Design Hints

Falling for Primitives

Learn how to make the most of autumn's bountiful textures and colors with these smart tips.

Falling for Primitives

Something about primitive decor just seems to call for fall foliage -- those warm colors and textures complement each other perfectly. Sue Gjertsen has a real knack for making the most of autumn's bounty in her primitive-powered Big Lake, Minnesota, home (seen in our September 2016 issue) -- follow her hints to do the same.

• Great Garlands: "Gourds, pods, beans, black walnuts: We've strung it all," Sue says. She also buys both real and artificial strings of foliage to use throughout her home. She drapes them across fireplaces, inside cabinets, through light fixtures and across windows -- take a cue from her, and string your garlands up anywhere your imagination roams.

• Bundled Bounty: Tie small gourds together in bunches with string and wind raffia through the display. Then, hang the bundles on a narrow stretch of wall, between windows, or on cabinet doors or chair backs.

• Beautiful Bouquets: Sue's decor includes faux foliage made of different materials, from felt sunflowers crafted by her daughter and burlap pumpkins to more traditional artificial flowers, gourds and berries. "My daughter got married last September, and we had a mission to find good artificial sunflowers, the bigger ones," she explains. "You just have to find a good supplier of artificials."

• Country Combinations: The same vase or crock can host artificial flowers along with dried; the combination of textures is appealing and makes the faux elements look more realistic. Some dried foliage even stands up to gentle rinsing. "I've rinsed the dust off my tobacco stalks with a light spray from a water bottle.

• Harvest Hues: A lot of primitive furniture tends to be dark, but the rich golds, reds and oranges featured in fall foliage can liven up any vignette. Sue brightens some arrangements even more by arranging strands of amber-hued lights inside cabinets or along swags.

Written by Nancy Anderson Hedberg
Photographed by Bill Mathews
Styled by Pilar Simon