Hilton Carter Is Wild about Interiors

Especially when they are filled with houseplants. His second book WILD INTERIORS takes us inside beautiful, lush interiors belonging to devoted plant lovers across the U.S. and around the world.
A scene from the houseplant-filled apartment and studio of Brooklyn artist Alina Fassakhova. Her colorful, abstract botanical paintings fill the back wall. A charcoal-colored modern sofa sits under a window on the adjacent wall. The sofa faces a wall of lush, green plants; individual plants accent other areas of the room.
The home studio of Brooklyn artist Alina Fassakhova whose artwork appears on the cover of WILD INTERIORS by Hilton Carter. All photography by Hilton Carter © CICO Books 2020

“You know that feeling you get when you look up and turn your face to the sun on the first warm day of spring? That feeling of warmth on your skin, the smell of the end of winter in the air, the smile on your face as you feel the first signs of spring—that’s the feeling I get every time I enter a space with plants,” writes Hilton Carter in his introduction to Wild Interiors: Beautiful Plants in Beautiful Spaces (CICO Books 2020). Oh, to have that experience every day! In this book, we find inspiration for re-creating it in our homes.

portrait of (left) Hilton Carter wearing a garden apron and one garden glove, surrounded by houseplants. (right_ book cover for Wild Interiors
The author Hilton Carter among his plants

While in his first book, Wild at Home: How to Style and Care for Beautiful Plants, Carter focused on choosing, situating, and caring for houseplants using examples from his home studio, in Wild Interiors he branches beyond his own walls. His journey takes us inside lush, greenery-filled homes across the U.S. and around the world where the plant-loving inhabitants are also interior designers, stylists, artists, or otherwise creative souls. As such they each offer a unique perspective on integrating these living elements of decor into rooms.

Some, such as London-based interior curator Joel Bernstein, take a more minimalist approach. His houseplants number a relatively conservative 20, though he tends to hundreds in his outdoor garden. Others joyfully embrace the “indoor jungle.”

The front room of Joel Bernstein’s home featured in Wild Interiors, features an open floor plan with white walls, wooden floors and ceiling both painted white, and a skylight in the vaulted ceiling. An antique armoire painted bright yellow by the front door adds a punch of color. Woven wool rugs and runners ground the space with deep red tones. A faux bois table accented with a potted plant stands by a black iron spiral stair case leading the loft. Across the walkway, ponytail palm stands by a sofa.
Bernstein’s home showcases his affinity for bright and cozy interiors, handmade objects, natural materials, and, of course, plants. The eye-catching specimen on the left is a ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata).

Whichever camp you fall in, the beginner will find practical takeaways and tip boxes throughout. For pet owners, Carter suggests suspending a pot from the ceiling to keep it out of reach of curious four-legged friends. He also provides a room-by-room guide to which species will work best where. In a bathroom, for instance, try a heart-leaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens), a satin pothos (Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus’), or an air plant (Tillandsia species), which will all thrive in the humidity.

For the trendy at heart, Carter includes a listing of what he believes are the next 10 “it” plants, those that you won’t find ubiquitously stocked at every grocery and hardware store, along with care instructions. However, he will not judge more commonplace choices—his four fiddle-leaf figs are named Frank, Treezus, Li’l baby, and Clavel.

Start small and who knows? Maybe one day you will find yourself welcoming, as artist Alina Fassakhova does, an hour spent every day caring for your indoor garden.

Scenes from Wild Interiors

Click the arrows (or swipe if on a mobile device) to see more

Whitney Leigh Morris and Adam Winkleman share their tiny (less than 400 square feet!) American Craftsman-style cottage with their young son and two dogs in Venice, California. Fortunately, as a small-space living consultant and blogger, Morris is up to the task. Plants bring life indoors, while outdoor spaces extend the living areas. In a dreamy garden room adjacent to the master bedroom, two large mirrors behind the sofa visually open the space.  

Three staghorn fern mounted on the wall complete a photo gallery wall. A large rubber plant (Ficus elastica) in a woven basket and an aloe plant in a white ceramic pot sit on the wooden floor below.
Adelyn Duchala, who works as a creative photographer for the home and garden store Terrain in Philadelphia, demonstrates her plant-styling skills on her gallery wall, which includes mounted staghorn ferns (Platycerium). Below, a large rubber plant (Ficus elastica) and an Aloe vera grow in containers.

UK-based interior designer Dee Campling adds interest by placing plants at different heights, such as this Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) and Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides) in the entrance hall. The Chinese money plant is also on Carter’s list of nontoxic plants for pet owners.

a Monstera adansonii and satin pothos (Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus’) trail from shelves; and above, a large Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) casts its delicate shade over the couch.
In another scene from Duchala's home, plants thrive in the morning light of an east-facing window.
An air plant (Tillandsia) and ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) bring green and textural interest to a neutral bathroom.


Book review by Terri Robertson | Photography by Hilton Carter © CICO Books 2020 | Signed copies of Wild Interiors and Wild at Home are available at thingsbyhc.com

For more news from Flower magazine in your inbox, sign up for our FREE newsletter.

More Houseplant Inspiration