Decorating for the season

Decorating for the season

When fall came, Grandmother used to take down the lace curtains that drifted in the breeze from her oscillating fan when the summer breezes failed. In their place, she brought the heavy winter drapes out of storage and hung them once again to deflect winter drafts. The bright floral slipcover came off the sofa, revealing the velvety deep-red plush underneath. And the potted ferns that summered between the andirons in the fireplace were again relegated to the dining room sideboard.

These days, people don’t have the time to do major redecorating as the seasons change, but a few quick updates can make a big impact in the décor to keep things seasonally fresh. Swap out summery accent pillows in favor of richer hues of orange and red and toss a matching fleece throw over the back of the sofa. Store away floral-design scatter rugs and put down some in deep earth tones which will add warmth.

Oranges, reds, and yellows are the colors of fall and these can be reflected in pots of chrysanthemums from a local farmers market or garden store. Set a few on your front porch to welcome visitors or tuck the plastic flowerpots (with protective saucers) into baskets for your front hall or any room that needs some brightening. (And when they finish flowering, plant them in your yard or a window box. Many will overwinter successfully and bloom again next year.)

A straw wreath on the door can be like the classic “little black dress” that goes anywhere. If it’s been decorated with a summery theme, re-decorate it with a crisp plaid bow in fall colors, bittersweet vines, real or artificial colored leaves, small colored gourds, or dried colored corn.

Pumpkins and colorful gourds are abundant in autumn at farmers markets and produce stands and can be used in many arrangements with additional flowers, dried plant material, or fresh fruit like bright red apples. From a front-hall welcoming array to a harvest centerpiece atop of seasonal table runner, or a flowing arrangement on a mantel, the possibilities are almost endless.

An interesting variation is to use gourds as vases for dried grasses. Hollow out gourds and wipe the inside with a paper towel dampened with bleach to extend their usability. You can use a pumpkin to serve food on a buffet. Hollow out the pumpkin to fit your food container. Clean out seeds and pulp—see our recipe for toasting the seeds—and wipe the inside with bleach. Insert your serving container and fill with soup or chili.

Another crafty idea is to cut out votive candle-sized holes in mini pumpkins to flicker merrily on a mantel, coffee table, or down the middle on the dining table. Employ taller tapers in a variety of autumn colors in an assortment of candleholders for some decorating oomph.

Inexpensive place mats and napkins in autumn shades can give fall verve to table settings. A few fall-colored dishtowels will bring the kitchen into the season and autumn-colored hand towels will brighten a bathroom.

Easy Transition to the Holidays

Since certain colors symbolize holidays—Thanksgiving with its hues of autumn, Christmas with red and green, and Hanukkah with blue and white or silver—it’s easy to change the décor accent colors once Thanksgiving is past.

Around the beginning of December, it’s again time to change the accents on that “little black dress” of a straw wreath. Spray paint leftover small gourds or interesting dried weeds and seedpods in any combination of red, green, blue, gold, or silver. (Arrange inside a cardboard box set on its side to contain the sprayed paint.)

Wire the sprayed gourds or seedpods to the wreath straw and add a festive red or blue bow. Or embellish the wreath with Christmas tree ornaments, springs of holly with bright berries or a mini-garland of seasonal items from a craft or party store. For Hanukkah, add a large blue bow along with a silver Star of David, silver-sprayed dried materials, or decorative dreidels.

If the autumn-hued candles haven’t burn down to nothing (always put short candles in the tall candleholders), store them away and bring out tapers in holiday colors.

Swap harvest-toned towels in the kitchen or bathroom for some with holiday colors and appliqués and your transition to the December holidays will be well on its way.

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Marilyn Pribus and her husband enjoy the changing seasons from the Albemarle County home near Charlottesville.

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