Meet Sophie Lee, founder of botanical styling company, geo-fleur, and the latest addition to of our Original Habitat series. We caught up with the greenery guru while she gave us a tour of her business partner Sally Thompson’s London home. Filled with plants from floor to ceiling, read on for a masterclass in bringing the outside in.
Where do you live and who do you live with?
This is the home of my business partner, Sally Thompson and her husband Chris, and this beautiful house in Walthamstow Village, London is where we first started geo-fleur – in their spare bedroom! They live here with their two russian blue cats, Stanley + Nika, and I live in York with my sausage dog, Luna.
Why did Sally choose this particular location and home?
Chris and Sally love living here, as it’s easy to get into central London, but then there are lots of small independent businesses around Walthamstow Village.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Can you summarise what you do for a living?
Our company is geo-fleur – which is a botanical styling company, specialising in unusual house plants, and beautiful handmade plant pots, supporting emerging designers.
Is this your dream job and why?
Yes, it is so rewarding running your own company, but it’s definitely not easy, I’m constantly on the go, thinking of the next project, idea and how to problem solve at 4am. The part we love most about the job is the styling, so how plants and ceramics interact with each other. Alongside some beautiful furniture, it adds so much to a home.
What inspires you to do what you do?
We are constantly on the search for the next new plant or trend coming up. I follow a lot of Japanese landscape architects, while Sally is often inspired by sculpture (one of her favourite artists is Barbara Hepworth), which is why we jumped at the opportunity to have a plant shop inside the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. We thoroughly recommend making a trip up to Yorkshire to see the Gallery.
What exciting projects have you been working on lately?
As well as recently opening our #geofleurshop at the Hepworth Gallery, we have been running workshops all over the country. One of the main parts of the business is our Plant Subscription – #PlantPostClub – which keeps us rather busy. Once a month we send out a box of plants directly to your door, mostly an unusual house plant in a handmade porcelain plant pot. Last month’s plant was a tradescantia zebrina which has a beautiful silver and purple leaf. This has been a really exciting project, as it has grown over the last two years, and we currently have about 220 subscribers per month.
How would you describe your interior style?
It’s a mix of eclectic vintage pieces with some modern twists. We like pops of colour, but are also slightly obsessive with monochrome minimalism.
Where do you find interior inspiration?
Instagram… we’re addicted to it! We really like @porteous.studio in Edinburgh, it’s on my wishlist to go to. Also, @labourandwaitlondon and @ryderandhope.
What’s your favourite interior trend at the moment?
The mix of contemporary and mid-century modern.
Are you a Habitat Voyeur?
Obviously! Who doesn’t love looking at other people’s homes.
What does Habitat mean to you?
We love Habitat as it is always working on the next trend in interior design and then allows people to curate little segments of design in their homes.
Which Habitat products do you love and why?
We love the Nestor marble table as it adds a touch of luxury and is so well made, and the Loki shelves as we can fill them with plants and books, two of our favourite things!. We also love some of the classic vintage pieces.
Why are plants important in a home?
Plants are so great in a home – the different leaf textures and shapes can transform a space. What’s more, there’s a lot of research done by NASA that proves that having a house filled with plants is beneficial, as certain plants purify the air.
A styling trick is to fill a bookcase or shelving with plants – opt for trailing plants such as string of hearts or fishbone cactus as they are reasonably low maintenance and just need watering once a week. By having plants in your home, you’ll also experience a more relaxed and peaceful home.
What’s your top tip to introducing greenery into your home?
Start with the easier plants – succulents are perfect first plants as they are low maintenance, easy to propagate and suited to most homes. They are best placed on the windowsill where they can get the most sunlight. Cacti are pretty easy to grow and look after because they need so little water. They love the sun, so are perfect to keep by the window or in a well-lit spot, where they can get plenty of daylight.
A top tip is to start propagating from your plants, such as pilea peperomioides and spider plants, as they produce offsets rather quickly once they are in the right conditions.
There’s also some great colour that can be added through greenery, for example certain plants such as calathea ornata have amazing patterned purple and white leaves or the oxalis triangularis has butterfly shaped purple leaves, which flower beautifully. So start a small collection, and do some research into which are the best plants for your home, for example if you have a velux or sky lights then most plants will thrive, but if you have little natural light and a cold draughty house, not many plants will survive.
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