Fall in Love with Autumn
For those of us living in the Midwest, relinquishing the soft spring hues and summer colors in our homes as well as all opportunities to dine under star-pocked skies can be a heartbreaker. The transition to autumn, however, doesn’t mean the love affair with nature’s influence in our home décor has to end.
In my hometown of Minneapolis, various maple trees take on a pink cast against gray skies. Skeletal constructions of tangled bittersweet vines brace themselves for the harsh edges of winter. Deciduous trees in my garden start dropping leaves and a direct path for strong light enters my living space. Inspiration ensues.
Follow the Sun
Wherever you call home, natural light during the cooler months can be one of your most abundant resources to make your fall décor a gentler shift from season to season. I trigger my autumnal ideas by looking at my garden space during late summer through the windows or French doors in rooms in which we spend most of our time. You can do the same as you invite your outdoor view inside as an evolving, natural work of art that offers various textures, colors and moods for fall elegance.
Play with shadows. A west-facing window in our study for example, has a permanent hand-forged metal guard created by a local artist who designed the piece with a garden theme. A simple linen shade allows for privacy while providing a theatrical and stunning puppetry as the evening sets. You can get a similar effect and create your own silhouette by framing the exterior edge of a window with grapevine or other natural and flexible garland. Your exterior décor will be seasonal while producing interior shadows. Follow the sun and try a few areas of your home where you can get the maximum shadow play.
Room with a View
The optimal amount of light to capture inside your home will depend on your window treatments. During my time in France as an exchange student, the homes in which I lived used minimal to no window treatments. This decorating device inspired me to experiment by taking down unnecessary drapes or curtains from a few windows facing my French-inspired garden. Bare windows minimize the distractions from heavy drapery and put a new focus on the beauty of the outdoors instead.
If your exterior landscape is not as bucolic as a French style garden, then consider a dark space of your house that you’d like to animate, and see what happens when you minimize the window treatments. Experiment with moveable furniture. Relocate, for example, a textured table next to a bare window and place a fresh bouquet of flowers in a weathered urn. Mix twigs, pinecones, fall flora and even fossilized seashells with a tinge of pink to create a dramatic juxtaposition of textures and seasonal expectations.
Think outside of the Season
It may be autumn outside but inside, you can buy a little more time to enjoy your spring and summer vibes. Play with pastels such as pink, aqua or gold. Toss a few pink pillows or a throw on a settee. Add a stack of vintage books in soft colors on your mantle or table and combine them with the variegated grays of dropped antlers or white birch branches. Consider bleached pinecones, white Baby Boo pumpkins or bleached Manzanita branches. Peruse a good garden center to see, smell and feel other possible textures that you can introduce into your decorating repertoire.
One of my favorite combinations to create a romantic feeling are the rough, irregular edges of branches, twigs and gourds with the soft spill of linens, gauze, tulle and fresh flowers. If purchasing fresh flowers is not within your budget, invest in a small collection of high quality “forever flowers” in soft colors of your choice. Incorporating willow or dried Lunaria with an arrangement of flower reproductions can lead to more experimentation until you get the feel you want. Squeeze in a copious amount of dried Baby’s Breath or a few rose bouquets in an old zinc bucket to produce a profusion of soft and course textures, a winning combination for ambiance.
Let there be Delight
Candlelight is a classic addition to any home. Relaxing in the evenings after an active day when it’s easy to doze off poses some safety issues, however, there are safer options to choose from. Waxed battery candles are now available and are a good authentic looking alternative for a worry-free atmosphere. Place a few battery tapers on a timer on your mantel or in a garden lantern hanging from a tree in your line of sight. If space allows, hang a chandelier in an enclosed patio, deck or sunroom and replace regular bulbs with low-wattage flicker bulbs. You can also increase your exterior curb appeal by adorning interior window sills with battery tapers that will twinkle into the late hours, creating a welcoming entry into your romantic home for the inevitable but inspirational season of autumn.
Anita Pelayo Rivera is a photographer, teacher, writer and romantic decor enthusiast. She shares her love of words, art, florals and the french language on her blog: Castles Crowns and Cottages and on Instagram.