Our Favorite Fall Decorating Ideas

Season's change; so should your decor. Welcome the arrival of fall and Thanksgiving guests with gorgeous decorations both indoors and out.

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September 27, 2019

Photo By: Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

Photo By: Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

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©Celebrating Home: Decorating for the Holidays and Seasons from Cannon Falls. Published by Watson-Guptill Publications, copyright 2005. Images and text reprinted with permission.

Welcome Guests Abundantly

Fall = guests, family and get-togethers. Get your front porch ready for fall festivities with a pair of planters surrounded by an abundance of mums and real or faux pumpkins and gourds. Mix in a few lanterns to add a welcoming glow to evening gatherings.

Cue the Copper

Copper has continued to grow in popularity, making the glowing material the metal of the moment. Handcrafted of solid copper, this pretty pail turns fresh-cut flowers or a bunch of branches into an eye-catching arrangement. Occasionally polish the copper to maintain its new-penny shine or allow the metal to take on a rich, verdigris patina over time. Learn how to craft your own rustic, hand-lettered tray, below.

Get the How-To: How to Make a Hand-Lettered Farmhouse-Style Tray

Add a Farmhouse Feel

Freshen up your front porch for fall with our 11 ideas for making it a cozy, welcoming place to hang out and enjoy autumn's cooler weather and colorful scenery.

See More Photos: Cozy Up Your Front Porch With Farmhouse Style for Fall

Set the Table With Seasonal Style

Turn every day into a holiday by decking out the dining room in fall's favorite hues. For a can't-miss combo, pair warm shades of orange, red and yellow with muted greens and copper and gold metallic accents.

And, Break Out the Good China

Setting the table with heirloom dishes and glassware makes even an everyday meal feel like a special occasion. So, dust off those hand-me-down plates and glasses to set a guest-impressing scene. (Your mom would be so proud!)

Create a Grand Entrance

Fall marks the start of the holiday entertaining season making it a great time to spruce up areas of your home where guests gather, like the foyer. Touch-up scuffs on stair risers and add an entry table large enough to display a few decorative accessories. A pair of occasional chairs or long bench provides a spot for guests to remove boots or just sit for a chat. Image courtesy of Thibaut.

Freshen Up the Front Porch

Get front porch planters ready for fall by swapping out summer blooms or ferns for mums paired with ornamental grasses and sweet potato vine. Add a plaid coir door mat for both a cheery pop of pattern and to prevent cold-weather muck from entering the house.

(Safely) Fire Up the Fireplace

Honestly, who doesn't love to curl up next to a roaring fire on a chilly day? As inviting as it is, put safety first. Before lighting the season's first log, have the chimney and fire box inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. Get 15 more fireplace safety tips, below. Design by Sarah Richardson.

15 Fireplace Maintenance + Safety Tips: Fireplace Maintenance and Safety

Pop In Some Plaid

Looks like lumberjacks were onto something as plaid's popularity has crossed over from fall's favorite casual shirts to fabrics that'll add cozy charm to any room of your home.

See More Photos: 15 Spaces That Prove Buffalo Plaid Isn't Just for Winter

And, Don't Limit It to a Throw

Buffalo plaid may be fall's of-the-moment fabric but this pattern has a centuries-old history which equals timeless staying power. So, sprinkle it around. Don't stop at just a throw — drapery, upholstery, wallpaper and even tile are other great ways to incorporate this classic pattern. Learn more about this plaid's storied history, below.

The History of Buffalo Plaid: Trending Now: Buffalo Check

Spice Up the Guest Room

If cooler fall weather also means hosting weekend guests, swap out lightweight summer bedding for heavier linens in rich fall shades, like pumpkin, russet or gold, as design diva Candice Olsen did here. Changing just a few key pieces is an easy way to refresh a bedroom's look, plus your guests will appreciate bunking in such a well-appointed and cozy room. Get more tips for readying a guest bedroom for company, below.

See More Photos: 20 Tips for Turning Your Guest Bedroom Into a Retreat

Or, the Front Door

You've heard it before but it's true: A fresh coat of paint can work wonders — and it's a relatively easy update you can swap out for another hue when your tastes change. See more of HGTV Magazine's fave paint shades, below.

See More Photos: 50+ Paint Shades We Love and How You Can Use Them

Mix Rustic With Refined

One rule that designers always follow: contrast is key. Mixing inexpensive (AKA free!), earthy elements, like this wood slice charger, with delicate, vintage china makes the woodsy element feel more organic while, by contrast, the hand-etched details and gilt edges of the heirloom dishes take on a new level of sophistication.

See More Photos: Rustic + Refined: Set a Stunning Fall or Winter Table Setting

Warm Things Up Indoors

Take a cue from designer Sarah Richardson and give an open, soaring space (even one as massive as her living room) a snug, welcoming feel by swapping out pillows in lightweight summer fabrics, like linen and cotton, for luxe velvet ones in rich, fall shades. Add a few coordinating throws and get ready to cozy up by the fire.

And, Make It Toasty Outdoors

Crisp fall weather + hot cocoa or coffee = a match made in outdoor entertaining heaven. Stock the bar with an assortment of flavorings and toppings so fall, Halloween or Thanksgiving guests can help themselves to a barista-quality fresh brew.

Try a Twist on Tradition

Piles of pumpkins and gourds along with potted croton and mums give this cheery front porch, featured in HGTV Magazine, maximum curb appeal. Copy a few of their clever ideas — like adding vinyl house numbers to a tall pumpkin — for a similarly festive look for your home's entry.

See More Photos: Fall Decorating Around the House

Pumpkins: Fall for Faux

Lightweight, durable and sure to last for many years to come, faux pumpkins are every fall decorator's best friend. Display them as they are or give them a crafty spin with a DIY glittered leaf design. Learn how with our step-by-step instructions, below.

Get the How-To: Easily Glam Up Your Fall Decorations With These Glittering Leaf Pumpkins

And, Make Centerpieces Gourd-Geous

Mix fresh with faux to create a bountiful centerpiece for your fall table. Faux gourds and pumpkins are great because you can display them year after year while fresh varieties are also a winner because you can roast them and toast the (delicious!) seeds so nothing goes to waste. For the best of both worlds, mix the two and throw in a few dried seed pods, apples and silk sunflowers for added color and contrast.

See More Photos: 55 Thanksgiving Centerpieces

Put Memories on Display

With the imminent arrival of friends and family for the holidays, fall is the perfect time to root through boxes of old family photos, pop them in a frame and create a gallery wall so everyone can enjoy a sentimental stroll down memory lane. See more images of this home, featured in HGTV Magazine, below.

See More Photos: A New House With Old Charm

Prep for Cold-Weather Guests

The holiday season means lots of visiting family and friends; providing dedicated space to store their cold-weather gear is key. Designer Sarah Richardson added bumpout closets for stashing big items, like coats and boots, and an antique press for gloves and hats.

And, Don't Forget the Guest Room

Steal style from boutique hotels to turn your spare bedroom into a five-star getaway and create an environment that promotes a great night's sleep. Start with high-thread-count, 100 percent cotton sheets, then add a thick duvet and pile on lots of fluffy pillows.

See More Photos: 20 Tips for Turning Your Guest Bedroom Into a Retreat

And, Tidy Up the Bath

Fall, and the imminent arrival of holiday guests, is the perfect time to ensure your guest bath is squeaky clean. Treat yourself to a day off from cleaning; hire a professional service to do the dirty work. Then, get it ready for guests by stocking the shelves with everything they'll need to freshen up on arrival, like towels and soap. Really make them feel at home by stocking the bath with little amentities they may have forgotten to pack, like cotton balls, toothpaste, a toothbrush and a razor.

See More Photos: Preparing Your Guest Bathroom for Weekend Visitors

Fall for Faux Fur

Faux fur throws are a great choice for cozying up hard surfaces, like this long wooden bench, while complementing the table setting's warm color palette and woodsy vibe. See more of this rustic-meets-refined fall table setting, below.

See More Photos: Rustic + Refined: Set a Stunning Fall or Winter Table Setting

Boost Curb Appeal With Seasonal Color

Fall is the time to fill window boxes and gardens with showy white, purple or fuchsia ornamental cabbages, pansies and English ivy to add a cheery pop of color that will endure winter's frosty temps and beautify your landscape into the early spring. 

Get Ready to Rock

Get your porch, deck or patio ready for fall's slower pace of life with a pair of rocking chairs, arranged with lazy weekend convos and leaf-peeping in mind. Place a table between for a handy place to stash your hot cocoa or favorite read.

Add Fresh Flowers

Nothing brightens up your home for the season like vases filled with fall flowers. Sunflowers and alstromeria are great choices because they'll remain beautiful for up to a week. The trick to keeping blooms fresh is to remove all leaves below the water line and change out the water every few days.

Incorporate Vintage Accents

Antiques, like this beautifully patinated pitcher, look right at home as part of a fall display. To preserve the copper's timeworn finish, slide a water-filled container inside the pitcher before adding fresh flowers, like these PeeGee hydrangeas.

See More Photos: An Autumnal Front Porch Worth Falling For

Craft a Rustic Wreath

Why wait till after Thanksgiving to brighten up your front door? Our fresh eucalyptus and cotton stem wreath adds just the right rustic touch for fall. Mix in a few Christmas ornaments or battery-operated lights to keep its good looks going thru the holiday season. Craft your own with our tutorial, below.

Get the How-To: How to Make a Eucalyptus Garland + Easy Greenery Wreath

Or, Swap in a Basket

The quick succession of fall and winter holidays — Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas — can make decking out your front door feel like a chore. Simplify with a single slim basket or straw tote you can use again and again to easily create beautiful looks customized to each holiday.

Get the How-To: Skip the Wreath: Try a Holiday-Spanning Front Door Basket Instead

Cozy Up Dining Chairs

Sometimes style wins out over comfort when selecting dining chairs. With Thanksgiving (and then Christmas) entertaining on the horizon, fall is a great time to tackle that uncomfortable chair issue once and for all by adding a comfy pad and coordinating pillow. If your chair seats are a standard size, check online decor sites and catalogs for readymade cushions that match your decor. If your seats are an unusual size, DIY or having them custom-made are your best bets.

Create a Wall Grouping With Fall Flair

Shop thrift stores and garage sales for assorted small frames then fill them with fall sentiments, black-and-white photos and pressed leaves. Design by Layla Palmer.

Or, Hang a Single Statement Piece

A rug is a one-and-done way to fill a wall, and makes a good conversation piece. Lightweight kilims and dhurries are best for hanging. The Velcro method is sturdy: Attach a strip of the hook side of Velcro to a piece of wood the width of the rug. Sew the looped side of the Velcro strip to the rug. Mount the wood to the wall, then stick on the rug. HGTV Magazine shares more creative design tricks, below.

See More Photos: 7 Inspiring Home Ideas You Never Thought to Try

Make Place Settings Pop

Fall table settings don't have to be fussy. To give your table a big dose of seasonal style, rely on fall's favorite pattern — plaid — and top each place setting with a single colorful fall leaf.

Add Woodsy Charm With Firewood

That's right, firewood isn't just functional, it's also decorative, as Fixer Upper designer and host Joanna Gaines proved in this rustic living room. Be sure to remove any leaves or small twigs and give the cut branches a quick brush-off with a broom to eliminate any bugs or spiders before bringing the firewood indoors.

Skirt the Issue

Your dining room is ground central for fall festivities. Help it look its best by upgrading your existing dining chairs with charming skirted slipcovers. Wide ribbon ties ensure they're removable so keeping them clean is a breeze. Learn how to stitch up your own slipcovers, below.

Get the How-To: How to Slipcover a Dining Chair

Get Crafty With Dollar Store Finds

Yep! What looks like high-end gold lanterns is actually just dollar store frames glued together to create an open box. To create a sturdy base, cut a piece of scrap wood to size, then glue onto the open framework. Fill with candles and fall greenery, moss or acorns to beautifully light up the night.

Cozy Up the Outdoors

Make the most of fall's crisp evenings by creating a small conversation area around a fire pit and add lots of pillows and throws to really boost the coziness factor. Keep a large basket handy so you can easily transport the linens indoors when inclement weather threatens.

Use Containers to Spread Fall Color

Container gardening is a great way to add interest to all areas of your landscape any time of the year but is especially beautiful in fall when Mother Nature puts on her last hurrah. Pairing a hardy perennial, like this ornamental grass, with a show-stopping annual like calibrachoa is a sure recipe for container gardening success.

Stack a Chic Topiary

Hit the craft store for faux white pumpkins and greenery to craft this stunning topiary that'll brighten up your front porch from the start of fall till it's time to swap it out for holiday decorations. Best of all: The faux materials ensure that this topiary will keep its good looks for many falls to come.

Get the How-To: How to Make a Natural Pumpkin Topiary

Or, Glitz Up Your Pumpkins

Pretty enough to display from Halloween until Thanksgiving, these glitzy pumpkins are a snap to make using just leaves from the backyard, glue and metallic glitter.

Get the How-To: Easily Glam Up Your Fall Decorations With These Glittering Leaf Pumpkins

Add Some Layers

Fall's crisp weather calls for layering up your wardrobe — put the same idea to work in your home and toss cozy wool, cotton, chenille or even luxurious cashmere throws over furniture in rooms where your family or guests gather. Design by Sarah Richardson.

Warm Up to New Hues

Don't limit bright colors to spring and summer, fall's hues can be playful too — rely on Mother Nature's shifting shades to help you pick your palette. Try a splash of pumpkin orange, mellowed gourd green or the saturated blue evident in fall's clear skies. No need to swap out (or repaint) your furniture for the season, just work in a few colorful accessories to get the look. Image courtesy of HGTV Magazine.

Make a Ribbon Rose Wreath

Craft a cheery touch of fall for your front door with a moss-covered wreath form and autumnal ribbon roses that look complicated but are actually a snap to make. Get our how-to tips, below.

Get the How-To: Fresh Fall Decorating: Make a Ribbon Rose Wreath

Wreaths Are for Indoors, Too

An inexpensive wreath form, moss and our free printable templates are all you need to create this rustic fall wreath that's a festive finishing touch when displayed indoors. The paper flowers and banner are cute but definitely not weather-resistant so hang the completed wreath over a mirror in your entry or on a kitchen cupboard to bring a fall touch indoors.

Get Crafting: 31 Printable (and Free!) Thanksgiving Templates

Give It a White Wash

Scandinavian decor, which predominantly features the color white in both furniture and accessories, continues to be a trendy look worth trying. White pumpkins and mums are a natural; pair them with a thrifted chair painted bright white for a crisp, clean grouping for your indoor or outdoor space.

Bring the Outdoors In

For most of us, fall is the last hoorah before winter's blustery weather truly sets in, so enjoy a walk in the crisp air to gather clippings of flowering plants and colorful foliage. Fill small vases with your finds and place them throughout the house. If you're expecting overnight visitors, don't forget the guest room. Image courtesy of Blackberry Farm.

And, the Indoors Out

Front porches are a natural gathering spot for chatting with neighbors or just relaxing with a warm cuppa while soaking in the season's shifting hues. If your front porch is sheltered from the elements, like ours, get it ready to sit a spell by bringing an indoor throw and pillows out to cozy up a bench or chair. Get more tips for creating a warm welcome in the link below.

See More Photos: An Autumnal Front Porch Worth Falling For

Make Your Own Marquee Letters

Theater-style marquee letters are trending (read: expensive) but using a few craft-store supplies and globe string lights, you can make your own. Get crafting with our step-by-step instructions, below.

Get the How-To: How to Make Lighted Marquee Letters

Give Mums Their Time in the Sun

Mounds of bright yellow mums bring a happy touch of fall color to any outdoor space. These hanging baskets were created by lining the wire frames with sheets of coco mat, which allows the plants to properly drain between waterings. Mums require plenty of direct sunlight; their location hanging from this front porch provides the minimum three hours a day they need to look their best.

Fall for Trendy Fabrics

Menswear fabrics, like this tone-on-tone houndstooth, are hot for fall. Reupholstering your antique dining chairs to keep pace with trends may sound a little extreme but you can always bring in touches of fashionable fabrics with toss pillows or slipcovers. Image courtesy of Thibaut.

No Centerpiece Necessary

A few of our easy-to-create fall leaf streamers are all you need to decorate your Thanksgiving table. Best of all, skipping the centerpiece means there's nothing at eye level to block your view of the other guests.

Get the How-To: Dress Up Your Autumn Table With Fall Leaves

Incorporate Candles

Fill lanterns or tall glass hurricanes with pillar candles surrounded by coffee beans, acorns or candy corn to easily create a charming display for your entryway or front porch. Note: Be sure to keep an eye on the burning candles to ensure the wick doesn't burn below the level of the filler.

Prep for Cold-Weather Guests

For many of us, autumn means both the beginning of wintry weather and a rotating door of holiday guests. Protect your foyer's floors from muddy or snowy boots with an easy-to-clean area rug. Position an umbrella stand near the door so guests know where to stash wet rain gear as soon as they come in. Design by Sarah Richardson.

See More Photos: Hosting 101: 20 Ways to Welcome Weekend Guests

Craft a Mini "Pumpkin" Wreath

Although the tiny orange shapes covering this wreath look like diminutive pumpkins, they're actually putka pods. A great stand-in for mini pumpkins, the dried organic seed pods don't deteriorate, so your wreath can be displayed year after year. Craft your own with our tips, below.

Get the How-To: Make a Mini Pumpkin Wreath for Fall

Pick Plants Carefully

Variegated croton in saturated shades of green, gold and red surrounded by vibrant mums and pumpkins give HGTV fan gdiveris' front entry a colorful fall pick-me-up. Both plants are perennials and can either be brought indoors to weather the winter or, if you live in a warm climate, planted to add color to your landscape.

Take the Celebration Outside

Weather permitting, move fall suppers or even Thanksgiving dinner outdoors. A backdrop of fall-colored leaves and crisp air will provide the perfect setting for the feast. Image courtesy of Stanley Furniture.

Opt for Saturated Shades

This trio of small glass votives filled with bright orange ranunculus and rich red pomegranate seeds adds a cheery pop of fall color to an otherwise dark mantel. Small arrangements, like these, are a great way to spread fall color throughout your home.

Glam Up Plain Lanterns

Give plain glass hurricanes a glitzy makeover with sheets of copper leaf you can pick up at your local craft store. Learn how to apply leaf like a pro with our tips, below.

Get the How-To: Copper-Leafed Glass Hurricanes

Turn an Empty Frame Into a Menu Board

With just a few supplies from the hardware and craft stores, you can upcycle an unused frame into an elegant chalkboard to display wherever holiday guests gather. Use your finished chalkboard to display a Thanksgiving or holiday dinner menu or just to jot down notes to family.

Get the How-To: How to Make an Ornate Framed Chalkboard

Get Guest-Ready

Thanksgiving means gathering with your nearest and dearest to enjoy time together lingering over a well-set table. Ready your dining room for fall festivities by polishing the silver and breaking out the good china and crystal. Design by Sarah Richardson.

Luxe Meets Lodge

The rustic lodge look is a perfect fit fot fall. Blending rustic textures with sophisticated finishes, it's the best of both worlds and can be as formal or informal as you like. This cottage at celebrity hideaway Blackberry Farm perfectly exemplifies the style with a custom-painted wall treatment that resembles sun-bleached pine and luxurious fabrics throughout. Image courtesy of Blackberry Farm.

Easily Craft a Rustic Tray

Air-dry clay and paint are all you need to make a rustic tray that's perfect for corraling candles and fall accents or as part of your Thanksgiving table setting. It's an easy and inexpensive craft project for adults and kids alike.

Get the How-To: Craft a Rustic Tray from Air-Dry Clay

Slipcover Past-Their-Prime Chairs

If you're handy with a sewing machine, "new" dining chairs could be yours with just the cost of a few yards of natural linen. A flirty skirt adds a stylish finishing touch. This project is a great way to unify mismatched chairs or give dated chairs a quick update. Sew like a pro with our tips, below.

Get the How-To: How to Make a Custom Dining Chair Slipcover

Create Outdoor Living Space

Turn an underused porch or patio into a welcoming spot to kick back and enjoy the outdoors. Add a weather-resistant rug for comfort underfoot and to visually define the living area. Plants bring any indoor or outdoor space to life so mix in a few containers planted with a mix of hardy perennials and annuals for a splash of color.

Craft a Rustic Woven Runner

Turn trendy upholstery webbing into an oversized table runner than can be rolled up, stored away and used to add an organic touch to your Thanksgiving table year after year. Get crafting with our step-by-step instructions, below.

Get the How-To: How to Make an Upholstery Webbing Table Runner

Make It Easy for Guests to Get Comfy

In the living room or den, fill a deep woven basket with plush pillows and cozy throws so guests can grab one if an achy back or chill strikes.

Make-Over Your Mantel

Get crafty to give your living room's focal point a fresh update. For this look, the editors at HGTV Magazine put paint and paper to work to create kicky lanterns and decoupaged pumpkins. For the colorful centerpiece, they simply glued card stock leaves to (free!) bare branches.

See More Photos: Fall Decorating Around the House

Try a New Twist on Tradition

Shake up your front door with a square wreath featuring colorful ears of Indian corn. Head to your local craft store for materials then assemble this harvest-themed outdoor decoration in just a few hours.

Get the How-To: How to Make a Square Corn Husk Wreath

Craft a Glittery Banner

Remind friends and family how lucky they are with this easy, do-it-yourself decoration. Pick up chipboard letters at your local craft store, then cover them in copper glitter. Attach letters to twine with hot glue and hang above a buffet, mantel, entry table or anywhere your home could use a bit of seasonal sparkle.

Get the How-To: Glittered Thanksgiving Banner

Decorate With Fall Foliage

Give bookshelves, a mantel or any flat surface a quick fall fix with a sprinkling of autumn leaves. Gather pretty specimens from your own backyard or pick up a pack of the silk variety at your local craft store. Design by Layla Palmer.

Make a Magnolia Leaf Wreath

Wrap fresh-cut magnolia leaves around an inexpensive foam wreath form to craft a streamlined, modern take on a traditional fall wreath. The leaves will dry in place and turn a gorgeous coppery hue. No need to take this wreath down when you swap out your Thanksgiving decorations for Christmas — just change the ribbon to match your holiday decor.

Get the How-To: How to Make a Magnolia Leaf Wreath

Whip Up a Felt Acorn Pillow

Basic sewing skills are all you need to turn linen, felt and jute twine into a cute throw pillow for fall. Get crafting with our step-by-step instructions, below.

Get the How-To: Fall-Inspired Linen and Felt Acorn Pillow

Honor Traditions

Derived from Latin for "horn of plenty," a cornucopia is a time-honored symbol of the harvest. Filled with fruit, vegetables, gourds or flowers, it's most often used as a Thanksgiving centerpiece but these decorative baskets also look great as a mantel or foyer decoration.

Decoupage Faux Pumpkins

Give faux pumpkins a fashion-forward makeover by covering them with strips of trendy fabric. Large decoupage pumpkins are a stylish addition to fall front porch displays while small pumpkins will add a graphic pop to your Thanksgiving centerpiece.

Get the How-To: Trendy Fabric-Covered Pumpkins

Fall for Autumn's Hues

With its rusty palette and laid-back look, this dining room is dressed for casual fall entertaining. Designer Lauren Liess created the layered tablecloth by topping a linen drapery panel with a vintage russet and orange quilt. Gourds, candles, fresh herbs and a stoneware urn filled with vermillion branches create a fuss-free centerpiece that works equally well for Thanksgiving dinner or any fall get-together.

Craft a Gorgeous Wreath

Add pinecones and assorted faux berries and greenery to an inexpensive grapevine wreath to create a gorgeous fall decoration for your front door. Best of all, you can just add a red ribbon to transition this wreath from fall to holiday.

Get the How-To: Bountiful Fall Wreath

Sometimes Less is More

In a monochromatic space, just a few pops of fall color are all you need. Design by Melissa Smith.

Make a Rectangular Rustic Wreath

Add an earthy touch indoors or out with this twist on a traditional round fall wreath. Dried mushrooms, moss, seed pods and grasses form the base while russet fresh or faux pears add a pop of fall color.

Get the How-To: How to Make a Rectangular Rustic Fall Wreath

Craft a Monogrammed Wreath

Give your front door a personalized touch by turning inexpensive craft-store materials into a rustic monogram to take the place of a standard fall wreath. Make your own with our step-by-step instructions, below.

Get the How-To: Jute-Covered Monogram Wreath

Seasonalize Your Decor

Give a plain lampshade autumnal appeal by stenciling it with fall leaves. Our free printable template, below, makes this project is a snap, even for beginning crafters.

Get the How-To: How to Create a Fall Leaf Lampshade

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