Halloween and the fall season offer different, and fun, decorating opportunities

Constanza Briones likes to revolve her holiday décor around simple elegance.
Courtesy image, AURA

The fall season holds rich opportunities to decorate. As temperatures cool, we spend more time inside, reflecting fall colors — and festivities — indoors. But adorning your home doesn’t have to turn into an elaborate time suck. In fact, choosing one or two areas to concentrate your décor upon — whether that’s the porch, foyer or dining room table — can help you narrow down ideas and select just the right items to group into the perfect design.


Halloween is one of the most fun times to decorate, because pretty much anything goes. It’s a time you don’t have to worry about being too sophisticated with your décor, because, after all, skeletons, zombies, ghosts and monsters aren’t concerned with fashionable design (though vampires and princesses do have higher standards).

You might start with a black tablecloth — printed, solid or spider-web-woven. Or, if you want a lighter base for your layering, look for a white spider web runner or tablecloth, or even a white skeleton runner. Haunted houses, witchy items, black plates and dark red champagne flutes all have a place at the table, as do skeletons themselves. If it doesn’t creep you out too much, you can dress them for the occasion and perch them on a couple seats around the table.

“My inspiration comes from mysterious things, like dried pieces of wood, because you can feel the life and death of trees and flowers. It’s the transference from one stage to another.” Mary Negri, conceptual artist

While there’s plenty of spooky, black-and-blood-and-skeleton driven products in stores, Vail resident and conceptual artist Mary Negri honors ancestors during Day of the Dead by actually dressing up a mannequin. As you walk into her foyer, a lovely “woman” greets you, arms posed upward. She wears an ornate headdress fashioned from a pumpkin and features, and a black and white dress and dried leaves. Often, Negri introduces different elements into the “skeletons,” such as a book or long white hair, to represent both life and death.

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“My inspiration comes from mysterious things, like dried pieces of wood, because you can feel the life and death of trees and flowers. It’s the transference from one stage to another. Every day, you’re born and you die,” Negri said.

Vail resident and conceptual artist Mary Negri honors ancestors during Day of the Dead by dressing up a mannequin in her foyer.
Courtesy image, Mary Negri

Fall and Thanksgiving

“‘There is something so special in the early leaves drifting from the trees — as if we are allowed a chance to peel, to refresh, to start again.’ This is one of my favorite quotes, by Ruth Ahmed, about the transition of the season from summer into fall. It’s about renewal,” said Kelly Newman, owner of 714 Home in Edwards. “We normally think about renewal in the New Year or in the spring season, but autumn is also a season for change. Think warm temperatures to crisp air. Think lemonade to soothing warm cider. When the season changes, so do our mindsets.”

And so do our thoughts about home décor. We bring out mums and pumpkins, both inside and out, to match the colors of the changing leaves. Front porch décor can be simple or elaborate and traditional or trendy: this writer usually pairs two scarecrows with kids’ skis, which fit their stature.

“This year, we are seeing some updated styles, which are more subtle than the usual themed decorations. Holiday decorating seems to be following the current style of year-round home decor. That is, natural, warmer and earthy colors than in the past few years of the cooler greys,” Newman said.

Negri fills her table with warm, inviting colors, from candlesticks to colored glasses and vases to serving dishes.

“Everything you put on the table elevates the feeling of the holiday,” Negri said, emphasizing the welcoming, inviting and abundant tone of Thanksgiving, in particular.

Constanza Briones, owner of the pop-up shop AURA in Vail, revolves her décor around simple elegance — not too bright, yet colorful, uplifting and cheerful, she says.

Terra cotta dishes can ground the table setting, while green, gold or red glasses add natural, translucent color to shine. Incorporating different textures and heights adds interest to a table.

“Texture is big this year,” Newman said. “Texture adds a layer of depth. Woven rattan and wicker baskets can be used as centerpieces for seasonal fruits and flowers. Using small throw rugs as table runners add extra texture to your tabletop, as opposed to a flat runner. Textiles like wool throws and velvet pillows make a space feel luxurious.”

Briones tends to use candlesticks and tealights to create a warm feel, along with velvet pumpkins as a low centerpiece, so as not to block guests’ views of each other. Though she loves fresh flowers, she also sometimes incorporates fruits, like apples or lemons, in place of blooms.

One of her table settings subtly captured the essence of fall without overwhelming the senses by evoking a sense of togetherness and the joy of spending time with family and friends.

“My inspiration draws not only from the beauty of fall but also from my trips to Portugal, France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland,” Briones said.

She combines a touch of elegance and softness with some fall hues. Her goal is to inspire a sense of harmony and appreciation for the season, encouraging loved ones to come together.

“It’s not about an overt holiday theme, but rather about embracing the subtle beauty of fall and the warmth of companionship during this special time of year,” Briones said.

The prevailing color of the season this year is honey, Newman says.

“Honey is a subdued warm neutral that can be used as a backdrop for any setting. Other earthy tones showing up include sage green, dulled orange, terra cotta and touches of brown and black. If a pop of color is desired, the hues of the deeper blues and greens compliment the earthy tones,” she says.

Briones’ only warning:

“Don’t mix and match too many colors because otherwise there’s too much information on the table.”

That said, feel free to borrow elements from nature’s abundance, as well as your own collections. And, keep sustainability in mind.

“Bring out your treasured brass candlesticks, stack of vintage books and family heirlooms. Add nostalgia to this year’s autumn celebrations. Mixing vintage and new items make your home and surroundings so interesting. Look at your collected items with think: What is the history behind those items? Why did they mean so much to have been passed down through the generations of your family?” Newman said, encouraging people to incorporate nature, as well. “You can certainly fill your home with budget-friendly accents by taking a walk and clipping a few branches to fill a pottery vase. Collect pinecones, dried flowers and berry stems to fill a vintage wooden tray. Use candles to tap into the scents of fall like pumpkin cream, cinnamon spice or vanilla latte.

“Whether your decorations lean towards the traditional or an updated version this year, choosing what warms your home and your soul can provide the much-needed comfort and coziness we love at home.”

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