Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.
The autumnal equinox, more commonly known as fall, is officially here!
Are the nights feeling a bit chillier and the days just a bit cooler where you live?
Are the leaves beginning to change color in your neighborhood?
Fall brings new landscapes, new smells and new activities. Football stadium lights shine on Friday night, and college game tailgating is a traditional way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Festivals, carnivals and county fairs are probably on your “to do” list.
It’s common to have the urge to bake an apple pie, crack pecans, or carve a pumpkin beginning in September and continuing through the Thanksgiving holiday. I know all I can think about is disappearing to the park to enjoy the great weather during the day, and watching all of the Halloween movies coming out at night.
If you live somewhere that has a distinct seasonal change complete with colorful displays of leaves, a nip in the air, and the flowers of the season in bloom, it doesn’t take much to set the stage for autumn’s activities.
If you live in a warmer more tropical climate that doesn’t remind you every day that the seasons are changing, you may still welcome many of the same flowers, flavors, and traditions. Chrysanthemums, apples, pumpkins and nuts are abundant in local stores and markets anywhere in the United States. Football and county fairs prevail from Maine to California, Washington to Florida and everywhere in between!
It’s pretty evident that the fall season is celebrated with the same traditions whether you have frost on the pumpkins or sand between your toes. Whether you have maple, oak or aspen trees with brilliantly colored leaves in your yard or not, you will probably have a pumpkin on the porch or a pie in the oven at least once in the next couple of months.
I would love to know how other countries celebrated the last few months of the year!
With the weather turning and the leaves changing, I've had fall decorating on the brain. I know many of us are trying to be more cost-conscious these days, so I've been looking for some creative, budget-friendly ways to bring a touch of autumn into my home.
Maybe you’ve also been thinking about ways to put away the summer in your own décor and add a feeling of fall as the days grow shorter and we spend more time indoors. Here are a few ideas you can use today to welcome the season:
Crafts for the Outside of Your Home
Start with exterior touches at the curb, front porch or front door.
Front Door Wreath
The most traditional way to mark the season and welcome you and your guests into your home is a front door wreath. The fall season calls for grapevines, leaves, pinecones, apples, small pumpkins, and feathers, or a combination of all. Local craft stores have a variety of supplies to help you make a simple wreath or an elaborate display.
Try using ribbon that represents the style you’re going for to wind through or tie off in a bow on your wreath. Ribbons can be found in a wide variety of widths and materials. For the fall season you might use raffia, burlap, or taffeta but feel free to use what you like.
Be unique and let your personality reflect in your decorating. That’s the key to loving it when you’re finished! I like to reuse wreaths. I keep a couple of wreath bases, one grapevine and one foam that I use according to holiday and season. If you want to keep inexpensive materials handy, grab those pool noodles when they are on sale at the dollar store for … well... a dollar and you’ll always have a wreath base handy.
They can be cut to the size you’d like and with a little duck tape to secure the ends you’ve got the perfect wreath base. Depending on the color you may want to wrap it in felt, burlap, moss or fabric before you decorate it so the noodle color doesn’t show through.
Raid the sale bin at the fabric or craft store throughout the year for great ribbons too. You can use them for wreaths, your mantle, chandeliers and packages that you wrap all year. For this time of year, I like to make a wreath that will last from September through November that encompasses all celebrations and activities we’ll observe in those months.
Now, let’s talk more about pumpkins. They have long been considered the symbol of the changing season for most people. In fact, nothing says its fall quite like this instantly recognizable squash. You will find all colors, shapes and sizes available.
If you don’t grow them yourself, you can find great variety in your local grocery store or even your farmer’s market. You can also visit a pumpkin patch if there is one near you. I’m sure you’ve also noticed that the Jack-o’-lantern is no longer the only use for a carved pumpkin.
Etched Pumpkins are really popular right now! Announce your address with seasonal style by carving your street address into a large pumpkin or carving each number into several pumpkins. You’ll first cut out the top and scoop out the meat and seeds just as you would for carving your Jack-o’-lantern. And then light them up with a tea-lights or votive candles, of course!
If you have steps at your front porch or door, stagger your display there. Another great idea is to carve the initial of your last name into a pumpkin. Or you could also pile a combination of traditional and heirloom pumpkins along with other gourds on your front steps, topped with your etched design.
If you like the idea of candlelight this time of year, try making pumpkin lanterns too. Use a drill to make holes in a design or if you are up for a challenge, stencil a leaf pattern or even lattice onto your pumpkin. The lanterns can sit on stairs or tabletops and would also look great along a porch rail.
If you want to create height at the door, consider a Pumpkin Topiary. You can use an urn type planter for the base and you’ll need two or three pumpkins of graduating sizes. Fill the urn with gravel or soil for stability if it’s not made of heavy material before placing the largest pumpkin on the bottom.
If your pumpkin is not flat enough on top to mount the next pumpkin, you can slice off part of the top to make it a better base for holding the upper layers. You’ll want to use a rebar or stake to hold the pumpkins together by driving it through the center of each. Leave them plain, paint them or use grapevine, raffia, vines or fall garlands to wrap where the pumpkins meet.
Let the top pumpkin, which will be the smallest, keep its curly stem. It’s a bit like making a snowman, so get creative. Another idea is to purchase some of the fake pumpkins from your local craft store to make your topiary. They look very realistic and will last from year to year. You can use a glue gun to hold them together instead of a stake if you prefer. You can paint them or stencil them and they can be designed to look elegant, quirky, fun or even scary. Have fun with it!
Let’s not forget flowers for that fall pop of color. There's a reason you see mums on porches and in front yards each fall, because they work! Once buds begin to open, you're guaranteed blooms whether your display is in sun or shade.
To prolong the colorful show, water when dry and make sure to always remove spent flowers. Pair with Mexican sage and boxwoods for a stunning display. Line your steps with fall flowers in pots for a seasonal welcome.
Scatter pumpkins of varying sizes and colors into the mix if you choose. More fall color can be planted in flowerbeds, along the driveway as a border, or in pots. Visit your local nursery or home store for great inspiration. Try purple fountain grass, ‘fireworks’ gomphrenas, and red lantanas in a large pot. A few sweet potato vines to trail along the side will also look spectacular!
If you have planters outside that once housed your summer annuals, don’t leave them empty when the cold weather arrives. Gourds, winter squash, small pumpkins and Indian corn can fill the planters and give them seasonal flare.
Crafts for Inside Your Home
Now that we’ve got the outside covered, let’s bring the colors and scents of the season inside.
As we’ve already established, pumpkins say fall like nothing else. They look great casually placed on the kitchen counter or dining table. You can find them made of glass, glitter, lace, or the great variety of faux foam pumpkins you’ll find in the local hobby store can work too. It’s definitely cost effective for you to use the decorative ones year after year.
For beautiful arrangements that make a big impact, instead of flowers, think leaves! The key to arranging leaves is to group them by size and color as you would flowers. A walk in the woods can yield many choices to make your arrangements.
Fiery red maple leaves combined with yellow aspen, and the feathery foliage of redwood with globes of gray-green fruit on the stem, look fantastic in a jar, urn, or vase on your coffee table. Don’t forget pinecones, apples, nuts and grapevine balls! You can use them in baskets, centerpieces, sideboards, scattered along the mantle, or even on an entry table for an instant feeling of fall inside your home.
Still another suggestion would be to arrange branches from your yard, dried grasses, moss, squash, and small pumpkins in a large clear vase as you would a traditional flower display. Then choose a single pumpkin with an interesting shape or a twisted stem to showcase. Place it on a smaller table or stool to help set it apart from the rest.
In the kitchen and dining room, make pomanders. A pomander is essentially a ball made of perfume. These could be made of flowers, fruit, or could be round containers filled with sweet smelling spices.
In the fall and winter, oranges make the perfect pomander balls. Make designs by sticking dried whole cloves in the flesh of the orange. Display several in a bowl on the table or counter for a festive and fragrant way to welcome the season.
Transform mini pumpkins into luminaries by cutting a 1-inch-wide circle into each pumpkin, scooping out the centers with a tablespoon, and inserting votive candles. These can be used on a dining table, a mantle, or anywhere you’d like a little seasonal light.
Make a gourd garland by stringing small gourds of different colors onto thick twine. You can use real or fake gourds, you’ll need to drill a hole through the center of each and thread them through the twine.
A knitting or crochet needle tied with the twine works well to thread them through easily. You can use this on a mantle, across a window or around your front door or porch railing too.
Special note: If your style is more shabby chic or if typical fall colors just won't work well in your décor, you’ll find gourds and pumpkins in a variety of surprising colors. If you don’t find the colors you need, feel free to paint them! I’ve seen blues, greens, and even soft white pumpkins used to make fresh and stunning displays. You can just do one or can take advantage of all of the above suggestions using your specific color scheme.
More Fun Ideas
Don’t have time to make things? Here are a few easy peasy ideas to get you in the fall frame of mind without using a glue gun, making wreaths, or piercing oranges…
Back in the day, before we were blessed with the luxury of air conditioning, throughout the summer months floors were kept bare to give the home a more open and cooler feeling. We now keep rugs on our floors year ‘round. But you can change the color and texture of them seasonally.
Bring in some warm, wooly rugs that match your décor but may be in a deeper tone. It instantly cozies up a room and invites curling up with a great book on a crisp, fall day. You could also bring in some beautiful throws or blankets in warm fall colors. It's apple picking time too, so fill a basket with yummy red apples for a pretty display on the coffee table if pumpkins aren’t your style. They sure make a great snack while reading that thrilling book snuggled on the couch.
And don’t forget the rest of the house! Bring fall into your bedroom for a warm and cozy atmosphere. Here's an idea that has an initial investment, but becomes budget friendly for years to come. If your bed linens are summery colors, consider storing them for the season and purchase bedding in rich fall colors. It's nice to give summer linens a break. As an added bonus, they will all last longer!
If a new comforter, shams, or pillows are simply not in your budget, add a blanket or throw across the foot of the bed in gold, russet, or whatever rich, dark color works with your décor. Don’t forget the flannel sheets for snuggle factor on chilly nights.
I hope this article has given you an idea or two for beautiful spaces bursting with autumn inspiration. Enjoy the season!
© 2013 Victoria Van Ness
Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on September 12, 2014:
Thanks! Fall has always been my favorite season. I'm usually chomping at the bit to decorate in August. Lol I'm so glad you enjoyed my ideas!
Joy Neasley from Nashville, TN on September 12, 2014:
I love the table setting with the white pumpkin and the candles. Beautiful and elegant.