Home Tours

How indoor plants transformed this inner-city apartment

An apartment in the heart of Auckland’s Ponsonby Road gets a breath of fresh air


Jane and Mark Sweeney moved into their swanky, inner-city, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment last August with the youngest of their three sons and their two bulldogs. Jane says they were after some greenery to lift the space, especially on the enclosed deck. “We are not green thumbs but I knew what I was looking for. I went on Outside In’s website and loved their bespoke plant racks and their styling.”


Foxtail fern (Asparagus meyeri) and Sansevieria superba (a variety of mother-in-law’s tongue) sit side by side in this bespoke rack, made with the help of Outside In’s friends at Catalyst Design.


“The rack looks so fresh and has really softened the deck,” says Jane. “We love the combination of the two plants: one soft and the other more upright.”


Large-leafed peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Sensation’) and fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) add some depth to an unused corner.


Ryan McQuerry of Outside In says Jane was after something fairly minimalistic and clean, so powder-coating the rack white was a no-brainer.


“I like the view from the kitchen out to the deck,” says Ryan. “You can see the plant rack on the wall and a large London plane tree in the background. I’m also really happy with the two black plant tripods we designed. They work well to liven up a corner of a room and are a nod to the existing mid-century decor.”


The speckled Scindapsus pictus and Philodendron cordatum vines sit in Ryan’s bespoke plant tripods, which have been painted black to match the decor.


As the Sweeneys’ apartment is on the second floor, Ryan had to make sure everything could fit in the fairly small lift. This proved to be a challenge – although, in hindsight, it worked out well because oversize objects wouldn’t have worked in the available footprint. The plant rack and tripods are ideal as one takes up no floor space and the other hardly any.


A bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus) takes centre stage on the outdoor coffee table and looks striking against the black.


Ryan says he enjoys working with residential clients as it is so much more personal. “You really need to understand the client’s style and what they are going to like,” he says.


Sansevieria superba (a variety of mother-in-law’s tongue) on the coffee table.


“We have to be able to pick up on the art and furniture they’ve already chosen and design something that is in keeping with their style preference.”


Patterned Fittonia albivenis and Columnea arguta (pink pot) look at home in the living area.


The Sweeneys had only two requests for Ryan: the plants needed to be high enough off the ground so that their two bulldogs couldn’t reach them, and they needed to be hardy enough to be left on their own for two weeks at a time. After surveying the space, Ryan realised the plants would also need to be tolerant of fairly low light.


Foxtail fern (Asparagus meyeri) sits proudly on the dining table while the fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) hangs out in the corner.

Words by: Kristina Rapley. Photography by: Todd Eyre.

Home experts are just a click away