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The green room

Lisa Ho is photographed in the living room of her Toronto home on June 5, 2017.

Interior designer Lisa Ho has turned her downtown Toronto condo into a lush landscape

A lack of outdoor space didn’t stop Lisa Ho from indulging in her love of gardening. The Toronto-based interior designer transformed a two-bedroom downtown condo into a small garden in the sky. “Our indoor garden evolved from two plants that we brought over from our previous home to what my husband now calls a jungle,” says Ho.

When the couple moved into their spacious condo on The Esplanade, they decided to start from scratch, bidding goodbye to most of their old furniture. “This place symbolized a fresh outlook on life and a new exciting beginning,” she says. Without a final look in mind, they took their time selecting the individual pieces and hoped it would all come together in the end. This approach very much put Ho outside of her comfort zone. “I’ve always been trained to start with a strong concept and let that be the core of all decisions,” she says. “In this case, we let each piece tell its story and dictate the next purchase.”

The pair started with a sofa from Restoration Hardware, a timeless piece with extra depth for additional cushions and maximum lounging potential. “It allows for both my husband and me to lay comfortably while unwinding,” Ho says. At one point, while living with not much more than the sofa and a side chair, the couple realized that it was the two plants they brought from their last living space that made their new condo feel like home. “It was the sense of calmness, beauty and renewal that the greenery brought to our life,” she says. Thus, the collection began growing and growing, gravitating towards tropical flora such as Monsteras and Birds of Paradise. And with each new addition, Ho’s passion for cultivating grew. “I would consider myself a plant lady,” she explains. “I celebrate each new leaf, or stem growth that I discover, and I celebrate when I’m able to revive my plants after dormant seasons.”

Her love of plants also manifested itself in the launch of a small lifestyle collection, Always x Always. “[It] is inspired by the beauty found in the simplicity of nature. Each design stems from my personal pursuit of a life lived vibrantly and full of possibility, emphasizing wellness, inviting creativity and promoting self-love,” she says. Ho’s tropical cushion design blends in perfectly with its lush surroundings. The rest of the decor is kept simple: a neutral rug and brass side table from West Elm, architectural brass lights from Elte Mkt, coffee table, wicker poufs and sheepskin rugs from Ikea. The planters take up a considerable amount of real estate, with a mix of pieces from West Elm, Elte Mkt, Fresh Home and Garden and Ikea. “We’ve probably spent more on greenery and planters than the furniture itself, which is unusual coming from an interior designer,” says Ho, who frequents Toronto’s Crown Flora when she needs to add to her collection. Aside from looking beautiful, the designer finds serenity in the greenery-rich space, a place where she can relax even while running her design business from a home office. She feels invigorated every time she walks into the room: "[The] life and energy we get from the space are unimaginable,” she says.

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