For interior stylist and plant enthusiast Hilton Carter, every day is an opportunity to learn something. He and his wife, Fiona Vismans, have had their share of learning over the past year, not only becoming parents but also first-time home buyers who are fully renovating their 1916 Baltimore abode.
“If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s how to be at home. If it doesn’t fill us with light and make us feel like we can just be in the space, that’s a sign something needs to change,” he remarked. Now, the East Coast creative is tapping into his love of natural light, plants and connection to the outdoors to create a healthy home for his growing family.
“My forever goal is to blur the indoor/outdoor line,” Carter said. To make the most of the southern exposure and park views at the back of the house, he had windows enlarged, walls removed and a new kitchen created in the former dining room. This not only puts the most-used room, the kitchen, in the sunniest space, it also improves the flow of the main level by positioning the kitchen in between the new dining room and sunroom. The wall separating the sunroom from the new kitchen was also removed to let light penetrate further into the interior of the house.
But perhaps the most dramatic change of all was replacing the south-facing wall of the sunroom with Andersen® Folding Outswing Doors, creating a truly “wild interior” with seamless patio access.
Given the hot summers and bitterly cold winters, the doors will primarily be utilized in the spring and fall when fresh breezes can help improve indoor air quality, while sweeping views from all four sides capitalize on natural light throughout the year.
“We’ve renamed the sunroom ‘the terrarium,'” Carter laughed. Because it’s true — just like plants, humans thrive in sunlight. With all the health benefits of Vitamin D, like improved mental health and helping ward off seasonal depression, it’s no wonder Hilton heads to “the terrarium” whenever he needs a productivity boost.
While he’s enjoying more space and large windows for his plants, Carter assures us that no space is too small to “junglify” and reap the health benefits of greenery. In smaller areas, Carter suggests curating a propagation wall — stems or stalks taken from existing plants that grow vertically in small tubes filled with water. This can contribute to cleaner air and a clearer state of mind without any loss of square footage. And the simple act of tending to plants can be enough to enhance your mood.
The benefits of greenery are boundless. “Wherever there’s a window, there’s a plant,” said Carter. He even added an in-floor planter in the kitchen where a Meyer lemon tree grows in the generous light of a floor-to-ceiling window. It was important to create not only an inviting environment for one of the most bustling rooms of the house, but also a healthy one. The plants help purify indoor air by absorbing toxins and increasing humidity, equaling healthier oxygen levels for everyone. Plants can even act as a layer of natural privacy while simultaneously reducing noise levels. The result is a cozy, connective atmosphere that offers all the tranquility of the outdoors within the comforts of home.
There’s lush plant life and expansive views to the outside no matter which room Carter’s family spends time in. “I wanted to bottle up how I felt on a vacation in Costa Rica — creative, relaxed, in tune with myself,” he mused. “Those are the benefits that plants bring me.”
Even before styling the sunroom with plants, he had already let the outside in through design. When deciding where new windows would go, Carter based many of his decisions on how much outside greenery and landscaping could peek in. Black-framed Andersen® E-Series windows give his home a modern aesthetic while beautifully framing these views.
A connection to the outdoors has always been top of mind for the new dad. Growing up in the city, it could be difficult to access green space. Now, the family enjoys their indoor jungle and views of the natural world, all while being within walking distance of a neighborhood park. “Nature makes us feel happy, connected and alive. A home that helps us share that is extra special,” Carter said.