In the summer it's all about the outside. We live in our yards, decks and front porches, and only reluctantly retreat back within four walls at day's end. When fall arrives we close the blinds on our cooling, darkening yards.
But with a little imagination and a good pair of pruners, we can borrow from the natural landscape and bring it inside. And we can do it for practically nothing, says Ellyn Pelikan, a master gardener, former florist and professional decorator who specializes in creating seasonal and holiday-themed decor for clients who may not have the time or inclination to do it themselves.
Pelikan maintains that not only is it fun to decorate for fall but it's practically foolproof. Mother Nature is bestowingfree goodies and unlike Christmas, which requires a little bling and fantasy figures, autumn decor is natural and real.
Think of it as a seasonal going-away party, celebrating the harvest and nature's gifts as the landscape slowly settles down for its winter's nap.
"It's a festive time of year and it's also a dark time of the year. It's comforting to have something from the outside, inside the house," said Pelikan, who teaches classes in natural decorating and crafts both at her small Pelikan Spring Farm and gardens in west Sebastopol and through the Sonoma County Master Gardeners.
You can cover your mantles and tabletops with candle holders, wreaths, potpourris and clever little arrangements, says Pelikan.
Leaves, nuts, seed pods, acorns, gourds, pumpkins and wispy lichen become beautiful focal points when arranged together, particularly with inexpensive candles or battery operated mini-lights or candles to add mood and drama.
The ideas are virtually limitless, but Pelikan offered a few from her classes to provide inspiration.
Stuffed Peppers: Hollow out a bell pepper as if you were going to bake it. Choose red, green or orange, whatever suits your fancy. Just look for a large one that will stand upright.