Decorating For Fall Without Breaking the Bank

I have a confession -- I've never been much of a seasonal decorator. Often because I didn't have the money to spare on things with such a short window of use, or because I hate to store things I'm not currently using, or even sometimes just because I'm lazy and didn't see the point. There were years that we travelled for Christmas and I didn't even set up the tree that is tucked away in the basement--now that is the epitome of too-lazy-to-be-bothered. For much of my life, the only thing I rotated seasonally was candle scents and the types of food I cooked. (Soup is a winter food, people!)

Since having a little one, my perspective has shifted a little bit though. Growing up, I remember my mom's house always feeling cozy and seasonally appropriate. We loved dragging out the rubbermaid totes of Christmas decorations every year or bringing in fresh flowers from the yard in the summers. I want my little guy to experience that sense of coziness and being home. I want to signal the ebb and flow of changing seasons inside our home as well as pointing to their presence outdoors. It feels connected and important somehow. 

Buuut.... I still don't want to spend tons on short-lived decor, I strongly dislike kitschy things, and I still hate to store lot's of extra stuff. 

I decided to do a kind of trial run with some fall decorations and I have to say I'm loving it!
Let me share the strategy I adopted.

fall decor | gallery wall | leather side table

Decorate For the Seasons, Not the Holidays

I'll start with the disclaimer that for me, this isn't 100% true of Christmas. And I'm okay with incorporating a few things that are specific to a particular holiday. Mostly though, I skip things that are distinctly Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc and go for tones, textures, colors, and patterns that fit the time of year. I had some blush colored linen pillow covers on the couch throw pillows over the summer but I've since replaced them some black and white buffalo check, dark green velvet, and a chunky knit oatmeal colored cover.

(Tip -- pillow covers are AWESOME!! Much easier to store and way cheaper than rotating actual pillows.) 


Choose Items That Bridge Multiple Seasons

Did you see that gorgeous wooden serving bowl? It was $20 at TJMaxx and while that may not sound like a lot, it was more than spent on any other single item. But, it is also the most versatile!! In the fall is can hold apples, gourds, pinecones etc... in the winter I could fill it with some greens and berries or sparkly trinkets, and in the summer lemons would be perfect!

I haven't decided if the boxwood wreaths will stay up year round, but at the very least they will transition beautifully into our Christmas decor. (Don't they look great on those roman shades!? If you missed the tutorial, you can read it here.) Same for the buffalo check pillow covers and kitchen towels. The green vases were on clearance at Target and I while the green and gold are perfect for autumn, they will be beautiful for Christmas or anytime.

Fall Decor | Blue Sofa | Boxwood Wreath

I picked up that cotton ball wreath at the end of the season last year (the best time to bargain hunt for next year!) and I love that it works seasonally from mid September right through until February/March. 

open shelving | fall decor

Glass, ceramics, wood, metals, and greenery (real OR fake ;) ) are some of the best neutral statement pieces you can invest in! Collect things you love that aren't too squarely seasonal and then curate little vignettes mixing and matching some inexpensive items like mini pumpkins to set a festive tone. 

Sometimes seasonal decorating is just about adding or removing layers. Through the summer I've enjoyed the ease of bare tile floors in the kitchen but as the air got a little chillier, I found I wanted to add some coziness. I picked up this blue rug, and while the color has nothing to do with any particular season, I really like it. Something as simple as a small rug went a long way to adding a layer of warmth and texture to the whole kitchen.

kitchen rug | white and grey cabinets
Fall Decorations | Leather and Brass Bench | Coffee Table Styling

So my final tally of fall decorating pieces is this:

  • Two Green Vases | $5 and $7 respectively
  • Wooden Tray | $20
  • Two Buffalo Print Pillow Covers | $18/ea
  • White Ceramic Acorn | $6
  • "Be Thankful" Sign | $5
  • Buffalo Check Dishtowel | $3
  • Two Boxwood Wreaths | $15/ea
  • Kitchen Rug | $15
  • Orange and Tan Plaid Throw Blanket | $15 (not shown)
  • Assorted Pumpkins and Gourds | $10

Total: $137

*If I'm being honest/generous in "what counts as fall decorating purchases" I would tell you that I recently bought those leather and brass stools ($25/ea on clearance) and the white ceramic faceted vase ($14) bringing my total to $201... but I'm choosing not to count those as "seasonal." ;)

While I'm confessing, I feel like I should also tell you that we are currently sporting some pretty sweet vinyl window clings these days... because you know, a toddler lives here too and as parents we have to sacrifice certain things. Like our front doors. 

Kids Fall Decor
Fall Decor | Holiday Styling

How about you? Do you change up your decor for the seasons? What is your favorite way to stretch those dollars? I love hearing about how you make your home your own--comment below and tell me about it!

Fall Napkin Rings

A quick, easy, DIY project to get you in the fall mood! 

Wooden Napkin Rings for Fall

These vintage wooden napkins were an amazing find on Etsy. Aren't they gorgeous!? I was tempted to abandon my plan of painting the facets because they were so beautiful but I'm glad I followed through because I love the finished product and I think you will too! 

Here are the before pictures:

I love the lighter lines between the facets and the wood tone is so rich and warm!

To get started, I used a small piece of 220 grit sandpaper to gently scuff the surfaces I wanted to paint. After a good wipe-down I started painting the first side of the napkin rings. I chose a light peach and darker coral and did 4 of each color. When those were all dry I flipped them over and did the opposite side of all 8 in gold metallic. These colors are great for fall and will pair beautifully with the other pieces we are making to use for our fall dinner party. (Stay tuned for those posts!) When purchasing or re-making items I really strive to get multi-season use out of things. I'm excited that these will also look great paired with pastels for spring or bright colors for summer picnics. 

All of the paints were acrylic craft paints, but of the three, I had the hardest time with the light peach. This may have been because it was the lightest and, as you can see, the wood is quite dark, but I also think it may have been because it was a satin finish. It showed brush strokes, left ridges even with suuuuper light coats, and it took more coats overall to cover. I think next time I would stick to a more matte finish and add gloss overtop if needed.

Ok, friends--light a fall-scented candle, pour some pumpkin spice coffee, jump over to Etsy to pick out some wooden napkin rings, then choose your colors and get painting! When you're done, pin your pictures to Pinterest and tag 5 O'Clock Design in the comment so we can see your masterpieces!