Faux flowers, artificial plants, permanent botanicals…fake plants and flowers go by MANY names, but the recent adoption of “permanents” goes with the upward trend of their use in interior design.
For a long time, the use of ANY fake flowers in décor was considered as tacky as popcorn ceilings or a plastic-wrapped couch…sure, they’re practical, but the price paid in the overall look and feel of the room was unpalatable. Faux botanicals looked fake, felt fake, and pushed any room into kitschy territory FAST.
Today, permanents have been given a second life…they’ve adopted a new reputation in the overall wave of green-inspired spaces, and developments in their realism and quality have skyrocketed their adoption by luxury designers everywhere. The permanents industry has boomed from $1.4 million in 2022 to $1.6 million in 2023 and is slated to grow to $2.3 million by 2030.
Not all permanents are created equal, though! And even stunning permanents can be used poorly.
Keep reading to learn what makes the best permanents so much better than the fake flowers sold in bulk at craft stores…start imagining their use in nature-inspired spaces…and get in on the conversation for more design inspiration!!
What are “permanents?”
Artificial flowers have taken on a new name in interior design: permanent botanicals, or “permanents.” These decorative plants and blooms are made of a combination of nylon, silk, paper and plastic.
The permanents industry has seen HUGE improvements in the last five years, and the improved quality has spurred enormous adoption in luxury interior design. What was once tacky is now a practical way to invest in a glorious, botanical-inspired look.
Permanents made with certain materials are more realistic than others, and it’s ultimately that realistic texture and feel that divides “cheap” faux flowers from the permanents used in breathtaking interiors.
Here’s how to choose your permanents…
There are three things to assess when you select permanents for your home…
The look of realistic permanents starts with colors that truly imitate natural plants and blooms. Look at a real orchid, for example…the rich purple is darker toward the edges of the petals. Is the permanent you’re looking at one uniform color, or does it imitate a true flower in its soft gradients? Also, is the color dye over saturated?
The texture of permanents requires a feel-test. Are the petals soft between your fingertips? Do they imitate that cool feel of living petals? Do the stems imitate the rough texture that you feel brush along your legs as you walk through a garden?
Finally, you also want to check flexibility. Stems should be flexible with a little natural spring. This imitates natural plants better, and—just as important—it makes using them in your décor much easier.
As far as materials go, the best permanents are generally made with silk petals. Look for premium silk in your selections and your permanents will mimic beautiful botanicals with a truly divine feel between your fingers…
For an added natural look, favor hand-painted permanents. If you select a few of these as investment pieces within your overall botanical theme, you won’t regret it.
Why decorate with permanents?
Permanent botanicals go together with the overall shift to nature-inspired spaces in interiors. Realistic permanents add life to your environment and add stunning pops of color. Spring and summertime can be eternally present in your space if you use permanents.
Permanents are also hassle-free…once you’ve invested in them, they’re yours to play with forever. They hardly even require arrangement or the occasional fluff!
Consider selecting a few investment pieces like premium silk permanents of your favorite flowers. This will still amount to less of an investment than the constant purchase of real flowers that quickly wilt and die.
How do you use permanents in design?
Once you’ve selected a collection of permanents to play with, you can arrange, re-arrange, and constantly change how and where you use these beautiful botanicals in your home.
Here’s an easy three-step process to balance your u se of permanents…
- Mix in permanents to existing design. Today, the name of the game in interiors is maximalism. Even if you aren’t into grandmillennial design or the overcrowded look on your shelves, adding a vase with your favorite permanents can be done anywhere without overdoing a space. Just find a perch where you can set a vase, arrange your favorite permanents, and see what life it breathes into the space…
- Acquire multiple vases for different spaces or seasons. Switching up the look of your permanents is even more fun when you start to collect different vases or containers for your arrangements. Consider a different container for every season.
- Once you feel like you’ve graduated to the next level, switch up vignettes where you need a “refresh.” Look around your home at the focal points and vignettes you have….what’s been left unchanged for a long time? What are you tired of? Look at the centerpiece in your dining room or living room…assess what you have sitting on your bedside table…think about what you have hanging from the walls in the powder room…a fresh look with an arrangement of permanents will give the space a whole new look.
For more on how to use all botanicals (permanent and natural) in your home, read the article How to Use Plants Indoors in Interior Design.
And to get in on the conversation, join the private design community and share what YOU think!!