With Autumn now officially upon us, it’s time to start getting your home ready for the cooler months to come. From bringing nature indoors to layering up your lighting, here are a few tips to start you on your way…
Turn up the heat
If, like us, you’ve been holding off on putting the heating on just yet, it’s worth making sure things are running smoothly for when you do crank up the thermostat. If your boiler is due a service, book an engineer to come out now and give everything the once-over, and ensure any outside water pipes are lagged in case of any early autumnal freezes.
Lucky enough to have an open fireplace? Now’s the time to get it swept clean before you start lighting the first fires of the season and, if you’ve got the storage space, it’s worth looking for bulk amounts of firewood to see you through until spring – an outside log store is ideal, though cut logs also make charmingly rustic décor when stacked up in a fireside alcove.
Cave into candlelight
There’s something about the chilly evenings that sees us desperate to fill every room with gorgeous twinkly candlelight and hunker down with a hot chocolate and a good book. Give into the urge and treat yourself to a few new favourite votives, which you can mix and match with cheaper candles on pretty candle stands. Try getting creative and place some in jam jars or old china teacups for an eclectic – and economical – look.
If naked flames make you nervous, get the glow by stringing fairy lights around any key features in your room, such as above a window or around a mirror, or try out the increasingly realistic array of LED faux-candles which are now readily available in the shops.
Dress your windows
Bare windows can look wonderful in the summer months, offering an unobscured view over gardens and greenery, but aren’t the most practical choice as the evenings draw in. Blinds and shutters offer a smart, modern look and allow you to control the light coming in (as well as keep out the dark) but for chilly rooms, curtains may be your best bet.
Opt for a lined pair, complete with interlining between the main fabric and back lining if possible for a sumptuous look that keeps draughts out and heat in. Floor-length drops make a real style statement, but if your radiator sits underneath the window, be sure to tuck the curtains behind it when drawn to stop all the heat seeping out.
Make it cosy
Lush, chunky woollen or knitted blankets are the perfect sofa companion for chilly evenings. Style a couple over sofa arms, or chair backs, ready to pull over yourself when you’re cosying up in front of the telly.
If you have space, try placing a woven basket in the corner of your room and keep a stash of blankets tucked away in there, so you always have a few to hand. Complete the cosy feel by introducing some textured cushions in knitted and on-trend tweed fabrics, too.
Fill in with foliage
Fresh flowers from the garden might be on the wane, but with a little creative pruning (and shopping) your home can still feel full of flora and fauna. Rather than blooms, go for greenery instead – stalwarts like cut eucalyptus, for example, bring a wonderful scent into the home and have an elegant, structural appearance, with the added bonus that when they dry out they will still look equally as lovely for months to come.
Related: How To Grow Food & Foliage Indoors
Fun autumnal foliage like Chinese lanterns or gossypium hirsutum (“cotton” to you and me) provides a perfectly seasonal look for this time of year – arrange in tall vases for a striking centrepiece on a tabletop or mantel ledge. The humble houseplant – now firmly back in vogue – will quite literally add life to any lacklustre corners of the home: try ferns, succulents and that good old 1970’s classic, the cheese plant, for some easy-to-grow options.
Decorate with nature
There are plenty of examples of that classic, cosy autumnal palette prevalent in nature at this time of year, so try bringing some into your home as decorative touches. Not just for Hallowe’en, pumpkins and gourds can make fun styling props around the house – fill a large bowl with some, then add some nutmeg and cinnamon sticks for a deliciously earthy look and smell, or create more of a quirky statement by displaying them individually under bell cloches.
As well as the flowers and plants discussed above, arrangements of decorative twigs can look stunning in their starkness. Look out for gorgeous golden leaves, conkers and acorns when out on any walks at this time of year – all of which can be placed in bowls to give your rooms a rustic decorative accent.
Warm up with paint
If you have a room you’ve been considering redecorating, now could be the perfect time to try out a warm, earthy hue to add an extra layer of cosy to your space. Deep, rich hues are very much on-trend for autumn/inter 2015 and not without good reason: taking a cue from nature, they offer a rich, comforting backdrop that’s perfect for relaxing and entertaining in.
Related: Your DIY Guide To Room Ambience [infographic]
Berry tones can work brilliantly, especially when mixed together (a great rule of thumb is to take your cues from your fruit bowl, mixing deep damsons with cool blueberries and warming things up with a touch of raspberry, for example). Golden ochre tones mimic the lower-lying autumnal sun and can be thought of as a bold neutral if dark hues aren’t your thing.
Layer your lighting
Your lighting is going to be working much harder for you over the next two seasons, so ensure you’ve got the right balance for a practical yet cosy look. Any successful lighting scheme requires a mix of ambient, task and accent lighting, so assess your space to work out any areas you’re falling short.
Ceiling lights normally offer ambience, but layering in accent lights, in the form of table or floor lamps or wall-fitted up lighters, is what creates depth and visual warmth. Glass shades look contemporary and allow the light to fill the room, but for a cosier look, opt for fabric shades, even taking things up a notch with a pom pom or tasselled fringing around the shade’s base.
What will you be doing this autumn to make you home feel nice and cosy? Let us know in the comments below.