By Michele J. Kuhn
Adding small touches and layering of fall décor can transform a summery room into a warm, cozy comforting space, area experts say.
Laura Kent, owner of Tweedledee, a Fair Haven store stocked with eclectic antiques, says when she thinks of fall, she imagines warm tones, comfortable chairs by the fireplace, perhaps some logs stacked nearby with a box of kindling and pinecones to help warm the room.
“Changing textiles from light colors and whites to soft, tactile fabrics like velvets, wools and woven materials can help change a room,” Kent said. “You can do it with pillows, throws and window treatments … sometimes just changing or adding a valance helps” set the mood for the fall months. “Ceramics also are affordable things to change out,” she said.
Kent’s 810 River Road store, which is arranged in different rooms, was flipped from its summer theme to one that is more autumnal a couple of weeks ago. Additions to shelving in one room include items made of dark woods and those with an Asian motif. Over the mantel she has placed a silk and satin late-Victorian era quilt in a log cabin pattern backed in a deep claret-tone skinner satin ($395). Bright summer flowers and seashells have been put away in favor of pinecones, leaves and twigs. Soft throws in wool Tartan plaids, cashmere and mohair ($65-$200) are ready to be placed over chairs and the backs of sofas.
In the store’s library Kent points to leather-bound antique books and darker lampshades, instead of the gardening books and the bright white shades of summer. Warm metals, including brasses and bronzes in the form of candlesticks, boxes and bowls filled with natural outdoor materials, can help change the mood of a room for the season, Kent said.
“It’s the little things,” Kent said. “It’s respecting the season. It’s about being grateful for what the earth has given us.”
Kent recommends small, simple touches, such as using light bulbs with a low wattage or rearranging items placed on a table in a tighter pattern. Dressers and flat surfaces can be dressed with favorite pieces, like a little girl’s small wooden doll truck with metal strapping covered in paper with a basket-weave design from the 1880s ($65). Kent has placed the little trunk on top of a dresser.
The owner and designers at The Store from River Road at 655 Broad St., Shrewsbury, favor layering of fall objects, textiles and colors to seasonally change a room. Changes can be as major as purchasing a full suite of furnishings to as simple – but effective – as adding candles, pumpkins or an arrangement of twigs.
“In summer you’re lighting things up by taking things away. In the fall you bring things back and add deep colors,” designer Eileen Cuje said.
A change of color can be an important step. “A coat of paint can do a world of wonder to any room,” Cuje said. “Stay away from lighter blues and greens and go for the warmer tones.”
Cuje’s fellow designer Patrice Schulte agreed.
“Grays and taupes are very popular,” Schulte said. “Navy is also big.”
“It doesn’t take much to change your room and put in a whole different look,” said Mara Neske, the owner of The Store from River Road.
Neske points out that a room with a foundation of neutrals – wall color and furnishings – can help make an easy transition from one season to another because it allows people to add touches that help convey the feeling of spring, summer fall and winter. For the fall, that includes darker colored throws for the backs of chairs and sofas, warm colored or boldly patterned pillows, area rugs and small favorite seasonal items for tabletops.
Flipping room décor to reflect the season for some means celebrating holidays, in fall that’s Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Mulberry Market, a gift shop at 420 Route 34 in Colts Neck, is filled with autumnal touches. Owner Ann Hager stocks a full array of Halloween, Thanksgiving and general fall-themed items, including a variety of pumpkins that can take a decorator right into early December. Hager sells orange grapevine pumpkins, ranging from small to large, that are wired from within with tiny white lights (from $20 to $106). There are wooden pumpkins and gorgeous pumpkins with real stems, handmade in Oregon and fashioned from the very lushest of velvets in wine, green, light brown and orange (from $8.99 to $50).
Hager also stocks a large selection of real, handcrafted gourds, which are also lit from within, by Meadowbrooke Gourds. The pieces have been designed to resemble ghosts, skeletons, cats and scary monsters, like Frankenstein (priced from about $22 to $55).
Mulberry Market has decorations featuring colored leaves in deep greens, red and browns and muted yellows and oranges. There are fall leaf wreaths (about $43) and a wicker basket, perfect for a tabletop, overflowing with leaves, pumpkins and gourds (for $60) and a spray of leaves with electric candles, perfect for a mantel.
Hager said her customers generally fall into two categories, ones who decorate for each holiday, and those who decorate for the fall and add some items particular to Halloween – black cats, witches, ghosts – and then, cornucopia, turkeys and Pilgrims for Thanksgiving.
“Personally, I decorate with fall things and add something like witches for Halloween,” she said.