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Decorating on a Budget Doesn’t Mean Budget Decorating

Ah, fall. As much as I love the change of seasons, fall signals that winter is coming, and as a transplant from Texas, winter is not something I look forward to. That said, I love autumn colors and love decorating for fall. Here are some of my favorite, budget-friendly tips – you can use these tips on a big budget too by making just a few tweaks or hiring a professional decorator to help.

Bring the outside in.Nature provides a splendor of beautiful decorations this time of year.

decorating with berries


Dried Japanese lanterns, cherry blossom branches with berries, bittersweet vine, and pinecones can help transition your summer décor into fall absolutely free. Bittersweet vine wrapped around doorways, porch columns and mailbox posts can soften the hard lines and make a welcoming entrance. You can usually find this at farmers’ markets or stop along any country road and cut some for free.To create a beautiful fall bouquet that will last long into the spring, remove the leaves from Japanese lanterns and they will eventually dry to a crisp orange.  Fill galvanized buckets and ironstone pitchers and place them in bathrooms, on hall tables and living room mantels (remove them before starting up the fireplace). If you have a screened in porch, add them to the table (or even in a corner) for a little shot of color to your outdoor space.

Berry branches make a gorgeous and colorful addition to dining room tables and entry halls when displayed in tall, glass containers (try filling clear containers with cranberries or marbles first) or in vases placed in large garden urns. Just be sure that whatever you put them in is water tight to avoid marks on your tables. And change the water every couple of days so it doesn’t start to look like a science experiment.

Add a variety of pinecones from different types of evergreens to large bowls or glass urns and place around the house on counters and tables. You can also insert a candle in the center (use a fireproof holder) or add a mix of potpourri for a sweet scent.

One final gift from nature – tree branches. Yes, you read that right. Tree branches get interesting when spray painted silver, gold, bronze or other warm, fall colors and displayed in dramatic containers. The trick with branches is to use fairly straight branches and keep them tall. If you can cut some with pretty leaves, even better.

Add some color. After this long summer, it’s kind of nice to start thinking about the warm colors of fall. If you’re on a

update with pillows

Source: Pottery Barn

budget, an easy way to do this is to change out pillow covers, throw blankets, rugs and lamp shades. Now, I know you’re thinking, “Budget? That’s going to cost a fortune!” but it doesn’t have to. There are lots of budget-friendly places to pick up inexpensive accessories. Target, Home Goods, West Elm, Pottery Barn and many others offer lots of great choice that are easy on your wallet. I am not normally a Kirkland’s shopper but stopped in the other day and was pleasantly surprised at the variety and styling of their fall accessories. Lots of cute pumpkins and gourds in great colors and fabrics like burlap and glass, sparkly birds and jewel-toned candle holders.

Don’t forget to scope out our local boutiques for more custom pieces. Miss Scarlett’s always has cute Anthropologie close outs for a good price and if your budget allows, you could check out Schuyler Pond, Homessence and Next Summer in Saratoga Springs.

Another way to add color, but a little more expensive is to paint a room. If you already have great accessories with warm fall colors, choose your favorite color from say, a pillow cover and  start painting. Some of my favorite fall colors are Salsa Dancing, A Walk in the Grass, Vintage Wine and Caliente from the Benjamin Moore Aura line. If you don’t want to change your wall color every season, choose one that’s fairly neutral so you can easily swap out your accessories in the next season for an extra budget boost.

If you’re really handy but short on budget, a quick and easy update is to paint a door. I recently painted the interior of my front doors a bright yellow (it was summer!) to give my dark, stained doors an update. Now I know there are many of you out there thinking you are never supposed to paint wood, but my philosophy is – if you don’t love it, then paint it! My beautiful antique doors are old pine but were ruined by a botched stain job (not me!) so there was really no option but to paint them. They look so bright and I smile every time I walk down the hall. For fall, you could choose a jewel-toned red, black, dark gray or even a deep turquoise. If you decide that you want to change it out in the spring, you’re only committed to $25 and about 2 hours of work.

Decorate the unexpected. In my home, nothing is off-limits from a little makeover. The toilet tank regularly has a flower posy in an antique ointment or Mason jar, and my office has an ever-changing assortment of containers for post it notes, paper clips, pens and flowers. Milk glass containers are my favorite, followed by little ironstone pitchers and dishes. And even the hallway console frequently gets a change out of accessories and flowers to keep it from getting boring.

Source: West Elm

Your dining room table probably has the standard-issue vase of flowers but try something new by adding a new burlap runner (burlap is a great, inexpensive fabric), sprinkle it with brightly colored fall leaves, and intersperse tiny gourds and votive candles for a sophisticated, budget friendly makeover. And don’t feel beholden to one style; add elements from other styles. If you have contemporary décor, soften the sometimes harsh lines with an antique mirror or mercury glass accessories. Or throw in a fun element like a papier mâché animal head in a Victorian-styled living room. One of my current favorites is at West Elm and is a bargain at just $90.

Do you have a decorating tip to share? Post your comment here! Need some help getting ready for your next holiday party? Contact me today to schedule your in-home appointment!

About Dawn

I'm a decorating junkie. I have stacks of decorating magazines on my coffee table, I wrestle my husband for the latest issue of Fine Home Building, and only keep cable so I can watch marathon Sundays of HGTV.

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