South County Fall Home & Garden

Inspiration, budget-friendly advice, and Rhode Island resources for transitioning your abode for autumn from DIY blogger Carli Alves

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Days are shorter, nights are cooler, and the autumn breeze is a welcome reprieve from the steaming hot summer we had. It’s no secret the transition from summer to fall in New England is a magical time with lots to see and do – with the abundance of fall fests, pumpkin patches, apple orchards ripe for the harvest, and vibrant foliage – so, why not bring a touch of that harvest-time goodness into your home to enjoy this season? Whether creating a warm welcome at the front door, incorporating cozy textures into your favorite gathering spot, or foraging to bring nature indoors, we’re sharing some tips to help get your home feeling festive.

First Impressions

Five steps to creating a welcoming entrance to enjoy all season long

The front door is the first thing guests see when they visit your home, so it’s important it gives a warm welcome. However, decorating your entrance seasonally can add up, so here are some tried-and-true tips to create an inviting spot on a shoestring.

  1. Layer Doormats

Layering doormats is a very trendy look that adds texture and interest to your front door. This works especially well when you choose a patterned low-pile rug (like a weather-resistant outdoor rug) underneath a more functional, but smaller coir doormat – those mats with brown fibers made from coconut husks. To create a look that fits the scale of your front door, the bottom doormat should measure slightly larger than the width of your door, while the top doormat should be about the size of your door. 

  1. Fill Planters

As summer turns to fall, potted plants like ferns, coleus, and hydrangeas still have quite a bit of life left in them, so don’t throw them out! By utilizing these plants to transition your decor, you can save money and you won’t have to start from scratch. In general, having some good-sized planters to flank the door is a great start. Filling in gaps with one or two planters at staggering heights creates a balanced look for a centered doorway. If there's only room for planters on one side of your door, one to three other planters in varying heights should do the job. Plants to consider incorporating into your pots: chrysanthemums, stonecrop, cone flowers, sweet potato vine, croton plants, ornamental cabbage/kale, and/or grasses that add texture and color.

  1. Add Pumpkins

When it comes to decorating with pumpkins outside, consider opting for real instead of faux, and support local farms while you’re at it. While faux pumpkins and florals are tempting, they can be difficult to store and often fade over time. If you’re looking to get the abundant look on your front steps, combining both orange pumpkins and one or two specialty heirloom pumpkins and gourds is a great way to get the look without breaking the bank. If you’re not a fan of orange, bust out the paint and get your creative juices flowing to customize pumpkins to the palette of your liking. The addition of jack-o-lanterns will add some fun and a magic glow at night.

  1. Create a Glow

Use lanterns, glass votives, or hurricanes in different sizes by your front door to add some ambience. Battery-operated candles or twinkle lights with automatic timers are great for carefree convenience. Outdoor wall sconces can be updated with warm-toned, flickering, or vintage-styled bulbs to coincide with the season.

  1. Adorn the Door

Once that cool fall breeze hits the front door, who can resist pulling out the autumn wreaths? Wreaths are a great way to welcome guests to your home and add festive curb appeal. A classic grapevine wreath is a great option for fall; while striking left plain, it can also serve as an excellent base for adding DIY touches like sprigs, leaves, and pinecones. If doing it yourself is not your thing, there are many options available to add personality to your door. 

 

Wreath Alternatives

There are so many ways to decorate a front door beyond a wreath. Consider a hanging basket filled with branches, dried hydrangeas, or fresh mums, replacing the water and foliage as needed. Try an autumn sign or flag, leafy swags, pine cones hanging from twine – the possibilities are endless.

The Season of the Switch

Transitioning to fall can be as simple as swapping textures, colors, and scents

Autumn inspiration can be found almost anywhere – even right inside your own home. It’s always a great idea to shop your house when looking to refresh for the season because a majority of what you need to create an awesome autumn vignette, you probably already have on hand. Through cozy textures, warm colors, and spicy scents, you can decorate a home full of warmth and charm.

One of the easiest ways to add coziness when transitioning from summer to fall is to swap out your textiles. Set aside your linen, seersucker, and chambray, and bring out the throw pillows and blankets made from soft velvet, nubby boucle, warm flannels, or chunky wool. Incorporating these textures easily adds interest and warmth to the home both physically and visually. Blankets can be stuffed into baskets, draped over the arms of chairs, layered over a ladder, or nestled in the corner of a sofa or window seat, all resulting in an effortlessly comfortable and inviting look.

Create the ultimate autumn season by assembling vignettes with a variety of items. Surfaces like coffee tables, mantels, and shelves are perfect for stacks of faded antique books, rustic or hobnail glass vases stuffed with dried hydrangeas, and patinaed brass candlesticks. Fashion texture-rich displays by showcasing collections of baskets, wreaths, wooden trays. Pot leafy plants in planters made of hammered copper or fluted iron urns to add in architectural elements that evoke the feel just outside the window.

When choosing autumnal hues to incorporate into your decor, what better place to draw inspiration from than the outdoors? In the fall, Mother Nature takes the opportunity to show off with her spectacle of colors, from muted earth tones – like burnt umber and terracotta – to more vibrant colors like violet, yellow, and chartreuse. Autumn decor doesn’t need to be limited to just orange, red, and brown; instead, focus on the tints and tones from nature that speak most to you. 

Can we even talk about fall without bringing up pumpkin spice? People either love it or hate it, but if it’s not your favorite scent, there are lots of others that can help imbue those fall feels. Candles, incense, and scent blends for diffusers with notes of vanilla, bergamot, ginger, and clove are all wonderful choices. Be on the lookout for candles with crackling wood wicks as they not only offer a cleaner burn, but also an experience reminiscent of sitting in front of a fire. Cinnamon-scented pinecones, potpourri, and simmering pots of water with ingredients like citrus peels, apple skins, whole cloves, and more fill spaces with the smells of the season.

Foraged Decor

Get the natural living look by heading outside in search of decorative accents

Creating displays in your home using natural elements is a budget-friendly and easy way to decorate for the season: it’s as simple as taking a stroll in your yard! Think of it as a grown-up scavenger hunt. Branch clippings, pinecones, bittersweet vines, acorns, leaves, and even logs are perfect items to forage for fall decor, and the best part is you can let your creativity run wild. 

Snip colorful foliage to create a sculptural statement centerpiece on a table. Bittersweet vines have a beautiful orange color, and look stunning in vases, wrapped around a wreath, or draped along a mantel. Place foraged (and debugged, see call-out) pinecones or fresh apples or pears in a bowl to create functional decor. Tuck acorns and pinecones here and there on shelves or display cases as a simple addition to your everyday decor. Press and frame leaves that have turned to create a unique and stunning gallery wall, the only limit is your imagination. 

If you don’t want to venture into the wild, dried florals are a great option and have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. From pampas grass to baby's breath, you can purchase beautiful dried items in a variety of textures and colors to fill vases and help you to usher in the season. Clustering a mix of store-bought mini pumpkins and gourds is a great way to finish off the look.

CALL OUT

Pine Cone Prep

To avoid living creatures and sticky situations in your displays, place freshly gathered pine cones on a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour, checking often, to rid them of critters and harden sticky sap.

CALL-OUT

NOTE FOR ART - THIS COULD BE A CUTE SPOT FOR CLIP ART?

Tools & Supplies

These handy essentials make your scavenger hunt as trouble-free as possible. Also prep with referring to a plant identifier guide or app to avoid bringing any potentially poisonous plants into your home

Gardening gloves

Tote bag or basket

Pocket snips, scissors, or clippers

Sturdy closed-toe footwear

SIDEBAR

RHODY RESOURCES

A sampling of local businesses ready with goods and inspiration for your fall decorating fun.

Farm Fresh

Clark Farms, South Kingstown 

The Farmer’s Daughter, South Kingstown

Manfredi Farms, Westerly 

Pasquale Farms, Richmond

Quonnie Farms, Charlestown (a former Rhody Gem)

Sunset Farms, Narragansett

Local Accents

AccidentalFarmGirlCo.com, Exeter

Honey Gallery, North Kingstown

Lohibition, Westerly

Peter Pots Pottery, West Kingston

Small Axe Productions at the Fantastic Umbrella Factory, Charlestown

Verdigris Architects, Charlestown

About Carli Alves

Carli Alves is the founder of Made by Carli, a blog where she shares her passion for home decor, DIY, and interior design. Her home has been featured in Yankee, and Alves has been named one of 102 Black Designers, Crafters, Makers, and More to Follow on Instagram Now by Country Living. She has also been a presenter at Haven Conference. Find her at FWMadebyCarli.com; @madebycarli 

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