Though some people thrive in the summer, others look forward to the season of sweater weather, pumpkin spice and apple-everything, and the joys of adding autumn decor and textures to every corner of their space.
Luckily, since fall has a massive fan base, there are many clever and classy ways to incorporate pumpkins, candles, chunky knits, dried flowers and wreaths into your indoor and living areas. The key is to keep it simple by choosing pieces that ooze the vibe you’re going for without cluttering up your living room, front door and dining room table.
From the inside out, here’s our ultimate guide to fall decorating, straight from design experts who have mastered the perfect balance.
Think outdoor flowers are only for summer? Think again, says Rainey Richardson, the principal of Rainey Richardson Interiors. She recommends planting chrysanthemums, a hearty, flowering plant that flourishes in the fall. “Choose the yellow, orange, red or even purple colorway and plant in a large pot,” she says. “With little care, these plants should last through the fall season and make your porch inviting.”
If you want to spruce up your home with a nod to fall but you’re strapped for time, an autumn-inspired wreath will add character to your front door. Depending on your style, Richardson says, you can keep it simple with a twist or swag of fall leaves or go lavish, with various textures, dried flowers and even a bow made of burlap.
The spookiest season of the year requires some mood lighting — even if you focus more on an ambient vibe than a scary one, says Cynthia Montoya, lead designer and founder of Urban Gypsy: Styled. Rather than the super-bright bulbs you usually flick on, consider a dimmable option or one that changes color with Wi-Fi or using Alexa. You can also add some flare with an outdoor lantern or two that gives you the same functionality.
Whether you go team pumpkin or choose a clever fall-inspired saying, a seasonal doormat goes a long way in updating your front door. In addition to keeping up with your overall theme, Montoya says, it also keeps your porch fresh and festive.
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Richardson says chargers are a quick and easy way to create a fall feel on your table. “Choose natural wicker or even plastic chargers in a wonderful fall color and put them under your regular dinner plates to bring warmth and weight to the table,” she recommends.
Etsy can be a great place to find fresh home decor like fun candles and holders, especially if you’re tiring of what you’re seeing at bigger stores. As Richardson says, this season is the perfect time to gather all your candle holders and run them down the center of your table. “Different types and heights and types of holders will add more interest,” she continues. “Fill with varying heights of colorful fall flowers to add both color and ambiance to your tabletop.”
One of the biggest design trends of 2021 has been bringing natural elements and textures into your home, and fall provides ample opportunity to experiment, Montoya says.
“Clinging to nature, comfort and earth tones, we are using fresh and dried greenery and florals to add natural pops of seasonal color throughout the home and especially as centerpieces in artisanal pottery,” she says.
To pull this off, she recommends adding handwoven cotton linens to your table medley as your first layer. Then, pair with round leather placemats and top off with a rich marble or wood tray to set your vase on.
“To create a focal point, lean a large mirror on your mantle and layer a framed photo of friends or family in front of the mirror to the right or left to make it off-center,” Richardson recommends. This brings attention to the heart (aka the hearth) of your space.
Dried florals are commonly found in fall-inspired bouquets and wreaths, but they can stand just as strong on their own. Richardson recommends finding an old jar or favorite vase and placing it on one end of the mantle. Then, fill it with dried fall florals and use ribbon in fall colors to add a decorative bow around the container to finish the space.
Montoya says this season is all about oversized greenery. You can do this with a big garland that wraps around your mantel. Or, you can collect vases that mix ceramic, terra cotta and woven rattan to fill with dried or fresh flowers. “Seasonal colors can have a big impact with lots of colors, or you can keep fall neutral with dried okra, wheat and pampas branches,” she adds.
As with every season, Richardson says, one of the best ways to evoke the feeling of fall in your home is through smell. “Choose pumpkin spice, clove or cinnamon candles and light them in your family room. Lighting more than one will fill the whole home with the unmistakable fragrance of fall,” she says.
And if you want to go the extra mile, try this festive tealight holder, which includes an LED tealight and creates an orange, toasty ambiance.
Your couch might already have a throw pillow or two, but now is the time to make it seasonally appropriate. Swap out your everyday ones for orange, red, brown, yellow, deep green and other fall colors. Have fun with textures and sizes, too, since they’ll all make your autumn nap more comfortable, Richardson adds.
Grab a chunky knit blanket in olive, clay or putty colors to continue incorporating those fall tones into your current decor, recommends Montoya.
“For an enhanced look, finish with rich cotton or velvet curtains in copper and dusty rose tones to really lean into those fall and winter months and give your home the warm cozy vibe you want,” she adds.
Nothing says fall like a pile of pumpkins. And the options are endless — from real to faux, colorful or classic orange, textured or smooth. Have fun with this part of decorating and experiment with different groupings. “Pile the pumpkins by a tree, along a sidewalk, or use bales of hay to provide a varying level of display,” Richardson says.
Richardson recommends placing a bench in your front or back yard and adding some outdoor pillows in fall colors or with cute sayings like “Hello Fall” or “Happy Fall Y’all.”
“If the bench is covered, you can drape a cozy blanket over the back to make it even more inviting,” she adds.
Depending on what zip code you call home, you may need to add a little fire to your backyard if you want to comfortably spend time outdoors. Montoya says you can easily do this with decorative freestanding heaters and/or free-standing fireplaces featured on the patio or around the yard.
“Either way, be sure your outdoor furniture is comfortably positioned around it so you can enjoy the yard while staying warm,” she adds.