By Patti Martin
As the days become shorter and the temperatures dip lower, it’s time to bring some warmth back into your home.
We’re not talking a complete home redo, but simple projects and changes that have a big impact on the look and feel of a space.
Let these ideas be a starting point to transitioning that summer home into a cozy fall retreat.
As the seasons change outside, your home decor should change, too. An easy way to make a fall statement is by adding texture to a space, said Holly Volpe, of Set the Stage, a staging, space planning and design company based in Freehold. Volpe, who designed the Pool House for the recent Stately Homes by the Sea Designer Show House, said incorporating texture in unexpected ways – replacing a plain lampshade with a linen one, using a nubby wool throw instead of a lightweight cotton one – give depth to any space.
How a house looks from the outside is what first captures a person’s attention, says Donna Bain, owner of Bain’s Outdoor Living in Rumson. That’s why, she says, transitional changes need to start at the curb. The deep orange, rust and gold colors of fall are perfect for grabbing attention from the street. Good-sized arrangements of pumpkins and mums, either mixed in with the foundation plantings or potted on the front porch, always work well. You might want to consider a new mailbox as well, Bain adds.
Knock, Knock, Knock
If you’re not against change, consider painting your front door. “Just changing the color of your door can have a big impact,” Volpe points out. “There are beautiful, warm color palettes … embrace the festive colors of fall.” If painting the door is a no-go, consider adding a fall-themed wreath and a coordinating entrance mat instead.
Appeal to The Sense of Smell
Some scents – apples, cinnamon, and pumpkin – are especially appealing in the fall. Consider using candles or high quality potpourri to make your home scent-sational. Invest in quality potpourri, which will last longer, Volpe said, and stay in the same scent family so smells don’t become overwhelming.
As the weather gets cooler, families will gravitate to indoor spaces. Cozy up your living room sofas and chairs with plush throw pillows in different shapes, sizes and patterns, says Mara Neske, owner of The Store From River Road in Shrewsbury. Swap out pillows in lightweight summer fabrics, like linen and cotton, in favor of heavier fabrics in rich, fall shades. These comfy pillows add visual interest to a space – plus, they emit a warm, inviting tone, she adds.
Layer it On
Layering area rugs is an easy way to add color and texture to your floors, Neske says. Plus, the extra cushioning and warmth will help your feet avoid cold tile and hardwood floors during the fall and winter months. “A rug instantly defines a space,” Neske points out.
Fire it Up
Chances are you haven’t used your fireplace since March or April. To prepare for cool fall nights, get your fireplace ready for its seasonal debut. After it’s been checked out by a professional, swap out the mantel décor. Consider adding candles in various sizes and shapes or a clear jar filled with pinecones or potpourri and scatter some leaves.
During the warmer months, breezy curtains often cover the windows. But as cool weather approaches, trade out your light and airy treatments for some that offer more insulation and natural coziness, says Susan Fowler, owner of Down to Basics in Red Bank.
Let There Be Light
With fall comes shorter days. That means daylight becomes a rare commodity until spring once again makes an appearance. Take advantage of early nightfall and embrace the darkness using tea lights in every room in the house. The candlelit ambiance will help relieve stress and anxiety after a long day at work.
Don’t Forget the Backyard
Don’t forget about your favorite outdoor spot when the seasons change. As summer transitions into fall, the weather becomes perfect for comfortable evenings outside. Change your pillows, bring out some snuggly throws and add a fire pit so you can sit outside and enjoy some time together. “People often forget their backyard in fall,” says Bain of Bain’s Outdoor Living. “But it’s still a great place to spend time – day and night.”
Swap Out Summer Bedding
It’s time to stow the summer quilt and bring back the heavy-duty down comforter or duvet. “Switching your bedding to more earthy tones warms up a room,” Fowler says. And on a cold fall day, there’s nothing better than a warm bed.
Add Fresh Flowers
Nothing brightens up your home for the season like vases filled with fall flowers. Sunflowers and alstromeria are great choices because they’ll remain beautiful for up to a week.
Create a Grand Entrance
Fall marks the start of the holiday entertaining season making it a great time to spruce up areas of your home where guests gather, like the foyer, Neske says. Use accessories to bring in fall colors to instantly warm up a space. If you don’t want to change all your accessories, Fowler recommends adding a pop of color – like orange. “It really can make a statement … the cool with the warm.”
Mix It Up
Forget the old design rules and be a little adventurous, Neske says. “You no longer have to stay with one style like traditional or modern,” she points out. “You can use both in one space. Mixing it up is good.”
Fall is the perfect time to revisit some of those old family photos that are being stored in boxes or photo albums. “Why not swap out the pictures … look for photos that are more fall and winter themed,” Volpe said. “They create interest and bring back a lot of memories.”
Give bookshelves, a mantel or any flat surface a quick fall fix with a sprinkling of autumn leaves. Gather pretty specimens from your own backyard or pick up a pack of the silk variety at your local craft store.
Make subtle changes like trading your lighter throws and blankets for faux fur and heavy knits to bring a cozier element into your home for fall. “Just the simple task of replacing your lighter cotton throw in your bedroom to a thicker hand-knit or faux fur will warm a person up,” Fowler said.
If a new comforter/shams for fall just isn’t in the budget, consider adding a red, brown or gold blanket across the foot of the bed. And don’t forget the flannel sheets … perfect to snuggle on a chilly night.
Fill it Up
Fill jars with seasonal colored items: For simple and inexpensive display items, fill Mason jars or decorative glass jars with candy corn or other colorful novelty items. You can also fill various size jars with colorful dried beans.
One of the simplest ways to add texture to a room is to swap existing door and furniture knobs. “There are beautiful knobs available,” says Andrea Wyman, owner of AW Eurostile in Red Bank. “The project can be completed quickly … and the result will be a space that has a totally new look and feel.”
An Uplifting Kitchen
If you want to give your kitchen a fresh look, but don’t want to do invest the time or money in a complete makeover, consider replacing the floor, countertop or backsplash, Wyman said. “They can all be done relatively quickly … and with great results.”
In the bathroom, quick fixes are possible, Wyman said. A sink or vanity can easily be changed to give the bathroom a new look and feel, she says. While you’re at it, don’t forget to switch those light colored towels to darker, richer colors. Add a candle in a favorite seasonal scent, too.
Bring Nature Inside
There are countless ways to bring the outside in, Bain says. Vases can be filled with dried flowers, pinecones, nuts and even small tree branches. Small pumpkins (real or artificial) can be put on bookshelves. Garlands can be wrapped around lights. Artichokes, oranges and apples can be grouped together in a bowl. “Just go outside and look around,” Bain said. “You’ll definitely find inspiration.”