3 Design Opportunities You Might Be Missing

Have you ever walked onto a property and noticed some areas that could use a little help?

Such as petunias that have been dead for several months still occupying the window boxes as you enter the front door. How about an office manager calls you in for a quote to service their live foliage and in every corner there is an outdated artificial ficus tree with three layers of dust missing half its leaves? You wonder why the decision makers can’t see how that detracts from their office environment. Clean, good-quality artificial foliage is just as important as healthy live plants. When you point this out, inevitably, the response it, “I guess I never noticed it.” Even though they have walked past it a thousand times.

I know I’m guilty of this occasionally. After spending hundreds of days and thousands of hours, in the same environment, doing the same routine over and over, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. But, when I’m called in to a new building to design, I can notice every blemish in its walls. Once a month I try to scrutinize the atmosphere of my regular interiorscape clients. Pretending I’m a stranger, I try to assess the premises as if I was seeing it for the first time. This helps me to recognize where I can improve the plants on my end as well as find new opportunities.

Here are three design opportunities in plain sight that you may be missing.


Plant TerrariumA good example of this is when I serviced a medium-sized logistics company for several months. Each time I walked in the main door, to my left was a giant salt water aquarium set into the atrium wall. Imagine the impact this two hundred gallon tank filled with bright colored fish, coral and sea anemones could have on an office environment. Only, this aquarium was being used for storage. It was just odd to see a fish tank filled with books, files and office supplies. I kick myself earlier for not using this as an opportunity to increase my revenue as well as provide a much more attractive focal space for my client.

First, I asked the office manager why the tank was basically being used as a storage cabinet instead of housing soothing fish and colorful foliage. She explained to me they inherited the tank from the previous owners and had considered restocking it until they found out the fish and maintenance costs would be in the hundreds each month. And to have it taken out of the wall and patched up would be another expensive project. This was my opportunity to design a two hundred gallon terrarium! When I got back to my office that day I took the pictures I had taken on my phone camera and created a low maintenance design with very low weekly service costs.

A week later the owners signed my proposal and I got to create the largest terrarium for me so far.

Fountain Gardens

Fountain GardenAnother eye sore I come across often are water fountains. They look pretty, creating soothing sounds of babbling water. But if they’re not kept up properly, they can turn into slimy green seethe pools. These fixtures, especially if they have multiple tiers can make appealing fountain gardens.

The one drawback of fountain gardens is the shallow area available for plant roots. However, this is perfect for designing with succulents and other drought tolerant material that don’t need a lot of soil. I have seen some converted water fountains and found them just as attractive filled with plants as when they flowed with water.

Green Walls

Lastly, another hidden opportunity are the drab cement or brick walls that everyone in the company have to walk past day in and day out. Some of these corridors can give you the feeling you are inside a prison hallway. They can be so stark and cold. Who wants to come into work every day feeling like they are heading down death row? Here is where you can pitch a living wall. If you are able to insert bright foliage onto the wall picture, so your clients can see the major difference it can make, it will increase the probabilities for expansion.

These are just a few hidden opportunities that we may pass by every day and never notice it. If we keep our eyes open, avoid tunnel vision and stay up-to-date on interior design trends, there can be hundreds of missed unique projects that are not only good for our portfolio but benefit our clients work atmosphere.

Plant Terrarium photo courtesy of Arthur Kortekaas

Fountain Garden photo courtesy of Glenna Partridge Garden Design

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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