A Jungle of Indoor Plants and Plenty of Natural Light Updates Designer’s Petaluma Cottage

Peek inside the bright, bohemian and beachy home of plant designer Lindsay Wallstrum.

Lindsay Wallstrum isn’t your typical plant enthusiast. As the owner of a small company that focuses on designing with houseplants, she is on a mission to bring more life into people’s homes in the form of thoughtfully chosen interior greenery. That mission is brought to life in the verdant Petaluma cottage she shares with her husband, Kyle, and their two dogs, Zeus and Lolo. With smart DIY projects and an impressive posse of plants, the couple has transformed the home into a cozy space that offers the couple a literal breath of fresh air.

Lindsay initially began collecting plants when she wanted to beautify her space and was having trouble finding art she liked. “I have an extremely hard time choosing art and found that plants served as art pieces on many a blank wall,” she says. When friends and family visited — oohing and aahing over her plants, telling her how much of a green thumb they didn’t have — she realized that what came naturally to her didn’t come as easily to others. In 2018, Lindsay started her plant design company, Leaf + Lolo, while keeping a day job in merchandising and marketing for a sportswear company. Just last year, as requests rolled in, she made the leap to working with plants full time.

Lindsay finds tending plants rewarding and therapeutic. The proof is found in every nook and cranny now inhabited by her colossal plant collection, 125 strong and counting. “I love the beauty, peace, and serenity they bring to a space. Caring for plants has taught me patience and how to slow down. It’s allowed me to truly be in the moment and witness another form of life and growth.”

(Rebecca Gosselin / Sonoma Magazine)
(Rebecca Gosselin / Sonoma Magazine)
(Rebecca Gosselin / Sonoma Magazine)

Lindsay and her husband have made a number of upgrades to their home, including new floors and paint, stenciling the risers of her stairs, remodeling the bathroom, and stripping the beams in the dining area, all accomplished on their own as their time and energy allowed. “Before we moved in, the first thing to go was the carpet,” laughs Lindsay.

“This might sound crazy, but when choosing our floors, we brought along a tuft of dog fur, hoping to find one that helped camouflage the fur.” And they did indeed find a hardwood laminate design they could install themselves that hides the black and white fur explosions from their two dogs.

Choosing paint wasn’t quite as easy. While they appreciate vivid colors, Lindsay and Kyle both felt that brighter shades would be too energizing for their space. “I find that the serenity of neutrals and texture calms me,” explains Lindsay. So they went neutral, with a soft, light gray throughout the entire 2,100-square-foot space. “I thought I was being so strategic by painting before we laid our new floor,” she says. “But the joke was on me, because fast-forward a few years, and I craved bright, white walls.” They ended up repainting the entire house a crisp white and, despite the extra work, they loved the results.

The dining and living spaces reveal the couple’s flair for a beachy, eclectic California style — a style mixed with plenty of indoor-jungle vibes. Against the white walls, the furniture and accessories incorporate plenty of greens, of course, but also neutral tones and textures accented with soft blush colors. It’s a mix that Lindsay says directly reflects the couple’s love of the beach and its laid-back lifestyle.

Lindsay and Kyle’s most recent home project involved stripping a large beam in their dining room from painted white back to its natural wood tones.

They thought the project would take only a weekend, but as with so many things in these pandemic times, it took much longer. “We spent every free moment up on the ladder. It ended up taking a week to complete and what felt like a week to clean up all the dust. But now the wood beam really adds warmth and character to the space and draws your eye upwards.”

It’s just one more example of Lindsay’s balanced, centered approach, both to design and to life in general. If there’s a part of your home you don’t love, take small steps toward changing it.

Pro Plant Tips

Even though she’s a professional, Lindsay admits that keeping plants thriving can sometimes be a finicky proposition. Everyone loses plants sometimes, she says. “I try to use it as a learning experience.” For more information on Lindsay Wallstrom’s inteior plant business, visit leafandlolo.com.

 Avoid over-watering.This is one of the most common ways to kill a plant.

Give your plants (and you) a self-care day. Wipe down leaves, check for pests, and spend time taking in their beauty.

Go for trailing plants, such as philodendron and lemon-lime pothos. They look amazing on shelves or trailing along a wall. 

Adjust water and placement based on the season. Plants will likely need less water in winter months. And they might need to be shifted to a slightly different spot based on where the sun hits during different times of year.

Try hanging plants for a different look. Rustic, textured macrame hangers are a popular look right now and convey a beachy California feel.