Decor to Fall For
After Christmas, fall is my favorite time of year to decorate. Here in Marengo and my own yard, there is so much to use to decorate my home and porch.
When we built our home 10 years ago, I envisioned a home that looked as if it had been situated on this site for many years. Our front porch reflects the style of a New England colonial. It has become the focus of all of my seasonal decorating.
When we planted our landscaping, one requirement was to have plant material that I could use cuttings of for fall and Christmas decorating. Not only does it save me money, but also time. For example, in lieu of using the standard cornstalks for the corner of the porch, I took clippings of a Hardy Pampas Grass growing around our pool. My hydrangeas for the dining room table are clipped from a bed of Annabelle Hydrangea on the side of my porch. The chrysanthemums that are used in the porch décor will be planted for future growth, not always with success. I also have boxwoods, hollies and evergreens planted to help with Christmas decorating. I even use the hydrangeas at Christmas.
As an Accredited Home Staging Professional and Interior Re-designer, I have to spend time thinking about the "stage" I am looking to create, whether it is a home that has to be sold or a single room in mine or a client’s home.
I shop locally at Hubb’s Greenhouse (1003 E. Grant Hwy. in Marengo, 815-568-7312). I usually find a unique piece to start my design from. If not, I ask them to create something for me. In these photos, the crate planter with the corn, grass and coleus was my starting point. I am not opposed to letting someone else’s creative gift generate something special in my home.
Most of the "hardscape" items on the porch are old. I have been able to collect many unique pieces, including the rocker, table and the stool from around McHenry County. I spent many hours in Interiors Anew (134 Cass St. in Woodstock, 815-337-9131) shopping for "new" old pieces when we first moved. Again, I wanted our home to feel like it has been here for a while.
I purposefully kept our home color very neutral because I want all of nature’s colors to work well with the home. The flowers, grasses, hay bales, rugs and pumpkins create the wonderful pop you see. I also added warm and welcoming pieces to create some different visual interest to the porch-scape. When decorating your home, inside or out, always use odd numbers and try to complete a vignette with something high, medium and low. Those two details make a world of visual interest difference. That being said, you can also create interest by keeping things asymmetrical.
When decorating, always start with what you love. Use the colors, furniture and flowers that make you smile when you walk up to your front door. Don’t be afraid to use items from in and around your home, especially if you have a protected area. I pulled one of the rugs from inside my home to add interest to the rocking chair area. If you have worn pieces of furniture, give them a fresh coat of paint and use them in your design, especially tables and wooden chairs.
Fall is a great time to decorate on a budget. To add color and interest to your home, use pumpkins, kale, cornstalks and hay bales—they are not that expensive. Have fun with what you do, invite your friends over for coffee and muffins and share the creative process. I guarantee that everyone will go home and use one of your ideas in their own home.
In the dining room, I started with a "Nature’s Elegance" theme. As I mentioned before, I always try to use what nature or my landscaping has provided me. I knew I wanted to use the hydrangeas because they are one of my favorite plants for fall and winter. Keeping with the colors of nature, I pulled out green and brown plates, and the beaded placemats were just the right colors to keep with the Thanksgiving color palette. The beaded placemats added elegance to our theme, along with the crystal glassware. I used the beaded maple leaves to accentuate the linen napkins. I always try to use layers when setting a table to add visual interest.
When creating a centerpiece, always keep it low enough so that your guests can converse with one another comfortably. By arranging the hydrangea in clear glass vases, I added elegance without distracting from the flower. I also added a couple of shimmering gold napkins around the vases to soften the tablescape. The gourds added more "nature" to the table.
When creating a festive tablescape for your holiday dinner, don’t forget the lighting. Whenever possible, use layers of lighting to create the mood in a room. Use your chandelier, preferably on a dimmer, to create the overall light for the table (I have a family that likes to see what they are eating). Add background lighting, such as a buffet lamp or dimmed can lights, along with table candles, to create a warm glow.
I used to make place cards for guests when entertaining. Now, I just have two rules: you can’t sit next to your spouse and it has to be boy/girl around the table. That way, everyone is mingling and getting comfortable with someone new at every meal we serve.