Join along as our Executive Editor Cara McDonald talks with three NoMi creatives—Megan Gilger, Allison Harlow and Forget-Me-Not—and shares their autumn go-to’s and favorite design tips for fall in Northern Michigan.

This article first appeared in Traverse Northern Michigan. Find this story and more when you explore our digital issue library. Want Traverse delivered to your door or inbox monthly? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

Insiders guide to fall design image

Megan Gilger’s Fall Design Inspiration

Megan Gilger, a third-generation gardener living in Leelanau County, teaches people to garden confidently so they can more deeply connect to nature and themselves through the seasons. She shares weekly gardening tips on her podcast, blog and Instagram, along with wisdom from her garden and nature in Northern Michigan.

“This season is all about learning how to let go gracefully. A dance of sadness and relief mixed with nostalgia comes with the arrival of autumn. The seasons always offer us a lesson to play with, and in autumn, it is always magic to me to watch how easily the trees release their leaves to cover the forest so it can rest and rebuild. There is
so much to learn from that metaphor.”

Megan Gilger Mood Board

Megan Gilger’s Favorite Mood Setters

1. Jacob’s Farm for apple picking. I love picking apples with my kids, and this is just around the corner from us, so it is easy to swing over after school for some apple-picking fun.
2. Pumpkin collecting. There is always a day we choose to get away as a family and drive up Center Road on Old Mission Peninsula to get our pumpkins. Something about heading up there always feels like a fall adventure. Cory Holman’s Pumpkin Patch is one of our favorites.
3. A soft linen shirt. I wear my Linen Grandpa Shirt from Toile and Stripes every season, but it works the best on these in-between days. This shirt is one of my favorite staples with an oversized sweater coat.
4. Hot toddies. The first cool night also calls for the first warm cocktail to fend off the onset of the cold that is bound to come. Local hot apple cider mixed with some bourbon whiskey from Traverse City Whiskey Co. and honey from Champion Hill with a squeeze of lemon is all you need.
5. Wool blankets. We linger on the porch as late as possible in the fall, so we put these wool blankets out to keep us cozy around the fire in the evenings and in the mornings with coffee.
6. Dried flower bouquets. In September, I love to start drying things from our land and garden so I can have them for when everything is done growing, and I can remember the beauty of summer.
7. Pumpkin donut fix. I am not much of a sweets person, but every fall, I have to enjoy a pumpkin cake donut from Gallagher’s Farm Market on M-72.

Allison Harlow’s Fall Design Inspiration

Allison Harlow is the lead interior designer and owner of Curio Design Studio in Marquette. When not designing kitchen, bath and full-service furniture projects, Allison enjoys spending time with her family exploring the beaches and hiking trails of the Upper Peninsula.

“I love how things slow down in fall. Living in the Upper Peninsula, we know summer will be short-lived, so we pack
it full of beach days and hikes and events with family and friends. When fall rolls around things finally quiet down, and it becomes a very peaceful and relaxing time here in Marquette.”

Allison Harlow Mood Board

Allison Harlow’s Favorite Mood Setters

1. Scented candles. Light a candle with a soothing woodsy aroma, like a Palo Santo Candle from 906 & Co. in downtown Marquette.
2. Crisp cider. I love Barrel + Beam Rightful Cider—they do a cider and donut pairing in the fall that is tasty and sells out quickly!
3. Hot coffee and a stroll. In Marquette, we grab seasonal drinks from Contrast Coffee and check out a few of the local galleries like Zero Degrees, Graci Gallery and The Gallery.
4. A colorful hike. We head to Yellow Dog River Falls, plus a side trip from there to Thomas Rock Scenic Overlook off Co. Rd. 550 to see the fall colors.
5. An inspiring fall arrangement. Samara Floral Co. makes the best, or sign up for one of their fall floral arrangement workshops!
6. Textured wood wall tiles. I love bring- ing the outdoors in.
7. Warm fall hues. Bringing in warm tones like a copper-colored sofa cozies up your space.


Forget-Me-Not’s Fall Design Inspiration

Forget-Me-Not’s three-person team of Carly, Angel and Shanes run a full-service flower shop in Suttons Bay, specializing in custom floral designs that represent relationships and gestures between people, using flowers as their medium.

“To us, fall means rich, moody, saturated colors,” Carly says. “And it means using dried elements such as 6 grasses and preserved flowers. It means carving pumpkins as a team to create floral centerpieces. It’s the way purple and orange play together so well. It’s the spooky photoshoots. The animal skulls. The smell of cinnamon and apples. It’s finding creative methods to use elements that will last the whole month instead of just a week or so.”

Forget Me Not Mood Board

Forget-Me-Not’s Favorite Fall Mood Setters

1. Bold dahlias. It’s the tail end for seasonal flowers, and we love dahlias of all kinds.
2. Dried grasses and curly willow. These add texture and interesting lines to arrangements or make a statement on their own.
3. Long-sleeve dresses. We love working with autumn brides in cooler weather; terracotta/rust/burnt orange/blush wedding flower color stories are especially pretty this time of year.
4. A farm stop. We all love Gallagher’s Farm Market anything, especially hot apple cider.
5. Inspiring architecture. The old state hospital grounds [now The Commons] are beautiful in autumn (and it’s too fun to pretend you’re ghost hunting to give you the jeebies!).
6. Cheese. For us in fall, it’s warm brie with a honey drizzle, served up with red wine.