Every year there is that defining moment when we must acknowledge that summer has come to an end and it is officially autumn. For beachcombers, boaters, gardeners and even those who simply love the long days of sunlight and easier stride in a summer step this can be quite alarming. As we look toward shorter, colder days we are resigned to the fact that we will be spending more time indoors.
The best remedy for this malaise is to fluff up our nests and embrace the change of seasons. To set the tone for an autumnal home it is useful to consider not just color but texture, light and fragrance. When we satisfy all of our senses, spending more time inside can be as delightful as a summer day on the patio. The good news is that this can be achieved with minimal effort and almost no cost while still having substantial impact.
Autumn colors are naturally warm and inviting. Golden yellows, saturated oranges and chocolate browns replace the crisp cool green on foliage. My first "rite of passage" between summer and fall each September is to replace the leggy, overgrown summer flowers in my outdoor pots with big, fluffy mums and purple cabbage. Rather than watching the demise of the geraniums we are instead reminded that there is still warm and robust floral growth outside. This dramatic change in color palette is an inviting adornment to a front entry and it creates the framework for the changes in interior decor as well.
Once inside, find a favorite bowl or basket as the base for a table or kitchen island centerpiece. A ceramic piece with saturated color or a chunky rustic basket can lend a lot of warmth and texture. Load it with a variety of apples, perhaps ones you and your family have picked locally on a weekend outing. You may also consider a casual tablecloth or runner beneath. The addition of some draped fabric can suggest a warmer space. For fun, a quirky vintage jar can be loaded up with candy corn for another pop of color on your countertop. Then pull the cozy, delightfully tactile chenille throw out of the closet where it has been waiting since May and place it back on the sofa.
Next, you can collect candlesticks from around the house and group them together on the mantel, perhaps with a mirror behind them, to create almost a spontaneous chandelier of warm, glowing light as afternoons get shorter and evenings start earlier. Candles in different colors, scented with a complex woody or spiced note add yet another layer of comforting warmth to the environment you have created. If you don't have the luxury of a mantel a console table, high chest or shelf will also do the trick. In fact, a grouping of candle light can make a great substitute for a fire in the absent fireplace.
The reality is that this entire project can take less than an afternoon but the result will last for several months. Focus on things already in your home, especially ones with an abundance of soft texture or a rich color palette. In a home with a more modern aesthetic concentrate more on texture than the introduction of potentially misplaced color. Plush towels, a vase or pitcher to hold sunflowers on a side table, a quilt at the foot of a bed can all add a lot to the party. With these simple additions the transformation will be both significant and satisfying. At least until snow is forecasted.