When Indian summer temperatures betray the changing colors of fall leaves and delay autumn sweater weather, the sights of pumpkin harvests in fields and roadside stands throughout southeastern Wisconsin remind us of the celebratory seasons ahead. Soon after school begins, these classic symbols of fall harvest and bounty seem omnipresent. Pumpkins are of course a seasonal dish favorite, but more commonly provide decorating options for our home far beyond the traditional Halloween carving rituals.
Painted pumpkins are nearly as common as carved pumpkins, as enthusiastic decorators and DIYers have creatively reimagined ways to display and prolong the pumpkins’ lifespan as decorations in the fall. White, gold and silver painted pumpkins are commonly displayed as elegant accents, seamlessly transitioning through fall holidays into winter. Basically, pumpkins have become such versatile and beloved symbols of our transition into fall, the focal point for kid-centric, fun and casual decorating and easily dressed up to become a more polished accessory.
Celebrating with pumpkins, in all the right spaces:
Driveway: Pumpkins, cornstalks and haybales are a simple, traditional country decoration for the fall season. Easily obtained from local farms and garden nurseries, these simple farming-inspired accents celebrate fall harvest and provide a welcome, festive accent to the home’s entrance.
Home Entrances/ Stoops: Generally the chosen location for placing carved pumpkins, the traditional Halloween decoration, as greetings to children for trick and treat festivities. This tradition of “carving” is something the Irish brought to America, except in Ireland they carved grotesque faces into turnips and potatoes around Halloween and turned them into lanterns, placing them at their home’s entrance to protect from evil spirits. Once in America, the Irish soon discovered the plentiful pumpkins to be more ideal for this purpose. Anyone experienced with carved pumpkins knows that their “expiration date” is hastened once they are hallowed out. Therefore, to extend the longevity of doorway decorations, reserve some choicely (maybe unusually) shaped pumpkins in a variety of sizes that don’t go under the knife.
Kitchen & Tables: as the main gathering space and center of action in most modern homes, any seasonal decoration should include the kitchen. Mini pumpkins in vases, painted pumpkins on the island and gourds/small pumpkins as centerpieces, artfully stacked on a platter or loosely scattered, are festive, simple touches, nicely accented with autumn-colored candles. Pumpkins can also serve as temporary accents and be repurposed from the centerpiece into the oven.
The Hearth: Once autumn is ushered in, fireplaces around the Midwest roar to life. Most custom-built homeowners in Southeastern Wisconsin have put a great amount of thought into “fires” warming their home and encouraging gatherings; thus, fireplaces (and firepits) have been given places of prominence. Decorating the mantel is not just for Christmas, and simple touches, including the beloved pumpkins, can add the perfect seasonal accent.
From October through Christmas, we’ve found some very creative ways, ranging from simple to elegant, that luxury homeowners have used the mighty pumpkin to dress their homes. Check out some of their ideas: