Mastering DIY Home Decorating With Gail Dunn

Mastering DIY Home Decorating With Gail Dunn

Natural autumnal hues—think trees dressed in riotous shades of deep ochre, flaming orange, and jewel-tone red—provide inspiration for Gail Gray Dunn, decorating doyen and owner of  GailGray Home Furnishings and Design at The Promenade Shops in Saucon Valley. “The colors of fall are warm and cozy,” she says, underscoring the seasonal desire to seek refuge from chilly weather and snuggle up under a plush throw.

This, by no means, requires a major overhaul of your home design or needs to make a huge dent in your budget. “Mix real and faux items like pumpkins, fall foliage, gourds, corn, hay and pinecones,” Dunn suggests. “When decorating for fall, get the best bang for your buck by picking one look that will last the entire fall season through Halloween and Thanksgiving.”

Pick one look that will last the entire season.

That same principle can also be applied to holiday décor. “If you are not too holiday-specific and mingle items that scream Santa throughout your home, those can easily be removed after the holiday. The greens, deer, snowmen, and winter items can stay throughout the winter months. This also
can help with the post-holiday season blahs,”
Dunn continues. And avoid over-crowding every flat surface with holiday decorations. “Sometimes less is more. It’s so nice and refreshing just to see greens and items from nature.” While a mantle is a natural stage for evolving decorations for changing holidays, Dunn always anchors hers with a garland of pinecones.

Aromas also contribute to an inviting atmosphere. “The scents of the season like pumpkin and Frasier fir candles are important as well. Candles with the right scent can set the mood for your home,” Dunn explains, adding that lighting is another important focus. You want to make your rooms cozy with a warm ambiance. No blaring overhead lighting!”

Visiting GailGray Home can provide inspiration for new ways to stage or arrange different rooms and decorations. A plethora of ever-changing furnishings and accessories, from pillows to lamps, lets shoppers spruce up their dwellings as much or as little as they choose. For those looking for one splurge-worthy item, Dunn recommends “a lovely tray or container that can be used and changed with seasonal items.” She also advises shoppers to bring along some home photos so that staff members can make well-informed suggestions for specific environments. For those ready for a full transformation, GailGray Home can ease the process. “A professional decorator/designer will guide you through the process to achieve the look and feel you desire and keep you from making costly mistakes.”    

For full holiday immersion in a festively decorated environment, stop by GailGray Home on November 7, from 5 p.m. until closing, for their 20th annual Holiday Open House. “It gets a little crowded, but everybody has a good time—we have mashed potato martinis and prosecco. It’s fun!” Dunn says. “And my employees dress in Christmas pajamas.” 

Getting Your Home Ready for Fall and Holidays

Dunn considers early autumn through New Year her favorite season. “The crisp air makes me yearn for that log burning fireplace, and entertaining in the dining room with my family china, crystal, and lovely linens,” she says. This is the time to trot out heirloom serving pieces from your grandmother or great aunt—mix-and-match dishware lets you make a table setting your own—in order to highlight family traditions. And if you come across an old punch bowl, those also happen to be back in style.

However, if you’re short on authentic heritage tablewares, assemble your own personal collection of vintage goods by haunting antique shops and flea markets and finding items that speak to you and your tastes. A hand-embroidered table runner, crocheted table cloth, silver serving bowl, or handsomely decorated platter can add interest and character to an eclectic holiday tablescape. “The days of the vase in the middle of the table and candles on either side are gone. We can now use our imagination and even put battery operated lights in your centerpiece, just to make it feel special,” Dunn says. Her own table features a seasonal centerpiece anchored with a silver serving tray and a pair of crystal candlesticks adorned with anything from tiny pumpkins and leaves to holiday greens, berries, and ornaments.

A display of seasonal adornments outside the home sets a tone of warm hospitality even before guests set foot inside. “Put a beautiful wreath on the door, have seasonal flowers in pots, pumpkins on your front step or porch, and mix faux with real items to make it more interesting,” she suggests. “I have an old wagon in my front yard that I decorate each season.” As autumn moves toward winter, Dunn’s porch flowers change from mums to small boxwood trees filled with berries and surrounded by festive ornamentation. The idea is to keep the outdoor visuals colorful and appealing. Visitors will look forward to viewing your latest creative decorative spin.


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Center Valley, PA 18034

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