Thursday, May 26, 2011

Seven Secrets to Making Silk Plants and Flowers Look Convincing

If your home could talk, would it say to a prospective buyer, "I've lived a pampered life. My owners give me the best of everything. All that you see here is fresh and new and of the highest quality?"

One simple way to get that message across is with greenery.

And I'm not talking labor-intense houseplants.

I'm talking silks.

Don't be turning up your nose. Here are ways to make silk plants look better than their factory origins might indicate.

Go For Variety

Vary the containers you use. Look for baskets, vases, wooden boxes, clay flower pots, vintage vases, new vases, ceramic cachepots, hurricane chimneys, glass fish bowls, metal bins, or whatever else you think adds to the character of your home.

Vary the style of plant material as well. Don't be afraid to mix cut silk flowers with silk plants. You might have a vase of silk tulips in the bedroom, two silk topiaries in the foyer, and a fake cactus in the bathroom.

Silk plant styles come and go, but unless you are staging something for a very hip market, like a New York City penthouse, a Hollywood mansion, or a St. Martin beach house, you're safe with most styles available in home stores today.

Surface secret

Another way to use fakes convincingly is to cover the surface with something natural.

My favorite is sheet moss, but I also like sphagnum moss. Both really work to ground the plant and add a realistic touch.

I also favor smooth river rocks to cover the surface under a fake plant. Look for other natural materials like sand, shells, pebbles, and lichen.

The containers

Next, use good vessels for all your fake flowers. In fact, a rule of thumb might be that the less you paid for your silks (hello, dollar store), the more expensive your container should be.

In my photo, this beautiful crackled glass bowl holds an inexpensive bunch of silk blossoms.

To add to the realism of these blossoms, I've added gel that imitates water. Available at any craft store, faux water makes the flowers look like someone was just there arranging them -- an important consideration when your property is staged but unoccupied. 

Readers of my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, know the high value I give to silk plants. They add irresistible vitality to a room. If you doubt the value plants of any kind add, do your own experiments with adding and subtracting plants and flowers, and you will see the difference.

I always emphasize that your greenery needn't be the finest quality, especially when seen from a distance, such as on top of a bookcase or on the ledge above a bathtub. Typically, house hunters spend 30 minutes or less walking through a home on the market. Relax. Your budgeting secrets are safe.

Add Companions

Another way to keep the faux greenery from looking phony has to do with what you put next to these arrangements. Surround them with class --  other objects that have a stylish look of their own. Suddenly, the whole grouping looks expensive and tasteful.


This pretend orchid sits in a real terracotta pot, on an antique music box of burled wood, in front of a large, beveled edge mirror, next to colorful, matched candlesticks. Decor props as well as people are judged by the company they keep.

Clean Up

One mistake that homeowners are sometimes guilty of is thinking that faux plants require no care. In fact, the cleaner your plants look, the more they will contribute to the room's overall appearance.

So my fifth tip is to clean your plants regularly.

Most silks can be rinsed in the tub or gently hosed off out-of-doors to bring them back to "life" occasionally.

The containers that hold your fabulous fakes need to be smudge-free and dust-free as well.

At least they don't beg to be watered every few days!

If you do have a green thumb and a collection of houseplants, make sure they are healthy and clean as well. The reason I don't recommend staging with real houseplants is that often they are in less than perfect condition, or in their dormant state.

Yet, if you have a shelf of beautifully blooming African violets in your kitchen, a collection of gorgeous indoor succulents on your sun porch, or a large and healthy potted palm in your living room, they can become an important part of your home's staging.

Often indoor plants are large, but sometimes they are small and insignificant. Find a new home for these little guys. Big is better with almost all staging props.

In fact, when in doubt about the size of a fake plant for staging, supersize it.

A large plant can fill an empty corner, bring life to a dreary hallway, or add color to a plain bathroom.

As long as you aren't crowding the room, obstructing a good view, covering up a focal point, or creating a tripping hazard, I say, the bigger the better.

One current style that's easy to imitate is a stem or two of oversized tropical foliage in a large glass container, with or without some fake water, or with some rocks or shells to weight the vase. It's a very carefree, young look.

Add Something Old

My final tip is to incorporate some age. Let your container have some patina. Many decorators suggest that every room needs a touch of something old.

Adding a vintage or distressed clay pot, metal urn, concrete planter, classic ice bucket, worn wooden box, antique wastebasket or old-fashioned wicker chest that's been around awhile, adds interest. It keeps the room from looking like you pulled it all together with one trip to T.J. Maxx.

Slight distressing on this old clay flower pot makes the one dollar fake ivy more acceptable than if it were in a cheap plastic container. I've covered the floral foam in the pot with stones gathered from the beach.


Don't be shy about dressing up your staged home with some inexpensive artificial plants and flowers. Done right, they add the perfect element of freshness and even drama that's essential to a home for sale.

Get more of my helpful advice on staging your own home by downloading my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. It's a $4.99 pdf bargain, that comes with my money-back guarantee.


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