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A peck of pumpkins provides a punch of fall panache

Kenny Kemp
Switch out candles for pumpkins to quickly add a fall feel to a tabletop grouping.
Kenny Kemp Pumpkins and bittersweet vine complete a table dressed for a casual meal.
Kenny Kemp A wrought-iron serving piece that anchors a corner table gets a seasonal update with pumpkins, hickory nuts and bittersweet vine.
Kenny Kemp Intersperse candles and decorative pumpkins to give a room a warm glow.
Kenny Kemp Pile pumpkins in a variety of textures and colors on a platter for instant impact.
Kenny Kemp Pumpkins blended with chunky potpourri add a subtle touch of fall.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It all started, as so many decorating projects seem to do these days, with a visit to Pinterest, an online version of scrapbooking in which users "pin" photos of cool stuff to share with other viewers or just track for their own reference.

A photo of three good-sized candleholders topped with pumpkins instead of candles caught my eye. So cute, so simple. I thought about how else I could pair the bag full of little pumpkins in varying colors and textures that I've collected through the years with decorative items I already have.

It's a version of the "shop your own house" theory espoused by decorators to clients with pintsize budgets who advise them to look around their own houses before they go out and spend a wad on new accessories.

I dug the pumpkins out of a closet that's jammed with holiday items and also purchased a $5 mesh bag filled with miniature real pumpkins, actually gourds. Another $5 would have purchased some gourds in funky colors and shapes, but this effort was all about pumpkins. That was the only purchase I made to add touches of autumnal color to four rooms.

Candleholders, a two-tiered wrought-iron serving piece, several platters, a hurricane glass, crystal ice bucket and miniature glasshouse were all pressed into service. The bag of pumpkins also held a few orange candles and leaf-shaped tea light holders.

A walk through the woods and yard provided additional -- and free -- materials. Sprays of berries on a nandina bush had reached an orangish stage in their seasonal transition from green to red. A few intact hickory nuts that escaped the attention of voracious squirrels stood out among the empty shells littering the patio. The orange shells on the red berries of meandering bittersweet vine found along a roadside hadn't opened, but still added interest.

Other items spotted but not used were acorns, pinecones, leaves in red, orange and gold, gnarly bare branches, crabapple branches with yellow/blush fruit and showy red-berried hawthorn branches.

I gathered all the items on the dining room table and pondered possible combinations. The easiest and most obvious: the three candleholders. Topped with pumpkins and grouped on a sideboard with a fall topiary and lamp, they added an instant autumn look.

Seven of the orange orbs, three in an ice bucket, one under a candle in a hurricane glass holder, one perched on a sugar holder and two in the middle of green, gold, orange and russet plates brightened a table set for a cozy dinner for two.

Five little pumpkins -- wait. A song my children sang in kindergarten popped in my mind "Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate ..." they and their costumed classmates chirped in sing-songy voices at the Halloween party. The song stuck for the rest of the decorating session.

Anyway, those five pumpkins, a scattering of hickory nuts and a twist of bittersweet vine converted a two-tiered stand that usually held glasses into harvest display.

Two platters -- one beaten metal and one silver and gold -- received the pumpkin treatment to brighten up coffee tables in the living room and family room.

That left three pumpkins that needed a home for the holidays. A miniature glass greenhouse half filled with potpourri did not escape my notice. Placed on top of the potpourri, they completed the pumpkin push.

It was a fast and fun morning's work to add autumn flash without much cash.

Reach Julie Robinson at julier@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.


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