Embrace Fall: 6 Ideas to Inspire

No one moves to the Midwest for the weather. In the heartland, we have hot summers and cold winters. But in the fall, there are a few days so perfect, I swear I’d never live anywhere else. The trees are ablaze, the sky is azure blue, and the air is crisp and cool, sweetened with the smell of falling leaves and wood smoke. This year, I’m resolving to thoroughly enjoy autumn. I hope you will join me. Here are some ideas to inspire us…


Light the fire in the hearth

One of my favorite rituals every year is lighting the first fire in the hearth. Dan and I like to relax in front of the fire on fall evenings, catching up on each other’s day. My friend Lisa’s living room, pictured above, is perfect for fall. I want to curl up on her sofa next to the crackling fire.


Cozy up your furniture

As the days grow shorter, I can’t wait to cocoon at home during the quiet evenings. I get my cottage ready by switching out my summer pillow covers with those that feature the fabrics of fall. Menswear fabrics are my absolute favorite.

I don’t think you can walk five feet in my cottage without seeing a plaid throw. And, on fall mornings, you’ll see me wrapped up in one as I sip my first cup of coffee and watch the sun rise over our little lake. It’s one of my greatest pleasures.

I have a mad hot love for plaid. Can you tell?


Dine under the stars

October is a perfect month for an al fresco dinner party. The weather is still mild enough that you can linger outside, wrapped up in a blanket. A few years ago, Dan and I had a small dinner party with a few friends, and decided the perfect venue would be our front patio.

We filled the patio with candles and lanterns to give the outdoor dining room a romantic glow. My friends know I can’t cook, so sometimes we divide dinner party duties. I set the scene, and they bring the food. My friend Tracy brought the most amazing pumpkin soup and pear tarts.


Treasure hunt for nature’s bounty

Did you ever go to the pumpkin patch when you were a kid? Go again this year! Pick up pumpkins, gourds and other fall favorites to display around your home. I displayed mini gourds on this dessert server at my cottage.

Mother Nature is very generous with us in the fall. Go on a hike and look for beautiful natural treasures you can display in your home, like wildflowers, fall leaves, nuts, berries and empty bird’s nests. In the photo above, Lisa filled this darling dish with acorns from her yard.

This photo, taken in the courtyard in my old home in Atchison, takes me down memory lane. I use to open my home for tour every fall, and the Nell Hill’s team and I had fun trying to come up with new ways to dress my house and garden every year.


Have a picnic

What better thing to do on a fall weekend than to pack the picnic basket and head out to the country or a park to enjoy nature up close and personal. If you have the time and inclination, make your picnic something to remember, with a basket filled with china, crystal and silver. A bottle of bubbly, apples and pears, cheese and artisan bread, are all you need.

My friends Beth and Mike live on a wonderful piece of land in the Missouri countryside that includes an apple orchard. A few years ago, they let us set up a fall picnic in the middle of the orchard.


Give a cheery welcome

Even if I don’t have the time to decorate my home’s interior for the season, I always dress up the front porch. I think a lovely exterior display is a friendly wave to passersby, and a warm greeting for guests. Here’s a shot of the front door of my Atchison home, dressed for a fall open house.

When my friend Lisa’s home was on tour, she came up with a brilliant way to add fall flair to her outdoor courtyard: she filled her fountain with piles of pumpkins and gourds. I love it!


Enjoy fall, my friends!