Colin King's genius trick is an easy and inexpensive alternative to indoor trees – here's how he did it in his own apartment

Sustainable, budget-friendly, and commitment-free, this hack is a great way to introduce some greenery into your interiors

A minimalist dining room with a wooden dining table and a tree in a planter
(Image credit: Future/Matthew Williamson)

Needless to say, New York interior stylist Colin King knows a thing or two about perfecting effortlessly beautiful spaces, and now he's shared a trick that makes it easy to introduce indoor trees into the home - without actually buying a tree. 

Confused? His genius idea uses a branch in a planter, rather than an established potted tree, for the same natural look to harness biophilic design. Potted trees inside the home are a growing trend but if you're going to buy one of the best indoor trees, they tend to be pricey, not to mention tricky to care for. They're also a pretty big commitment, both in terms of size and as a design idea. 

Colin's trick on the other hand is a far more accessible solution. Cheap, easy, and sustainable - and of course, commitment-free - it's a great way to introduce some greenery into your interiors, and it allows you to embrace the changing seasons, too. Here, we take a look at how it's done.   

indoor tree in a minimalist living room next to a white couch

(Image credit: Future/Matthew Williamson)

Colin regularly employs his 'tree' idea when switching up the decor in his NYC rental apartment in the heart of the Tribeca district. In such a lofty space, it acts as a structural art installation that draws the eye upwards and injects some greenery into his otherwise neutral room - a hallmark of Colin's design style.  

Working alongside sustainable florist and owner of Field Studies Flora, Alex Crowder, who sources the branches from overgrown trees or invasive species, they installed the branch seen here in a beautiful cylinder planter. The branches are all cut sustainably without damaging the tree itself, and actually help promote the plant's health. 

'We’re choosing branches that last between 4-8 weeks, even when the leaves wither we find innovative ways to continue using them,' Colin explained in an Instagram post. 'When we are done with the branch, we cut it down, send it back to the place it was foraged from to be made into mulch or to be used as firewood.' 

Of course, the branch doesn't last forever but can be enjoyed throughout all its stages - from luscious green growth to dried leaves, and then on to bare twigs if you like the look. Rather than growing trees in pots, this cyclical design idea is more temporary, with the benefit being that there's no need for big investments or commitments. 

The planter itself is actually made from a preserved hollowed-out tree trunk Colin purchased from Anton & K Antiques. In it, the lower branch stem is supported by rocks and sandbags which are stuffed into the surrounding empty space. The trick is to choose a planter that's tall enough to support the length and weight of the branches you use. 

When it comes to choosing a tree branch fit for the job, Colin regularly makes use of dogwood and blueberry, but it's best to go for something seasonal. Magnolia makes a great choice in spring, while a red Japanese maple is perfect for introducing warmer tones in the fall. To really embrace the idea, do as Colin does and switch out your dried branch once it's past its best, introducing a new one to reinvent your space. After all, just like snowflakes, no two tree branches will ever look the same.

This genius decor idea is sure to catch the eye of any guest in your home, and as a temporary addition, you'll never tire of the changing branches you use either since each one will add something new. It's the perfect weekend project to shake up your space.

Lilith Hudson
News Editor

Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.