Photo: Camilla Fabbri
Fall isn't just known for the end of summer, finally-I-can-turn-off-the-air-conditioning temperatures, afternoon football games, and a return to your favorite soups and stews: It's also famous for its bounty of rich, saturated colors.
And these vibrant red leaves, deep pumpkin oranges, layered chocolate-brown branches, and crisp green apples make decorating your home (inside and out) an exercise in creativity, reuse, and natural elements.
DIY your way to mod, avant-garde decor with these five design tips using fall harvest.
1. Apple Vases
Apples are plentiful in most climates as the weather cools, and after you've had your fill of apple butter, fresh apples, apple pie, and apple turnovers, you can use the extras for these chic vases.
Camilla Fabbri shows you how: Just take the core of the apple out, leaving the outside intact, and insert a piece of floral foam.
She finished her Granny Smiths with eye-popping green spider mums for a monochromatic shot of color, but you could also choose contrasting apples and flower colors for a custom look.
2. Sculpted Pumpkins
What's fall decorating without a little pumpkin carving? You can take your porch (or living room, or dining room) from spooky to sparkling with these carefully sculpted pumpkins that artist Janice Nadeau created for Design*Sponge.
The trick is creating a template that allows you to carve detailed images without cutting through the entire outer flesh of the pumpkin -- and the treat is a glowing, gorgeous piece that incorporates leaves, vines, and flowers.
3. Gourd Bowls
If there's anyone who could make cut-up, painted gourds look like modernist ceramics, it's Martha Stewart. The good news is: She can make you that person, too.
This tutorial makes it sound easy: Just use a jigsaw to cut the gourds in half, soak the bottom in warm water, then sand, let dry, prime, and paint. The end result is a vessel you can fill with, as Martha suggests, "acorns, dried pomegranates, fresh rose petals, mini dried gourds, and thistle" -- but they'll look gorgeous empty, too.
4. Sculptural Branch Arrangement
In the summer, all you need for a bright, fresh table arrangement are a few just-cut blooms from your backyard garden -- and in the fall, creating a sculptural, artistic focal point for your room or table is just as easy with sparse branches.
You can choose to make a more complicated version with hanging candles, crystals, or lit vases for splashier holiday decorations, or just pick up a few of the most interesting pieces from your yard and pop them in a favorite container.
5. Pressed Leaves
Pressed leaves are one of the simplest ways to bring autumn colors into your decor -- but Better Homes and Gardens offers a bushel of suggestions that are more grownup -- and decidedly more chic -- than those laminated bookmarks you used to make in preschool.
We love the idea of pressing single leaves in simple glass frames for a mantle decoration that's easy to change out; you can also copy their idea of putting one leaf in each of a few teeny-tiny vases for a tabletop collection that's just as striking as any overloaded bunch of flowers. (Find more leaf projects at Re-Nest.)