Though it always requires skill, decorating for most seasons is pretty straightforward. In the spring, you lighten things up; in the winter, you go cozy and holiday-themed. Fall, on the other hand, is trickier. Sure, it may not seem that way to some — after all, you can just throw some orange pumpkins around your house and call it a day. But if you want to be a little more nuanced in your autumnal aesthetic, some fall decorating tips from the pros may be in order to help you nail the right balance between appropriately seasonal and verging on cheesy.
To be clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with cornstalks, fall sayings, and gourd prints on every surface of your home. If that’s your vibe, you do you! But if you’re more into, say, a hint of the season than a full takeover, well, that’s not quite as simple.
However, creating a sophisticated fall space can certainly be done. As Alex Epstein, Lead Designer at Purple Cherry Architects, tells TZR, “One does not need to add a cascade of autumnal leaves to their mantle for a space to feel fall-inspired.” Rather, incorporating the right colors, prints, and textures in subtle ways can go a long way in demonstrating the time of year — without straying from your style. Here, Epstein and more designers break down the details.
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Warm Up Your Palette
One surefire way to add a fall feel to your space, say designers, is to add some warmth to your palette. According to Heather Goerzen, Havenly Design Editor, that doesn’t have to mean the typical yellow and orange. Rather, she says, “look to more elevated tones like cognac, burnt honey, deep gold, rich burgundies, and trending earth browns.” Melissa Wagner, Havenly Lead Designer, agrees. According to her, you should avoid those “true” versions of traditional hues like red. “Instead, bring in warm, subdued ambers, caramels, burgundies, and cocoa tones,” she explains. “Even a splash of sage green for added contrast can work magic amongst a deeper, soulful color palette.”
Want to stray even further from the norm? Designer Jennifer Hunter says to avoid your typical autumnal color scheme (i.e. lots of oranges and greens) completely. “Instead, try incorporating rich jewel tones for a more sophisticated fall look,” she says.
Layer In Textures
As Hunter explains, a great way to say “fall” in an elevated way is to add warmth through layers, textures, and materials. Others agree. Goerzen notes that wool, cable knits, shearlings, bouclé, and faux furs are great for imbuing chic coziness, and Cristina Lehman of C.LehmanHome says she loves draping chunky throw blankets over sofas or accent chairs. Wagner expands even further on this. “Iron, brass, pottery, woven textiles and baskets, wool, and cashmere can be easy substitutes for silvers, cottons, linens, and lighter materials that you’d use in spring and summer,” she shares.
Choose Timeless Patterns
There are tons of options out there when it comes to fall textiles — many of which are covered in obvious autumnal themes. But if you’re looking to avoid that, Goerzen says to focus instead on timeless patterns, which will provide a sophisticated effect. According to her, you should look for options that “that immediately cue fall, like ginghams, plaids, and buffalo check. Just like the official autumn wardrobe, these prints bring a chic, cozy, and seasonal twist to any space.”
Swap Out Your Scents
While it might not seem like it’s part of your decor, scent can actually have a huge impact on the vibe of your space — and most definitely infuse a fall feel. Lehman tells TZR that fall-scented candles (with earthier scents, cinnamons, etc.) are “a big and easy way to transition a home from season to season.” And she’s not the only one who thinks so. “Every year, I change my candle and diffuser scents to match the mood of the changing seasons; it instantly transforms the atmosphere of the space,” shares Epstein.
But it’s not just about which scents you choose when it comes to candles. Goerzen says to “look for more elevated glass jars in rich hues like ambers and golds” so that they also enhance the decor. And Lehman explains that with candles (as well as any other seasonal swaps), you shouldn’t just relegate them to one spot. “It's great to throw these elements across various spaces in a home to give the full effect — not just the common living areas but in the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms!” she says.
If there’s one fall decorating tip you should know, it’s to utilize nature. According to Wagner, putting an organic twist on your decor will “lead to more elevated elements that feel chic and timeless, versus ubiquitous and cliché.” And nearly every designer TZR spoke to recommended incorporating elements of the outdoors in some way.
Wagner says that “vases of pear branches and a porch covered in potted mums are lovely and simple gestures for fall decor.” Epstein likes a good boxwood wreath for the front door, “as they can transition between all seasons with the quick switch of a ribbon.” (For fall, she’ll use velvet or burlap.) Both Hunter and Lehman share that they often decorate with branches. “For fall I love utilizing big statement plants for an entryway or kitchen island,” says Lehman. Large pieces with fall-colored leaves, she continues, can make a big impact. And finally, Goerzen notes that produce is a designer go-to for styling. “Arrange in rustic wooden bowls in the kitchen for a ‘fresh harvest-picked’ aesthetic, or even scatter along your dining table for an organic centerpiece moment,” she says.