What Designers Mean by White Space and Their Love for Fiddle Leaf Figs
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What Designers Mean by White Space Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource

What Designers Mean by “White Space” (And How the Fiddle Leaf Fig Perfectly Exemplifies This Interior Decorating Trick)

If you were to hazard a guess, why would you say the fiddle leaf fig tree has suddenly exploded in popularity? What is it about this particular plant that has the interior design and decorating world going nuts?

Sure, when cared for properly, it grows quickly. And yes, that’s gratifying. But so do timeless standards like pothos, philodendron, bamboo, and ivy. No, it’s not the speed with which they move that has nurseries selling out of the ficus lyrata.

Is it their potential to grow so tall that makes them the new “it” plant? No, because if that were the case, the rubber tree, the banana tree, lemon tree, and even the majesty palm would have taken the world by storm.

What makes the fiddle leaf fig tree so popular for designers and decorators is negative space.

What Is Negative Space?

Negative what?

Negative space. A fundamental element in art, web design, and yes, interior decorating, negative space is the expression of restraint by the designer. It’s a place intentionally left blank, open, or clear, all for the purpose of emphasizing a subject.

While all other houseplants serve a purpose, none embodies the concept of negative space so perfectly as the fiddle leaf fig tree.

Examples of this concept may include the difficult (but wise) decision to leave a table uncluttered by knicknacks.

What Designers Mean by White Space Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource

Or a wall unadorned by art.

What Designers Mean by White Space Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource

Or a sofa unburdened by pillows.

What Designers Mean by White Space Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource

Or even a floor uncomplicated by rugs.

What Designers Mean by White Space Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource

In each of these instances, negative space punctuates the area’s theme. In fact, without that restraint, there really is no theme.

And without a theme, houseplants (while individually beautiful) often fall victim to a cluttered, every-space-occupied, haphazard design. Here’s an example of how that pitfall can appear:

What Designers Mean by White Space Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource

Sometimes called white space, negative space allows the eye and mind to rest in an otherwise aesthetically busy world.

Thankfully, the fiddle leaf fig tree achieves this goal by nature.

What Designers Mean by White Space Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource

Without an ounce of effort, the ficus lyrata provides a visually weighty base and an equally (or even more) substantial upper–that is, the foliage.

What Designers Mean by White Space Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource

In a room full of knee-, waist-, and chest-height objects (think chairs, couches, coffee tables, dressers, fireplace mantles, sideboards, and consoles), the planter and leafy portion of the plant are both below and above the majority of common household objects. Between those two features is, of course, what the fiddle leaf fig is best known for: the unpretentious, spindly trunk.

What Designers Mean by White Space Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource

Today’s designers have traded symmetry for balance. That means for every area occupied by a waist- or chest-height piece, there’s an opportunity to offset the disparity with low, ankle-level elements, and higher, eye-level ones. Granted, wall art and vases have traditionally filled the void. But again, filling voids is not the goal. The goal is to visually balance that heavy, mid-level inequality. Besides, there are only so many canvases and urn-bound flower arrangements you can stick in a room before overdoing the accessories.

What Designers Mean by White Space Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource

Look around you. What negative spaces do you see at home? Which of those void spaces should stay clear? And which of them would benefit from the combined balancing bulk of a low-level planter and handsome height of a fiddle leaf fig?

If you’re not sure, snap a photo and share it with our friendly group of fellow FLF enthusiasts online in the Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource Group. Not only will they help you decide where to put your ficus lyrata, they’ll also support you with real-time growing tips along the journey.

The exponential growth of popularity that the fiddle leaf fig has enjoyed in the design world is simply well deserved. Its heavy lower/top portion (combined with clean, white space between) is the perfect balancing act for most beautiful rooms.

And that’s anything but negative.

To learn everything you need to know about growing your own beautiful, healthy fiddle leaf fig tree, grab your copy of The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert, your complete guide to growing healthy fiddle leaf fig plants. The book is available in full-color paperback or Kindle edition on Amazon now!

Grab the Essentials for Your Fiddle Leaf Fig:

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Photo Credit: Unsplash, Meg Miller

Meg S. Miller is an influential speaker and multiple award-winning author with nearly a decade of writing experience. In her latest book, Benefit of the Debt (April 28, 2018), Miller offers a unique perspective that gives fresh insight into common sources of brokenness within Christian marriages. Miller, her husband, Joe, and their three children live near Washington, D.C., where they own and operate an organic farm. When not writing, Miller loves doting on her six prized fiddle leaf fig trees. Learn more about Meg at www.benefitofthedebt.com.

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