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An interview with Caitlin Atikinson

by Timber Press on December 1, 2016

in Craft, Design


Rock and Sand Landscape. All photographs by the author.

“I try to respond to the environment, both indoors and out, keeping the photography soft and allowing the garden, object, or room to shine.” —Caitlin Atikinson

In the introduction to Plant Craft: 30 Projects that Add Natural Style to Your Home, you suggest that the projects are an ideal starting point, but readers should also take inspiration from their daily lives. What are some of the things that have inspired you recently?

As the weather turns cold and wet, I tend to hide out and dive into garden books. I have been reading my grandfather’s copy of Thomas Church’s Your Private World: A Study of Intimate Gardens from 1969. It reads as though it was written yesterday. As an added bonus, my grandfather constructed a number of the gardens in the book, and he added a few handwritten notes. I also can’t stop reading Louisa Jones’s Mediterranean Landscape Design: Vernacular Contemporary—a wonderful collection of beautiful garden photos by Clive Nichols and really wonderful writing on landscape art and design.

A neon pothos cutting, started in water, can continue to live with the roots growing in water.

A neon pothos cutting, started in water, can continue to live with the roots growing in water.

In addition to the step-by-step projects, Plant Craft also offers insight into houseplant care, including a helpful problem-identification chart. What is the most common mistake made by beginning houseplant owners?

Not actually paying attention to how the plant is responding. Allow the plant to tell you when it is happy, and give yourself space and time to find the right spot, with the right light for each plant.

How have your strategies for integrating plants into your home changed most over time? 

My schedule is a bit unpredictable, and I sometimes find myself traveling for work, so I have gravitated towards a few tough plants. I also have taken to rotating plants from spot to spot in the house, so I can still have a little green in rooms with less light.

Many of the crafts you feature integrate exotic plants into home décor, like the Bromeliad Stump Garden. Are there any plants you think are an upcoming trend in home design?

We have seen a lot of succulents and air plants over the past few years, but I see the big-leafed jungly plants (alocasias, philodendrons, and monsteras) as a real trend right now. They give a home an instant lushness.

You are both the author and photographer for Plant Craft, which is overflowing with your beautiful, full-color images. How would you describe your photography style?

I try to respond to the environment, both indoors and out, keeping the photography soft and allowing the garden, object, or room to shine.

Single-Dowel Plant Hanger.

Single-Dowel Plant Hanger.

How did you develop your signature interior design style?

I would call my interior design style California cozy modern—clean and uncluttered, but with a bit of rustic charm. I like to add color and soul with a mix of handmade goods, Craigslist finds, and plant life. Lately I have been working with tree bark. I love the texture, color, and scale of it. I am experimenting with the bark of madrone, pine, eucalyptus, and other trees to create a wall piece.

Which craft from the book would you recommend for a beginning crafter? And if you could only give one piece of advice to a beginning crafter, what would you say?

First, I would recommend the Manzanita wreath: it is easy to complete and requires minimal materials and tools. You can substitute other varieties of leaves if needed, and it is so satisfying to actually create something you can hang or give as a gift. Foraging for the leaves also provides an opportunity to look closely at your environment, to really notice what is around you and connect to nature.

As far as advice goes, I would tell any crafter just starting out not to get discouraged and to have fun! There is room for mistakes—it is a learning process—but the experience of gathering, creating, and thinking about a project is half the fun.


Caitlin Atkinson has worked in floral design and at Flora Grubb Gardens as an interior merchandiser. An accomplished freelance photographer, she captures gardens, interiors, and still life.


Click image for a look inside this book.


“Delivers lush, knowledgeable, and surprising ways to beautify your home and bring nature into your life—so accessible, you’ll want to start right away!” —The Horticult

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