Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall Decorating in America's Heartland

The rich colors of autumn set the tone for decorating with gourds, leaves, pumpkins and other seasonal materials.
Gourd vases
Gourds come in all shapes and colors and easily become seasonal vases. Cut a hole big enough to accommodate a couple of florist tubes. Insert flower stems for a unique bud vase.

Eerie entry
Greet your guests with ghostly gourds this season, cleverly decorating your stoop to show your holiday spirit.
Just a little paint will transform fall produce into eerie apparitions. Start by covering your gourd with acrylic spray varnish. Use acrylic crafts paints to create your design. Finish with another coat of spray varnish.
To hang each gourd, drill a small hole through the top of the neck and thread florist's wire through it. Finish your display with dried vines, bittersweet berries and maybe even an abandoned paper-wasp nest.
Corn on a rake
Put an old garden rake to use as an autumnal door display. Just add ears of multicolor maize. To secure, push each ear of corn between the teeth of the rake. Hang near your front entry with a hook, or prop it against a nearby wall. You'll have a festive fall look in minutes.

Floating display
Clear glass containers highlight the seasonal beauty of smooth pumpkins and frilly flowers in this unusual--and ultra quick--display.
Fill an assortment of glasses with water and float mini pumpkins along with Teddy Bear sunflowers or other autumn blooms.

Harvest table
An easy grouping of seasonal items and colors brings autumn to your tabletop.
Orange and white pumpkins plus yellow chrysanthemums in a sunny yellow container create an eye-catching centerpiece. Elevate some of the pumpkins for added flair.

Glowing balls
Fashion a spooky tabletop display that starts with easy-to-make plaster-cloth spheres.
Wrap plaster-cloth strips (from a crafts store) around a balloon, following the directions on the plaster-cloth package. Leave open spaces as you wrap. When dry, remove the balloon and use a crafts knife to cut an opening for inserting the light. Place sphere over an orange or white battery-operated votive. Set your spheres on clear glass cake stands or similar displays.

Bountiful wheelbarrow
Put together a colorful outdoor fall display using a sturdy wheelbarrow as a base.
Our wheelbarrow overflows with ornamental cabbage and peppers, ornamental grasses, chrysanthemums, flowering zucchini and other seasonal plants. Fill the wheelbarrow with soil and insert the plants loosely, or tuck containers into the wheelbarrow, making sure to fill in the gaps with more plants

Gourd beauty
Unusual combinations of pedestals and gourds make an easy and novel centerpiece.
White gourds look like miniature sculptures when placed on pieces of old table legs and balusters. Other items to try as pedestals: upside-down bowls, old candlesticks, decorative nesting boxes, Mason jars--use your imagination!

Two shades of gold
A wheat wreath reflects your Midwest heritage. Insert dried sheaves into a foam wreath form, then dress up your wreath by slipping the stems of golden maple leaves into the spaces between wheat heads. Use leaves sparingly for the best effect.

Nuts for decoration
Nuts, beautiful in their natural state, are as easy to decorate with as they are good to eat. Here, they anchor a candle inside a hurricane lamp. Experiment with different varieties of nuts and a selection of clear containers.
Golden glow
Clear glass containers show off both the flicker of candles as well as the colorful materials around them.
Nestle a candle in popcorn kernels or other seasonal materials such as candy corn or colored clear round stones (available in crafts stores).

Nesting nuts and flowers
Tiers adds drama to your centerpiece. Tuck a small glass bowl of rose heads inside larger containers of mixed nuts.

Branches and fruits
Snips of fall branches make easy--and inexpensive--arrangements.
Look for interesting shapes with leaves, acorns or berries. Add fruit such as lemons in the base of your container for both color and stability.
Highlight nature
Create simple but striking arrangements with autumn beauties. Try cattails, ornamental grasses, coneflower seed heads or dried hydrangea blooms.
Natural vase
A creatively cut pumpkin "basket" makes an imaginative centerpiece for a fall table.
Cut out two top quarters of the pumpkin, leaving the stem and a narrow strip as the basket "handle." Zigzag the bottom edges, and hollow out the base. Place a block of wet floral foam inside. Position two glass votive holders in the foam and surround with a bevy of fall blooms and leaves.

Creative runner
You might have trouble keeping the piles of foliage outside in order, but these leaves march in perfect rows across a table runner.
Use a stencil or rubber stamp and fabric or crafts paint to decorate a plain linen cloth. Follow instructions on the paint container for setting and washing the finished design. The same technique can be used to create other fall linens for your home, such as hand towels or even pillowcases.
Harvest centerpiece
A short branch makes a striking centerpiece for an autumn party.
Weight a pot with stones and fill with florist's foam to secure the branch, then wrap the pot in a drawstring jute bag. Pair the arrangement with flowers and plants in leaf-inspired colors -- we used roses, millet, kale, leaves and berries
A picture of fall
For an easy mantel display, combine brightly colored fall leaves with an empty picture frame.
Hang leaves on S-hooks (used for jewelry making and found at crafts stores) or pin to a ribbon. Put nails in both sides of a colorful frame and suspend the ribbon loosely across the center, tying it to the nails. Add to the display by spreading a branch full of brightly colored berries across the length of the mantel and setting small gourds on top of egg cups.
Mantel of gourds
Use as many gourds as you'd like to create this simple mantel decoration. We mixed two larger hard-shell gourds with smaller soft-shell gourds (and tucked in a squash for good measure). Bittersweet branches and maple leaves provide extra color and texture.