Friday, September 4, 2009

Fall Decorating Ideas

Most of us don't want to admit that summer is over...pushing the thought to the back of our minds as we enjoy what nice weather we have left. But autumn brings its own excitement...for one, decorating! Here are a few seasonal decorating tips I thought were interesting.


As the sunny summer fades out and we enter autumn, it's time to give your home a look that captures the spirit of the season, adding spice and warmth to your home in a simple, natural way. Whether you're spreading pumpkins and gourds around your kitchen or porch, or adorning your sofa with soft, warm blankets, you'll find that it's small touches that go a long way when decorating for the fall.

This year look to the outdoor autumn world for inspiration when you decorate. Why go out and buy plastic decorations when you can find almost everything you need right in nature? Let's face it, some Halloween decorations can be downright gaudy. Not only will do-it-yourself decorating save you money, but the look you achieve will be more natural, refined, and last in your home long after Halloween has passed. Plus, you can tap into your creativity with hands-on decorating, a fun way to get you into the fall spirit. Get outside and take this opportunity to enjoy the outdoors before the cold of winter moves in.

It's no mystery where the classic earthy colors of the season come from; just look out the window at the natural world around you. Leaves are changing color to intense reds and pinks, vivid oranges and yellows, and more subdued browns and coppers as they fall. The produce of the season crops up in all kinds of rich tones; the deep orange of the pumpkin, lively apple reds and greens, gourds and squash in all sorts of shades and patterns of deep greens and buttery neutrals. At any farmer's market you'll find decorative Indian corn with its pale yellow and dark red, brown, and black kernels, as well as rows of mums with their petals in rainbows of bright earth tones. Simply adding a variety of these items to the interior or exterior of your home will immediately give it a splash of fall colors. From here it's up to you to decide how to arrange displays and create your own crafts with these colorful gifts of nature. Read on for ideas to get you started.

There is perhaps no other fruit as emblematic of the fall season as the pumpkin. With its striking orange color, it will brighten up any space it is placed in. You'll find pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns outside just about any house you pass in October. Pumpkins aren't just for Halloween. If left intact, you can get plenty of use out of them decoratively for most of the fall season, and then use them for some wonderful fall recipes, including that Thanksgiving staple, pumpkin pie.

If you're planning on cooking with fresh pumpkin, keep in mind that you'll need to select the right kind. The pulp of the larger jack-o-lantern pumpkins we commonly think of is too stringy and watery to cook with; however, the seeds inside can be saved and baked for a delicious crunchy treat. For cooking more complex recipes you'll need the sugar pumpkin, a smaller, sweeter variety. Go to farm stands and markets and make sure you purchase pumpkins of both varieties. Pumpkins can be used in all kinds of unique recipes, from soups and breads to treats like pancakes and cookies.

If you buy a large quantity of pumpkins and gourds, you can get creative in your placement of them. You can make original arrangements to put on display in or outside your home. If you buy a bunch of small to medium-sized pumpkins, you can place them in all kinds of places and arrangements, making a bolder statement. Look around you to find unusual spots for your pumpkins to stand out. Cascade them in a line down your front stairs, or place them in a row atop fenceposts to really spread out the color. You can place a pumpkin or gourd or two over your front door, or line them up on each side of the walkway to your house.

For the indoors, mini pumpkins lined up on the mantle of your fireplace is a nice seasonal touch, especially when you place some leaves in between each one. When walking outside, collect some colorful leaves, pinecones and acorns, then gather together a bunch of small pumpkins, gourds, apples and Indian corn. Add a basket, a glass vase or bowl, and you have the ingredients for a fall display you can use as a dining room table centerpiece, or place on a kitchen island or any free surface. Experiment with plenty of variations. You can place all gourds, pumpkins, or apples in separate containers, sprinkling the leaves and acorns about as desired, or you may prefer to mix them all together. An autumn-toned piece of cloth will look nice under a basket, as well as allow you to spread whatever extras you may want around the base of the basket or bowl. Furthermore, it keeps the surface clean from residue. Place candles around the sides or in the center of your display. No matter what your setup looks like, it is certainly rearrangeable.

Get imaginative and make candle holders out of small gourds and mini pumpkins yourself; cut off the top of the gourd and scoop out the desired amount of its insides to make room for a small candle or tea light. You can raise these one-of-a-kind holders further to attention by elevating them on stands. Note that once you have cut into the gourds they will only last for few days before they must be replaced. It's not a long-lasting decoration, but a clever idea for adding some ambience to your home if you're having company for dinner. You can also use a similar trick, hollowing out the inside of a larger gourd or small squash, to make a "bowl" in which you can serve soup to your guests. In each of these cases, make sure to use a uniformly-shaped gourd or squash with a flat bottom.

Make ornamental lanyards by stringing together dried leaves and pinecones which you can hang almost anywhere in your house: from the windows, over the mantle of your fireplace, or up the handle of your staircase. You can turn a pumpkin into an innovative flower vase if you cut out the core. The possibilities are endless, and you can keep looking around you for inspiration for adding to your do-it-yourself decorations as the season goes by. As it cools down outdoors, you can make your home warmer inside, keeping in the spirit of the season. You can create visual warmth as well as bring scents of the season to you home with autumn-scented candles. Opt for scents like pumpkin spice, cranberry, pine, and vanilla. You can also purchase or dry out your own potpourri to place around your home. But nothing will fill your home with the rich, warm aroma of autumn like home-cooking some seasonal recipes.

Putting slipcovers on the couches and chairs around your house is an easy way to dramatically change the look and tone of a room for the season, as well as bring warmth to it with heavier fabrics. Consider earth tones of all kinds, and different kinds of fabrics like cotton flannel, faux leather, warm chenille, and luxurious velvet. For even more warmth you might want to place around a few objects with a furry texture or trim, such as pillows and blankets. Go for plain solids or patterns that fit with fall themes, like floral or leaf patterns. Just changing the covers on your furniture can make a drastic difference to a living room, and you can follow in this vein throughout the house; change your curtains, bed linens, and towels to heavier materials that are similarly autumn-toned. Bring out fall-colored or patterned table cloths and small rugs. You can rearrange your furniture so that you move it away from drafty areas and closer to the fireplace. Changing the fabrics and covers in your home is one of the most simple and affordable ways to give it a fresh look, and one that is easily changed season to season.

Don't just think about staying indoors for the fall. Sure it's getting colder out there, but fall weather is some of the most pleasant of the year, with low humidity and gentle cool breezes that should last for at least a couple months. Autumn is the last time of the year to truly enjoy your porch. You can warm up your porch similarly to how you might warm up the inside of your house; bring out a few warm throw blankets you can bundle up with as you sit outside and have a cup of hot apple cider, and place durable fall-patterned table cloths on any small tables. Of course you can place pumpkins and gourds around too. Line up pumpkins in a row on the ledge of your porch and bring cheer to both you and the neighborhood. With such a fall-spirited porch you'll want to bring out some candles and enjoy an autumn dinner in the setting sun.

To give your home a fall makeover, you don't need to look much further than the natural autumn world around you, the linens and blankets stored away in your closet or attic, and your own creative license. Simple, natural touches can create a look that fits your own home, instantly giving the interior and exterior a look that will last you all season.