Fall Decorating: A Feast for the Senses

Fall is a feast for the senses. It evokes all the sensations of warmth, welcome, comfort, and nostalgia that surrounds this time of year. Many of life’s most cherished rituals take place in September and October: school starting, football season beginning, celebrating homecoming. For those old enough to remember, there is the visceral smell of burning leaves, or chimney smoke, beckoning one home to a hot Sunday dinner, of chili, hearty stews, squash with brown sugar and butter, homemade desserts of apple pie and pumpkin bars.

As daylight savings time ends and night falls quickly, deliciously scented candles, with enticing apple pie, caramel, and mocha scents, brighten rooms and fill them with comfort.  Making our homes cozy, feathering the nest, is a tradition that many of us look forward to the moment the calendar page turns to September.

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I made the trip last week to the Junk Bonanza, an annual fall mecca of vintage and repurposed treasures. Everywhere I looked there were wonderfully imaginative displays, featuring vintage and repurposed decor, and fun flea market finds.  It was the ideal place to spot some of fall’s biggest decorating trends in vintage home style.

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An Abundance of Arrangements Perhaps no other occasion but Christmas rivals fall for decorating with fantastic floral arrangements. The opportunities to create autumnal wreaths, centerpieces, garlands, elaborate pots and swags are endless, as are the vehicles for containing them.

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At the Junk Bonanza I found this fabulous antique canister, (originally used for twine in corn harvesting, I’m told) that was perfect for the tall dried flowers I harvested from my perennial garden. Before tossing the remnants of your garden or pots, harvest what you can for  arrangements. Dried cornstalks, cattails, ornamental grasses, withered stems of brown-eyed susans, and sepia-toned hydrangea heads are perfect for tall canisters. I have a pot of ornamental peppers, in maroon and gold sitting beside the canister, which complements it nicely.

Pillows & Throws Throw pillows made of old feed sacks, bedspreads, and old flannels are all the rage this season in earthy, muted tones of cheese cloth and burlap. The Pendleton blanket is having a huge moment this fall, which is wonderful to see. Pendleton is a family-owned company, started in the early 1900s, known for its heavy wool blankets inspired by Native American designs. They are prized for their vivid colors and intricate patterns. Like many vintage pieces, Pendleton blankets have come to symbolize American heritage, authenticity, and craftsmanship.

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Found Items from Nature A huge trend that I’m seeing everywhere from blogs to magazines to store windows are naturally shed antlers and faux taxidermy. For instance, I have a pink plaster unicorn head mounted on the wall in my bedroom. I’ve seen amazing trophy deer crafted from sweaters.  You can even find a mounted stag head at Target, and antler decor, as well. Another popular item theme is integrating craft store tail feathers of pheasant and grouse to your decor, bringing that cozy hunting lodge feel to your home. Pine cones, acorns, vibrantly colored leaves, gourds, pumpkins, indian corn, dried sunflowers, artichokes, small heads of flowering kale, all can be used to make charming autumn vignettes. 14468682_1549844185041747_6543987827821308043_o

Mixed Materials  I saw so many fabulous pieces of barn wood made into everything from mantels to dining tables. Metals, woods, tin art, architectural objects, scrollwork, doorknobs, drawer pulls, hand tools, old troughs, all of it rusted, repainted, embellished, or as is. Jumping on the monogram trend, letters in every conceivable material were available to make reclaimed items even more meaningful. A lot of the more utilitarian objects were softened by adding repurposed decor, such as pumpkins made with wool sweaters, chenille, velveteen, and lace, which made a lovely juxtaposition.

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Nostalgia The season of Halloween brings out the kid in us. It’s hard to tell who actually enjoys dressing up more these days, children or adults.  I know that I’m am not immune to the joys of decorating with witches and black cats. But over the years, I’ve evolved from paper and plastic ghosts and goblins, to a more primitive, hand-crafted Halloween look that incorporates retro style with recycled and vintage materials. Again, each of these pieces is evocative of simple delights, whimsy, Americana, and the pleasure of hand-crafted items that many of us enjoy.

The great thing about decorating for the season, rather than the holiday, is that you won’t have to rush on November 1st to take everything down. That means more time to nestle up under a cozy Pendleton throw and bask in the glow of your charming fall home.

Smart Perks Blogger Melanie Bisson, is always a sucker for a kitschy vase. For more fall decorating ideas, check out the Smart Perks Pinterest page, Fall Decor Inside and Out.

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 The next Junk Bonanza will take place in Portland, October 14-15th.

Check out https://www.instagram.com/purplepincushion/ for some great hand-crafted and repurposed items.

 

 

How to have a spooktacular, spine-tingling Halloween!

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Did you know Halloween is second only to Christmas in terms of holiday sales?

Think about it. Retail stores start peddling giant bags of bite size candy bars, countless costumes & props, and spooky decorations right after Labor Day.

Suffice to say we’re really into this holiday. I guess some folks just enjoy being scared out of their wits, while others like to dress up as gory and ghoulish characters to fulfill some macabre fantasy. If you look at the barrage of horror flicks dominating the box office year after year, and our growing and somewhat mind-boggling fascination with zombies (The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead … need I say more?), it comes as no surprise that Halloween seems to be rising in popularity.

Dressing up is my favorite part of Halloween and nowadays you can find an amazing array of costumes for infants through adults and even some awesome outfits for your pooch. Then there are the hundreds of online stores that focus solely on Halloween! If you plan on buying your costumes this year, Smart Perks’ featured partner this month is Costume Discounters. Use promo code SUPER25 and receive 25% off any purchase.

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However, if you want to try your hand at making homemade costumes, Pinterest is chock-full of ideas for creating some really clever costumes. There are some of the most adorable and imaginative costumes for kids I’ve ever seen! The old man from the Pixar’s movie “UP” is a personal favorite.

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If you want to be super-scary, makeup is the key. Buzzfeed.com has lots of fabulous makeup tricks to try from creepy to cool. I love this one, featuring a comic book heroine that looks just like Roy Lichtenstein’s “Crying Girl”. The resemblance is AMAZING.

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I also look forward to seeing our neighborhood decked out for Halloween every year. I can’t believe the work some people put into it. Yards filled with makeshift gravestones, frightful motion-activated lawn ornaments that moan, howl or growl, ghosts, bats and skeletons hanging from trees, glowing jack-o-lanterns, and the Grim Reaper guarding front doorways. It’s amazing! I admit some of this stuff scares the bejeezus out of me, but that’s the idea, right?

All I can say is people really put a lot of thought and creativity (and money) in their Halloween décor. But, if you want them to be unique and save some dough, hand-crafted decorations are the way to go.

Again Pinterest is an excellent source for do-it-yourself decorations. My daughter’s family made these clever Halloween lanterns out of old milk jugs. First they drew faces on each jug with black marker then placed glow sticks inside so they light up at night.

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As for celebrating Hallows Eve, a lot of establishments host costume contests and some cities even have zombie pub crawls. Yes, people actually dress up like zombies and go bar hopping, often leaving a fake limb or earlobe behind. Zombie-Pub-CrawlTheme parks and malls (like the Mall of America here in Minneapolis) often offer special Halloween events for kids and adults, and you can usually find a number of haunted venues in major cities and suburbs throughout the U.S.

If you prefer to celebrate at home, you’ll find all kinds of recipes and party ideas for Halloween at Foodnetwork.com!

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Still looking for more spooktacular fun? Pop Sugar is a great source for fun and cheap ways to celebrate Halloween.

Happy Haunting!
Catherine “Cat” B, a Smart Perks employee and Good Witch-In-Chief