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Published September 21st, 2016
Stylish Solutions
Expensive version of a feather and velvet pumpkin; other options are available online from Target to Etsy. Photos Courtesy of Couture Chateau

Can you feel the shift in the air? It's subtle, but so wonderful! There are mornings in the fall, I will just go out back and breathe in the beauty of a cool, crisp morning. Something about our natural resources draws out the natural decorator in me, as there is so much beauty to work with.
This month my hope is to share some decorating tips you can put into effect right now, inspired by our beloved Lamorinda. In past articles, I have shared budgets and seasonal updates, how you can plan to spend, and where to spend depending on dollar amounts, (see past articles/archives) however this fall I want to have some fun embracing seasonal accessories, not just the big picture design elements.
Who doesn't want to update an accessory or pillow every now and then with those seasonal and yes, sometimes kitsch pieces we start to see every September. And yes, we are even talking pieces or arrangements that have been crafted.
I am not normally a "pumpkin-applique pillow or faux-floral arrangement type of gal," as my team can attest. But even I have to admit there are occasions where these items work well.
Here are a few tips to help navigate the pumpkin pillows, harvest baskets and faux flowers out there. Be forewarned, this is not for the faint of heart!
First, look for glue, and if you see it, avoid! I know it sounds silly, but in pre-made or even custom ordered from your favorite craft-store items, one of the 'tells' of poor craftsmanship or a rush job is dried glue. It can appear wax-like or opaque, even clear at times. If you find an item you love and know it will work well, but you see glue, ask to see if there is another like it. Your home is precious and should be filled with the best you can afford, as a testament to the value of you and your family, so filling it with poorly made items sends the wrong message to the space.
This season, we are seeing well-made crafted accessories. I am particularly liking the feather and velvet thing, as our very own Couture Chateau Custom Holiday Collection features feathers and velvets as well.
Second, purchase with an eye toward flow. One-off items are OK, but you want to be able to weave a story into your dĒcor, especially seasonally. That does not mean overpowering your year-round design, but it does mean visual data points for spaces, being especially mindful of traffic patterns within your home.
Do you walk from the front hall, to the kitchen, to the family room? Then plan for three visual data points with similar aesthetics. They don't have to match perfectly, but the elements should be similar, so your eye doesn't have to readjust to every room. This avoids the "bombardment" syndrome of design, where every room is a shockingly different vignette. Department stores are designed to bombard you, but our homes should not be. One simple thing you can do is a walk through with a camera - I've shared this tip several times, but a camera really is your truth teller.
And finally, consider sticking with fewer than five elements. If you are loving feathers and velvets this season as I am (hint: they work in both contemporary and traditional settings) then stick with those elements, adding in other textural items that blend. Don't add in harvest baskets and pillows, sparklers and straw. Stick to a few, well-executed items. Next year will come around soon enough, and you can arrange items differently then.
Have some fun with the season change, experiment, and as always, set the timer. No seasonal holiday dĒcor regime should take you more than one or two days to execute. Bring the items in, arrange and put the boxes away. If you have a large home, or additional items and it will take longer than that to install or display, sign up for our course on www.stressfreeholidayhome.com, which teaches you how to manage the process and develop a story, so it can still be executed in a series of days instead of weeks. The information, while geared toward the December holiday season, works for any vignette.
If you are interested in Couture Chateau's Custom Holiday Collection, email me at ann@couturechateau.com.

A simple branch like this from Crate and Barrel or from your own Lamorinda backyard may be all you need for the fall seasonal update.
Ann McDonald, IIDA, NAPO, is the Founder/CEO of Couture Chateau, a luxury interior design firm in Orinda. For a complete blog post including other design ideas, visit www.couturechateau.com/blog.

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