The essence of autumn is transition. Light linens get folded away and cozy flannels are unpacked as the spicy scents of apples and fallen leaves linger in the air. What better way to welcome the sweater season than by swapping summer's pastel blooms for doorstep decor that reflects the perfect chaos of fall's rich colors?
"You want to bring nature into your design," says Patti Johnston, interior designer at Patti Johnston Designs in Centerport. "Whatever nature's doing is what you want to bring to your doorstep."
This means using rich fall colors such as deep reds, earthy browns, vibrant oranges and yellow, but it can also mean taking advantage of seasonal materials.
Gail Tarasoff-Sutton, designer at Anne Tarasoff Interiors in Manhasset, suggests using nonedible kale, peppers and corn plants to highlight the harvest feel of cooler months. She also suggests more traditional items. "Mums, cabbage plants, pumpkins and colorful foliage are always pretty," says Tarasoff-Sutton. "Fall is all about changing leaves, and it can be a very vibrant time of year."
Practical concerns should be taken into account, too. "As long as you've got some sort of protected entryway, you're not really limited with your decor," says Liz Cordeiro, owner of Liz Cordeiro Designs in Huntington. "But it's always good to keep in mind that an unexpected weather event could ruin something valuable."
At this brick Colonial in Brookville, Manhasset decorator Gail Tarasoff-Sutton worked with Jamie Charlton of Artistry in Flowers in Roslyn Heights to create a classic fall doorstep design. "We wanted to make the design as traditional as we could," says Tarasoff-Sutton. "Our inspiration was a cross between edible-looking fall plants like peppers, kale, corn and cabbage, and lots of burnt oranges and yellows to reflect the color of the fall leaves."
Of course, no classic fall doorstep is complete without a pumpkin or two. "We decided to use pumpkins resting on their sides, which is how they're grown," says Charlton, whose company provided all the materials. "I also picked up some nonedible corn, and Gail and I went for a very traditional approach, with a garland around the door."
Taking cues from her own childhood, Centerport decorator Patti Johnston gathered an unusual combination of resources to highlight the fall season without using some of the more conventional autumn tropes. "I'm from the deep South, and where I come from, fall brings memories of the beginning of hunting season," Johnston. "I always hated that, because the deer are so beautiful. But I love the idea of using a fake mounted ram's head," which she bought at HomeGoods in Commack.
Johnston incorporated cotton stems and green moss, from Michaels arts and crafts store, and used her own white planters and refinished picture frame to help the brightly colored (nonedible) berries pop. "I like the tangerine orange color for the berries, rather than muddy, rusty oranges," says Johnston. "The bright colors keep everything fresher."
Just because fall brings with it the promise of family holidays and comfort food doesn't mean that fall decor has to be strictly traditional. In fact, a bit of modern doorstep design can be just the thing to add flair to an otherwise established routine. "I relied on my team at Main Street Nursery in Huntington to create something more unique this year to flank my entryway," says Huntington decorator Liz Cordeiro.
For the sleek design on her own front doorstep in Huntington, she chose tall, monochromatic containers and eliminated mums altogether. "I love fresh plantings every season, and love what fall has to offer," she says. "But I also try to vary my style each year. This year, I decided to create something very clean." She used kale, decorative peppers in multiple colors, tall millet grass and rusted bronze spheres from Main Street Nursery planted in zinc-look recycled plastic planters from Home Depot.
Door looking dingy? Replace rusty address digits with a set of new numbers designed to age beautifully. These hand-cast, art-grade bronze numbers from Rocky Mountain Hardware are available in 10 finishes, three fonts (century gothic, Georgia, ITC bookman) and three sizes: 6 inches, 4 inches and 2 3/4 inches. Customization is available. $69-$80 by special order through Nassau Suffolk Hardware, 33 Cedar Swamp Rd., Glen Cove and nwsdy.li/doors
Greet your guests with a cheeky maxim from Reed Wilson Design. This 30-inch-by-20-inch coir and vinyl doormat features flocked lettering and is made in the United States. $50 at reedwilsondesign.com
Brighten early dusks with a gorgeous, oversized Borrbylantern and scare the evening shadows away. Designed to accommodate up to a 5 7/8-inch-tall block candle, this indoor/outdoor steel-and-glass lantern stands an imposing 11 inches high. $7.99 at Ikea, 1100 Broadway Mall, Hicksville and ikea.com
Bold, bright wildflowers blend with dried grasses, leaves, fruits, and pods to create a stunning autumn wreath that will take your front door all the way through the cooler months. With its sizable 17-inch diameter and vibrant colors, the wreath is a perfect way to welcome both guests and the fall season. $62.95 at Dodds & Eder Home, 221 South St., Oyster Bay.
Remember when getting a letter in the mail was the highlight of any day? This Envelope Mailbox brings back a touch of that charm. Made of iron with a bronze, antique bronze, antique silver or vintage brass finish, the 16-inch-wide letterbox includes all mounting hardware. $49 at potterybarn.com