Cool Ideas for Fall Decorating

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These seasonal decorating updates will add cozy warmth to your home —
and perk up your spirits — just before the winter months.
By JoAnn Greco

  Cooler weather and earlier sunsets drive most of us indoors during fall, making it the perfect opportunity to reinvigorate our homes. "A seasonal decorating update satisfies the need for change that we all feel as we move from summer to fall," says Joanne B. Hans, IADA (Interior Arrangement and Design Association), of Mechanicville, N.Y. Best of all, she adds, "you get a whole new look for a few dollars."

The easiest seasonal decorating change involves using warmer palettes, heavier fabrics and dimmed lighting, says home-stager Jennie Norris of We Stage Sacramento. "As the weather cools, your whole focus switches to the indoors, and you'll find yourself spending more and more hours inside," she says. "We layer our bodies for warmth, and can layer our houses the same way," to make rooms cozy and inviting.

"Little things make big differences when it comes to keeping your interiors from stagnating," says Hans, whose firm, A Perfect Placement, specializes in one-day makeovers. "Accessories are where you can add pop each season by bringing fresh colors and textures into every room of the house." Here are nine easy decorating updates to rejuvenate your home for fall.

  1. Fall for Color
Out go the pastels, in comes a richer palette that takes inspiration from the changing of the leaves, the abundance of the harvest and the fire of the autumn sunset. "Try to bring in oranges, browns and bronzes," Hans says. "This year, we're seeing a lot of bright, bright red coming for the fall season, too." Introduce these tones in small ways, by replacing your peony-patterned placemats, or updating that old seashell-strewn shower curtain. If you're not keen on jack-o'-lantern orange, Hans says there are plenty of other orange shades to choose from. And if the paint on your walls has you committed to Easter egg pink, yellow or green, look for a fall variation: deep rose, mustard gold or gray olive.

  2. Update Your Sofa
If you have a beige or gray sofa, simply changing the accent pillows when it gets chilly will go a long way. Even if you have a jewel-toned couch, or minimalist all-white decor, you can mix things up by incorporating textures like jacquard and quilting or animal patterns like zebra striping, Hans says.

  3. Indulge in Plush Fabrics
"Cooler weather means not only warmer fabrics, but ones that are more opulent," Norris says, who suggests indulging in faux fur, chenille, mohair and velvet. Liberally sprinkle these touches anywhere, from the throw on your sofa to your bedding to your bath rug.

  4. Rotate Your Collections
Play switcharoo with the books on your coffee table, the vases on your mantelpiece and even the art on your wall. The change of the seasons is a great time to rotate objects that allow appropriate colors, themes or textures to come to the forefront.

  5. Change Your China
Think simple in the dining room, and focus on dressing up the table. Colored china is fun and playful, but Joanne B. Hans, IADA (Interior Arrangement and Design Association), of Mechanicville, N.Y., says "everyone should consider investing in fine white dinnerware. Then all you have to do to keep your place settings fresh is change out the charger, napkins, tablecloth or runner for each season." She suggests a fall table setting with a dark wicker charger, white dinner plate, an orange salad plate and red napkins.

  6. Warm Up Your Walkways
"As the weather cools, if your floors are totally bare, think about laying down some nice heavy pieces like oriental rugs," home-stager Jennie Norris of We Stage Sacramento suggests. "The same goes if your floors are covered with cotton, sisal or jute area rugs." Add more texture and color with materials like wool. An added bonus: warmer tootsies.

  7. Dim the Lights
Earlier sunsets may force you to switch to artificial lighting before dinnertime, but don't make the mistake of relying on glaring overheads. "You should invest in as much ambient lighting as possible," Norris says. If you already have plenty of lamps, consider changing the shades to deeper hues or richer materials. "You can even change a chandelier or put in rose-colored bulbs instead of white ones," says Joanne B. Hans, IADA, with A Perfect Placement.

  8. Strike a Match
Not only do candles provide a warming glow in chillier climes, but they serve as multifaceted decorative accents. "Candles come in all sizes and colors," Hans says, "and retailers do the work for you because they introduce new lines each season." Of course, scents change, too. Pretty soon we'll be saying goodbye to beachy, grassy aromas and hello to pine and cinnamon. Update your candlesticks, as well, from lighter materials like pewter to solid ones like black wood.

  9. Surround Yourself With Fall Scents
As your garden or window boxes fade, introduce evergreens and cold weather-tolerant flora like mums. Or stock up indoors with houseplants like orchids and succulents. "You can also decorate with earthy finds like twigs and acorns, or seasonal permanent botanicals, too," Hans says.

JoAnn Greco is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer who's written for Better Homes & Gardens, Romantic HomesandTravel and Leisure, among others.