How to Preserve and Use Fall Leaves for Home Decor

How to Preserve and Use Fall Leaves for Home Decor

Decoration and Design
By Dikran Seferian October 20, 2021

What better way to spruce up your fall interior than with actual fall leaves? Their naturally beautiful and charming appearance can provide aesthetic value to home decor. If you decide on incorporating autumn leaves into your interior design, however, you may want to treat them in order to maintain their bright colors; preserved leaves will most likely last the entire season and maybe even longer. Fortunately, you can preserve autumn foliage in several ways such as pressing, dipping in wax, and treating with silica gel. These methods are fairly easy and can be perfect DIY projects for the weekend.

Methods of Preserving Fall Leaves

Pressing With Books

Pressing leaves is a traditional and the easiest way of preserving them. However, the preservation is shorter than that of other methods. Choose leaves that are either yellow or green with a low moisture level. To press your leaves, all you need is a newspaper and a few heavy books. Simply place the leaves flat between two layers of newspaper and stack a few heavy books on top. Check back after a week to make sure they aren’t rotting. The setback of this method is that the leaves tend to become rather brittle. You can use pressed foliage for home decor that involves craftwork.

Laminating With Plastic

Another method of preserving autumn leaves is by laminating them. Since the leaves need to be dry for this technique, consider pressing them for a few days before feeding them through a laminator. A more “make-do” alternative involves covering your leaves with clear packing tape. Laminating leaves would preserve their color for a fair amount of time. However, they will eventually turn brown. Foliage preserved with this method is great for hanging on walls or windows — but not so much for crafts. One downside of this method is that, due to the plastic used, it is not very eco-friendly.

Glycerin Bath

Treating your leaves with glycerin is a great way to keep them supple, flexible, and natural for a really long time. Yellow leaves are particularly ideal for this technique, but you can’t go wrong with other colors as well. For this project, you will need one part glycerin and two parts water. You can find glycerin in the baking section at supermarkets. Combine the two ingredients in a shallow pan and add the leaves one at a time, making sure they are all submerged. Check back after two days to see if the leaves are supple and pliable; if they still feel dry, wait for another two days. Once they are soft to the touch, hang them up to dry. Glycerin-treated leaves are perfect for garlands, wreaths, and other handcrafted decors.

Preserving Fall Leaves Could Enhance the Way Your Home Looks, in a Natural Way

Preserving Fall Leaves Could Enhance the Way Your Home Looks, in a Natural Way

PVA Coating

If you wish to preserve the warm colors of your autumn leaves, consider glazing them with PVA glue or mod podge. Simply use a small paintbrush to apply the glue onto the leaves. Once they are fully coated, leave them to dry. This technique works especially well if you’re aiming for a three-dimensional look as the foliage will not end up flat. Leaves preserved in this method are great for garlands, wreaths, banners, as well as fall centerpieces. However, don’t expect your coated leaves to maintain their bright colors forever because they will eventually darken.

Wax Dip

You could also preserve your fall leaves by dipping them in melted wax. Essentially, you will need to melt a pot of white candles, dunk the leaves in it, and hang them up to dry. This method allows the autumn foliage to maintain its three-dimensional shape as well as its bright colors. You can use your wax-dipped leaves to make DIY garlands and other handcrafted pieces. Make sure to take the necessary precautions when working with melted wax as it can be hot to the touch — it can also leave quite a mess.

Wax Paper Ironing

Similar to the melted candle dip, another technique that involves coating your warm-colored foliage with wax is ironing them with wax paper. You will need an iron, an ironing board, a few sheets of baking wax paper, and a couple of kitchen towels. Use leaves that have a low moisture content. Basically, place the leaves between two layers of wax paper and gently iron them on high heat — make sure not to use steam. To avoid getting wax on the iron and the board, consider placing kitchen towels underneath and above the baking paper. Once the papers are sealed together, allow them to cool. Cut out the leaves with a pair of sharp scissors, leaving a small margin of the wax sheet to maintain the seal. Leaves preserved in this method will last for several months and can be perfect for wall art.

Fall Leaves Could Turn Into Potential DIY Projects to Beautify Your House

Fall Leaves Could Turn Into Potential DIY Projects to Beautify Your House

Spray Painting 

A unique way of preserving your fall leaves involves spray painting them. You can use this technique for leaves that are too crumpled to be preserved in other ways. The end result can make for dramatic ornamentation. In terms of color, metallic gold or copper would create the perfect autumn aesthetic. You could also go with glossy purple, turquoise, or red for a more vibrant feature. Make sure your leaves are completely dry before painting them. Lay out the dehydrated foliage on a piece of cardboard in an area with good air circulation. Spray them with three or four coats of paint, allowing them to dry between coats. 

Treating With Silica Gel 

Silica gel is a salt-like substance that is used for absorbing moisture — it is usually sold in boxes at craft stores. Basically, the process involves speeding up the drying process of the leaves. Fill a microwavable dish with a one-inch layer of silica gel and lay your leaves on top — preferably ones that are moist and supple. Make sure to leave a bit of space between the leaves and the sides of the dish. Cover the foliage with another inch of silica gel and microwave the dish in 30-second intervals at medium heat. Once the leaves are dry, let them cool down for a few minutes. Consider applying the acrylic spray to prolong the preservation period. You can use silica-dried leaves for a variety of DIY fall decorations. 

Ideas For Using Fall Leaves in Home Decor

Fall Leaf Banner

If you’re looking for a quick and effortless way to create a decorative item, consider going for a fall leaf banner. This project is as easy as it gets. All you need is a twine string and a few autumn leaves that you have preserved. Pressed or laminated leaves can be ideal for this simple handicraft. Attach the individual pieces of foliage along the twine using adhesive glue. Alternatively, you could hang the leaves on the twine with clothespins. Consider using this handicraft as a focal point for a mantel. 

There Are Many Simple Ways to Get Creative With Fall Leaves

There Are Many Simple Ways to Get Creative With Fall Leaves

Dried Leaf Wreath

An autumn leaf wreath can make for perfect transitional decor. You can use it as a centerpiece above your mantel or on your front door to welcome the fall season. Making a DIY dried leaf wreath is easier than it looks. Simply tie a bunch of preserved leaves on a solid hoop that you can make out of a metal clothesline. For this handicraft, you can generally use leaves treated using methods involving but not limited to glycerin, PVA, or wax. Using different types of leaves can add richness to the wreath’s appearance.

Get Creative With the Warm Colors of Fall Leaves

Get Creative With the Warm Colors of Fall Leaves

Leaf Wall Art

The fascinating array of colors and textures that autumn leaves display is pure art in itself. You can capture this display in a frame and hang it up on the wall as artwork. To be able to frame your fall leaves, consider using ones that you have preserved in their flat form. Glycerin-treated, wax paper-ironed, or silica-dried leaves can be ideal for leaf wall art. You could place your framed leaves above the headboard of your bed or spruce up a bathroom wall.

Wall Art Is Among the Choices You Have With Fall Leaves Decor

Wall Art Is Among the Choices You Have With Fall Leaves Decor

Leaf Bundle 

Another easy way of using your preserved leaves as ornaments is by arranging them into a bundle and placing them in a decorative vase. For this decor option, you may have to use leaves with stems that are long enough to be tied together and inserted into the vase. Alternatively, you could glue them onto branches which you’d then group into a vase. A fall leaf bundle can be a stylish addition to a mantel feature or a solo piece on a windowsill.

There Are Unlimited, Unique Ways to Incorporate Fall Leaves Into Your Interior Design

There Are Unlimited, Unique Ways to Incorporate Fall Leaves Into Your Interior Design

Fall Leaf Garland

A decorative item that provides versatility in the ways you can display it is a garland. You can lay it down on a shelf, spruce up a porch railing, or use it as wall decor. For an autumn feature, consider crafting a garland out of your preserved leaves. To make a DIY garland, simply tie a generous amount of dried foliage onto a twine of your desired length. For this project, you could use glycerin, mod podge, or wax-treated leaves.

Sprucing up Your Home Decor for the Fall Season Is Easier With Fall Leaves

Sprucing up Your Home Decor for the Fall Season Is Easier With Fall Leaves

DS

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian

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