Fall Decorating Ideas

A pumpkin candle and some cranberries lying on a table.

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

This year, look to the outside world for for fall decoration inspiration. After all, 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, the look you achieve will be more natural and last long past Halloween.

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 pumpkins, the lively reds and greens of the apples, and the deep greens and buttery neutrals of the gourds and squash. 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 immediately gives 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. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Pumpkins: Not Just for Halloween

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. You'll find pumpkins and jack-o'-lanterns outside just about any house you pass in October. Pumpkins aren't just for Halloween, though. You can use them 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 for cooking; the seeds inside can be saved and baked for a delicious crunchy treat, though. For cooking, you'll need the sugar pumpkin, a smaller, sweeter variety. These pumpkins can be used in all kinds of foods beyond pie, from soups and breads to treats like pancakes and cookies.

If you buy a bunch of pumpkins and gourds, you can make a lot of creative arrangements with them. Look around for unusual spots in which your pumpkins would stand out from their surroundings. Cascade them in a line down your front steps, or place them on top of fence posts to really spread out the color. You can even place some pumpkins or gourds over your front door or use them to line the walkway leading up to it.

For the indoors, minipumpkins lined up on the mantle of your fireplace are a nice seasonal touch, especially when you place some leaves in between each one. You can place all gourds, pumpkins, or apples in separate containers, sprinkling the leaves and acorns about as desired, or you can mix them all together.

An autumn-toned piece of cloth will look nice under a basket and allow you to spread extra fruits around the base. Furthermore, it keeps the surface clean from residue. Place candles around the sides or in the center of your display.

To make candle holders out of small gourds and minipumpkins, cut off the top and scoop out enough of its insides to make room for a small candle or tea light. Note that the gourds will only last a few days once you cut into them. Thus, it's not a long-lasting decoration, but it's still a clever idea for adding some ambience to your home if you're having company for dinner.

A similar trick is to hollow out the inside of a large gourd or small squash to make a soup bowl. Make sure to use a uniformly-shaped gourd or squash with a flat bottom.

Other Touches of Fall

Make ornamental lanyards by stringing together dried leaves and pinecones. You can hang these almost anywhere in your house: from the windows, over the fireplace mantle, or up the railing of your staircase. The possibilities are endless, so keep looking around you for do-it-yourself inspiration throughout the season.

You can bring the scents of the season into you home with autumn-scented candles. Opt for fragrances such as pumpkin spice, cranberry, pine, and vanilla. You can also purchase or dry out your own potpourri.

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, put out 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, such as 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. Overall, changing the fabrics and covers in your home is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to give it a fresh look.

To give your home a fall makeover, you don't need to look much farther 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.