Clever, eagle-eyed readers might have noticed an allusion to terrariums the other day when I showed off pics of my office. I’d intended to include more detailed photos of our entryway, including my new terrarium, in that post, but it got a little long and the pictures didn’t get included. (The allusion came in because I forgot to change my headline, which had a terrarium reference. Once published, that headline stuck with the post!)
Here is what one sees when coming in through the front door of the new house.
Let’s get a bit closer, shall we?
Ah, much better. I’m not gonna lie, folks, this whole tablescaping business is a bit of a mystery to me. Our Minneapolis house was a bit more akin to a ship. Compact and tidy, every piece of furniture was required to (more or less) serve a purpose. This table serves not much purpose, other than we stash our Garmin in the drawer since we have two cars and a fear of Garmin thieves.
We bought the table from craigslist. It’s not my favorite style, but I try to keep Mr. Bug in mind and it’s MUCH more to his taste – it was originally from Pottery Barn and we paid $160 for it. It’s in great shape and fits the space perfectly. I’d originally intended to just keep it simple – a mirror, a lamp and perhaps a basket for keys. I’ve had my eye on that lamp from Target for a while – I like the crackled glass! The mirror is from World Market and I had intended to put it in our powder room, but it’s just slightly the wrong size, and I’d set it on the table just as a place to stash it and ended up liking it better than the more ornate antique mirror I’d been planning to put in the foyer.
Alas, I found that just the mirror and lamp left the table looking forlorn and forgotten and since it’s the first thing we lay our peepers on when coming through the front door, I wanted it to be a bit more cozy and warm. I raided my stash of non-functional, decorative crap and added the terra cotta pear and one of my bowling pins (both from antique shops) and a crazy basket that doesn’t really have ANY use other than being cute because it’s made from chicken wire. It originally had little boxwood topiaries in it that live in other places, I thought the candles looked nice enough – not that I’d actually light them just sitting on some chicken wire!
I also put a couple of baskets under the table to warm up the space. They’re from world market as well. I’d have preferred a little less basket and to have gone with something made from wood, metal or even old suitcases, but the baskets were on sale and the most inexpensive option. I got the covered one for height and hidden storage. The two thicker braided ones got filled up with white stuff – a couple of Ikea lanterns, a rolled up a spare blanket and some fake sheepskin from my material supply.
Now for the terrarium! I’d seen a post recently on Thrifty Decor Chic on making one, and thought they looked cute. I’m trying to keep our general palette in the cream, white and brown family with touches of chartreuse and green (the better to calm down our whirling thoughts, precious) and a bit more green is exactly what I wanted. While I’m pretty good at the outdoor gardening, I’m AWFUL at keeping houseplants alive, and I don’t really like how most of them look. Also, they remind me of cats. High maintenance creatures that don’t give a lot in return (ah! cat lovers don’t come after me! I like petting kitties, especially purring ones.)
I found the heavy green glass bowl at Hobby Lobby. At 50% off I paid $17 for it. There were less expensive options to be sure, but I really liked the shape and the heft – it’s that super heavy green glass – like what pop bottle were made from. It has a cork covering, although I leave it off most of the time.
For the plants I went with succulents. The nursery close to my house has a whole terrarium section with plants that aren’t succulents, but I like the color, shape and personality of succulents. I got one larger plant for $4 and a few of the $2 little ones.
The inside of the terrarium is layers – in order from the bottom up is rocks, charcoal, potting soil and then moss over the surface. I got my rocks at Ikea, but then realized I didn’t get enough, so I got more at Hobby Lobby, along with the moss (both are in the dry flower arranging section.) For my terrarium, which is pretty large I needed three bags of rocks – maybe a little over 2, actually. And less than one bag of moss – I bought WAY too much moss! Spring for the more expensive, sheet like moss. I got some of the stuff in pieces that says it’s great for terrariums, but some of it is really thick, and its hard to arrange it so it looks nice. I spent a few dollars per bag of rocks, about $10 on moss (I have WAY TOO MUCH MOSS) and the potting soil and charcoal were about $15 all together, but again, I have tons left over.
The best way to water these is to spray with water. A few other things I learned while putting these together:
Get a taller bowl! Mine is a little short and squat, which made it hard to get in enough rock and soil and still have enough height for the plants! It worked, but a lot of the terrariums I’ve seen are in the taller containers that have a base. I can see how that works better!
Remember you have to stick your hand in there! Again, the neck of my bowl is pretty small. I like how it looks, but it was a PAIN arranging everything one handed! I saw one post recommending to arrange with a spoon if necessary, so I suppose it’s all about the look you want to end up with versus the annoyance of putting it together, but I didn’t even think about how big the neck of the bowl was when I bought it!
Think about the layers. I initially put in WAY too many rocks, charcoal and soil. The plants stuck up too high and it didn’t look nice. I had to take everything out and it was a mess. The charcoal is in little teeny pieces and flew around everywhere, getting on basset hound feet and by extension the beige sofas. Don’t over fill, stand back and see how the layers are looking.
Don’t worry! I planted mine about two weeks ago and thought for sure the little succulents would immediately die. They didn’t. Apparently succulents like it a bit drier, so I leave the cover off, but they look great! It sort of reminds me of having a fish in a fishbowl. It’s my plant fishbowl! (speaking of useless, decorative pets…)