuries-old towering oak trees. OPPOSITE FROM LEFT: Guests can partake in falconry lessons and more. The Cloister at Sea Island was built in 1928. The Sea Island Resort works with local farmers and purveyors to bring guests the freshest ingredients.

There’s something so calming about the water gently lapping on the shore and a cool breeze brushing the tall oak trees strewn with Spanish moss. Maybe that’s why the moment you set foot on Sea Island, Georgia you feel a calm come over you. That’s what has drawn generations of families and couples alike to the resort for decades. Encompassing two private islands, the Forbes Five-Star Resort features The Cloister and The Lodge at Sea Island.

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Zest for Life

A CITRUS-CENTERED MENU

 Citrus can imbue the winter months with a touch of sunshine. The cheerful colors of these in-season fruits add a much-needed zest to winter meals. In this issue, you will find a collection of recipes that pair citrus with a variety of other fresh and flavorful ingredients. I’ve dressed up a few appetizers, married sweet and savory to create tasty mains and a side dish, and finished it all off with an effervescent cocktail. This is the perfect winter menu to prepare when you are craving a bit of sunshine.

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Float On

The Health Benefits of Float Therapy

When Alonna Bailey was surprised by her friend with a free float therapy session at Float Carolina in Waxhaw, North Carolina, just outside Charlotte, the thirty-one year old didn’t know what to expect. After all, all Bailey knew was that she would be floating for sixty minutes in a “pod” filled with warm water and 1,000 pounds of salt . . . in total darkness. Though she was skeptical, she gave it a try. “I’ll tell you this,” she says, “it was the best surprise I’ve ever received.”

Bailey, like many others who have tried float therapy, experienced a calming, meditative state while “floating.” While the treatment has been popular in the wellness world for several years, it’s only recently gained mainstream popularity. In 2011, there were just ninety-five float centers in the US. Today, there are more than 250.

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BEACON OF STYLE

A MODERN MAKEOVER FOR A HISTORICAL TOWNHOME

Designer Lindsay Vieira treated her clients’ Beacon Hill home like a boat: “Every square inch needed to be functional and provide storage,” she says of the stunning custom built-ins in the family room.

“The home has history,” says designer Lindsay Vieira. “And with it, there’s a certain level of architectural details and character that makes it one of a kind.” So when the designer’s soon-to-be clients were searching for a home in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill—an area notorious for very little inventory and high demand—and finally found one that checked all the boxes in terms of design, they were thrilled. “The home just has some beautiful architectural features that we immediately fell in love with,” says the homeowner.

The circa-1825 home is classic Beacon Hill: a stunning combination of Federal, Italianate, and Second Empire architecture.

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SAN FRANCISCO TREAT

In a San Francisco pied-à-terre, designer Deniece Duscheone proved deep hues can make mixed metals—including brass and stainless steel—pop in a kitchen.

GOING BIG IN A SMALL SPACE

A steady influx of tech money and limited land have rendered San Francisco, California, a de facto real estate nightmare—unless, that is, you’re willing to painstakingly build the dream. So it was for this Jackson Square neighborhood abode, an 850-square-foot, two-story retreat in a Gold Rush-era bourbon and Levi’s warehouse that the owners envisioned as an executive suite. The trouble was, when designer Deniece Duscheone kickstarted this six-week renovation, there was little (ahem) suite about the place. “It was really bad 1980s architecture,” she recalls. “The floors were teak but stained red, the cabinets were tigerwood, and counters black marble, and there was a black-steel fireplace in open-bracing in the living room. It felt super enclosed and very, very tiny!”

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A Taste of Madrid, Spain: Tapas, Vino, y Más

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, it stands to reason that it is also the best way to get to know a culture. In Spain, there is no better place to get a taste of the best of Spanish food, wine, and culture than its capital, Madrid. There, much of life is enjoyed outside of the home whether with a café con leche (coffee with milk) at a local coffee shop or discussing fútbol (soccer) in the park or Plaza Mayor (Main Square). In fact, Spain has made an art form of welcoming patrons to bars, while preventing patrons from getting tipsy with its tapa culture. While you can spend a lifetime getting to know this Spanish city, this self-guided tour will help you enjoy the spice of life in a shorter timeframe.

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Residential Role Model

A CUSTOM BUILDER’S DREAM HOME IN THE LONE STAR STATE

Why settle for less in a domestic setting when fabulous and foolproof features can blend together seamlessly?

The proof is in the pudding at this regal Texas residence that’s earning plenty of accolades. Its “livable luxury” description fits the bill for the new build, according to interior designer Lori Caldwell of San Antonio, Texas–based Lori Caldwell Designs, who poured a whole lot of passion into this project. “Anyone can walk in the house and feel like they could live there. It’s comfortable and inviting,” says Caldwell. “We tried to use materials that could withstand entertaining and kids, like the quartzite in the kitchen that doesn’t stain or etch.”

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