Modern fall decor using expanded color palette in 2019

By Elaine Markoutsas
Universal Uclick

Fall seasonal decor is associated with autumn colors, all pulled from nature. And, of course, Halloween touches of orange and black are as tried and true as red and green for Christmas.

But here's the thing: Those dazzling hues -- mostly reflected in landscape foliage morphing from green to a range of brilliant scarlets, golden yellows, even purple tones -- are currently the hot home palette. The warmer tones were especially palpable at the September Maison and Objet, one of the international mainstays of trend-spotters, with a particular spotlight on ochre, which settles in nicely with brown, orange, berry, plum, denim blue and blue-green.

The time seems especially ripe for yellows -- rich ochres, mustards, tawny butterscotch and orange-laced saffron -- in upholstery (especially in velvet, which still is going strong), lighting, rugs, pillows, tabletops, bed linens and glassware.

"Sometimes the trend stars align and something that has been a quiet classic becomes all the rage," says Caroline Scheeler, creative director for Jayson Home. "This is the story of the color yellow, gold, saffron, mustard ... a color with many names and quite the range. Yellow can draw such evocative emotions -- the color of royalty, the sunshine, sunflowers and the school bus. While some really have an aversion to it, it's a neutral color in my eyes. Yellow goes with every color. It can feel ancient, modern, happy, earthy, but never sad. Perhaps that's exactly why it's having a moment, in the face of these uncertain times. Yellow says 'happy, vibrant, hopeful.' Yes, a color can do all that."

The golden hues pair well with other warm tones. But all of these colors have transitioned, just as the Halloween palette has softened, somewhat driven by the beautiful shades of farmer's market pastel pumpkins in apricot, sage, blue-green and marvelous stripes.

"Orange is a staple in the fall, but a sophisticated orange is on the rise," says trend forecaster Michelle Lamb, who is based in Southern California. "There's cinnamon, terra cotta, clay -- a little sweet, almost reaching for pink. "

The richness of an autumn palette is dynamic with one of those 'tween colors -- Orange? Dark butterscotch? Saffron? The velvet sofa from the German brand Apelt is teamed with printed velvet pillows that introduce black, salmon, pinks and blues.

Retailers have picked up on the nuances, celebrating these pairings, especially in pattern, as well as the move beyond cliche, even for Halloween. Fall wreaths, for example, are almost as prolific as those for Christmas -- and well-styled. Crate and Barrel goes for an elegant look in its guidelines to setting a Halloween table. Pottery Barn describes "fall dressed up" this way: "Take an elevated approach with soft florals, glass pumpkins and a hint of sparkle."

One of the best sources for more glam Halloween decor, like beautiful jeweled pumpkins and velvet pumpkins in bold magenta, saffron or orange is Grandinroad. On its website and in the catalog, a hooked rug doormat depicting a bird playfully combines autumn hues in an almost camouflage pattern, set on a blue ground for contrast.

Even on a small scale, orange can be electric -- as in a vase on a white cocktail table in a living room with velvet seating, here an orchid sofa and peacock chair. In a room with dark plum walls, with a mottled gold metallic recess and gold cabinet with an alligator-like pattern, rich red-violet velvet chairs are striking. Especially fetching is how the metallic gold provides sparkle to the warmth of the color.

Camel and cinnamon are other colors that fit nicely into this palette. A suede tufted boxy chair from Crate and Barrel is a chic choice, as is a round velvet stool or an ottoman with a kicky fringe, as those recently shown in Paris by the Portuguese brand Dooq.

"We're braver with our decor," says Lamb, "and that's especially true with millennials. But people are becoming more intentional about what they buy -- part of it is a space consideration, with people living in smaller spaces."

That's particularly important with seasonal decor. "People don't have a lot of space to store," Lamb notes. "Millennials love Halloween and want it to be fabulous, but they'll buy one or two pieces, not 15. The same is true with Christmas."

If you're looking to add a dash of yellow or any of the fall hues, here are some ideas.

— One of the easiest ways to bring a bit of outdoor color indoors is to pluck branches, foliage or flowers in russet, gold or orange tones. Mix these in with blue hydrangeas, which are turning to a soft green. Your arrangement can sparkle in a clear or white case. Or choose a complementary color.

— Create a tablescape or mantelscape with pumpkins in different sizes, colors and compositions, including real ones, ceramic, glass, mercury glass, even mosaic -- the latter a chic option in neutral hues at Pottery Barn.

— Pillows are a failsafe means of changing up a look with a shot of color without too much expense. Patterns and textures create even more impact. A spotty ikat in black and white on amber from Jayson Home has a playful vibe. At Crate and Barrel, three pillows are particularly stunningly grouped: One has a very linear horizontal striping in black on white, with additional almost random tufts of warm colors. Another, on a white ground, appears to be hand-painted with broad brushstrokes; in fact, it's embroidered. The third is solid, but with a woven dobby texture. Burnout velvet is another beautiful option, often with leafy or geometric patterns. And textural weaves may be artfully blended with different hues.

— Mix all-white dinnerware with pops of color and pattern. At West Elm (, there's a glazed stoneware collection called Kaloh, a simple design finished in textured matte amber with a translucent white interior. The rustic yet refined pieces were set on a table with an open-weave gold metallic table runner. Terrazzo looks and marbling is a striking way to introduce multiple colors; the one in a confetti pattern, the other in a swirling blend. A collection from Astier de Villatte at Jayson Home teams green, fiery orange and gray. Glazed and matte serveware in soft terra cotta looks especially fetching on fall tables.

— Add a lamp with a shot of fall color in the base or shade.

— A small rug or runner, especially in a plaid or geometric pattern, can pull in several autumn shades.

— Change out the bed linens. Go for gold, actually a spicy shade of Dijon, in linen sheets and pillowcases from CB2. Or choose a floral or pattern with foliage in autumn colors.

— Hang drapery. If you have one window that's unadorned, you may want to frame it in velvet. At West Elm, a rich color called Golden Oak is absolutely on trend.