Bringing Autumn Home

48429825 - autumn decoration accessories stored in a wooden compartment.

It’s challenging facing Autumn in Arizona if you’re originally from another part of the country. For many of us who originated in states with four seasons, this time of year always promised chillier weather, crisp evenings and the start of fall leaves turning.

But if you’re new to Arizona and used to digging out your sweaters and crockpots to make chili and your mom’s chicken soup, it may seem strange to face the fact that here in the middle of September we’re all still wearing shorts every day. But for those of us who have been here a while, we have developed some habits to make it feel at least a little bit like fall. Here are a few suggestions:

Showcase fall colors: Use table runners, placemats, or add some pillows and throws on your sofa to pull some of the colors of autumn into your home. Yes, you’ll still see bright greens outside, but you can add gold, rust and brown to your interiors.

Bring your autumn accessories out: Pick up a few small pumpkins, gourds, pine cones or whatever takes your fancy. If you want you can even go to a hobby shop for some branches with silk autumn leaves. Then have at it on coffee and side tables. Make your home look like you’ve been wandering outside and brought some gleanings in from the woods.

Fix some cocoa: OK, it may still be too warm for that chili recipe, but a mug of hot cocoa with a few marshmallows might be a nice preview of the treats you’ll enjoy in the cooler days to come. After all, our evenings really are starting to cool down. And eventually we will get to see some leaves turn and drop… in December!

Getting ready for Halloween – Decorating

15317524_SHalloween is second only to Christmas for dollars spent on decorations. It’s fun to play with the holiday by decorating your home and yard. Here are a few ideas to bring Halloween into your home.

There are three directions to choose for your Halloween plans: classic, cute or scary. There are so many options for buying or making decorations that choosing one will help narrow down your decisions.

It’s easy to capture the classic look if you already have decorated your home for fall. You can add a few Halloween-themed items to take it that next step. For example, adding a witches hat and rustic broom in the photo above turns a classic fall arrangement into a nod to the end of October.

16024438_SCute is easy too. Grab a handy stuffed creature or two and add a few non-scary Halloween items such as uncarved pumpkins and Halloween candy. Nothing frightening here – this is a good choice when dealing with more timid little folks who may be overwhelmed by the season.

10776894_SScary is a great choice if you have teenagers in the home. The easiest way to handle this is to give them a budget and free rein. Visiting a local haunted house or two can help with inspiration. If you’re in charge, skeletons, spiders, snakes and dim lights can make your Halloween décor startling and spooky.

Warehouse, discount and dollar stores provide plenty of fuel for making your home fit the season, whichever direction you choose. For more ideas, search “Halloween decorations” on Pinterest. You’ll see a bevy of purchased and homemade ideas – all designed to please you, make you smile, or scare you to pieces.

Fall Tablescapes

7843574_SAre you ready to bring your dinner table into autumn? If you’ve started making stews and homemade baked beans again because you just can’t wait any longer, how about making the table itself feel like fall?

Start with a walk through your neighborhood. Even desert landscaping may have some dried branches around that have fallen off a nearby tree. If you don’t find anything, visit your local hobby store or florist to pick up some dried branches, pinecones or any other dried plants or branches.

Next, wander through your kitchen for pottery vases or bowls that mirror the fall colors. Any natural-color basket or wood container would also work well.

Fall flowers can be found in every grocery and warehouse market. Consider sunflowers in traditional yellow or bright dark orange coupled with Japanese lanterns and fall berries in dark reds and greens. Fill in with mums, which come in every color of fall. Add a few of those dried branches and you have a floral masterpiece to echo the season.

Because fall is harvest time, you can add almost any combination of fruit or vegetables and have the mix work. Look for pomegranates, bosc or other yellow or brown pears, apples, and dark red or purple grapes.

Do you have a fall table runner? That’s a good place to start. Now, set all of your discoveries on the table and move things around until it looks right. Those branches may work well in a tall vase or pitcher, or maybe just lay them along the center of the table. Pile fruit in a bowl – a couple of apples, a pear, an eggplant and a few fall leaves and you have created the vision of a harvest feast.

Above all, enjoy the process. Celebrate the changing of the seasons with complementary changes in your home, and you can welcome autumn‘s bounty along with the cooling temperatures. For more ideas, we invite you to visit Fulton Home’s Pinterest board: Seasonal décor.

Decorate your Entryway for Fall

19586378_SDo you find that less is more when decorating your front entryway for the fall holidays? If you’re satisfied with one pumpkin – uncarved –sitting on your front stoop then this blog is not for you.

If, on the other hand, you enjoy making the most of the autumn season both inside and outside your home, consider some of these fun options.

Wreaths: Start with a grapevine frame and weave in some silk leaf sprays from a hobby store. Or you could make life easy and grab a fall-leaf garland and wrap it around your grapevine. Voila, you have a gorgeous wreath, generally for less than$20. If you want, pick up a few yards of wide fall ribbon and add a bow. The wreath in the photo has the added fun of a few pumpkins and a pinecone or two.

5823969_SPumpkins: Yes of course you want one on your porch. You might as well go home if you don’t have at least one. But how about going for broke? The photo below shows three jack-o-lanterns hogging the stairway daring you to ignore their grinning faces.  A couple of gourds add an additional spark of fall gaudiness.

3750054_SMums: Your local warehouse store has huge mum plants ready to pop into bloom in every fall color. Notice how nice the orange and white mums look at this entrance. They send a message that the adults in this home like autumn too.

Finally, you can go all out and display all of these at the same time. Consider adding a scarecrow such as the one in this final photo, or find the autumn figure of your choice. Maybe you’d rather have a few bats or an owl or two. Florists, discount stores and hobby stores have a rich selection of choices to appeal to any taste.

Let your visitors know you’re up for autumn before they even walk in the door. Make your opinions of the joys of fall loud and clear for the neighbors to hear!

Bring Fall Colors into your Home

14387115_SFor those of us who live in the Phoenix area, September is greeted with relief that the hot weather will soon be gone. But if you’re originally from the Midwest or anywhere further North, you may find yourself missing the magic of leaves that turn golden, red and every shade of fall.

If you fit into that category, you can drive up to Sedona or Flagstaff in a few weeks, or you can pull some of those colors into your home right now.

You might start by shopping your closets. All of those russet tones that seemed too hot to bear in June and July will look more appetizing now. Do you have a throw or two, a pillow or tablecloth in fall tones? Showcase them in your home for the next few months.

Discount and department stores are showing off fall colors. Picking up a few placemats or some serving containers shaped like pumpkins add a feeling of fall. Incorporate just a few fall shapes into your year-round accessories and create a sudden autumn impression in your home.

16396871_SDon’t forget grocery stores. Pumpkins of all sizes, gourds, apples and pears, and mixed nuts in their shells can be used to create a wonderful autumn centerpiece on your dining table or buffet. If you’re a sewist, fabric stores carry a rich selection of fall-toned fabrics which just beg to be made into a runner.

Finally, Pinterest has become a favorite place to grab images of fall. How about printing some spectacular photos of fall scenery and hanging them through the house, temporarily replacing some less seasonal art? Warehouse and office supply stores will make larger prints at a very reasonable cost.

We may not see fall leaves in metropolitan Phoenix, or at least not until December, but you can use these ideas to bring fall into your home even as temperatures still hover around 100 degrees.

Setting a Lovely Thanksgiving Table

For most people, Thanksgiving is about food and family – generally in that order! But with a few extra minutes of time, you can also make it about the beauty of the season.

There’s a saying that people eat first with their eyes, and building a Thanksgiving table that captures attention and represents the best of autumn can make even a rather dry turkey taste better.

The photo to the left shows a fully-planned table. With fresh sunflowers, votives, tablecloth, plates, napkins and napkin rings all coordinated to create a Thanksgiving feeling, it looks like a decorator was hired to fix it.

If you have the skills, budget and time to put something like this together, that’s wonderful. But many of us don’t have the Martha Stewart gene, and are rushed just trying to get the dinner on the table let alone make it look this fancy.

Instead, consider something like the photo on the right. A simple gold tablecloth, one or two interesting candles, a pumpkin or two and some apples and pine cones and you’re finished.

White or neutral plates allow you to decorate for any season without needing closets full of dishes. Add the good silverware and some nice glasses and you have a beautiful table with minimal time and effort.

If you’re going to present Thanksgiving buffet-style, how about a simple display among the dishes? A few fall leaves, a couple of candles, one of those mini-pumpkins and some nuts and dried plants and you quickly add charm to your buffet table. Walk through your yard or visit a hobby shop and pick up just a few special items that you can use and rearrange every year to make your Thanksgiving table as special as the holiday itself.

Unique but Simple Halloween Decorating

If you want to decorate the outside of your home for Halloween but would like to create something much more unusual than the choices available in stores, here are a couple of ideas to spark up the front of your home that rely on imagination and creativity rather than a lot of effort or dollars.

This first choice requires you to expand beyond the standard rounded pumpkin. Look for pumpkins, gourds and squash with unusual shapes and colors such as the three elongated ones shown here. You could also add one of the newer white “ghost pumpkins.” You only need to carve a few of them, but create unique faces. Set in front of a group of uncut pumpkins and gourds, you create a gathering of Halloween creatures.

Another option that is a bit more complex but very entertaining is placing two pumpkins together to show a conversation between them.

The pumpkin on the right has a more complex carving approach. There are directions and patterns on the Internet to help you create one of these, but you could stick with the standard carving style and still get an interesting vignette.

The stick hand on the right pumpkin also pushes this Halloween display out of the ordinary. Adding hands and feet to your carvings adds personality and charm.

You could add fall leaves to these arrangements, use props such as hats or other accessories, and even tell a simple story with your pumpkins. Halloween provides a terrific opportunity to stretch your imagination by thinking outside the squash.

Warm Up your Dining Table

With autumn bringing family holidays, adding some special touches to your dining table or buffet can turn a simple dinner into something special. A fall-themed centerpiece or other elements also provide additional warmth to your home. Here are a few ideas.

Table runners: Catalogs, home shops and even discount stores all can be great resources for lovely table runners. Place a runner on your table and add a couple of candlesticks and brighten up your dining room very simply. Add placemats and dinner is ready. Table runners also work well to embellish simple tablecloths. Switching a runner is one of the fastest ways to change a room’s mood.

Flowers: Chrysanthemums – either in a pot or a vase – say fall easily and inexpensively. Place a few pots on either side of your buffet or one large vase in the center of your dining table. For a simpler and easy look, cut flowers shorter and put in a series of juice glasses. Use rubber bands to hold the stems together – making the small flower arrangements appealing and organized.

Centerpieces: Don’t limit your ideas to flowers and candles. Gourds, a bowl of mixed nuts, fall leaves – real or silk – and some apples or pears can be combined with baskets or pottery bowls and platters to create a tablescape that catches the eye. Just add place settings and you’re ready for a party or family gathering.

Candles: Whether you choose tall tapers or small votives, candlelight adds warmth and charm to any room. if you are concerned about fire and small children, look for battery-powered LED lights that mimic flames.

With just a few minutes and a little thought, you can turn your dining room from a place to eat to an inviting and appealing space. Take the time to make your dining table special and your family and friends will appreciate the result.

Dress Your Home for Fall

It’s hard to believe that autumn is upon us when we’re still dealing with triple-digit temperatures. But you can start bringing the season into your home. To get into the mood, select colors, shapes, products and even foods that create the feeling of fall.

Start with the produce department of your grocery or warehouse store. Look for pumpkins, winter squash and gourds or decorative Indian corn. Set up a display in your foyer or on your buffet. Or if you want to go simpler, just put a large basket or pottery bowl on your dining room table filled with apples and pears – fall fruit.

You can introduce the season to your home right at your front door with a fall wreath or hanging. Many stores have ready-made door decorations, or you can create your own easily. Stop by your local hobby store and select a grapevine or other wreath shape in fall tones. Look for garlands of fall leaves in silk, and wrap it around the wreath. Finish with a bow of wire-edged ribbon in fall colors.

Another simple door option involves selecting three complementary ears of Indian corn and tie them at the top with ribbon or raffia. Hang and your home announces the season to everyone who enters.

If you make a trip north to see the colors, bring some old books with you and press the best of the leaves you discover. Add some pine cones and branches and you have a ready-made centerpiece. For other decorations, press the leaves and scatter them on side tables and in bowls.

Even with our hot summer temperatures, your home can carry the feelings – if not the temperatures – of fall.

Getting Ready for Fall, Arizona Style

In other parts of the country, September is a reminder that winter is coming and people will be spending more of their time indoors. For those of us who live in Arizona, though, September is just the start of temperatures  that invite more outdoor living. As the heat diminishes, it’s time to prepare for the beautiful weather that’s just around the corner. Here are a few suggestions to make the most of fall.

Look over your outdoor furniture. During the summer, the sun, heat and chlorine from post-swimming use may have caused some damage. Now is the time to stock up on new cushions or consider spray-painting to revive your current furniture. Visit a good hardware store to get insights into what kind of spray paint can perk up your outdoor look.

Consider adding lighting. Does your backyard have the lighting you want for entertaining? How about stringing lights in a tree for a year-round festive look? Inexpensive paper lanterns with LED votives in them can be hung anywhere to add interest and an inviting ambience.

Plan an outdoor party. We’re lucky not to have to worry about bad weather in the fall. In the next few weeks as the weather cools we’re all likely to enjoy getting outdoors again. Host a potluck at your home and pull out some outdoor games such as croquet, bocce ball, or badminton to play.

Include al fresco dining as part of your regular plans. Eating outside is one of the best features of fall in Arizona. Pick up an inexpensive tablecloth and start scheduling some meals outside. At first breakfast may be your best choice but as we reach the end of September almost any meal is more enjoyable out-of-doors.

Take the time to get ready for fall Arizona-style. No leaf turning yet, but the weather we’ve been dreaming about all summer long is just around the corner.