14 ways to prep your home for autumn

·8-min read
Photo credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz - Getty Images
Photo credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz - Getty Images

The autumn season is where the nights start to draw in and temperatures start feeling cooler, the tree leaves change colour, restaurants and coffee stores debut pumpkin-spice flavours on the menu, Bonfire Night and Halloween celebrations take place, and the Harvest Festival is celebrated. In the home, it's all about transitioning from summer and making the living space feel warm and cosy.

Astronomical autumn began on 22 September 2021 and ends on 21 December 2021, whilst meteorological autumn always begins on 1 September and ends on 30 November. Are you looking for ways to get your home organised and ready for the autumn season? Nothing beats that hygge feeling of snuggling up in a cosy home – and the changing season is the ideal time to get your house set up for this.

From preparing your outdoor space to deep cleaning the house and making seasonal autumn decor updates, there are lots of little jobs to do to get your home in tip-top shape before the arrival of winter and Christmas. These autumn home ideas will help as the nights get shorter.

1. Deep clean the house

We often think about giving the house a spring clean but we forget that the autumn season is an ideal time for a deep clean, too. Give the windows a good clean, wipe down the skirting boards, and dust commonly forgotten areas like lampshades and the top of cupboards and shelves. Start with the living room and work your way around the house. Once you start on the kitchen, don't forget to give your oven a deep clean. These are all jobs which will make your house appear gleaming and ready for winter.

2. Clean the fireplace

If you're planning on using your fireplace this autumn, line the area with newspaper and remove all loose ashes and dust with a shovel and broom. Then, use a wire brush to clean off the soot from the brick, and use baking soda and warm water on a sponge to clean the remaining soot and dust off.

Photo credit: House Beautiful/David Brittain
Photo credit: House Beautiful/David Brittain

3. Insulate the home

'A well-insulated house can help to significantly reduce your energy bill, especially during autumn and winter. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to make your home more energy-efficient is to insulate and draught-proof your external doors,' says Marc Husband, Purchasing Director at Leader Doors.

Ensure your keyhole has a purpose-made escutcheon with a fitted cover to prevent heat loss, and install a letterbox brush if needed. Do you have gaps between the door and floor? A brush strip draught excluder will prevent heat from leaving, and the cold from coming into your home, whilst if you have gaps between the door and its frame, fill it with fit foam, a brush strip draught excluder or wiper strips.

4. Declutter and streamline your living space

Donate unwanted furniture, homeware and electrical items, plus clothes and shoes to charity, and have a good clear out of your kitchen cupboards. You can donate all your in-date but unwanted food to food banks, where those in need can make use of them. You should end up with an uncluttered, streamlined home, giving you more space to enjoy the calm, cosy surroundings that the autumn season brings.

Photo credit: Rose & Grey
Photo credit: Rose & Grey

5. Set the atmosphere with scent

Candles and diffusers create the perfect cosy setting for a relaxing night in and there's an array of different scented and non-scented varieties to choose from. Add a few dotted tea lights or go for large pillar candles for that extra cosy feeling.

'There is nothing more comforting than an autumn scent running through the air on a rainy evening. Deck your living room out with rich scents that create a cosy atmosphere. Trendy mason jar candles with scents of ginger, pumpkin pie, cinnamon, and cedar wood complete the ultimate autumn vibe,' says Sylvia James, interior designer at HomeHow.co.uk.

6. Incorporate autumnal colours

Mix subtle yellows, rich oranges and deep red tones with earthy browns – all colours associated with autumn – to create a warming, homely environment. Prestigious Textiles' head designer, Marie Goodwin, explains: 'Whether painting a whole room, re-upholstering a sofa or adding new accessories, utilising these colours will instantly bring the autumn indoors.'

Photo credit: Carpetright
Photo credit: Carpetright

7. Add cushions, throws and a new bedspread

There's nothing better than curling up under a throw when it's chilly outside. Adding new cushions and throws, and even chunky wool blankets to your sofa and bed, can really transform your space. Choose autumnal-themed soft furnishings or go with brighter colours to offset the drabness of outside. And instead of buying new cushions, just invest in cushion covers so you can easily switch the look at very little cost (H&M do a great range). Similarly, a new bedspread can change the look of a room and perk you up if you're tired of seeing the same sheets every night.

8. Add a fresh lick of paint (or transform with wallpaper)

Since we're likely to spend more time indoors during autumn and winter, it's a good idea to give your rooms a fresh lick of paint (if you haven't already done so during lockdown). Whether it's your home office or bedroom, giving your walls a new lease of life, even with wallpaper, a wall mural or perhaps new artwork, will brighten the space and be more pleasing to the eye.

Photo credit: Dulux
Photo credit: Dulux

9. Opt for warm lighting

With longer nights, keep your lighting low to create a calm feel. Sylvia James at HomeHow.co.uk explains: 'Change to warmer LED bulbs and place more floor and table lights around your living room. If you have a fireplace, make this your primary light source for cold evenings. If you have a small niche in your living room, you can transform it into a snug area. Insert a small bench, cover in throws and cushions, and add a mini pendant light.'

10. Buy an air-purifying houseplant

Ensure the quality of air in your home is up to scratch with new houseplants. Not only are indoor plants a trendy and decorative accessory in the home, but according to NASA’s clean air study, a number of plants are also proven to help with indoor air quality by detoxifying the atmosphere in your home.

A recent study by money.co.uk revealed the trendiest houseplants to improve your home's air quality this autumn season, with philodendron topping the list. The remaining must-have plants include Aloe, Calathea, Anthurium, Sansevieria, Ficus, Snake Plant, Peace lily, ZZ plant and Chrysanthemums.

11. Refresh an unloved corner with flowers

Beautiful fresh flowers can add a summery feel to your home in autumn, but you could equally opt for dried flowers, either a full bouquet or individual blossoms and twigs, to make a real style statement. To keep in with the autumnal theme, stick to reds, burnt oranges, ochres and soft greens.

12. Create a cosy outdoor living space

There's no reason why you have to stay indoors and neglect the garden just because it's getting a little chillier outside. In fact, in our 2021 Big Gardening Poll, 56 per cent of House Beautiful readers said they plan to use their garden all year round.

'The days are starting to get shorter and chiller, so picnics and alfresco dining are soon to become a distant memory. To ensure you can enjoy the great outdoors and all the seasons have to offer despite the cooler weather, I'd recommend creating a lounge area in a garden room or greenhouse,' garden stylist Selina Lake, who worked with Alitex to dress its Ickworth greenhouse at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021, explains.

'To keep it compact opt for two armchairs and a coffee table to set the scene. A wood burner, or if you have access to electricity, an electric stove, adds warmth – in terms of both ambience and temperature! Once you’ve arranged the furniture, add some accessories – a vintage standing lamp, a basket filled with rolled blanks ready to cosy up with and some cushions to add colour to plain fabric chairs.'

Photo credit: Alitex
Photo credit: Alitex

13. Prepare the garden

Remember, autumn is actually one of the most important seasons for gardening. First of all, mowing the lawn and trimming hedges will keep your garden looking neat. Wait until the grass has grown to a sufficient length and then trim back. Though it may need to be cut again it won't need to be done as regularly as in the summer.

Other garden jobs include cutting back perennials that have died down, dividing herbaceous perennials, making leaf mould, moving tender plants into a greenhouse or conservatory, and harvesting apples, pears, grapes and nuts.

Speaking about the environmental impacts of making leaf mould, Guy Barter, Chief Horticulturist at the RHS, previously explained: 'Leaves often vex gardeners so no wonder two out of five consign them to the green waste bin, but leaves make the finest soil improver as leaf mould. Making leaf mould helps the environment by eliminating the cost and carbon emissions associated with green waste collection.'

14. Prioritise garden security

Keep security front of mind and ensure that trees, bushes and overgrown shrubbery are trimmed, and invest in security lighting to brighten up your garden when motion is detected. Security experts at Yale say making sure your fencing is sufficiently protecting your home is important during the autumn season, too. The harsh British weather can cause havoc with your fence panels, which can give burglars an easy route into your garden.

The Yale experts explain: 'It's important to check out your fencing ahead of the autumnal months to see if any panels need repairing or replacing, ensuring that your garden offers the best protection for your home. And pair this with great gate security, and you'll easily keep the burglars at bay.'

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