Living Inside and Out

Living walls can bring outdoor beauty inside, acting both as a beautiful centerpiece for a room while improving air quality. But is the work worth the beauty? We asked local design professionals whether living walls will keep growing in popularity or if they’d wilt away.

Edited by Moe Godat 



With the current status of our economy and everyone staying at home, we will see a surge in these living walls as it brings the outdoors in; they can be used to grow herbs and can also provide a learning opportunity for children while parents are homeschooling. Studies have shown that living walls decrease anxiety, reduce stress and mental fatigue and, depending on the type of living wall media you choose, can also help improve your indoor air quality. In addition, living walls add interest, texture, shape and color to a room and can help absorb sound. I do not see these going anywhere anytime soon. Living walls are a classic and here to stay! Candice Wideman, Youtopia Designs.



Living walls have been gaining popularity over the last 25 or so years, starting mainly in commercial spaces and now moving into the residential market. While a wonderful concept for adding interest, texture and helping the environment, I think living walls are a craze. However, if you are ready to tackle expenses, complex irrigation systems and maintenance, they are a healthy addition to any environment! Janice Bohn, Anne Marie Design Studio.

Not my favorite. I prefer well-placed plants to bring life into a room. I would use it in a commercial setting where they would clean the air, but not in a residence. Definitely a craze. CJ Knapp, Yours by Design.

I believe it is a craze. I think it looks out of place with all the new gray, white, stark looks that are being done. It doesn’t fit with the looks that we specialize in either, which is a timeless traditional look or our rustic-elegant look. How do you water it, keep it from getting dusty? It just doesn’t seem to fit anywhere; however, if some of these talented designers use it, I’m sure they can make it look fabulous. I see the homeowner tiring of it, therefore making it a craze. Nettie White, Nettie White Interiors.

While I love this idea and wish I had a vertical wall to grow herbs and flowers, I know I would get tired of watering, feeding and general maintenance. Also, this is only pretty when it is fully in bloom, so the only plants that would stay beautiful are succulents and other evergreen type plants. However, they too will grow and become “leggy.” So, plant enthusiasts and master gardeners will have beautiful walls forever, the rest of us not so much. My home will continue to be graced with faux plants that require no upkeep except the occasional dusting. Marcia Moore, Marcia Moore Design.

A living wall can give a simple space a “wow” effect, but it is totally a craze and not for  everyone. A living wall is a design feature that can be used on the interior and the exterior. A few perks of a live wall are that it generates oxygen into a space, and if using a live wall in a bathroom setting, the right plants and the steam factor would keep the living wall lush and green year-round. There are maintenance issues to consider in having a live wall such as installation, the proper plants to use, natural lighting and climate issues. A living wall is not a design feature that everyone will enjoy. I feel that a living wall is a trendy design element, and I don’t see this trend “hanging around” for a long time. Barbara Collins, Barbara Collins Interior Design.



Having plants in your home is a classic. Living walls are beautiful, but unless you know how to keep them beautiful and have the right wall space for them, they are a craze. I love plants in interior design spaces, but I am not a green thumb, so I would not be able to maintain living walls, and I know I wouldn't want to hire someone to come into my home to do it. I say congrats to those people that can. Linda K. Kusmer, Total Interior Designs Inc.