Bringing Fall Indoors

Pumpkins, gourds and wreaths add a splash of autumnal color to your décor

11/20/2008 3:46 PM

11/20/2008 3:46 PM

Long evenings and the warmth from the fireplace are among the things Kristin VanderVeen loves about autumn.

“I love the colors and the smell of fall,” the Hanford resident says. “I start decorating for fall in September.”

Decorating for fall and through Thanksgiving can be a joy for some people, as it is for VanderVeen. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. All it takes is ingenuity, says interior decorator Melinda Davis of Corcoran.

“My knack is balance and reworking items that may be on their way out to the garbage,” Davis says. “I love to use canisters, bowls, vases, dishes and platters that the homeowner may already have and fill them with mini-pumpkins or fall candy, such as colorful candy corn or festively wrapped chocolates.”

While many stores already have made way for Christmas decorations, some stores such as Michaels are offering deep discounts of faux fall foliage. A $40 wreath recently was marked down to $15 and a small tabletop arrangement cost $11. TJ Maxx offers a selection of wreaths, autumnal color tablecloths and earth-tone jacquard throws for less than $20.

Still, how does one make it all work together? VanderVeen has relied on Davis’ decorating skills for the last five years.

Davis used a wood cart made by VanderVeen’s father and arranged a collection of large pumpkins, faux burgundy grapes, mum blossoms, hay, live ferns and a sign that reads: “Pumpkin Pete’s We Grow Em. You Pick Em!”

“I shop at discount stores such as Big Lots, Marshalls and Michaels for affordable accents,” Davis says.

Davis says a few decorative accents can go a long way.

“Decorate a dining room table, fireplace mantel, front door or foyer,” she says. “Just sprinkle fall all around.”

Even the supermarket can be a resource, Davis says. Grocery store items such as pumpkins, gourds, corn and fall flowers can be used in simple arrangements.

“For the foyer, you can bundle several pumpkins and intertwine leaves and simple decorative picks, or stems of fall foliage from Michaels or from the garden,” Davis says.

For one client, Davis created a fireplace mantel arrangement by gathering silk sunflowers and leaves with rustic twig pumpkins, along with well-placed gourds. The mantel’s centerpiece, an antique clock, was flanked by four tall candle holders.

For fall décor that is also collectible, consider the Jim Shore Bountiful Angel figurine for $35 or the fall scene pumpkin for $80, which are sold at some Hallmark stores.

If your budget doesn’t allow for collectibles, the Web site about.com offers ideas at interiordec.about.com for “easy indoor fall decorating.”

“A parade of mini pumpkins is a fun decoration for a mantel, a narrow shelf or even down the center of a long dining table,” according to the site. “Use about 8 pumpkins, spaced evenly apart and tuck sprigs of dried and preserved leaves. Be sure to place the pieces on a layer of material to protect your wood surface.”

For people who don’t feel comfortable attempting a floral arrangement, a rustic twig basket or tin decorative container of fresh apples is an easy way to add a harvest look to the home.

In addition, a large pumpkin can be placed on a platter or wooden tray and surrounded by silk leaves or preserved fall leaves.

About.com also suggests filling a tiered serving piece with artificial grapes, oranges, apples, mini-pumpkins and pomegranates for a long-lasting arrangement.

And while you could buy the $75 Williams-Sonoma hand-assembled cornucopia -- featuring dried yarrow, wheat stalks, sage and safflower and orange, and red and yellow leaves -- you can make an alternative suggested in Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Craft magazine.

“Instead of the traditional wicker cone, craft your own from wrapping paper. Simply fold a sheet of paper into a cone shape and secure the edges with tape,” according to the magazine. “Fill the cone with shredded paper, and then arrange fruits and vegetables into a striking still life.”

VanderVeen says her fall decorations have been slowly accumulating. Collecting a few items here and there is easier on the budget.

“I make sure to pack everything carefully away,” she says. “When it’s time to decorate, I just fluff it up and think, ‘Can I get another year out of this?’ ”

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