I love this time of year. The trees have become the color of a beautiful sunset and their descending foliage blanket a frost covered ground. It is sweater weather matched with cute boots and a hot apple cider in hand. The creepy Halloween decor is being traded out for potted mums and freshly picked pumpkins. I was pumped to start decorating my home. My porch specifically. That is until I walked outside on November 1st. Greeted by smothering humidity that gave me an insta perm. I’d forgotten that I no longer lived in New York. Welcome to autumn in Florida.
Oh Fall! Oh Fall in Florida that is, Wherefore art thou? A common misconception of that term is thought to mean “where are you?”. However, it actually alludes to the name itself. As in Juliet saying “Why are you Romeo Montague? Why couldn’t you just be a Smith or a Miller?” This brings me to my bone of contention. Let’s be honest, Fall in Florida should be more appropriately titled. How about Summer-ish? There are two seasons in Florida, tank top season vs tank top and a sweater just in case season. There aren’t any beautiful leaves falling and pumpkin spice lattes are consumed within air-conditioned walls and cars.
Have you ever tried decorating outside for Halloween or Autumn during summer-ish? Try placing a real pumpkin on your porch the week before Halloween. It’s certain to be extra ghoulish as it has undoubtedly melted into a rotting mess covered in flies. I guess it really just depends on the look you’re going for. In my case, I wanted an autumn-themed porch this year sans the post decor pressure washing a real pumpkin requires. I started brainstorming on how to achieve a porch that wouldn’t attract coyotes. Apparently, they enjoy a well-balanced diet of meat, veggies, and porch fruits aka the Jackolantern. Keep in mind that while I just wanted to decorate my porch, this DIY is great for any part of your home. My mission was to purchase tangible items so that I would not have to replace them every year.
Let me be clear, I don’t care for faux things. I don’t want fake sugar, fake friends, or fake plants for decor anywhere near me. And yet desperate times call for desperate measures. I had to eat crow if I wanted to conjure feelings of Thanksgiving and well… turkey.
The Hunt For Decor
So off to the hobby stores I went. Those places can become a rabbit hole shortly after stepping foot inside. You need to prepare yourself mentally with your main goal. My personal mantra being “No I will not look at shabby chic decor because it is not 2012” and repeat. I needed artificial pumpkins, gourds, and a bit of acrylic paint. No lace and burlap covered pumpkins on my porch. Just no.
I made a pit stop at a dollar store and scored a number of small fillers. A plastic harvest collection that was super inexpensive and also super fraudulent looking. Perseverance was a big part of this particular DIY. My tasteful visions started to unravel into an 80’s Olan Mills backdrop. I had to refocus and get the heck out of there.
My next stop was Hobby Lobby. I was greeted by towering shelves of plastic pumpkins. Why do they put the best ones eight feet up? Are they reserved for supermodels with exquisite taste?
A kind employee saved the day and we loaded up the cart. Granted these did not appear to look very authentic but I had faith. With a few tubes of paint, I was pretty sure I could pull it off.
I wanted these bad boys to have an aged look. I picked up some burnt umber acrylic paint. I figured a straightforward tube of white and black acrylic paint could come in handy as well. Those stems needed some dulling and I worried the burnt umber alone wasn’t going to cut it. I threw the paint in and made it out of the store alive.
SUPPLIES YOU WILL NEED:
3 small paint brushes
paper plate for paint colors
burnt umber acrylic paint
black acrylic paint
white acrylic paint
EXTRAS, if you’re feeling fancy:
mini potted pine tree
boxes/baskets/pots (I had things around my house that I used)
This was actually a super simple DIY. I used a paper plate for the paint. You can use three separate paint brushes but I kept mine clean by dabbing it in paint stripper after it got too messy. With my paint ready I used a dry brush and started to coat the smaller of the harvest bunch with the burnt umber paint. Go up and down the creases. Try to get it in every nook and cranny of the really bright orange ones. You can use a dry paper towel to smudge and dab spots as needed. The goal is to dull these pieces down, to make them look less neon and to lessen that freshly botoxed shine. Wipe excess paint off with a dry paper towel.
I decided not to mess around with the larger white gourds because they already looked pretty realistic to me. For the stems of the others, I painted them with either the burnt umber or black. Then I smudged it with some white paint. Don’t worry if you think you’ve messed it up. Simply wipe it off with a wet paper towel. This project is really just a matter of personal taste.
BEFORE & AFTER PHOTOS
Here is a terrible before picture of my loot but at least you can see how bright and shiny they were:
And here is the after:
Here are some up close BEFORE & AFTERS:
COMPLETE THE LOOK
There needed to be some height for this decor to flow. I used tall plastic planters, threw in some water jugs upside down (I kid you not). Then I wrapped some faux greenery around them. I actually set the planters on wire crates to give additional height. I would later layer the pumpkins to hide the wire crate.
Feel free to throw in anything you like. I picked up these adorable mini cedar pine trees and just put them in pots I already had laying around. So far they’ve been impossible to kill. The mums were not so lucky.
I placed a couple of seagrass baskets in front of those to again add some height and different textile. I found some small lanterns and played around with their placement. It’s easy to overthink this process and get carried away. At one point I was walking around hyperfocused scavenging for any dead leaf I could find. It looked like an episode of Naked And Afraid with the exception of my actual clothes.
A good addition to the faux pumpkins is real mums. You need different textures to create a natural look that didn’t come straight from the dollar store. I grabbed some potted multicolored mums for the porch. I also forgot to water them so I had to make this same purchase twice within the same week. Funny side note, I was in the “green thumb club” in school but evidently, I retained none of that information.
WHEN DIY MEETS RIP
I was feeling something similar to brave and or stupid and decided that I couldn’t part with my dead mums and I decided to spray paint them. I thought they could be good fillers for the awkward space left on the porch. I cannot say that it was my best work but from afar, it served the purpose.
Spray paint deceased mum with random old spray paint:
See how they fill in the gaps I had not anticipated:
THE FINISHED PRODUCT
BUT FIRST, here is a BEFORE photo of my sad porch:
Here are a few AFTERS:
I played around with lanterns and doormats and eventually, I came up with this…
Not terrible for my first “nearly natural” DIY. I think aside from my porch, this would also look festive for a Thanksgiving tablescape. I’m thankful that this decor is immortal because a pumpkin is a timeless centerpiece every fall. I hope to use these for years to come. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about the dead mums. RIP to the casualties of this project.