Has Seasonal Decorating Lost its Flavour?


As an interiors journalist, I’ve written my fair share of ’10 New Looks For Spring’ and ‘Cosy Autumn Ideas to Try Now’ features. The change from one season to another is a natural opportunity to take a step back and look at your home with fresh eyes. Colours appear differently under the bleached-out light of high summer than they do beneath the leaden clouds of winter. The throw that seemed so cosy and snug on a brisk autumn morning can seem heavy and dull on a springtime afternoon. So, this autumn, will I rush out to buy a whole new look for my living room, or swap my gauzy summer drapes for wool-lined curtains? Er, no. And not just because I have wooden shutters at my windows.

When shop windows and magazine covers shout about ‘Springtime Buys’, ‘Winter Warmers’ and ‘The Colour of the Season’, something often gets lost in translation – they forget the reason why we want a new look for our homes as the temperature shifts, the clocks change and the days lengthen or shorten. We don’t tick off the shortest day on the calendar then immediately go shopping for our home’s autumn/winter wardrobe, like Anna Wintour with a Heal’s account. Instead, we smell wood smoke in the air and imagine lighting a scented candle at home – one with a spicy, warming fragrance because the aroma of spring flowers just won’t cut it when the garden is covered with fallen leaves. We light the table lamps rather than the central pendant because they warm the corners of the room where winter shadows lurk. We choose a cable-knit cushion because it feels comforting when we snuggle down on the sofa, not because wool is the new silk, or linen, or whatever.

Grey Living Room

If you want to create a non-seasonal style that works all-year round, check out 10 Colour Mistakes you Should Not be Making before you redesign.

I’ve interviewed people who decorate their home differently for every season- who really do keep their winter bedding in a box in the attic and bring it out when the schools go back in September. I can celebrate their design geekiness, although I don’t have the storage, resources, or will to do the same.

I love the thrill of spotting a new trend, watching it unfurl across the high street and deciding whether to buy into it (industrial, yes; rustic, not so much). In the summer, I swap the pewter mirror on my living room mantelpiece with the white one in my bedroom because it looks brighter and fresher, especially with a white jug filled with peonies reflected in it. In the winter, I gravitate to my dark green stripe bed linen rather than the geometric orange and white because it looks warmer (the thread count is the same, so I know it’s an illusion).

Decorating our homes for the season can be joyful, indulgent, the ultimate boredom buster when we just can’t look at that washed-out rug a moment longer. It can be an excuse to paint the hallway a new colour, a chance to splurge on that crockery we’ve been lusting after, or embrace a trend we love. It can be a reason to move the furniture around and bring a favourite quilt out of storage.

I believe in changing our homes to suit our mood, the weather, the light, our whims and fancies. There are no commandments about decorating appropriately for the season. Hate the latest interiors fashion? Ignore it. Want to light a fire in summer? Go for it. Love furry throws, whatever the weather? So what! It’s your home: do what you like. ‘Tis the season to be yourself…

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