There is so much to love about autumn! The changing seasonal palette is rich with reds, browns, oranges, and yellows. Traditionalists have embraced these colors with a protective zeal for good reason. It works!
However, I like to break with tradition just to keep things interesting. For me, it's a creative stretch to reach outside the norms for inspiration and artistic growth.
Recently, in my article Lots of Love for Lavender, we explored how the utilization of the purple hues of lavender chrysanthemums could dramatically impact our fall decorating projects. That was such fun and was so well received I decided to explore another favorite color palette for fall.
One of my preferred non-traditional fall color palettes come from the elegant combination of whites and greens in all their simplicity. I was more specifically inspired by the sage and eucalyptus tones, but I've found most green hues will work very nicely.
The Co-Stars of the Show
For this article, I had to split the focus and designate two stars for our fall decorative show – White Chrysanthemums and White Pumpkins.
If you've ever read or heard me talk about exterior decorating in autumn, I'm sure you know what I mean when I refer to my "Queen of Fall Flowers." That queen being the chrysanthemums (mums). It's my go-to fall flower and my autumn muse. I decide first on the color(s) of mum to be used and build everything else around it.
For this project, I'm selecting the pristine and opulent White Mum.
When I was young, I considered this the least impressive, homely variety of chrysanthemum. Clearly, my taste was still undeveloped! This beautiful, classic and graceful flower deserves its moment in the spotlight, and we're about to give it to her.
As I said, this show will require the help of two stars thus enters the white pumpkin. Can I just say, I've been a massive fan of the white pumpkin for years? If I couldn't buy one, then I painted one.
Our two starring elements blend in beautifully with other colors and are magnificent in their own right. In combination, I think they not only complement one another but actually strengthen the qualities of both dramatically. There are a wide variety of whites that can be found in pumpkins and gourds. Select the size and shapes that best adorn your decorative setting.
Conscious about Colors
Let me just say that our neutral plan would work fantastic with the addition of nearly any accent color. For this article, however, we're going to work with hues of green primarily for their natural color and emotional affect.
The calming tinge of sage green and blue-greenish tints found in eucalyptus or licorice plants make this palette the perfect contrast to the traditional vibrant colors of fall.
Harmony, growth, and balance are often associated with the color green. In the fall, the world outside moves into a state of degeneration and dormancy. Green serves as our reminder of rebirth and renewal. It's restorative and peaceful effect make the combinations we've selected even more meaningful and purposeful.
Finding Your Accompaniments
In our design, greenery plays a critical role. More than background singers but not quite the star of the show either, it's their contrasting colors that genuinely make this whole thing work.
The emotional and psychological impact of our color choice falls solely on the greenery we utilize. Here, our backing players truly deserve co-star status! More about the specific types of greenery later.
Our white chrysanthemums take center stage in our blooming troupe; however, the addition of other white flowers is perfectly okay. The inclusion of white balloon flower (Platycodon grandifloras), snakeroot (Actaea racemose) or white New York Daisy (Aster novi-belgii) can add drama to the mix.
White hydrangeas also make exceptional additions. I am especially fond of the faded blooms when their colors match our palette and include the sage or eucalyptus tones. Absolutely gorgeous!
As I've mentioned in other articles, my personal preference is to let the chrysanthemums be the only blooming flower in our cast of blooming plants. Their presence in the fall is so short why not let them have their moment in the spotlight.
Non-blooming Cast of Players
I mentioned some of our non-blooming players earlier when we talked about greenery. Eucalyptus and licorice plants being two of those mentioned. Clippings or potted evergreens are excellent options.
Ivy and ferns are other favorites of mine, and two types of green plants I almost always have on-hand. They can be moved to suit my decorating needs on a whim.
One of the most fun non-blooming characters to work with is ornamental grasses!! They add height and dramatic flair. For this project, I recommend the white plumming or bluish-green tinted grasses. Consider Pumila (Cortaderia selloana), Elijah Blue (Festuca glauca) or Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) for example.
Consider Your Containers
Your container selections are going to be much more critical in our white and green color scheme.
Unlike some color-filled designs, a neutral design is less forgiving, in my opinion. We mustn't distract from our white and green players. Thus, our container must truly serve as foundational elements and blend in perfectly.
Black, white, and grey pots are opportunities to consider. White and grey are safer choices.
Black is undoubtedly more striking but not my first pick. When it does work, it is impressive. When it doesn't, you can feel it immediately. If your house, porch, or other exterior setting has elements in black, you are more likely to have a successful and cohesive look when using black containers.
Nearly always a good bet is a natural wood. I think the lighter grain woods or white-washed wooden containers are ideal choices. Wicker and straw containers or baskets will play well together also and can also be white- or grey-washed.
Stone or cement containers blend exceptionally well into the backdrop. Their weight adds stability that baskets often lack and their textures add additional interest.
To borrow directly from my article on using the lavender hues, my recommendations for additional sundries pretty much remain the same.
Antique or farmhouse pieces are perfect in any fall décor. The use of lanterns, farm relics, rockers or other weathered furniture, old blankets or natural textiles such as burlap would make fantastic additions. Just remain within our color scope.
Consider using coordinating elements for door wreaths if you are decorating your front porch.
If the traditionalist in you simply needs to scratch a décor itch, you may add the commonly found corn stalk bundles to your design. I've used, with great success, dried corn-on-the-cob painted white or sage.
Like many exterior decorating projects, I love the addition of accent lighting. Fairy lights, small lanterns and other solar-powered or electric lights will leave you smiling as the sunsets. As darkness overtakes the day, an impressively ethereal, dream-like quality will completely transform the look. The children in the neighborhood (and the parents) are sure to fall in love with what you've created.
In closing, let me mention one of my favorite aspects of this exterior design project. It works inside as well. Probably better than many fall designs assuming the colors are complementary to what you already have in place. Tying the exterior and interior looks together can really bring the look and feel of autumn home in a very stylish and sophisticated way.
If you're like me, any decorating project is a very personal, creative activity. As with all projects I write or speak about, I hope it goes without saying that if you don't put some of yourself into it, it wasn't really worth doing.
Art and this is art, is an expression of a mood, a thought or feeling. I like to see, and leave behind, elements of the artist. So I invite you to use my ideas as a guide and pour parts of you into the making of your own creations.
Experiment. Fail or succeed. I hope you're here to create and not merely replicate. Perfection isn't a required element in any decorating endeavor. Fun, fulfillment, and joy should be.
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by Steve Baker, VP of Marketing & Business Development