Late summer and early fall are the ideal times to go through your wardrobe and kitchen cabinets selecting things for donation, says Donna Smallin, an organizing and cleaning guru whose most recent book is “A to Z Storage Solutions” (Storey, 2008).
If you wait any longer, she says, the holidays will arrive and you won’t get the donation done in time for the coming year’s tax return.
Be tough, Smallin says: Warm-weather items that you didn’t use this past spring and summer really should go.
Interior designer Mallory Mathison advises putting away the plastic and acrylic kitchen items you relied on all summer. Bringing out heavier pottery pieces and baskets will change the look of your kitchen, especially if you use them to display fall vegetables and fruits.
Sort through the remaining clutter that’s accumulated all summer and get things put away. Then, Smallin says, clean everything that normally gets ignored: from light switches and light fixtures to doorframes and kitchen cabinets.
For an added facelift, touch up the paint around doors and windows. And use a smudge-remover to banish fingerprints and evidence of a busy summer.
Rugs and floors should be cleaned if you’ve had a lot of indoor/outdoor traffic during the summer. Also be sure to clean summer bedding and linens before packing them away, Bechen says.
She advises storing summer items in large plastic storage bins. If you choose opaque ones, rather than clear, label them to identify the contents.
Last, you can clean your home with products that are scented, and bring in woodsy fragrances with sprays and candles.
Does all of this sound daunting?
“The thought of doing a whole big cleaning can be overwhelming,” Smallin says, so “each day pick one thing that inspires you” and tackle that task.
Colors and textures
There are many creative ways to bring in the warm, deep colors and cozy textures of fall, Mathison says.
Some are obvious: bed and bath linens, accent pillows, place mats, cloth napkins. But there are plenty of other opportunities for injecting fall colors.
“People think of slipcovers for summer, but you can slipcover a chair with chocolate brown velvet,” Mathison says, and bring a cozy fall look into the room.
She also loves “a pair of really worn-in, dark brown espresso leather pillows.”
Mathison advises clients to swap out white lampshades for warmer colored ones when summer ends.
“Say you have a black iron lamp,” she says. “Using a toffee-colored linen shade looks so different than a white silk shade. And it casts a warmer glow.”
She also brings a golden glow to picture frames and furniture using a product called “Rub n Buff,” which gives a warm, burnished look.
And Mathison loves layering rugs at this time of year.
“If you have something like a 9-by-12 seagrass rug,” she says, “layer a slightly smaller rug on top” that has deeper colors and a cozy texture.
You can also add warm throw blankets over a sofa or chair.
“Look to what’s happening in fashion” this time of year, Mathison says. “You’re layering your house in the same way to feel cozy … pulling out a cable-knit cashmere throw the same way you’ll pull out your sweaters.”
Small moves, big payoff
Most of us don’t have time to redecorate heavily each season, Bechen says. And we probably don’t have room to store a lot of seasonal items.
For maximum impact without too much work, she suggests focusing seasonal decorating on your front entryway and your dining table.
At the entryway, hang a fall wreath and add a seasonal welcome-mat, Bechen says. Both are available in many styles, from simple to elaborate, and can help put your personal stamp on the space.
To go a step further, Mathison says, swap out the fading summer plants and flowers in outdoor planters with fresh plants in fall colors.
For your dining table, add a tablecloth and centerpiece in warm reds, golds and browns. But keep the centerpiece relatively simple, warns Bechen – a basket of pumpkins and gourds, for instance. That way, you can keep it in place while the family eats.
Seasonal decorating, she says, doesn’t have to involve redecorating in every room. Better a handful of small but bold moves.
“If you scatter it all throughout the space, it doesn’t have the impact,” Bechen says. “You want it to pop.”