Home & Garden

Use fall floral designs to beautify your home

Having trouble falling in love with fall? It's time to face facts and the calendar. It's November, and that means it's time to put away the pastels and primary colors and embrace the browns.

But autumn is about transitions, and moving slowly into the cooler temperatures and warmer designs. You don't have to change everything at once, and you don't even have to change everything.

"Keep the pillows, rugs, throws, draperies - they're too expensive," said interior designer Toni Berry. "Look to your table tops, counter tops, coffee tables, bars, buffets, end tables, consoles; even your bathroom vanities can be turned into a fall display with fall colors. Those are the best places to switch out the season."

A good way to turn those flat spaces into autumn vignettes is with floral displays. Ria Sim, owner of a floral design business in Danville, Calif., says a centerpiece or an accent display can set the tone for autumn without having to redecorate the entire house.

It doesn't have to be complicated, Sim says. There are ways, she says, of making your decor more seasonal just by adding some flowers with an autumn color palette.

"It's simple," Sim says. "Use what you like, but pay attention to the colors. That's the most important part."

The roses will continue blooming into December, but instead of surrounding them with airy greens, work them into bouquets of orange, yellow, brown and red.

Berry agrees with keeping costs down, especially in this economy. Last year she duplicated a fall centerpiece that she'd seen in a Pottery Barn catalog for about a tenth of the cost. Using an inexpensive vase from a discount store, she found artificial branches of bittersweet, persimmon and woody twigs at a craft store and created a stunning centerpiece that set an unmistakable tone of autumn.

The choice of companion flowers in those displays is important, Sim says. Consider flowers, fruits and plants that carry the autumn theme either through their colors (browns, yellows, oranges) or by their association (mini-pumpkins, mums, autumn leaves).

And finding the right vase is important, too. Sim believes in reusing and refining vases you already own, or reaching for something completely different. The basket that held a summer arrangement works equally as well for a fall display. Hollowing out a pumpkin is perfect for a centerpiece. And Sim has a plan for disguising what she calls "ugly vases."


Sim, dismayed by the number of empty oatmeal boxes her family was tossing in the recycling bin each month, decided to find a use for the cardboard cylinders. She immediately thought of using the boxes as covers for ugly or color-clashing vases.


1 oatmeal box (Quaker Oats or other)


fresh leaves (pliable, not dried) from your yard or a friend's

hot glue gun

ugly vase (Tip: Pick up an inexpensive cylindrical vase at a craft store and use it over again.)



- Carefully cut the bottom from the box to create a hollow tube.

- Snip stems from the leaves.

- Starting at the top of the box, place a dab of hot glue and attach leaf. Repeat, working your way around the box and then starting another row beneath the first.

- Once the box is completely covered, fill your vase with water (don't over fill - you'll be putting flowers in it), and set it into the newly covered box.

- Arrange flowers. (Tip: Cut the stems to about the height of the box so that they touch the top of the cover. This helps conceal the cardboard lip of the cover and makes your leafy cover a part of the arrangement.)

- When the leaves on the box have dried out, simply peel them off and use the box to make another one.


While orange pumpkins are definitely associated with Halloween and Thanksgiving, a solid white pumpkin or gourd with a bouquet of hydrangea, stock and wax flowers - all white - enhanced with a smattering of chocolate cosmos offers a sophisticated arrangement that would be at home for a Thanksgiving feast or a winter wedding.



knife and scoop

plastic shopping bag



- Remove the pulp from the inside of the pumpkin, but not cutting through the flesh.

- Line the interior with a plastic grocery bag.

- Add a little water and begin arranging flowers. (Tip: When it comes to arranging your flowers, take another page from Mother Nature's book and don't try for symmetry.)