Changing Seasons, Changing Decor

By Nancy Moffett

Much as I hate to see summer come to an end, each new season stirs its own emotions. As the days grow shorter and the nights turn cool, I have the urge to get out the fuzzy throws, replace summer accessories with candles and dark throw pillows and light the pilot on the gas fireplace. Fall is the perfect time to spruce up your home. Look at the walls, the furniture, the windows and décor with an eye to making your home a cozy retreat for the coming cold months.

Color and Texture

Shift accessory colors from summer light to dark and rich, recommends Carol Livingston, designer for Hendrixson’s Furniture. “This involves bringing the outside colors of fall into your home. By doing so, you need not think of sheltering yourself from the seasonal change, but of embracing and reflecting it in your décor,” she says.

Gail Gray, owner of Gail Gray Home Furnishings and Design, suggests changing out throw pillows for new ones in velvet or wool and replacing sheer window treatments with draperies in heavier, darker fabrics. And, Diane Bieri  of Ethan Allen Design Center suggests, if you have the funds, make a complete seasonal décor change by ordering custom slip covers for upholstered furniture. Even dining chairs can be given new life with slip covers in warm tones.

“Even if art is not your thing, rearranging what you have on the walls will help give your home a new spark,” says Bieri. If art is your thing, add wall décor in warm colors. “Remember that wall décor includes framed pictures, of course; but think about hanging your favorite things: hats to make a special display, tools (kitchen or garden),  needlework, quilts, samplers, rugs, etc.”


Treat yourself to a new throw and a special pillow just for you and your space, suggests Bieri. “Throws are perennially popular but we have a tendency to hold onto them well past their prime. If it is frayed in any way, it is time to replace it. Tattered things in fall and winter make us feel less than we are.”

Bieri also suggests adding more layers to your bed and perhaps replacing a worn mattress and box spring. “Snuggling into a wonderful bed is the loveliest luxury of being a grown-up.” If a new mattress/foundation isn’t needed, add more layers to the top of the bed by buying a special comforter and dressing the bed differently than you do in spring and summer. “Add some pillows and an additional throw for just one part of your body that you like to keep particularly warm,” she suggests.

Put an interesting little table next to your favorite chair. “It could be of a surprisingly different wood species, hand-painted, oddly shaped — something totally unexpected that makes you smile each time you see it,” says Bieri.


With days getting darker earlier, increase the number of light sources by adding decorative lamps. Task lighting is essential for close work like reading, needlework, crossword or jigsaw puzzles. “General lighting allows for the room to feel larger and helps remove darkened areas. Accent lighting (picture lights, ceiling spotlights, etc.) gives ‘punch’ to special pieces in the room,” according to Bieri. And, there should be a minimum of five light sources in every room for balance, not including light from the windows.

For a warm, inviting feeling in any room, always use dimmer switches on every chandelier and sconce, including the powder room, suggests Gray. “Unless you need bright light for working or reading, always use low wattage, e.g. 60 watts, in lamps or three-way bulbs to adjust the light for task or mood lighting,” she explains.


After summer’s emphasis on exterior living space, fall is a good time to be thinking about finishing interior projects in anticipation of the holidays. “This is not merely a shift in color schemes to reflect the season, but also a shift in priorities toward parties and events held inside the home,” says Livingston.

Donna Roth, owner of D&R Country Designs agrees. “Fall is a great time to order a new dining room set to prepare for family and friends who will be visiting and enjoying meals over the holidays,” she says. D&R builds custom furniture such as a beautiful farm table with bread board ends to make room for extra people at your table.

She also suggests adding a custom entertainment center for your flat screen television, or a fireplace surround with your flat screen above it as the focal point of the room on cozy fall nights. Other suggestions include built-in bookcases for a masculine den or a computer desk for the home office. And, if you want to go all-out, add a custom bar, pub tables and bar stools to the family room to make it more welcoming for wintertime guests.


Michelle Olson of M Designs suggests using natural elements to play up the season both inside and outside your home. Corns, hay bales, gourds and artfully arranged pumpkins create a welcoming milieu by the entrance. No scarecrows, though; too cliché. Gather branches and put them in large flowerpots for height outside. Natural grasses work as well.

Inside, place branches across the mantel, grapevines over door frames, Olson advises. “Rustic placemats, cloths and napkins combined with leaf plates and platters will turn a dining room table into a warm statement.” Her recent contributions to the SOTA Designer House included a rustic mantelpiece arrangement. Gray agrees. “Replace summer flowers in vases with tall colorful branches from the garden. Nothing says fall like the autumn harvest, real or faux.

Finally, add fragrances of the season using candles, potpourri or simmering pots — cinnamon, apple, black cherry, balsam, pumpkin, etc., Bieri says. And, use the music you love to create the backgrounds that make you feel warm all over.

Nancy Moffett, a former marketing and public relations professional, has been a writer and editor for Rodale, Inc. She has been writing the “Home” department for Lehigh Valley Marketplace for the past two years and enjoys discovering new ways to spruce up her home.

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