It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! The Romantic Homes November issue inspires your creativity with recipes, DIYs and décor that captures the magic of the holiday season. Take cues for opulent, classical Christmas décor from Carolyne Roehm, learn how to bake and display gingerbread creations with Marian Parsons, explore Rachel Ashwell's soft and sweet color palettes and tour Janice Marrow's flower-filled festive abode. A sweet bonus? She shares her recipe for German Gingerbread Cake!
Also: Joann Coletti's Project Refresh continues with a carriage house transformed into a practical and beautiful studio space. Step inside Liz Fourez's neutral and natural holiday farmhouse where meaningful décor creates Christmas magic to charm the whole family and escape to Bianca Planner's winter wonderland home filled with Old World charm and meaningful memories.
Romantic details add a vintage look to this elegant Halloween tablescape. Follow along as I help you create the perfect magical mood for your next Halloween gathering by using scattered book pages, heirloom silver, mysterious candlelight and fairytale creatures.
Scattered Book Pages
Aged pages are torn from a tattered book to create an effortless-looking table runner your guests will be sure to love. Start with a piece of contact paper slightly longer than your table, and then adhere your book pages in a scattered pattern to become the foundation of your spooky table setting. I like the pages to drape over each end of the table.
Piles of antique books can then be added on top of the book page runner, and are perfect for layering the rest of your Halloween accents on. Vary the placement of the books and even open up a few to reveal your favorite stories and illustrations.
Heirloom silver with a bit of tarnish adds to the mystical Halloween mood. At this table, each guest will have the pleasure of drinking from a silver goblet and enjoy the flickering candlelight from the silver candlesticks and antique candelabras in the room.
Succulents and Spanish Moss
Potions and magical herbs are a big part of the folklore of Halloween, so here we’ve captured the essence of an old-fashioned conservatory with the use of succulents and Spanish moss tucked in and around the books. Their muted colors work perfectly with this elegant Halloween mood, and the final addition of gorgeous dried hydrangea blooms finish off the old-fashioned look.
Wise old owls and cute little frogs prove to be the perfect curious creatures at this magical table. Fairy tales are full of these fanciful critters, and their somewhat spooky nature makes them perfect for this setting.
As you can see, the mood of this table is enhanced by the soft colors of all our tableware and accessories. Black and white transferware plates complement our scattered book pages, and green cabbageware plates vibe perfectly with the succulents and the soft green and white pumpkins on the table.
It’s fun to surprise your guests with subtle details that they may not catch right away. The magic of candles floating over the table is easily achievable with battery-powered tapers and a little fishing line. These floating candles easily attach to the ceiling with conventional thumb tacks.
Setting the Mood
The key to setting a mysterious mood at your party is to dazzle all of our senses. The right mood is created by how we feel, not just by what we see. At this dinner party, there are scattered references to everybody’s favorite boy wizard, Harry Potter. These details are subtle; here to enhance the magic of the mood and add a bit of family-friendly fun. See if you can spot them!
Crafting beautiful tablescapes is one of Fabiana’s many talents and passions. She regularly shares her inspiring designs on her blog, Ciao! Newport Beachand on Instagram.
There’s something so welcoming about an autumn harvest table set with pumpkins, garden vegetables and the warm glow of candles. Using the season’s beautiful bounty as inspiration to decorate the table and celebrate its role as an important gathering spot is a tradition many of us love. Here are my tips with step-by-step directions for setting fall table decor like a pro. Inspired? Share your your harvest tablescapes on Instagram using #romantichomes for a chance to have your photo featured!
Step 1: Introduce Texture
A naturally finished wooden table is beautiful on its own, but by adding a rustic linen tablecloth, your tableau is instantly elevated. The draped fabric creates a focal point and a textured background for the subsequent elements you’ll add. Leaving a portion of the wood exposed adds to the rustic, yet elegant aesthetic.
Step 2: Add Some Height
You don’t want all your elements on the table at the same level, so anchor your table setting with something that lifts your eye. Here, we used a statement floral centerpiece to bring drama and a presence with an arrangement of fall flowers featuring amaranth, dahlias and zinnias from my garden. A tall vase with sunflowers would also be lovely or a big bunch of fall tree fall branches. If you’re interested in learning my top picks for flowers to grow for fall arrangements, check out this story on Favorite Fall Cutting Flowers.
Step 3: Make it Glow
A simple black iron candelabra filled with tapers in the same color family adds a romantic touch to your table and casts a warm and inviting hue. Long slender candles, which are making a big design comeback, also add another level of height to the setting.
Step 4: Layer in Everyday Items
For a simple way to add interesting shape and color to your display, raid your fridge and vegetable bins for the season’s harvest. Look for produce with interesting shape, texture and hues that fit in with your table theme. A bunch of red grapes cascading on a raised cake platter fits this rustic harvest theme. Artichokes and purple cabbage are inexpensive additions – and when they are finished being used for décor, they are delicious to eat.
Step 5: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Mirroring colors and shapes in your table landscape creates a cohesive, curated look. The red of the grapes relates to the rich, crimson flowers in the arrangement and is also a nod to the deep color pigment of the cabbage. The sage green artichokes match the candles. The cream pumpkins and apricot-toned gourds complement the linen. Use the rule of threes and odd numbers in your groupings – our eyes respond favorably to this.
Step 6: Add Character
Finally, weave in practical character pieces that are meaningful to you. The patina of old silver and chunky hotelware serving platters add heft and history to your setting. This is the time to bring out the old and well-loved favorites to add a sense of occasion, vintage charm and personality to your table. Don’t feel like everything has to match – if you keep a complimentary palette and style, it will all go together.
Cynthia Zamaria is a floral designer in the slow flower movement, interior designer and an experienced renovator of historic homes. You can read about her current project, the Millar House, on her website and follow her design exploits on Instagram.
As the warm colors and cooler temperatures of fall arrive, what better way to celebrate the season than with a welcoming fall front porch? My favorite way to decorate our porch for fall is with stacks of heirloom pumpkins, rustic lanterns and seasonal plants and flowers.
I like to consider the overall color of my home and indoor décor when decorating for autumn, and neutral tones over deeper fall colors. This year I was inspired by the soft, neutral peach, green and white tones of heirloom pumpkins alongside creamy yellows with a sprinkle of burgundy and terra cotta mixed in.
To begin, I added delicate eucalyptus to the chippy urns on either side of my front door. I love the way this color complements the green tones in the heirloom pumpkins. I stacked pumpkins, both fresh and faux, at the base of the urns using a copper pot to elevate a larger pumpkin to create a sense of height and fullness to this area of the porch.
I extended the stacks of heirloom pumpkins to the porch step, allowing them to spill onto the pathway and welcome guests as they walk up to the front door.
I also added a dark wicker basket filled with Vino Coleus, a dark burgundy plant that I saw at the nursery and loved. This was an easy way to give the porch a pretty pop of traditional autumn color. On the opposite side of the door, I included a French market basket filled with a spray of fall branches with subtle yellow blooms.
Another great find at the nursery was several miniature olive topiaries planted in terra cotta pots. Their soft green-gray color mixed with the rustic terra cotta adds just the right amount of fall color to the porch, and will transition well into any season.
My rocking chairs also got a fall update with some seasonal pillows and a chunky knit blanket for those cool evenings sipping pumpkin spice lattes.
Perhaps my favorite item to use when I decorate for fall, other than pumpkins, is lanterns. Whether they are filled with candles or mini white pumpkins, they add charm to an outdoor porch or an indoor autumn vignette.
The final touch on my neutral fall porch was a fall wreath hung on the front door to welcome our guests as we head into the holiday season.
Karen Snyder writes about home, family and entertaining at Sanctuary Home, where her elegant country style inspires and educates. You can also follow her on Instagram.
I just love this time of year when the long, hot days of summer give way to the cooler days of fall. When we have had our fill of iced tea and are ready for spiced latte. And when the bathing suits are put away and the sweaters and boots make an appearance.
This season also signals a change in our home décor. Whites and soft pinks are replaced with warmer tones and hues, and for me there is no easier way to transition than by bringing copper decor elements into my kitchen.
A few pieces thoughtfully sprinkled throughout the kitchen is all that’s required to make an easy shift.
Aside from the fact that I love cooking with copper pots and pans, I also love the way they add warmth to my mostly white kitchen. The white marble backsplash that looks so fresh and clean in the spring and summer months quickly transforms with the addition of my copper pots.
I don’t discriminate when it comes to copper…shiny and new or old and tarnished all look great to me, and in fact, I think the more you mix the better.
With just a couple of antique copper pieces added to my glass cabinets, the all-white display becomes something that just feels a bit more like fall.
A touch of new, shiny copper on a cake stand and my favorite colander carries the look through to the center island, without being too overwhelming.
This year I added several new (and new to me pieces) to my kitchen. Four perfectly, polished copper canisters fill in a space on my counter that used to display a galvanized tray. And a shiny new copper stockpot is just waiting for the first soup of the season.
Perhaps my favorite additions are a perfectly tarnished large copper pitcher that pairs so beautifully with the purple-pink hues of the fall hydrangea. The addition of seeded eucalyptus gives the arrangement a soft romantic feel in the kitchen and brings in the beautiful tones of fall. And finally, a set of antique copper mugs have found a home in my kitchen cabinet and will no doubt be making an appearance on my holiday tables.
It is surprising how easily a kitchen can transform with just a few copper elements. A new tone against the white backdrop is the perfect way to gently transition to fall.
Karen Snyder writes about home, family and entertaining at Sanctuary Home, where her elegant country style inspires and educates. You can also follow her on Instagram.
Welcoming guests to enjoy your hospitality or greeting you as you arrive home again, your front door always makes a first impression. Of all the ways to create a friendly and well-styled entry for the season, a wreath is the one of the simplest options. I collected and dried natural materials to craft these four DIY fall wreaths that beautifully bridge the seasons between summer and fall with farmhouse-inspired style.
Eucalyptus and Craspedia
Yellow craspedia is a cheerful addition to this wreath, made of two types of eucalyptus. I started by drying the craspedia a week in advance by hanging it upside-down in bunches. Fresh from the flower market, the wide and round leaves of the Silver Dollar eucalyptus and the long, narrow stems of the Baby Blue variety were woven into the wire wreath frame. These were allowed to dry on the wreath frame and will retain their shape and color over time. However, you’ll have to enjoy the fresh scent of eucalyptus while it lasts, as it diminishes after drying.
As summer turns to the season of harvest, greet it with a wreath of dried wheat! These golden stalks are wrapped with floral tape around a thin wire frame in bunches of three for a sleek silhouette. A hand-lettered “Welcome” is the final touch across the burlap banner that can be customized with any message. I recommend assembling this wreath with a vacuum cleaner nearby, as the dried wheat tends to shed quite a bit during the wrapping process.
A hearty flower that retains its shape and color from fresh plant to dried cutting, statice is both relatively inexpensive and forgiving to work with. Using floral tape and a small wreath frame, add each bunch of statice while keeping the flower heads close to the wreath frame. Once the circle is complete, wrap a gingham ribbon around it and finish with a sweet bow.
Cotton and Grapevine
Nothing says “farmhouse” quite like the cotton stem. The dried plant is elegant, earthy and easy to work with. I started this wreath by pulling a pre-made grapevine wreath in half for a less bulky look and securing the new, thinner form with wire. Next, striped linen cut into ribbons with pinking shears was wound through the vines, and cotton pods were placed over the lower half of the wreath.
For those of us living in the Midwest, relinquishing the soft spring hues and summer colors in our homes as well as all opportunities to dine under star-pocked skies can be a heartbreaker. The transition to autumn, however, doesn’t mean the love affair with nature’s influence in our home décor has to end.
In my hometown of Minneapolis, various maple trees take on a pink cast against gray skies. Skeletal constructions of tangled bittersweet vines brace themselves for the harsh edges of winter. Deciduous trees in my garden start dropping leaves and a direct path for strong light enters my living space. Inspiration ensues.
Follow the Sun
Wherever you call home, natural light during the cooler months can be one of your most abundant resources to make your fall décor a gentler shift from season to season. I trigger my autumnal ideas by looking at my garden space during late summer through the windows or French doors in rooms in which we spend most of our time. You can do the same as you invite your outdoor view inside as an evolving, natural work of art that offers various textures, colors and moods for fall elegance.
Play with shadows. A west-facing window in our study for example, has a permanent hand-forged metal guard created by a local artist who designed the piece with a garden theme. A simple linen shade allows for privacy while providing a theatrical and stunning puppetry as the evening sets. You can get a similar effect and create your own silhouette by framing the exterior edge of a window with grapevine or other natural and flexible garland. Your exterior décor will be seasonal while producing interior shadows. Follow the sun and try a few areas of your home where you can get the maximum shadow play.
Room with a View
The optimal amount of light to capture inside your home will depend on your window treatments. During my time in France as an exchange student, the homes in which I lived used minimal to no window treatments. This decorating device inspired me to experiment by taking down unnecessary drapes or curtains from a few windows facing my French-inspired garden. Bare windows minimize the distractions from heavy drapery and put a new focus on the beauty of the outdoors instead.
If your exterior landscape is not as bucolic as a French style garden, then consider a dark space of your house that you’d like to animate, and see what happens when you minimize the window treatments. Experiment with moveable furniture. Relocate, for example, a textured table next to a bare window and place a fresh bouquet of flowers in a weathered urn. Mix twigs, pinecones, fall flora and even fossilized seashells with a tinge of pink to create a dramatic juxtaposition of textures and seasonal expectations.
Think outside of the Season
It may be autumn outside but inside, you can buy a little more time to enjoy your spring and summer vibes. Play with pastels such as pink, aqua or gold. Toss a few pink pillows or a throw on a settee. Add a stack of vintage books in soft colors on your mantle or table and combine them with the variegated grays of dropped antlers or white birch branches. Consider bleached pinecones, white Baby Boo pumpkins or bleached Manzanita branches. Peruse a good garden center to see, smell and feel other possible textures that you can introduce into your decorating repertoire.
One of my favorite combinations to create a romantic feeling are the rough, irregular edges of branches, twigs and gourds with the soft spill of linens, gauze, tulle and fresh flowers. If purchasing fresh flowers is not within your budget, invest in a small collection of high quality “forever flowers” in soft colors of your choice. Incorporating willow or dried Lunaria with an arrangement of flower reproductions can lead to more experimentation until you get the feel you want. Squeeze in a copious amount of dried Baby’s Breath or a few rose bouquets in an old zinc bucket to produce a profusion of soft and course textures, a winning combination for ambiance.
Let there be Delight
Candlelight is a classic addition to any home. Relaxing in the evenings after an active day when it’s easy to doze off poses some safety issues, however, there are safer options to choose from. Waxed battery candles are now available and are a good authentic looking alternative for a worry-free atmosphere. Place a few battery tapers on a timer on your mantel or in a garden lantern hanging from a tree in your line of sight. If space allows, hang a chandelier in an enclosed patio, deck or sunroom and replace regular bulbs with low-wattage flicker bulbs. You can also increase your exterior curb appeal by adorning interior window sills with battery tapers that will twinkle into the late hours, creating a welcoming entry into your romantic home for the inevitable but inspirational season of autumn.
Anita Pelayo Rivera is a photographer, teacher, writer and romantic decor enthusiast. She shares her love of words, art, florals and the french language on her blog: Castles Crowns and Cottages and on Instagram.
Decorating for fall can be overwhelming, especially with the added pressures of hosting a dinner or party. Save yourself some stress and plan on an elegant, yet simple table setting this year. Designer and homeowner Nora Murphy of Nora Murphy Country House proves that all you need are a few essential pieces to make your dining room an autumnal paradise.
“It’s very simple, but everything has a European garden feel,” Nora says. With large rosemary plants, vibrant maple leaves and an antique bee skep hidden away in the corner, Nora brings the wonders of her garden indoors and uses it as a natural base to style her fall dining room. “I’m a gardener, so I always go fresh first for entertaining,” says Nora. The branches, leaves and pumpkins are all fresh to create an authentic look in the room, but you can always use faux options if you prefer.
With a mostly white palette, Nora brought in black Windsor chairs and painted an antique bench to bring contrast to the space and create a cohesive set. They look as if they could just as easily belong to an outdoor table, which helps the garden vibe. To continue her white color palette, Nora chose to keep her dishes and décor of the same shade. “I like to use what’s in season, so I loved the idea of white pumpkins and keeping everything to one color: creamy white,” she says. However, she incorporates bits of red through the leaves and placemats for pops of color.
To set the scene for her get together, Nora started with a 10-foot 19th century work table as her base on which to build her tablescape. She then put hand-blown hurricane candle holders from Simon Pearce in the middle of the table and placed creamy white candles inside of them as the start of the centerpiece and sprinkled pumpkins in between to finish the look. “Set the large pumpkins first, then the medium and small,” she says. “When a group is meshed together, it creates an impactful look. That’s the beauty of the centerpiece: it’s bold, yet simple.”
Nora finished the look with a white baby boo pumpkin on every plate as the place card holder for an elegant autumn look that is sure to please family and friends.
Like Nora’s dining room? See more of her home here!
The farmhouse aesthetic strikes the right balance of casual and chic to make any home feel relaxing throughout the year. Just a few cozy details make it all come to life.
Here are some key elements to recreate the look in any space in your home and even outdoors.
Nothing says farmhouse better than an old metal lantern. Whether copper or bronze, lanterns enhance the ambience, especially with the warm glow of candles inside.
Dainty candleholders: Another way to set the mood, antique pillar candleholders add old-fashioned charm.
Pretty posies: Fresh flowers bring color and natural beauty to any space, and are an absolute must when creating a romantic-rustic vibe.
Natural fibers: Choose natural-fiber fabrics made of cotton, linen and wool for accents and upholstery. Un-dyed and less processed cloth will offer a more rustic look, while vintage fabrics add a touch of history wherever they are used.
Patina-ed pieces: Decorate with antique and flea-market finds that show some wear (the rustier the better).
Time-worn woods: Perfectly imperfect wood furniture pieces bring character and warmth to any space, weathered finish and all.
Agrarian flair: Accent with barn-style accessories such as antlers, horseshoes and old metal pitchforks as the final authentic touch on your farmhouse decor.