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fall porch

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A fall porch

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9 easy, affordable ways to cozy up your Southern home for fall

Temperatures may not reflect it yet, but fall is officially here. I love this season — it gives us a chance to spend time outside without breaking a sweat and to cook and bake to our hearts' content, again, without breaking a sweat. And while spring may be the more traditional equinox to bust out the cleaning supplies and redecorate, I actually prefer to do so in the fall, especially since holiday visiting season is now right around the corner.

But there's no reason to go too crazy and spend tons of money and time on your fall decor. There are plenty of cost effective and even free ways to add warmth to your home over the next few months. Here are my top nine fall decor tips.

Spruce up your porch
Now that it is no longer blazing hot outside, we're entering excellent porch season. Give your front porch a little love by swapping summery throw pillows with those in warmer hues. Bring out a basket of blankets to cozy things up and hang string lights to keep your porch parties going long past dusk. 

Create a fire pit area
If you've got the space in your backyard, create a second outdoor living space around a fire pit. Arrange several outdoor chairs around the pit (if you're buying a new one, don't worry about splurging for anything fancy; those basic metal bowls with an optional screen work great) and pull that basket of blankets from your porch out when you've got guests. Bonus points for converting a metal garden cart into a bar cart, and don't forget to gather marshmallow roasting skewers for an easy dessert.
cozy blankets
Cozy up your living space
One of the easiest ways to change up your decor for fall is to swap out your pillows, throws and accent rugs in your living space. Add in velvet and/or chubby knit pillows, plaid flannel or wool throws and small rugs in either faux fir or warm colors. Bring out additional candles for more light — and charm. And if you've got the space for it, fill a basket or nook (or two) with firewood for a rustic touch.

Bring the outside indoors with foraged leaves and flowers
No need to go shopping when it comes to fall floral arrangements. Fall is a great time for wildflowers in the South, so we encourage you to go out and forage for your favorite blooms. (Just make sure to stay out of private property!) Another option is to gather freshly fallen leaves in various shades of red and orange and use them to create tablescapes. You can even iron fall leaves between layers of wax paper to create unique window shades. Pull in branches with leaves still attached and arrange them tall and proud in vases and antique pitchers. (Magnolia branches work great here.) If you've managed to pull in a large haul of wildflowers, scatter them throughout your home in small bud vases to add warmth in every room.

If you are buying flowers, seek out mums and sunflowers
Cheery and easy-to-maintain mums come in all different shades and make for excellent arrangements. Pick out a few bunches in red, orange and yellow and showcase them with seasonal greenery. Sunflowers are likewise great early fall flowers — these look especially nice in shorter, stubbier vases or pitchers.
fall mantel
For your mantel, think gourds, nuts and pinecones
It's decorative gourd season! Make sure to pick up more gourds and minature pumpkins than you think you'll want to have — these look great not only on your mantel, but also as a table centerpiece or as accents throughout your house. For a slightly more upscale take, pick up an all-white array of gourds and pumpkins — or spray paint them if you can only find orange and green. Mix in loose walnuts and pecans, as well as pinecones in various sizes for a final touch.

Use those pumpkins creatively
When you're out shopping for pumpkins, make sure to pick up a few extra for your stoop and even a centerpiece. Scoop out the seeds, line the pumpkins with plastic and fill with potting soil. Plant mums and hearty decorative greens like kale and cabbages for a unique, albiet temporary, display. You can also use lined pumpkins as vases indoors; just make sure to keep a close eye on them and move them outside at the first sign of rot. Miniature pumpkins can also work well as votive holders. Again, carve out the center and pop the candle in. Place these minature candles throughout your home.
pears in bowl
Subtle touches are perfect for the kitchen
When it comes to the kitchen, I don't like to do much — after all, I view this room as functional, working space, and there's not a ton of room for additional decor. However, I do like to put out a bowl of seasonal fruit — pears and apples in varying sizes are great — on the kitchen table, and I make sure to put all of my copper cookware out on display. 

Pomander balls are classics for a reason
Finally, don't forget the season's best potpurri — clove-studded oranges, or pomander balls. Pick up a large container of whole cloves and go to town with patterns on several oranges. Arrange them in bowls and platters in a few different places throughout your home — bathrooms, and the dining and living room are all great spots for these fall-scented gems.

Photo (blankets): Dan Gold/Unsplash
Photo (mantel): Annie Sprat/Unsplash
Photo (pears): Sergey Zolkin/Unsplash


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Kate Williams is the editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She is also an on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She has been working in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.

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