Small splashes of color add flavor of fall

DEAR GAIL: I moved to Las Vegas in May from Vermont and fall was my favorite season before the bitter color of our snow-filled winter, which is the reason I moved here. I was surrounded by the amazing fall colors outside. I know fall is a bit different here, so I’d like to do some simple things to bring the outside I so enjoyed inside. What are your favorite things to do? — Gloria

DEAR GLORIA: Oh, how I remember the amazing colors of fall in Vermont. I grew up in New York and one of our favorite things to do was go to Vermont to see the changing of the leaves. I always brought back leaves and would iron them between wax paper and bring them to school for show-and-tell. It’s interesting how some memories stay with you and are so vivid in your memory. It is one of the things I miss most.

There are many simple ways you can get creative without spending a lot of time or money. You don’t even have to be crafty to make simple things. It’s amazing what a difference a small accessory, throw pillows and the natural accents and textures of the season can make.

Pull out your pillar candles or candlesticks and surround them with vines and fall leaves. If you have a pillar candle, place it in the middle of a grapevine wreath. Then, add simple floral picks that have pumpkins, berries and leaves. This is superquick and easy.

But, here’s a word of caution: With any candle, watch it carefully when lighted. I use battery-operated ones so I don’t have to worry about them. They’ve come a long way in looking real.

One of my favorite things to do is make a quick floral arrangement with silica sand and branches. Start with two tall glass vases; you’ll need one that is smaller and will fit inside the other, leaving a couple of inches between each vase. The inside vase is where you’ll place your arrangement.

Fill the vase with silica sand and just start placing stems inside. I’m not taking about doing a fancy professional arrangement, just simple stems. I like silica sand over floral foam because it is easier to work with and holds the stems in place.

With your inside vase completed, place it inside the larger vase and now fill the area between the inside and outside vases with leaves, small pumpkins, acorns, holiday mixed nuts or Indian corn. My exotic birds, KiKi and Peaches, love this time of year as they get treated to holiday nuts. They can open a Brazil nut in seconds.

I’ve written before about pillow covers. One yard of fabric will make two 16-by-16 inch covers. Why buy more pillows that you have to store when you can just slip a cover over the ones you already have? YouTube has hundreds of easy and no-sew examples that take minutes to make. While you’re there, check out a no-sew table runner.

Why not treat yourself to fresh fall flowers every other week? The grocery stores have inexpensive ones and you don’t need to fill a large vase. Even a bud vase with one or two flowers will brighten a room.

When you’re at the store buy a variety of sizes and colors of pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn. Then make a centerpiece for your table or group them on your mantel with candles and pine cones. It’s also a nice accent for the counter in your guest bath.

Upcycle your glass bottles before putting them in the recycling bin. Spray-paint them in tones of orange, gold and brown and group them together.

Gather up any clear glass vases, jars, bowls, candle holders and fill them with a mix of the seasonal textures and items I’ve mentioned above.

Don’t have some of these things around the house? Then this is a perfect time to visit a thrift store. Along with finding amazing buys, you’re also giving back to the community by supporting the local charities that run them.

Just a few splashes of autumn-inspired color, texture and nature will remind you of home without taking too much of your time or money.

Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by email to: Or, mail to: 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her Web address is:

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