I’ve always told myself that I don’t keep my silver polished because I love that aged patina silver gets when it starts to tarnish. That’s only partially true. I do adore a lightly weathered finish, but, mostly, I hate to polish silver. That’s why I’m crazy about high luster mercury glass: all the sparkle; none of the work. I have been using mercury glass accents in my decorating for years, but I took an even brighter shine to it when I discovered the most adorable mercury glass pumpkins and gourds at market. They are my top pick for fall decorating this year.  Shockingly inexpensive, these fresh and inventive decorating tools look smashing in any display and in any style home. Here are five fabulous looks featuring mercury glass pumpkins and gourds to inspire you. 

Look 1: The Center of Everything

When we build displays at Nell Hill’s, one of our tricks is to weave together contrasting accents to create a surprising but arresting collection. This fall, we are having lots of fun dreaming up tableaus that play up the juxtaposition of the cool, sleek mercury glass with the organic textures and rich colors of fall. This dining table centerpiece, created by Bruce, a Nell Hill’s visual designer, knocks it out of the ballpark! Bruce set the stage by placing two of our favorite buffet lamps by Kansas City lamp designer Barbara Cosgrove on either side of the centerpiece. Not only do the silver lamps add some sparkle and shine of their own, with their dark shades, they cast light downward, acting like spotlights for the star of the show: the centerpiece.

When you’re creating a display, the key is to work high to low. Bruce used a cut-glass compote as a riser, topped the mouth of the compote with a fall wreath then nestled three mercury glass pumpkins inside. Next, he created a bed of fall leaf sprigs on the tabletop to hold more mercury glass pumpkins. Two tiny wreaths served as nests for additional pumpkins. He finished off with a silver partridge figurine. The design is simple to create, but looks layered and lush.



Look 2: Beautiful Balance for a Buffet

If you want a gorgeous display on your buffet, but you don’t want to invest a lot of time (or money), this is the arrangement for you. Start by placing a substantially sized lamp at the center of your buffet to serve as the high point of the display. Then, flank the lamp with two matching mercury-glass arrangements. Simple, balanced and stunning, this display gives a clean look for fall.

For our inspiration display, Bruce started with aluminum punch bowls. I can’t say enough about this line of aluminum serving pieces we carry at Nell Hill’s. They have the bright luster of silver, but never, ever need to be polished. Lightweight, inexpensive and sleekly styled, they blend well with everything from traditional to modern décor. I think they are an essential!

Next, Bruce inserted a pillar candle holder in the center of the bowl as a riser for the mercury glass pumpkin. He filled in with more mercury glass pumpkins then inserted leaf and berry picks into the little gaps in between the pumpkins. Try this trick:  When you use a berry pick and a leaf pick together, like Bruce did here, bend some of the berries into the leaves so they are intertwined, not flat layers lying on top of each other. It looks lifelike and gorgeous.



Look 3: Magnificent Mantel Display

For this fall mantel treatment, Bruce used the mercury glass accents in a supporting role, not as the stars of the display. That honor went to a transferware plate, carefully selected to repeat the reds in the faux fall greenery, which gives this mantel display so much depth. The plate is held in place by a few twiggy trays. Inexpensive and versatile, these trays are a mainstay for me, especially when I decorate for fall. They work wonderfully as chargers for fall place settings and as the base of fall table displays.

Bruce again worked high to low to create this richly layered asymmetrical display. The high point is a mercury glass gourd perched on top of a mercury glass candlestick, backed by a spray of fall leaves. The display flows down to the left, to the plate and trays. The shortest layer is a matching twig tray filled with mercury glass pumpkins. The thread that holds all these pieces together is the spray of fall leaves that ensconces each unit of the tableau, making them into one. To get a more three-dimensional look, Bruce poked in some grass and berry picks, and let the sprays and picks dangle down the side and front of the mantel.



Look 4: Coffee Table Creation

One of our favorite ways to build tabletop displays at Nell Hill’s is to use a tray as a base. It could be a silver gallery tray, a ceramic platter or even a piece of framed art or a mirror. The tray grounds the display and pulls the individual items together into one unit. Bruce used a reproduction wooden tea tray for this stunning coffee table grouping. We just got these trays in, and I think they are the ideal size, color and finish for fall decorating, don’t you?

Bruce selected a few favorite fall icons as the backdrop for our mercury glass gourds and pumpkins: Greenery, including a sprig of fall leaves that features a tiny bird’s nest, an adorable chalkboard for back to school, and some old books. The mercury glass pieces rest casually on this intriguing bed.



Look 5: Splashy Occasional Table

Not every fall display in your home has to be elaborate, featuring lots of elements in lots of layers. Bruce pulled together this super simple bowl of mercury glass gourds in a jiff to balance out the sparkling silver in the drink service on this occasional table.

Start with a decorative holder, like the antique etched glass bowl Bruce used for our example display. If you want a punch of color or some added texture, line it with a piece of fabric, like this spunky geometric print napkin. Then fill in with a tumble of shimmering mercury glass gourds and pumpkins. Five seconds, and you are done!


Next Week …Celebrate the cooler weather of autumn by throwing an outdoor fall fete. I’ll have some tips for a pulling together an event that will delight your guests.

P.S. Don’t miss a bit of Nell Hill’s news – stay up to date on my favorite finds, new arrivals at the stores and all our special events by checking the Nell Hill’s Facebook page every day. You don’t have to have a Facebook page yourself to look in on the fun, but if you’re already on Facebook, “like” us today!




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13 Responses to “Mercury Glass Magic for Fall: 5 Great Looks”

  1. Terry Ball Says:

    Love the mercury glass..do you have a site with prices?

  2. Sandy Mac Says:

    We were there yesterday (the 3 of us,your regulars) and we each bought some Mercury glass. The gourds, the balls,the candlesticks were great looking and really affordable. Can’t wait to see what you do at your house with them. See you soon.

  3. Anna Belle Says:

    Will you have the mercury glass pumpkins available through your mail order store?

  4. Carol Says:

    Will the aluminum serving pieces featured with the mercury glass pumpkins be carried in the online store?

  5. Sharon Says:

    The Fall mercury pieces are great but for those of us who do not live in the area, can you put them on the online store? Thanks for your consideration.

  6. Gaby Says:

    Dear Mary,
    I recently found out about your blog and your online store. It is simple stunning.
    I currently live overseas and have to travel across all latinamerican countries for my job. Now, given the learnings from your blog, I have refined my tastes and I am able to spot interesting and stunning items either in Sao Paulo, or Mexico city or Perú.
    I find your ability to create such special ambiances and vignettes so captivating that I can’t wait to read a new note of yours.
    Thank you very much for being a great mentor on decor matters. It is an attitude, a way of living more than simple pretty objects arranged around the house.
    Kind regards.

  7. Jerry Ballard Says:

    Loved seeing you yesterday, along with Sandy & Pat, you are so dear and accessible, and thank you for your time and sweet demeanor! So ready for Fall and what better place for inspiration than your store. You and Charles Faudree are all I need for “my look”…just need refreshment each season in get re-enthused as I am taking down one season to go to another. My favorite thing to do!

  8. Jerry Ballard Says:

    Also should say …walked out with 3 bags full!!

  9. Mary Carol Says:

    Terry and Anna Belle—The mercury glass pumpkins are available only through the stores because they are seasonal so call 877-746-4320 to order—we are happy to ship or come in and see us. The rest of the mercury glass is in the stores now, however, may be online later–check occasionally under ‘accents’.

  10. Ana Says:

    What great ideas, as always! Am definitely going to do my buffet that way, this year! Love your blog and store! God bless!

  11. Robin Says:

    Are the silver bowls holding some of the arrangemts mercury glass or aluminum?

  12. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Robin.

    The bowl in the 4th picture is aluminum for $54.75, and the 5th picture is a pewter bowl for $81.00.

  13. Mary Carol Says:

    Sharon–At this point the pumpkins will only be available through the stores. Feel free to call and order, we are happy to ship! Call 877-746-4320 for all the details.

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