The shift is subtle. Maybe it starts by swapping out those vibrant beachy pillow covers for warmer, earthier tones. Velvet or burlap runners sneak over tabletops and sunflowers burst from vases.
Autumn is here, and the cooler temps and cozier mood it ushers in can transform a home, inside and out. It can also transform a homeowner. Seasonal decorating, say design experts, can actually be a boon to your mental health.
“Changing your environment seasonally is good for your head — it keeps you present,” says Stephanie Greenberg, creative director of Jane’s Addiction Organization, a Port Washington firm that organizes and stages homes, and in 2021 introduced a seasonal décor service. “Summer’s great,” she says, “but it’s over and we’ve got to move on.”
Not that moving on means a major home makeover, she assures. Nor does it require diving into Halloween gear early. The kind of seasonal decorating designers are seeing from Long Island homeowners is less kitschy, more laid-back and sophisticated. And — the best part — it doesn’t take much to pull off.
“A little goes a long way,” advises designer Julie Urrego, of Liv Interiors in Rockville Centre. The addition of just a few small objects can bring new energy into a space, she notes. “Changing things up,” she says, “requires us to be creative, proactive and productive.”
For Monica Schuchardt, a Hauppauge resident with a flair for seasonal decorating, the fall-friendly creative juices start flowing in September. First the pumpkin soaps appear in the bathrooms, and mums hit the front porch. Eventually come the scarecrows and various forms of pumpkins, wood, glass, ceramic.
She picked up the passion from her mother, who “decorated for every occasion,” says Schuchardt. It takes extra effort, she admits, but the benefits are worth it, especially after a long day at the office or running errands. “Coming back to a decorated home is festive,” she says, “and it makes me smile.”
For those who’d like to freshen up for fall but are unsure how to begin, we’ve surveyed local designers and gathered a few timely tips:
1. Start small
“Make over every room and your house will feel like a craft store,” says Greenberg. Instead, pick places where you spend the most time — like the kitchen, family room or foyer, It can be as simple as changing bathroom soaps and hand towels, or adding a scented candle in the den. “When you add a little something extra to a mantel or shelf, your existing stuff will look different,” says Greenberg.
2. Try a new hue
“Allow a calming color palette to take the spotlight,” says Urrego. She suggests warm pops of burnt orange, eggplant and indigo.
“Forest green has come back in a big way this year,” says Amanda Peppard, owner of Suite Pieces, a one-stop shop in Huntington Station with antiques and eclectic décor, and a showroom for custom rugs, wallpaper, window treatments and more. You’ll find chenille throws, tea towels and plenty of pillows (some twisted like knots, $28 and up). Or, starting mid-October, design your own pillow with Peppard's new “3D configurator,” a kiosk allowing you to pick your own fabrics and trim (custom pillow covers, about $75 and up; custom pillows, about $125 and up).
3. Light a fire
Keep the home fires burning in your fireplace, fire pit or candleholder. Try Madison’s Niche (with six Long Island shops) for a variety of candles, including a simmered cider three-wick candle in a copper pot with hints of clove, cardamom and malted rum (a customer fave, $68). And to keep matches handy, Madison’s offers Skeem’s cloches (handblown, jewel-toned glass containers for regular and fireplace matches, $36 and up).
4. Consider curb appeal
Front-door decorations spread cheer to passersby. Of these, “a seasonal wreath is a must,” says Urrego. Home décor stores, such as Home Goods with more than a dozen locations in Nassau and Suffolk, have wreaths of wild oats, dried myrtle, eucalyptus and faux maple leaves and pine cones ($29.99 and up).
5. Give a sole-ful welcome
Nothing says hello (and hey, wipe your feet) like an eye-catching doormat. At Heritage Farm & Garden in Muttontown, you’ll find great options made of all-natural coir (biodegradable coconut fiber) in flora and fauna prints ($29 and up).
Heritage, an all-out autumnal emporium, stocked with live plants, trees and shrubs, and indoor décor, also hosts a family-friendly fall festival (Sept. 23 to Oct. 29) featuring a corn maze, children’s storytelling and crafts.
Shop the looks
Suite Pieces, 1038 New York Ave., Huntington Station, 631-560-9759, suitepieces.com
Madison’s Niche, 91 Main St., Sayville, 631-750-6566, additional locations in Huntington Village, Garden City, Stony Brook, Plainview and Woodbury, madisonsniche.com
Heritage Farm & Garden, 6050 Northern Blvd., Muttontown, 516-922-1026, heritagefarmandgarden.com