Fall Decorating With What You Have

I love a fall house.  It’s so cozy and inviting.  But just like you I’d rather not keep a bunch of orange and black plastic bins full of “fall decor”.  And now that Halloween is over we can take down the black netting and crows that our children insisted on–please tell me I’m not the only one.   But what if you are having people over for Thanksgiving?  You don’t want jack-o-lanterns but you’d also rather not have nothing.

Here’s what I keep in mind when I fall-i-tize my house:

1. Dress your home in layers.

I brought the three-legged cowhide rug downstairs to layer and fill the gap to the second sofa.  Do you know about my three-legged cowhide?  He was only $60 because he was deformed. I knew anywhere I’d use a cowhide it would be partially under a piece of furniture.  I’m currently looking for an imperfect black and white cowhide.

Other things I use to layer: quilts, throws, pillows, I even count piles of books as layers.  Fall and harvest evoke a feeling of abundance, this is the time of year where I don’t mind having a few more items on display in our home.


2. Naturalize

Feathers, sticks, rocks, fur, uncarved ‘kins and gourds I’m into it all and they all whisper fall.

3. Incorporate your everyday decor

You don’t want your unseasonal decor to feel left out.  So just fall it up a little.  For me, that means some antlers and feathers in my bust planter.  Maybe you don’t have antlers or feathers or a bust planter, but I bet you have something already sitting around your home that you can seasonalize.  I add a sprig of backyard weeds or a twig with a few turned leaves hanging on.  Just a little bridging of the gap between what I have and the current season.

4. Decorate with Food

My favorite.

That butternut squash from the first picture isn’t in the second picture of this post, because I was gonna cook it.  Nuts, bowls of apples, hot cider, hot chocolate packs in a basket, a stack of mugs next to the coffee maker, I even leave my dutch oven sitting out on the counter in the fall to help beacon me to the kitchen. My favorite fall recipes:

PW’s roast

Lightened Loaded Potato Soup

Stroganoff Meatballs


5. Ambiance

For the love of beauty, pick up some candles and don’t forget to actually light them.  That’s what I had to tel myself last week.  Because I was out of candles and didn’t want to make time to stop in and grab a few more.  They are SO worth it.

My pet peeve is never-been-lit-dusty-candles in a house, I’ve found that usually it’s well-meaning people who want to save their candles and just use them for decoration.  But trust me, your candles were meant to be lit.  They want you to enjoy them, their purpose is to be used, you have my permission to stop saving them for a special occasion. Try turn on some music before your someone gets home tonight, turn the lights down a little lower (to hide the real mess) and I’d wager someone in your house will notice, even if it’s just you who notices, isn’t that worth it?

6. What am I missing?  What’s an easy way that you Fall-i-tize your home right before Thanksgiving?

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  1. My fall decorations keep disappearing as we eat them too!

  2. Yep, those are the tricks I use, too! I also love using those beautiful fall leaves this time of year.

  3. I always bring out lots of candles in the Fall, but my fave is when we have a real fire. Love.

  4. I am a big fan of ‘make-do’ decor – using things I have and finding new ways to display them. Using natural elements (gifts from Mother Nature) that are in abundance is another favorite way I like to bring the Fall indoors. Your ‘Fall’ decor is just beautiful. Love how the subtle hues are combined to give such a warm and inviting feeling to the room.

  5. I love it that you stayed ‘true’ to your house decor colors, even in seasonal decorating! I love fall…and you have hit the nail on the head with all the great items I use also!! I notice that I use lamps more…I hate overhead lighting, and now that it gets dark at 5pm, I have the whole house lit up with lamps! ~Kim

  6. This definitely falls in the categories you already mentioned, but I like to use un-popped popcorn kernels, uncooked black beans, and acorns from our yard. I put each in a glass container like a vase or pitcher. If it’s a big container, you can put a candle in there too.

  7. I had to laugh at the butternut, we have 2 in our kitchen display. I don’t like them to eat but they are attractive for fall, lol.

  8. Wonderful! I do the same thing! Absolutely nothing better than using what you have! It makes it feel so “homey!” Love the cowhide rug!

  9. sounds so inviting! I also like to put a couple of ears of indian corn on my front door. sometimes the birdie’s even nibble it!

  10. Hi Nester, do I spot a feather-covered pillow on your chair? Your home is lovely, however, I just want to bring to your attention that the use of feathers for “decors sake” is very popular and very troubling. I also noticed the pheasant feathers on your mantle which look like the kind you purchase at the craft store. Have you ever looked into where these feathers come from or how they are harvested? Try peta.org or veganpeace.com to gain some information. MANY of these beautiful birds are SCALDED and then PLUCKED ALIVE for their plumes. I was guilty of buying feathers until I learned more about this. Now I reccommend ONLY using feathers that are shed naturally and found in the wild. Just some food for thought…

    • Lexi, I know how you feel but not everyone is privy to rural chickens as others. I, too, have a cow skin rug in my home and visitors to our farm always ask about it. I try to teach them about recycling when they do. After all, not all of us are vegetarians, I also collect discarded feathers from our farm chickens and use them everywhere. Once I even collected enough to make a beautiful wreath! But I have been known to buy a few. Not all feathers come from live chickens…some are “recycled” just like our cowskin rug. I think the best we can do is check out nature in our own back yards and see what there is to use to beautify our homes. Branches without leaves are super sculptural and checking your local produce market gives you lots of opportunities for food items. I had so many orange pumpkins and gourds from Halloween I just took a can of white spray point and painted them all – viola! Fall. (Although sometimes I miss the brighter colors of fall!) I think the best advice is just to try something new – gain some confidence in your own ability to make your house a home. Thank you Nester for BEAUTIFUL pictures and wonderful ideas. Lynn in Virginia

      • Lynn, I am not a vegetarian, I have no problem with using an animal for nourishment. I also never said that ALL feathers come from live chickens/birds but sooo many of them (that are availble for purchase at craft stores) do. I was simply asking the Nester to put some deeper thought into where those items in her home came from. Peace.

  11. Nothing says homey-fallish-welcome than a pot of caramel or pumpkin coffee brewing. Makes the whole house smell absolutely delicious! And some muffins placed on a good china plate never go wasted, either! Love your blog!

  12. I love the feather pillow on your chair! Did you make that or purchase it?

  13. Nice gord placement! I really never thought about all the lovely ways you can use a gord to accent your decor. It’s great they come in so many shapes, sizes and colors… makes it easier to match with almost any aesthetic.

  14. My home is has a nuetral decor…the colors are warm brown and sage green with a little black thrown in. The orange and black Halloween decor fits right in my home and I love it.

  15. My head tells me keep out fall until Thanksgiving and don’t put out Christmas yet or Pilgrims and Santa’s will end up in a duel or something freaky like that! But, it seems time flies after Thanksgiving gets here and the work of decorating for Christmas then seems low on the list so I struggle with what to do until Thanksgiving,…..I love to use the everyday things. I made my husband go around the block Saturday for another pass so I could pick up a really cool birch branch that had fallen in our lovely wind storm here in New Mexico! It scratched my arm and I prayed all the way home we wouldn’t wreck or I would have a cool branch sticking out the other side of my body…..:) We made it.

  16. Needs blankets. Mmmm, different textures, layers! Velvet and wool and cashmere, oh my!

  17. Music…touch all senses.

  18. I love the idea of using what you have to make your space “fall-ish”.

  19. These are great tips. I cozy up the house with fall weight pillow covers. {I made several sets so I can change them out for the seasons.} I take off the linen covers and replace them with warm corduroy and wool felt shams.

  20. My favorite thing that happens this time of year and lasts past Christmas are foggy windows from cooking and parties and such. (wait, is that an old house thing? We have loads of original windows) From making t.giving dinner to making soup that takes all day, those windows fog up and it makes me love my warm, cozy home even more.

  21. I do all these things as well….we also use our (real) fireplace often. For the ambiance factor, nothing beats a “real” fire. Scented Fall/Cinnamon-y candles (and cinnamon sticks) are another one of my go-tos.

  22. May I ask what color white your walls are?

    Thanks for your beautiful blog.

    • Simply White is the name, all the colors are on a link on the sidebar if you need to find out more. It’s been almost a year and I really like the color!

  23. Crows? I thought to myself, “wow, someone else’s kids like these too!” when I read your line, “tell me you are not alone” – you’re not!! Ha!
    I love your pics and ideas, especially layering. I like to bring in warm, fallish colors in accessories like pillows, throws, fall leaves in a bowl. I so enjoy your blog/ideas – thank you!!

  24. I always march right outside and cut me some pretty branches. Leaves and berries are a plus, of course!

    Great post! Decorating with what we have is the best form of creativity!

  25. Gourd-eous!
    I have pine cones peeking out behind everything – books, pictures, etc.

    ~ Dana

  26. So fun meeting you this weekend! And because of this post I actually lit the candles in my bathroom today! It was peaceful and relaxing. Thank you!

  27. candles were meant to be lit~ amen and amen.

    and my mom used to never let us turn on the overhead lights when we had company as a kid.. it could only be the lamps because she would say everything looks better in a dim lit room!!

    and as i age, i might add that includes wrinkles as well !! ;))

  28. Hi Nester, Can you tell me anything about that cool geodesic sculpture on your blue table? Love it with the white gourds!

  29. Warm fuzzy sigh to everything you said. At our house, we were given a tarnished silver trophy that just seems to fit fall the best. Doesn’t seem to matter whether he is filled with fall branches or feathers, he just belongs to fall. In the kitchen, jute twine also shows up in the fall. It is the “ribbon” of choice for tag style labels on glass cruets filled with flavored syrups in the hot drink corner that also comes out with cold weather. A few little pinecones start peaking out too, just enough to remind us winter is coming soon.

  30. Have you ever put a candle on tray of coffee beans? So, so yummy smelling!

  31. My fall decor has been simplified to a handful of mini gourds and a fall scented candle. It is perfect for us right now.

  32. I love a fall house, too. I USED to love my house in the fall because I already had so many reds and golds in my decor–things just seemed to come alive in the fall. Now I’ve replaced a lot of those reds and golds with blues and greens, but I still like the way things look in the fall. Maybe it’s the light? Maybe it’s just that I’m a redhead who was born in September and have always been an Autumn kind of girl.

    Anyway, every year I do one special thing for Thanksgiving–I get out the papier mache cornucopia that we’ve had for 22 years now and fill it with the bounty of the season. It’s hard for me to believe that we still have it– t’s been through five moves and has survived the attention of three little boys who are now 21, 19, and 15. Who knew papier mache was so durable? :)

  33. I love the idea of decorating with food. It can definitely bring some life to a room.

  34. I have a roll of burlap that I’d used to make some table runners…for Autumn, I just gather an armful of twigs, berries, and dried grasses, arrange them in a container wrapped with a snuggy, folded layer of burlap and tied off with raffia, or maybe a decorative ribbon. I love the texture of the natural burlap and it makes the container look like he’s wearing a scarf. :)

  35. I’m a great dish collector/connoisseur/hoarder, and I love to trade out my collection for each season. Come October, I love to fill my dark brown pitchers with fall leaves and rugged twigs; serving bowls with apples and nuts; and nothing says autumn to me like the aroma of a burning fire and cider brewing.

  36. Beautiful! Featured this post over on my “Best of The Weekend” post. http://alittleclaireification.com/2012/11/18/30-days-of-thankfulness-day-18-best-of-the-weekend-2/

    Thank you for always posting and writing such beautiful things that are so inspiring and relevant in my life.
    – Claire

  37. I love feathers! And as someone working in the rubbish removal business, I’m really ingot reusing and recycling thing, so I try to implement them as much as I can in my life! Decorating with what we already have is creative and green idea ! I really, really like it! Thank you for sharing your post and pictures

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