Well, if you call something a tradition, I guess it’s not new. However, you have to start somewhere so this blog post will probably be more of a mix of old and new and tried and true favorites as well as a few fresh ideas I cook up along the way. Let’s talk about autumn traditions.
I miss fall since I live in Houston. We don’t really get a fall feel with seasonal color until almost Christmas. I remember as a kid, when living in Virginia and then later in Utah and Colorado, one morning in September you would wake up and you could feel and smell autumn. It stayed that way too, unlike in Texas when one day it’s fall and the next day you are back to summer!
For that reason, I favor décor that can be extended for a few months to make a home festive throughout the season. I am not one to pull out the Santas in November, let alone before Halloween!
When we were in Alaska in July this year, merchants were actually putting the Halloween decorations out in the stores. I was shocked that a small town in Alaska would start decorating so crazy early! It was still a glorious Pacific Northwest summer so I thought the pumpkins and ghosts should wait!
Around my house, rather than starting with Halloween decorations the first cool day in September (if there even is one), I prefer to acknowledge fall with hay bales, pumpkins and gourds, and seasonal plants like mums and crotons. In October, I’ll add the spooky stuff. I prefer traditional, elegant Halloween like vintage treat bags, classic witch profiles and black cats. On my dining table I pull out my old bronze French urns that have blackened over time and drape them with cobwebs. I add a mask to my favorite shepherdess bust statue, purchase ghost pumpkins and scatter stand-up black velvet ravens that I bought from Martha Stewart Living years ago. This creates an elegant, slightly macabre display.
I’m so in love with the beautiful pumpkins you can find these days that I can’t bring myself to carve them. I leave them intact and with luck, they last until Thanksgiving.
I saw this interesting technique a few years ago in Bandera and thought it was charming. With the right silhouette, like this stag, it works perfectly all fall. You could get creative and do your family, your monogram or a fun greeting.
So, when November arrives, I remove the ghoulish items and celebrate the harvest. This includes more pumpkins and gourds and tableware with fall leaf or turkey motifs. I love antique stores and since I don’t have room for any more furniture in my home, I tend to shop for small, interesting bits of china, glass and crystal. I have a small collection of charming plates shaped like fall leaves and a darling set of six small plates with pheasants on them that I bought at Round Top one year. A friend gifted me these gold leaf bowls too. They are no longer available but I found a former listing of them on Poshmark.
Think how pretty it would be to combine the gold leaf plates and the paper leaves? I think I’ll do that this year!
It’s easy to transition to Christmas by removing any spent pumpkins and hay bales and piling on pomegranates, oranges, pinecones and evergreen branches for a natural look. For more glam, add in twinkle lights, votives and glass ornaments or anything with glitter and sparkle.
Of course, at Christmas, we pull out all the stops and drape the staircases with garland, suspend garland from chandeliers and hang ornaments on the back of dining chairs. At Pamela Hope Designs, we provide holiday décor for a select group of clients who we’ve worked with for years. Working with our vendors, we design and install sprays on the front door, wreaths in the windows and swags hanging from coach lights and lanterns.
If you choose a woodsy base to your greenery such as magnolia or grapevine, you can add garlands early in the season and continue to add décor and colors to your scheme. A really effortless way to do this is with ribbon. You can loop, twirl and tie burlap or a rustic plaid for fall, change it to black velvet or cob-webby looks for Halloween, return to fall colors for Thanksgiving and then add whatever December holiday hues you prefer or keep it classic with metallic looks. To make your greenery even more holiday-like, you can tuck or weave in evergreen and pinecones once December arrives. Remove colored ornaments and add more metallics to take your décor into the New Year. This pretty velvet ribbon from Paper Mart comes in eight beautiful, rich hues and is backed with gold lame’!
One of my favorite accessories for decorating any time of year is a pair of substantial hurricane vases. I like them on the large side for maximum impact but they are available in a variety of sizes, shapes and price points. They look great when they are empty and can be filled with anything from candlesticks to fruits and vegetables, seashells, vines, gourds, ornaments, etc. They provide seasonal display year-round and can work throughout the holiday season with small changes. This is also a great option for those who don’t want to decorate the whole house. Just fill your hurricanes and put them somewhere prominent. I love these from OKA.
And buy a pair. Trust me! Or a collection of small and large will work but be sure to have at least one pair in your grouping. A designer with whom I worked years ago told me if you buy someone a single item like a candlestick, you might see it used once or twice. But if you buy someone a pair of items, you will likely see them out often. It does make sense. A pair of items helps balance a space and makes decorating easier.
Seasonal and holiday décor always inspire me. Until next time, find your inspiration or call us and we’ll help you discover it!