2 Canadian designers share ideas and inspo for outdoor fall decorating

Mums, cabbages and scarecrows — here’s what’s in (and what’s out).

Mums, cabbages and scarecrows — here’s what’s in (and what’s out)

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

The pot of once-vibrant herbs on your porch is dried up, the migrating birds are checking in regularly to see if you have your bird feeder out yet and the local squirrels are storing nuts in your mailbox. Welcome to fall in Canada.

For some of us, now is the time to put all the summer accoutrement away and start thinking about decorating for the Holidays but for others, fall offers an irresistible warm palette of colours, unique vegetation and interesting design options that inspire a whole new season of outdoor decorating potential.

To get you in the mood, we reached out to two popular Canadian designers for their thoughts on fall porch decor. Michelle Mawby is an interior designer and principal of Lucid Interior Architecture & Design and Carson Arthur is a landscape designer and HGTV personality who focuses on environmentally friendly design.

What do you say to people who don't bother with fall decor — they switch right from summer to the holidays?

Michelle: With how busy the fall can be with back-to-school, Thanksgiving and Halloween, front porch decor can feel like one task too many, but leaving your summer decor and plants out until Christmas can leave your front porch looking neglected. I love celebrating the change of seasons with a new look, but as the time period between summer and Christmas is so short, I have a little secret: I use faux boxwood topiaries as the perfect time saver. I bring them out of storage early fall when it's time to remove the wilting summer plants. These topiaries make the perfect base for any type of decor I'm inspired to design each fall. I also reuse them after Christmas, late winter/early spring, until I can plant for spring/summer.

Carson: Fall may be one of my favourite times of the year. It's when I bring all the jewel tones out in my garden and my front door decor. To go from the navy and khaki hues of summer straight into the reds of winter without enjoying the colours of fall seems just… wrong.

What look are you going for this year?

Michelle: This year because I have a very busy fall, I'm bringing out my old faithfuls — faux boxwood topiaries, ivy, white pumpkins (I only do white flowers in my garden). To tie the white pumpkins into my design, I've applied white ostrich feathers and white leather tassels to an old Christmas wreath to make a simple but glamourous door decoration.  I always use a colourful large outdoor rug on my front porch instead of a doormat and this helps add colour and interest to the porch at any time of the year. And with a Tiffany blue door, I don't really need anything else to make this front porch pop. It's formal but fun — classic with a twist.

(Credit: Geoff Lackner)

Carson: I want to commit to sitting outside my front door this fall on a perfect sunny day with a glass of good wine and watch the world go by. Too often I am running around to really appreciate all that this season has to offer.

(Courtesy of Carson Arthur)
(Courtesy of Carson Arthur)

Are there any 2018 fall outdoor decor trends you particularly like?

Michelle: I'm still crushing on the huge balls of white mums. I think they have become a classic. Did I mention I love white flowers? I love pastel and white pumpkins and also painted pumpkins. Maybe next year I'll do pink. I don't like anything too kitschy (unless it's for Halloween). I think subtle, tasteful and classic is always the way to go.

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Carson: The rustic plaid blanket made from alpaca or a merino wool is a must have for the front bench or chairs on the porch. The richness of the fabric is so inviting, it makes you stop and notice.

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

What front porch trends are tried and true and never going out of style?

Michelle: Cabbages and mums will never go out of style. I love seeing them used in a new or unusual way. Formal topiaries, symmetry, and repetition will always remain classics.

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)
(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Carson: I hate to say it…but mums are here to stay. They have gotten so inexpensive for such HUGE plants. It's become too easy to just pick up two and voila… you have instant planters at the front door.

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

What fall front porch decor do you wish to never see again?

Michelle: Overly staged front porches with leaves, corn stalks and bales of hay are usually too much for me. Classic, reusable decor is always timeless.

Carson: Lets be done with the scarecrows everyone. I don't care how cute you think they are, these cousins of the creepy clown have seen their time… and need to go!

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Best advice for adding personality to front porch decor without breaking the bank?

Michelle: Buy good faux greenery like boxwood or evergreens that you can use year after year for the few months between the end of summer and Christmas. Tip: use inexpensive landscaping stones from the hardware store or nursery to keep the faux greenery in place in your decorative planters and cover the ugly pots they usually come with.

Carson: Small touches and details are perfect for any front porch/door. You don't have to go lavish at this time of year. Even twigs, leaves and fall berries are a great way to make a simple impact without spending a cent. I am known for my plaids, so this year I chopped up a bunch of shirts and made wreaths for my front door. Such a simple DIY and it cost me nothing!

(Credit: Johnny C. Lam)

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

Portia Corman is the executive producer of CBC Life.