published Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Decorating the home begins earlier with autumn in the air

Ideas that Meredith Robbs, right, included when she decorated the living spaces of her mother-in-law, Cathy Robbs Turner, at left, were a 9-foot tree, mantel garland, pumpkins and sunflowers and a Thanksgiving blessing tree
Ideas that Meredith Robbs, right, included when she decorated the living spaces of her mother-in-law, Cathy Robbs Turner, at left, were a 9-foot tree, mantel garland, pumpkins and sunflowers and a Thanksgiving blessing tree
Photo by Angela Lewis.


• What: Christmas decorating seminar.

• When: Noon. Saturday, Nov. 2.

• Where: Trees N Trends, 2750 Keith St., Cleveland, Tenn.

• How much: Free, but seating is limited.

• Information: 423-614-0803.

  • photo
    Cathy Robbs Turner’s family tree is decorated in fall hues with fabric and metal ornaments such as pumpkins and sunflowers wound in Deco Mesh garland. On Thanksgiving weekend, the family will change out the garland and ornaments for Christmas.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
    enlarge photo


Here are five, inexpensive and easy ideas to help transition your home from cozy to cocooning.

• Lay down an area rug. Bare floors are associated with summer because of their coolness underfoot; warm a room with a rug.

• Keep a well-lit porch. Warm, glowing light is inviting to visitors and a deterrent to thieves.

• Add the glow of candles. Whether layered in staggered heights on the mantel, real or battery-operated, votives or pillar candles in hurricane globes, candles create a warm glow in any room.

• Change out throw blankets. Replace lighter fabrics for heavier choices such as faux fur or heavy knits.

• Bring the outdoors inside. Branch out from traditional silk flower arrangements and opt for an oversized glass vase filled with either silk or real branches. Fill a glass bowl with colorful leaves and berries. Plop a pumpkin or two down on the hearth and surround with smaller gourds, vivid foliage and possibly a metal lantern.


  • photo
    Guests at Cathy Robbs Turner’s home jot down what they are thankful for on a card then tie it to a branch on the blessing tree. Branches are stablized in a glass container with a variety of rocks and nuts, then Meredith Robbs surrounded the tree with pumpkins, leaves and gourds.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
    enlarge photo

  • photo
    Silk flowers, berries and leaves are entwined with miniature lights and mesh to create the mantel garland.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
    enlarge photo

That nip in the morning air is a subtle reminder that, on the heels of football, foliage and festivals will come the holidays.

While the majority of homeowners wait until Thanksgiving weekend to get their holiday glitz on, the National Retail Federation says that many Americans are backing up their decoration days; especially when it comes to pre-Halloween decor which, in some cases, can be carried over into Thanksgiving.

Carolyn Miles, a manager of Michael’s on Gunbarrel Road, says local shoppers are buying “a lot of pumpkins, leaves and fall flowers” — motifs that offer more bang for the buck because they span the fall season through Thanksgiving. They are also favored by families who prefer nonscary Halloween themes for their children.

Kevin Roberts, visual manager at Trees N Trends in Cleveland, Tenn., says his store’s mesh garlands with fall or Halloween motifs are so popular they haven’t been able to keep the shelves stocked.

“I’m seeing more people decorating for fall,” Roberts says. “We have a lot of teardrops (garlands formed in a teardrop shape) that people are using on their doors instead of wreaths.

“One of the most popular things this fall is gathering twigs or branches and wrapping them with a burlap bow. Burlap started coming in last year, but it’s even bigger this year. Don’t think of it as ‘country,’ but French country chic. Take a compact, modern cluster of berries, add a burlap bow, and it softens those hard edges.”

Texture is the buzzword in florals, he says, with the combination of different twigs, leaves, flowers, berries, even wheat. Do-it-yourselfers may want to gather twigs from their yards, but bare branches are sold in all hobby/craft stores in 33-inch sprays. Styles are also available wound in mini white lights operated by battery packs.

Incorporating woodland creatures into a room’s decor or in a tree’s trim, a motif introduced last Christmas, is still a fad that will work well moving into Christmas decor. And Deco Mesh — the versatile, waterproof mesh netting that crafters shape into garlands, wreaths or tree-toppers — is available in all fall colors.

Meredith Robbs used all these fall motifs when she decorated the home of her mother-in-law, Cathy Robbs Turner. Robbs, who grew up in Arkansas, earned a degree in interior design before working for Mohawk Carpets for five years. Now the stay-at-home mom of a 2-year-old, she put her creative eye to preparing Turner’s home for seasonal guests, a service she’ll also contract to do for homeowners.

“I entertain a lot,” says Turner, who is director of education at Christ United Methodist Church. “Last year, my home was on our church’s tour of homes; I knew I was also having several groups for lunch and I wanted to tie the meal in with the house decor.”

Turner says her family and friends enjoyed the fall decorations so much she decided to revisit the idea this year.

Robbs says decorating the 9-foot tree alone took four hours from box to its bow tree-topper. But once up, the tree remains in position through the end of December. Its lights are already strung, so the women only have to exchange fall ornaments for those of Christmas.

Robbs’ handiwork also can be seen in the colorful sunflower-themed garland on the mantel, designs in the kitchen and the dining room centerpiece. One of Turner’s favorites is the Thanksgiving blessing tree.

Guests who visit Turner’s home are offered a prepared card and asked to jot down something for which they are thankful. Ribbon is run through the hole punched in the card’s corner and it is tied to a spray of limbs, forming the tree’s leaves. The tree is the focal point in an arrangement of gourds and leaves.

“’Blessing’ is one of my favorite words,” says Turner. “I gravitate toward anything that means blessing and giving thanks. Living a life of gratitude is a choice we have.”

Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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