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When I begin decorating my house for fall, coming up with an inventive display for my front door is at the top of my list.

Front doors are the place where you wave hello to all the people who pass by your home every day and where you give your guests a glimpse of what’s waiting for them inside.

If you’re itching to get going on your door now, here are the three steps we follow when we design fall doors.

Start with interesting base

Your door display needs an interesting base that will set the theme for the door display and serve as an anchor for the other elements. I have used all sorts of things as the base for my door displays, from a simple wreath to an oil painting.

For an inspiration door, we started with a wood chopping block as our base. I’m in love with blocks and we’ve been using them in lots of inventive ways all over the store. My favorites so far: chargers on fall tables and trays under fall displays.

Using artwork as a base of a fall door display is lots of fun. A mirror, simple and understated with fall-themed detailing, is a perfect pick. Plus, it’s thin enough to fit between the exterior door and a storm door. If you use artwork on your door, make sure it’s well secured and made of materials that won’t be ruined by rain.

We use mirrors a lot on front doors because they are usually inexpensive, lightweight and do a brilliant job of brightening the display.

Festoon with fall foliage

We love to use faux foliage on our front door displays. In the fall, nature gives us the most amazing decorating tools, from brilliantly colored leaves to strands of berries to gourds. If you have the real deal, like grasses, vines, nuts or small branches, by all means, use them. We just opt for the fakes because they won’t get too crunchy or mushy, and you can easily fluff them into the shape you want.

On one happy door, the foliage and gourds are the main event. The wire basket that serves as the base for the display just melts into the background giving the spotlight to the arrangement of berries, vines, leaves and gourds. We used a variety of greenery, mixing together different colors and textures and shapes that all share the same fall palette, to keep the display interesting but harmonious.

Weave in a ribbon

When I picked out the front door of my lake cottage, I wanted lots of windows to bring in light since the door is on the north side of our house. But I also wanted a porch overhang to protect my door from the north wind.

Since I don’t have a doorknocker to secure my front door treatments to, I put a little nail at the top of my door to serve as a hanger. Since my entry is covered and protected from the wind, I can just loop a pretty seasonal ribbon or cord around the nail and the display stays put.

Fall ribbons are one of my favorite tricks for adding a splash of the season to a display in seconds. A quail pattern is one of my favorites right now. The quiet color palette makes it a great pick for any display, whether you’re weaving ribbons into foliage on your mantel or topping a lantern with a bow. The round mirror, with its warm gold luster, is a lovely base for a bouquet of fall flowers bound up in this plucky ribbon.

Extra credit: Try adding something unexpected. Depending upon how much time you have or how creative you’re feeling, or how lush or edited you like your displays, you can keep your door super simple or take it up a notch. The basket filled with fall foliage, tied up with the quail ribbon, looked lovely, and we could have stopped there. But after a few cups of coffee, we were ready to go for it.

To give this door extra personality, we secured metal scoops to the vines and ribbons, adding to the rustic feel of the display and bringing in a different texture and tone. The display would have been lovely without it, but this extra little touch made it sensational.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol@nellhills.com.

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