Tips on Getting Your Home In Shape for Fall

Advice from a prominent interior designer on getting your home looking good for the fall and from a plumbing contractor on getting its systems in good working order.

fall home tips african mudcloth

Think different: The warm colors of West African mudcloth offer an original way to add a touch of fall to your home. | Photo: Sean Kane, courtesy Henck Design

Now that the weather has finally caught up with the calendar, it’s definitely time to think about ways to get your home ready for the shorter days and cooler months ahead. We asked interior designer Christina Henck of Henck Design and plumbing contractor Joseph Giannone of Joseph Giannone Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning to provide some advice about what to do to spruce up your home’s interior for the fall and what you need to take care of behind the scenes so that your home works like it should going forward.

How to get the look (and the scent) for fall

There are all sorts of clichés you can use to make your house look like it’s fall: pumpkins in the front yard, mock scarecrows planted on your lawn, pumpkin-spice scented candles and stuff like that. Instead, Henck suggests you take your cues from both the falling temperatures and fashions around the world.

“I love to add layers and use eclectic items in the fall because you will want to start thinking about layers from your wardrobe like scarves, gloves, and knitwear for your daily dress,” she says. “Think of your home as an extension of that sort of styling this time of year to integrate fall trends around the house.”

And what should you use to add some layers of autumnal style? “Mudcloth from West Africa [photo above] always feels very warm and textural in an autumnal way. These are on trend right now and very easy to toss over the end of a bed for an eclectic addition to an otherwise ‘vanilla’ room,” says Henck.

She has some other suggestions for adding layers using items you might not expect but are currently trending. “If you’re into fashion, those trends can translate into home decor,” she notes. “Animal or vegan furs, chunky knit throws, crushed velvet details like throw pillows, and I love animal hides like impala and zebra (these items are ethically sourced, of course). You may place hides and throws over the back of a chair or sofa.”

For the botanical look of fall, Henck recommends decorating tabletops, bureaus and other surfaces in your house and garden with dried plants like curly willows, lotus pods, and eucalyptus leaves (ask for both seeded and silver dollar varieties) mixed with decorative wheat bundles (available from Magnolia: $28 for small, $32 for large).

fall home tips scented pine cones

You can make your own scented pine cones using essential oils. | iStock photo by Anna Ok

And Henck has a visually appealing alternative to those scented candles as well. “Another dried plant item perfect for this time of year that is oh-so-fragrant in a warm autumnal way is scented & spiced pinecones.” You can find these in local markets and craft stores all over, but, she says, it’s more fun to make them yourself: “This is a great way to spend family time over the Thanksgiving holiday.” Here’s how to do it.

A checklist to keep things warm in the cooler months

Giannone recommends that, much like you check the antifreeze and tires on your car as winter approaches, you check your home’s own defenses as fall sets in. Here’s his list of basic maintenance tasks:

Check weather stripping. To avoid drafts and loss of heat, take a little time to inspect the entrances to your home. Weather stripping around doors is really easy to replace, and you’ll want to look for dry, cracked pieces and that may lead to loss of heat. Make sure your thresholds are the proper height and just touching the bottom of the door – they can be adjusted using the screws on the top plate.

fall home tips cleaning gutters

iStock photo by maunger

Clean out the gutters. The reds, yellows and oranges of fall leaves are beautiful, but they’re a little less awe-inspiring when stuck in the gutter. As the leaves begin to fall, keep the gutters clean and free. During heavy autumn rains, clogged gutters won’t divert water properly, causing water to invade the foundation.

Change your filters and clean air returns. If more friends and family will be coming over during fall, you’ll want everyone to be breathing easy. Make sure to have fresh filters installed in your heating and air system, and take a few minutes to clean out the returns around the house. Your family’s sinuses will thank you.

Flush your water heater. A hot water heater works harder during the cooler months, and more guests mean more hand and dish washing. Flush your water heater according to the manufacturer’s recommendations to get out any sediment that could impact its efficiency, and don’t hesitate to call a pro if the process is too daunting.

Follow these tips and your home should look and feel good this fall and winter.