As an innkeeper I love decorating for every season! As we head into “sweater weather” I like to focus on warming up our interiors with fall colors and textures that lend warmth. I can hardly wait to start using my cozy Cuddle Duds throws!
Fall decorating doesn’t have to take over your life. Just add a little touch here and there – whatever makes you happy. I have the excuse of decorating for guests, so we have a lot of outdoor seasonal décor and our front entry is decorated for every season. Inside Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast, you’ll find a few velvet pumpkins in a glass bowl on a silver tray in the front parlor, mantel décor in the dining room, and pumpkin display vignettes throughout the guest common areas.
Here’s my Best Advice for Seasonal Decorating – Emphasis on Autumn
Step 1: Store Your Décor from the Prior Season
- Take the time to gather up everything that makes you think “Summer.” Walk through each room and each outdoor space and pull your summer décor. This includes porch cushions, accent pillows, florals, signs, etc. We even change out the china we use to serve guest breakfasts.
- Set up a storage method that works for you. We have attic and basement space, so we designate certain sections for certain seasons. Many of our items are stored in plastic bins. As we pull bins to open each new season, the past season goes right into the bins for storage, basically just swapping seasons.
- Extra-large trash bags work well for storing large wicker furniture cushions. Grocery and various sized trash bags are great for covering other items to keep the dust off. Wire clothes hangers with bent ends provide hanging support for wreaths and two will fit back to back under the same covering.
- Always label each item /bin/ bag, especially if it’s not easily identifiable in a clear container. We use large mailing labels on our plastic bins and markers to identify contents in trash bags.
- Take a minute to go through your bins and be sure you only keep items you will use again. If you’re like me, you have waayyyy more than you’ll likely ever use. You may wish to find new homes for some of your décor. (And… just a note… if you’d like to display Original Snow Village pieces at Christmas time, call me! I’m happy to share from our inventory!)
- Consider keeping a master inventory list, including where you displayed each item and where it is stored.
Step 2: Start Fresh with Fall
- Walk your spaces to think through your theme / colors / design set up, inside and out. Which areas will you decorate? Make a list or sketch it out. I even love to change up table settings for our guests each season.
- You may not need to decorate a vintage mansion for guest approval, but think of places you can perk up with some fall décor. For many years I did not decorate my kitchen, because the guests don’t use that space. Then I realized that our family and friends are in that space and we started decorating there, too! Even just one small pumpkin on your nightstand or a colorful coffee mug can make your heart happy when you wake up in the morning.
- Determine the timing. When will you decorate? Will you do it all at once, or a little bit at a time. Reduce some stress by determining in advance what might work best for you. We do seasonal “changeovers,” moving fairly quickly to get the work done between guests. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. One step at a time…
- We’ve developed a seasonal transition method, using our upper hallway (not in guest view) to stage boxes and bins, and the back parlor (also our innkeeper space) to sort and distribute. My mind blows up with bins stacked to the ceiling, but it seems to work best that way. Make a plan that will work for you.
Step 3: Determine Your Overall Theme
- Focus your plans on seasonal colors and items that are easily accessible. Fall is a great time to hunt and gather. And if you need acorns… well, we have a front yard full! Help yourself!
- Use natural items like pumpkins, gourds and corn shocks for a traditional fall look. We love colorful mums and “real” pumpkins outdoors and reusable items indoors.
- Our current color and textile choices will take us into fall, through Halloween and into Thanksgiving with the addition of some Pilgrim figurines. (However, the Pilgrims often get short display time due to the timing of our annual Elves Weekend and extensive Christmas decorations.)
- Consider the colors of leaves as they change when choosing autumn accent pillows and throws.
- Choose textures (like throws) that are cozy and warm. I always keep at least one throw on the porch for chilly mornings and evenings. It really “feels like fall” when I’m all cozied up with a cup of tea or cocoa.
Establish a Plan
- List the items you’ll need for each space, including ideas for colors, textures, etc. Using a crisp burlap ribbon adds great textural appeal to a wreath. Some people make idea boards or collect samples. Measure spaces in advance when you need specific sized items.
- Check your inventory. Which items do you already own/ have stored? Which can your create? Which will you need to invest in?
If you’re crafty, fire up the glue gun and get started on those wreaths! Thankfully, we have local crafts people who do fine work, including custom orders. Check out these custom wreaths from
- Enlist help. Our guest Maureen designed most of our exterior décor this year. Our Blessings team members tote bins back and forth and up and down. Kelly works her magic with all the seasonal vignettes that I can see only in my mind, never in my craftiness. Glenn, Casey and Sam work extensively with the outdoor décor. Be sure everyone is aware of your schedule and expectations. Be sure to check back later this week for a post about how we decorate the inn – and at least four Christmas trees – in just one weekend! (HINT: We have Christmas elves!)
Source your Décor Locally
- We love to use local suppliers as often as we can. It’s fun to shop local farm markets and pumpkin farms. Kelly’s friends supplied our corn shocks from a local farm and a local designer produced our matching door wreaths.
- If possible, take a little time to peruse what’s available locally. Visit the farms and the markets to see the wide variety of available options. I’ve learned that marketers and pumpkin farmers are happy to share their knowledge and expertise. Discuss what you’re thinking and consider their recommendations.
- Our Fall Favorite suppliers include:
Market Six Pumpkin Patch for pumpkins, mums, gifts and decor
Keithley Farms for pumpkins and other produce, fresh bakery items, etc.
Both farms offer many options for fall family fun.
Katie Armstrong for custom wreaths. I’ll be happy to connect you. Her work has also been available at Cork & Crown.
A Collaborative seasonal decor and a whole lot more.
Florals from All Occasions Flowers & Gifts and Abigail’s Flowers & Gifts
Our local Dollar Store has seasonal tableware, cover plates, etc. at a very low price.
Step 4 Make Good Choices
Are you traditional or more modern in your style? Handcrafted velvet pumpkins or do you prefer the real thing, warts and all? Think about your own “design esthetic” and use that to guide your choices.
- Color: Did you know green pumpkins are a thing? I’m always fascinated by the variety of pumpkin colors, and this year we found white, yellow, green, orange and some beauties that were a mix of colors.
- Shape: Some pumpkins have deep ribs; some are more rounded. Some are round and some are tall. I love a good mix.
- Texture: Varying texture makes displays more interesting. Some pumpkins are bumpy and some are smooth. It’s always an adventure to decide which ones will provide the best accents.
- Size: I actually take a list of measurements and a measuring tape when I hit the pumpkin farm. I know I’m buying fillers for the front street urns and the large pots by the garden arbor so I need a size that will sit inside the rim slightly. To make it appear that pumpkins are sitting on top of the rim, I sometimes place an inverted flower pot under the pumpkin.
- Display style: Solo or in groups: I like to group various sizes, colors and surfaces, but it’s a matter of personal preference.
- To stack or not to stack: Do you love stacked pumpkins? It takes a certain skill to find the right ones to put together, but I really like the look of pumpkin stacks.
STEP 5: Help Your Display Last Longer
Mums and other living plants
- Choose plants that are just beginning to bloom out. I need some color for curb appeal, but I need the mums to last for several weeks.
- When using live plants in arranged pots, we still try to stick to the Filler – Thriller – Spiller approach.
- Cabbage, Millet, Grasses, etc. in pots make great accents. Tall grass makes a great backdrop behind our front porch lanterns! We always recommend placing a saucer under each pot and watering from the bottom.
- Keep your plants well-watered. Put disposable pie tins (or purchased plant saucers) under each pot and water into the saucer, not over the blooms. Check moisture regularly by gently touching the soil. Our mums need water pretty much every day.
Maintaining Pumpkins and Gourds
1 Squirt your favorite (Dawn!) dishwashing liquid into tepid water and wash away the dirt and grass.
2) Let them dry thoroughly.
3) Spray clear sealant on to help them last longer. Glenn doesn’t believe it makes a difference, but I really do think it helps!
These are my tips and techniques for seasonal decorating with an emphasis on autumn décor. Check back in a couple of days for a post about how we manage to decorate our inn for Christmas in one weekend!
Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast is an award-winning all-suite inn located in Jacksonville, Illinois. Hospitality is our hallmark. We offer many amenities, including overnight accommodations in a 130-year-old vintage mansion, Wi-Fi, expansive lawn and gardens, all-season fireplaces, and multi-course breakfasts. Come see us! Our reviews reflect that guest satisfaction is a high priority.
Follow us on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.