By Ruthanne Johnson
Of all the seasons, fall is perhaps the most nostalgic. Crisp autumn leaves, chunky sweaters, butternut soups and waning daylight all add up to warm coziness. Wouldn’t it be nice to bottle it into a soul-southing liquid you could spritz yourself with now and then?
But capturing fall’s essence is not as hard as you think. By using your senses and imagination, you can easily transform your home into a space that exudes all of the season’s comforting aspects. To help stir your creative juices, we’ve gathered a few ideas to get you started. Even doing the simple ones will help you savor autumn’s treasures before winter sets in.
See & Find Fall
Home décor is an easy way to immerse yourself in autumn. Seasonal pieces might be as simple as displaying a colorful bowl of apples, squashes or pinecones. Replace couch pillows with new ones that have warming shades of red, yellow, orange and green. One simple way to bring fall inside is to take a walk outside with a pair of gardening shears. Many plants shine in fall, including burning bush, chrysanthemums, Indian ricegrass, rabbitbrush, foxtail, hawthorn berries, amaranth and horsetail.
Make attractive bundles by tying clippings together with decorative ribbon or placing them in a glass container. You can also collect wild seeds to display in ornamental trays, accompanied by handmade identification tags. Just before the first snow, scruff up your garden dirt and cast the seeds in locations where you want them to grow. Add a layer of leaf litter over the seeds to protect them from critters and weather.
Eau de Autumn
Burn naturally scented candles with aromas like clove, vanilla, pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange and frankincense. You can also mix up a homemade air spritzer with water and your favorite essential oils, or simmer a pot of water with cinnamon sticks and cloves on the stove.
Homemade potpourri is a fun fall project; simply collect vegetation like seed pods, bark and small pinecones. Make sure the items are bug-free before placing them in an airtight container along with your favorite essential oils and a fixative such as orris root. Keep the mixture in the closed container for a few weeks to allow the scent to penetrate the plant material, stirring daily. Place the potpourri in a centerpiece bowl or break it into small pieces and place it inside muslin bags for good-smelling drawers and closets.
Fill your kitchen with autumn’s tastes by baking fall bread with zucchini, pumpkin, cranberries and walnuts. Display the vibrant colors of canned tomatoes, carrots, asparagus, beets, string beans and peaches in decorative glass jars. Home-canned foods are tasty additions to winter dishes and also make great holiday gifts. Dry homegrown herbs in a dehydrator or oven, crumble the leaves by hand and store them in repurposed spice jars for winter use.
Don’t forget about your pets. If you have cats, grow catmint or catnip inside in pots. Dehydrate the leaves for homemade cat toys by filling little cloth squares with dried catmint and sewing them closed. Bake your dog homemade biscuits using oatmeal, pumpkin, apple and/or yams (add peanut butter and/or cheese, if you really want to spoil your pet), and spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Toss in chopped fresh parsley to freshen your pet’s breath.
Layering blankets on furniture is akin to nature’s blanket of leaves that prevents plants from freezing in wintertime. Use textured cable knits, fluffy fleeces and faux furs, as well as fabrics with plaids and other fall designs to cozy up your home on cool fall nights. Add fall movies to your viewing docket, like When Harry Met Sally and Practical Magic. Place playing cards and board games in accessible places, since cooler weather typically means more time indoors.
Autumn is the perfect time to swap out framed family photos with pictures from former fall holidays and activities. Not only does this give you a break from looking at the same old photos, it perks up your home’s seasonal interest.