Fall decor might call to mind harvest-inspired garlands, decorative pumpkins and an excess of orange, but in reality, it's about curating a mood for the season as it slowly shifts. It's about preparing the house for hibernation, ensuring evenings are cozy, even creating a connection with nature that echoes how the world outside has changed in the autumnal months.
If you're all about that fall feeling, choosing comforting, colorful paints, decor elements, lighting and fabrics is the place to start. It's amazing what a big difference a small accent wall, rich-colored throw pillows, and tons of glowing candles can make to bring that cozy fall aesthetic to your home.
If you're looking to cozy up your indoors, then these 10 tips will inject seasonal warmth into your home. Take a look.
10 fall decor ideas that aren't a design cliché
1. Choose grown-up earth tones
While light and bright hues are usually considered the more 'safe' colors for home, to make you indoors feel warmer, you could opt for warmer shades to up the cozy factor. A few splashes of an autumn-inspired palette can lift your spaces without making them feel OTT. For your living room accent wall, think of rust tones, terracottas, and olive greens. Painting is an easy and inexpensive way to warm up a space, especially when the paint is used on just one or two walls. Or, you could choose these tones for your upholstery.
'While a neutral, scandi-inspired palette remains popular, we are noticing a shift to more saturated earthy tones for fall,' say Jen & Mar, co-founders of Interior Fox (opens in new tab). 'Pops of mulberry, burgundy, orange, and terracotta are being introduced as we embrace color within the home. We have also noticed a transition to brown shades which are now delicately paired with beige and natural tones. Accents of brown are noticeably being highlighted through upholstery and tiles particularly.'
2. Add warmth with wood
Paints aren't the only way to add warmth to spaces. Wood is timeless, charming, and has an inherent warmth to it. No need to go in for a big rehaul if you aren't planning for one. You could consider bringing in a small touch with a new piece of furniture or decor, or try the trend for exposed wood wall paneling that looks both grand and snug.
'Light, white-washed wood or natural wood tones through vintage furniture, paneling, or dark-colored cabinetry can add all the warmth you need in your interiors,' say Jen & Mar.
3. Create a warm lighting scheme
Whether it's the bedroom, bathroom, or living room lighting ideas, the key to creating a cozy, comfortable space is combining different lighting sources to complement the vibe of the room without making it overly bright, or too under-lit.
'To create a cozy aesthetic in the home, ambient lighting or mood lighting as its also known, can transform an interior or indeed space, and the key to this is all about layering,' says Angela Murray of Hadeland Glassverk (opens in new tab). 'Go for a combination of accent and task lighting, using a mix of floor, table, and pendant to impact the mood of a room. One of the most beautiful materials to diffuse light is glass. Use sandblasted, tinted, or clear glass to create varying degrees of diffusion. It’s also worth remembering the controls on lighting output will allow you to determine degrees of luminaire within the space.'
To make the home feel cozy for fall, layer lighting in the scheme. 'Bring in an assortment of lamps as this will create an autumnal ambiance within the home,' says David Amos, CEO at Amos Lighting + Home (opens in new tab). 'Using lamps in the evening, as opposed to spotlights and ceiling lights, creates a softer lighting look which will affect the overall mood of the home. For a comforting environment choose warm lighting, with soft tactile shades.'
'Choose soft yellow lighting and pair this with plenty of lit candles to promote a feeling of calm,' says Juliette Thomas, founder of Juliettes Interiors (opens in new tab).
4. Opt for textured walls
Wall color is a key decorating decision in interiors; an element that can completely change the mood of a room. But a simple, flat paint job isn't always the best bet when it comes to giving your design movement and dynamism. Enter textured paint finishes - from high gloss enamel, Venetian plaster, decorative finishes, and more, the choices are endless
'Textured and colored wall surfaces are areas of focus,' says Yasmine Saleh Ghoniem, founder of YSG Studio (opens in new tab). 'This also includes tiled feature walls (ideally hand-crafted elements that have an undulating surface and gentle sheen such as Moroccan Zellige tiles (opens in new tab)). Venetian and lime-wash walls are also gaining traction. Venetian plaster creates an instantly worn-in, beautiful sheen that allows feature lighting and natural sunlight to pool across it, whilst lime wash surfaces have a matte depth like crushed velvet if you’re seeking a cocooning feeling in a room.'
5. Color drench to create an enveloping space
While speaking of paint and color, a great way of creating an enveloping feeling, a warm embrace and more is with color drenching – a technique of painting walls and ceilings the same color. You could even consider drenching the joinery in the same hue. Choosing warmer colors will create an illusion of the walls closing in (but in a good way), making even a large space feel comforting and cozy. Go for colors such as red, orange, yellow, mustard, and green for a fall-inspired palette.
'Colour drenching, especially when using darker colors, works best in small spaces like a hallway, a corridor or small bathroom,' says Justyna Korczynska from Crown Paints. 'By enveloping a small space in a color, the focus shifts from noticing the size of that space to just appreciation of the shades that surround us.'
6. Curved furniture pieces create a feeling of cocooning
Curved sofas are useful for defining a space. This piece can also be a boon when arranging living room furniture to create space for circulation. But apart from its functional aspects, this shape is the epitome of comfort and snugness. It invites you to curl up, relax and sleep.
'Furniture design is taking on more curved and architectural forms (though avoiding sharp angles), so expect to see a lot more sculptural exhibitions,' says Yasmine from YSG Studio. 'Homewares stores are increasingly stocking pieces by ceramicists too, offering affordable access to collecting, with local Australian and Japanese talents feeding our interests lately. Retro stores are also great places to visit for cozy, bargain-priced ‘one-offs.’
7. Bring in softness through layered fabrics
Layering textiles is the key to a truly cozy space, whether it's blankets and cushions on a sofa or bed, or a soft living room rug underfoot.
Layer up this fall season by bringing in a whole army of plush fabrics. 'Fall is all about making your homes cozy, and this can be done by the use of soft color palettes and sumptuous fabrics, a fireplace fender plus, velvety textures that make everything feel embracing,' says interior designer Olivia Emery (opens in new tab).
'I like to swap out my throw blankets and pillows that are lighter in weight and color, like linen and cotton, for something richer, like wool or cashmere,' says Alex Epstein, lead designer at Purple Cherry Architects (opens in new tab).
8. Choose earthy, woody home fragrances
When it comes to autumn scents, consider bergamot, cinnamon, amber, fig, ginger, apple cinnamon, maple and more 0 all fragrances that remind you of warm things, and the outdoors. From candles, and diffusers to sprays, shift the scent of your home with the seasons.
'Every year, I change my candle and diffuser to earthy scents to match the mood of the changing seasons; it instantly transforms the atmosphere of the space,' says Alex of Purple Cherry Architects.
9. Create cozy corners
Have an empty or awkward bedroom, kitchen, hallway, or living room corner? Use it as an opportunity to create cozy moments in your home. Add a bookcase here, along with a sofa with a throw, and you have yourself a lovely reading spot. You could also add a chaise lounge or a daybed for quick afternoon naps. Utilize an empty window by inserting a bench or a swing here; the perfect perching place to watch the world go by.
If nothing else works, a lovely gallery wall with personal family pictures could be the perfect, charming touch to your interiors.
'Combining the avant-garde, through playful artwork and by painting areas and corners that are often unexpected, this season will allow us to express our creativity and explore unconventional ideas into interiors in a fun and creative way,' says Justyna.
10. Decorate spaces with fall flower arrangements
While the world outside may be yellowing, make sure your interiors are cheerful, decorated, and lively. Go in for bright flowers (artificial could work this time of year) for your window box ideas. You could also go for fall indoor-blooming varieties like Cape Primrose or Goldfish plant.
'My go-to is saving all of our fresh hydrangea arrangements well after they have dried up and used them for fall arrangements,' says Lance Thomas, founder of Thomas Guy Interiors (opens in new tab). 'Dried florals are the perfect decor for getting in the fall spirit when it still feels like summer outside. Avoid overworking arrangements and decor. It should look effortless. Simply cut a branch, for example, and stick it in a vase of water. Show the intention, not the labor.'
For an even more seasonal flower arrangement, why not take a look at how to make a pumpkin planter?
What is new in fall decorations?
This year, there's a newfound love for earth tones, honeyed colors, moss, and warm mint greens. As per paint trends for 2022, lime wash paint is going to be big paint finish, and will continue to charm next year as well.
Everything that connotes to warmth, coziness, and a feeling of being enveloped is going to be a fall decor mainstay. Woven materials, earthy textures, and curves will take over interiors. So will mixed vintage and modern textured fabrics. A big trend that has seen a resurgence this year and will go on, is the coastal grandmother trend.
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.