In my short time as a designer, the question I’ve been asked more than any other is about tasteful seasonal décor. In a close friend’s exact words “How do I decorate for fall without it looking like Hobby Lobby threw up inside?” And I really do understand how challenging it can be.
There is an intrinsic readiness for change around this time of year—the weather, colors, smells and light all change, and we want to reflect that change in our homes. But despite the incredible natural beauty this time of year, decades of commercialized holidays and consumer pressures have made seasonal decorating painfully tacky and pedestrian. We fill our homes with cheap, fast decor that only distracts from the vibrant, crisp Fall outdoors.
And the worst part, as if wooden script signs and plush white pumpkins aren’t enough—it all ends up in the trash two months later! The amount of planet-ruining waste we create trying to celebrate the beautiful, natural process of seasonal change is the worst kind of irony. Fall’s entire thing is that it gets real pretty outside, and we head straight for Target! *big eye roll* In my opinion, the solution is really simple because the problem is very obvious. Seasonal décor is generally tacky because it’s easy—if you want to decorate your living room in 30 minutes, you will most certainly end up with factory-made pieces that a million (literally, one million) other people have. If you’re willing to put a little more time in, it’s actually a really fun and beautiful process and infinitely better for our planet. Here is my simple but impactful guide to tasteful and sustainable seasonal decorating!
USE TARGET THE RIGHT WAY
Really, there’s a right and wrong way to Target. To do it right, avoid all small decorative items! Instead, grab practical items and small fillers. My fall Target décor list includes:
Warm Light Bulbs This is a great way to warm up your space as the seasons change. The ambiance and glow add such a softness and warmth a room, and really make a huge impact.
Flannel Sheets I strongly believe in your home being an experience, and a cozy bed on chilly nights is such an amazing one! Maybe not a decor item, but investing in some soft and warm sheets goes a long way towards a warm, curated fall home.
Simple White Candles Candles are an obvious seasonal item, they just feel so cozy and warm. I grab simple white pillar candles at Target—they’re very inexpensive and add a lovely crisp warmth to any space.
SHOP ETSY (AND OTHER LOCAL BUSINESSES) Handmade Pottery
A fall staple, really. Never underestimate the power of a sculptural vessel with a natural arrangement. Etsy has tons of sources for amazing handmade pottery, and tons of very affordable options! I love the color, simplicity, and proportions of these guys.
These amazing hand-poured candles
At $12-$15 these candles are the same price as big-box ones, much prettier, and add so much more soul than any mass produced one would. Plus, they're made by a local woman of color rather than a Home Goods factory—totally a no-brainer to me. Check out her shop, AlderandLoam, on Etsy!
Matches I love matches! Back to the experience thing, I guess. Candles are a wonderful sensory experience and lighting them with wooden matches rather than those ugly red plastic lighters is such a special ritual. The smell of the match lingers and adds so much cozy. Plus, they're a great decorative item without screaming “I'm a decorative item!!”
The easiest way to tastefully and timelessly decorate for fall is to keep things as natural as possible. I have never really been one to decorate much for the holidays, but when I do it is always a simple branch or two, some dried flowers, and a few sensory pieces like candles or incense.
To me, the best thing about the changing seasons is the fresh, natural landscape we get to enjoy every day. Celebrate that, lean into that feeling, and don’t distract from nature’s masterpiece with manufactured junk.
Go outside and find some cool branches, little berries, or pretty stems. If you live in a city and don’t have tons of natural spaces, there are plenty of great online sources for dried botanicals like Bloomist or Alfloral.
Bonus tip: I love adding a rich pop of color with dried botanicals. Deep hues like burnt yellow or scarlet red add a really satisfying layer to a neutral space, but if the source is natural the dramatic color still feels simple and understated.
Happy Fall, beautiful people!