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Plants for Daily Life

A style veteran’s new business lets clients make their homes verdant even if they don’t have a speck of natural light.

Photo: Eric Striffler
Photo: Eric Striffler

After years of working in fashion media, retail, and visual merchandising with brands like Burberry and Saint Laurent and magazines like Details, Mirabella, and Elle, Anthony Watts has bundled his experience to create Layer, a lifestyle company that specializes in what he calls “living décor.” The key, he says, is working with low-maintenance varieties of vegetation and orchids, all presented in elegant planters and vases. (Low maintenance is good, Watts says, because “most people are deathly afraid of plants.”) Products and accessories will be added as the business grows, but for now the focus is on bringing flora into the home. “I like to have plants in every single room, and my approach to the business is really using plants as a tool for interior design.” And while Watts will be building his clients’ confidence in their ability to develop a green thumb indoors, he’ll also be helping them create things like green table settings. Above, he’s used angel vine as a centerpiece for his own alfresco dining table at his home in East Hampton. The napkins are festooned with Helleborus “Magnificent Bells.”

The lower level. Photo: Eric Striffler

Watts in the lower level of the house that he and his husband, Dominic Lepere, bought and renovated in East Hampton in 2012. He calls it his “working laboratory,” where he’s able to experiment with different greens and orchids (depending on the light). “The easiest things are succulents; they just don’t require a lot of light.” He’s also a big fan of orchids. “I love them. They are very pretty, and they are a great value. They’re an excellent way to incorporate a floral element into your environment in place of fresh cut flowers.” And tricky as some (I’m talking about myself) may feel they are to keep, Watts counters, “They actually last two to three months longer with the proper care: indirect light, very little watering, and climate-controlled environments. They’re also particularly great at large scale — the bigger the better.”

Watts planted boxwood and trimmed it into spheres to juxtapose the angular contemporary architecture of the dark-stained cedar façade. Photo: Eric Striffler
The pearl-gray palette of the living room includes subtle interludes of green, like a container of moss on the coffee table and a potted succulent by the fireplace. Photo: Eric Striffler
Cherry laurel flanks the path leading to the outdoor pipe shower, which Watts designed as a sheltered oasis. Photo: Eric Striffler
Watts is also selling a variety of carved wood planters, including the ones shown here. The lower pot contains a succulent called banana tail, while the taller pot holds wild orchids. Photo: William Geddes
Layer will have a front-row-center presence at the Conservatory when it reopens at Hudson Yards. Photo: William Geddes/
Watts (right) and Lepere shelter at home within an allee of cherry laurel. Photo: Eric Striffler

Watts says that, at the end of the day, “I’m a big believer in buying what you like and what makes you feel good, not what trends dictate.” And with Layer, he’s ready to show clients how to enhance indoor living with no-stress greenery when the confines of four walls are all that many of us are staring at right now.

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