Falling for Fall… I do this Every Year!

There is no doubt – fall is my favorite season. As Editor at Large with Southern Living, I have the privilege of contributing fun stories and ideas to the magazine as a whole, but my fall stories seem to always make the newsstands! I’ve said it over and over and this mantra of mine is worth repeating: “Fall is a Southerner’s reward for surviving summer.” I’ve even seen this printed on a cocktail napkin – thanks y’all for the advertising!

So as y’all peruse the pages of the October Southern Living, I’d love to walk y’all through some of the fun from behind the scenes that didn’t make the cut – as if me and my uber stylish outfit weren’t cute enough for the pages of SL… ha! From the cracker-jack team of my BFF Jess “Frou Frou” Margeson, Stacey and Laura Lyn from JFI to the senior stylist Mrs. Buffy Hargett Miller herself to editor Jen Kopf and photographer extraordinaire Helen Norman (who has photographed A Time to Cook and Porch Living), we managed to somehow not only set, style and shoot and amazing venue, but have an absolute blast doing so! Time certainly flies when you’re having fun, and I’m here to tell y’all it was a blast from start to finish!

Jen Kopf, Helen Norman, yours truly, Buffy Hargett Miller

The setting was a dear, sweet friend’s home in Cashiers. I was at her house one lovely summer day for cocktails before sunset and jokingly said I wanted to transform her immaculate, stunning, antique-filled, absolutely gorgeous home into an autumnal oasis to celebrate the season… and pitch the idea to my editors at Southern Living. This, y’all is never an easy task to ask, but thankfully, my adorable friend (and her family) obliged. I cannot thank my precious friend enough!

With unparallel views of Whiteside Mountain just beyond the tree line, the crisp autumn air glowed with the hues only fall can afford to lend the sky. My friend, an antiques dealer out of Atlanta, has treasure troves of l’objets d’art from her forays through Parisian flea markets, Portobello Road in London and scouring the French and English countryside for just the right barley-twist candlesticks. If ever there was a “set” to photograph a celebration of the season, this home was it. From the mountainsides and gardens and farmers markets, I gleaned the season’s best. Tables were set, flowers were arranged and mantels bedecked with the flair of fall. Give me a pumpkin, some leaves and bittersweet, and I’ll give you a mantel!

Dried hydrangeas, rose hips, beauty berry, dahlias, Free Spirit roses, bittersweet, magnolia, cabbage, apples, pumpkins, oak leaves, acorns, pecans and plumes upon plumes of grasses were all woven together to create a tableau as rich as the season could present.  I could go on and on and on about this shoot. From the feel, the textures, the scents, the sights, the hues, tones, arrays and luscious combinations my favorite season gives us, I am rejuvenated and invigorated for this time of year.

I hope y’all are inspired to kick off the holiday season with a fanfare for fall. I know I am! Enjoy these behind the scenes pics and be sure to check out the October issue on newsstands now!

Jess and I have just as much fun taking selfies as we do making outrageous pumpkin arrangements. Her work is phenomenal! Like her hair, her pumpkin creations are a work of art!!

I love antique crocks and pottery. Here, these fantastic old jars with a deep tobacco glaze. These jars are filled to the brim with nandina berries, sweet gum, dried hydrangea, celosia and viburnum for some fall fabulousness. 

A garland of oak leaves, maple leaves, magnolia and dried hydrangea cloaks one side of the massive stone mantel. I love symmetry but I love balance more. Though this mantel scene is not symmetrical per se, it is balanced. Of course I had to throw some pumpkins and ornamental cabbage for good measure. 

Give Ol' Jimmy a jug of sweet tea and I can decorate for hours. You can take the boy out of Perry, but... y'all know how it goes!

 I love to use dough bowls as centerpieces. They are long and set a table oh so well. Here, I mounded bunches of dried hydrangea, fall foliage, artichokes and even a few turtle shells for texture. The nandina berries just pop against the autumnal palette. I love too how this is so fall but not filled with orange pumpkins. The green 'Cinderella' ones make for a stylish departure for this set up. Plus, this arrangement will last all through the fall with the hydrangeas and leaves and berries drying and the pumpkins lasting for months if they're not carved. 

Don't forget your windowboxes! As for a fall display, I kept the ivy that was spilling out but planted ornamental cabbages that will last all through the winter in the the Deep South. Magnolia, a few pumpkins nestled in here and there, bittersweet winding its way throughout the scene and even an artichoke or two can be found alongside the cabbage. I added a few stems of millet for texture too - because it is fall and I can!

Is there anything better than working with a hydrangea as big as your head? As big as Jess' hair even? No. the answer is "no." Nothing better y'all! Ha!

As wonderful and fabulous as all this created fun is, nothing beats The Almighty's handiwork on an autumn day in Cashiers!

Happy fall, y’all!