As many of you know, I live in Omaha, Nebraska. According to Counting Crows, the Heart of America. I'd like to think so. We've got a Nebraska "niceness" about us. Big enough that we have major retailers, national top-end restaurants, and, I would challenge, some of the very best local restaurants in the country. No, there are no cows and corn in Omaha. 20 minutes outside of it, yes! And lastly, we are, for certain, a four-season state. We have 90-95 degree average days during July and August, but the moment Labor Day rolls around, we quickly drop to 60-70 degree days and 40-50 degree nights through September. Like many parts of the country, it's a welcome change, and families head to the best corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and bonfires.
Typically the first week of September (or perhaps a tad sooner), I turn over all of my window boxes, planters, Entry Envy sign decor, and outdoor rugs from bright pink, vibrant orange, and lime green to deep orange, sunflower yellow, woodsy browns, and darker shades of green. Now, if you know a thing or two about me, you might guess that at least 50% of my fall decor will be artificial, and you would be 100% correct! I watch sales at the craft store and stock up.
Coordination is Key
I want everything to coordinate and am especially excited this year because I am in the process of redoing my front porch, and gosh darn, I WILL have it done by September 1 because I can't decorate until I do. It's like my built-in reward! There is something so special about pulling into my driveway to a home exterior that I love, am proud of, and welcomes me before I even open the door. When I visit others' homes, it's the first thing I notice. Is their yard well maintained? Is there crap lying around? Do they have any seasonal decor, and is it actually the "correct season?" What the outside of your home looks like says an awful lot about what the inside of your home probably looks like.
Both always seem to be a work in progress, and there is no doubt that the exterior maintenance during the growing season can be a beast to keep up with! Speaking of the growing season, my basil and mint are entirely out of control this year, and the tomatoes are a bit late to the party but coming in strong. Bruchetta or salsa, anyone? I don't can, and you would think our tortoise would eat tomatoes, but no such luck. He's actually kind of picky.
Oh, but I digress, back to fall decor! Here's the deal, to make your exterior home look like fall, colors that don't fall in our new palette need to go away. As much as it pains me to toss the gorgeous sweet potato vine I spent so much time watering, she has to go because she doesn't match. I'm still debating whether the potted palm will come inside for winter or go to the garbage. I do okay without outdoor plants, but indoors they usually die a slow, painful death, and then I just feel like I have failed, and it's not good for my self-confidence. It's a whole thing. So, indoor plants are very questionable for me. Lol.
Transitioning from summer to fall
Here's your to-do list to help transition your home exterior and porch seamlessly move from summer to fall.
Wash your windows
Wash your windows. Nope, nothing to do with decor, but everything will look much better with clean windows, so please do it because it's time. Outside is required; inside is optional. Do one interior window you washed outside of and see if you can tell a noticeable difference. If so, proceed. These are my favorite cloth wipes for interior window "washing." Seriously, the best. LINK TO AMAZON For the exterior, I use a squeegee. Here is a previous post on my cheaperthanwine blog (LINK) about how to wash your windows.
Sweep the front porch
Sweep the front porch, wipe the window sills, dust off the dirt, wipe down your Entry Envy sign (if you have one), and knock down the spider webs.
Set out a new rug
I only keep most of my outdoor rugs a season because they fade, but sometimes I can get a couple from them! So, if you don't have one you love already, pick out a new fabulous fall rug that is no smaller than 3x4 and that you love the colors in it. The colors are super important; this will be your foundational theme for your "fall front porch." The rug will literally "ground" your entry. It sets the stage. :)
Choose the correct rug size
The larger the rug, the larger the entry will appear. The number one mistake I see on people's front porches is too small of a mat. Don't ask me who created a standard 20" x30" rug, but I'm certain it was a straight man. They aren't hardly big enough to do their job of catching dirt, they blow away, and they look disproportionately small even to a standard door. If you find a smaller mat that you love (and there are some adorable ones), just get a larger neutral (or buffalo check, depending on your style) to layer under it. The look is totally in style and will change the entire entry! Take a picture of your new rug.
Pro-tip: marketing on outdoor rugs
P.S. It doesn't have to be marked "outdoor rug." Buy whatever you want; that's a marketing thing. The two trends I am seeing for fall right now are very neutral shades of white, brown, and green, or more traditional fall colors with orange, deep yellow, burgundy, brown, and green. Both are great; Pick which one you like. Personally, Costco had a steal a few weeks ago when I walked in the door for a rug and pillow. They just jumped in my basket, so that's what I'm going with, and while they are traditional in color, they are more modern in appearance. Gotta love Costco. My favorite question at the checkout lane is, "Did you find everything you were looking for?" Yes, and five more things I wasn't! Every. Single. Time.
Look for matching elements
Look for your flowers, front porch decor, yard art, garden flag, wreath, and plants. What doesn't match your new rug must go. If it is artificial, save it if you think you can get another season from it. If not, toss it. If it's real, clean out the dead stuff, and if it's still blooming, trim out the colors that don't match, and you can leave the green. I am about 50/50 here. I cut back many plants I know will start dying in a few weeks anyway. I basically do a pre-fall cleanup. All parts of the country will differ on what plants should be cut back and when. I only know enough to be dangerous in this department, so ask your local nursery if you have questions. The beautiful tropicals, begonias, petunias, etc., need to go if they don't match your new rug. Just think how lovely and fresh your porch will feel when you get done as you painfully toss them in the trash. And think about gaining an extra 10 minutes a day from less watering. I know it's hard. I'm sorry.
Locate the focal points
Find a focal point or two for your porch. We don't want crap everywhere. We want a "spot" to draw the eye and welcome fall. Remember, decorate in "threes," and less is more. We want to keep your porch clean and not create extra living spaces for spiders. How about a rug, a planter, or an Entry Envy sign? You are done if you want to be, but if you want more, you can add a wreath. Do you have a bench or chair that would look cute with a seasonal pillow? Is there a little table? What about a garden flag? Do you have window boxes? After identifying your focal point(s), list what you would like to acquire to fill/add.
Bring out old decor
Pull out your stored fall decor from prior years. Does it match your new rug? Is it in good shape? If so, put it out. If not, please donate it. Look at your list again that you made; what else do you still need?
Time for shopping!
Take your list and picture of your rug to the nursery and your favorite craft store (or better yet, a local home decor store to support small business owners). Find decor you like that matches your new rug. Fake or real, it doesn't matter. If you like it, and it's on the list, buy it. Remember, it has to match your rug colors and theme. Give some special attention to your planter(s). I like a variety of coordinated decor in mine that doesn't require water. For example, a small hay bail, a colorful mum (real or fake), medium size pumpkin, a few gourds, three tied and dried Indian corn, some fall leaves, or fall garland are all good. You want your planter to feel complete with multiple textures, sizes, and dimensions. Your planter has lots of flexibility to tie in your rug's colors. And if your rug is very neutral, then you can keep your planter very neutral with white pumpkins, mini hay bail, corn husks, wheat grass, wood (birch sticks, tree slices, logs, etc.), and a singular color of choice for a mum to have a little "pop" of color if you wish.
Assess your lighting
Lastly, think about your lighting. The days are getting shorter and as you come home or are entertaining in the evening, make sure any solar lights you have are in working order. Your exterior light bulbs are the same color hue. If you feel like your yard or entry could use some ambient lighting, there are many great solar light options to consider for pathways, stairs, and even ceilings. If you have an outlet in your porch area, consider a corner "uplight." They are fabulously warm and inviting. Perhaps add an LED candle on a small porch table. Shine a solar spotlight on your garden flag to still see it after hours. Add a solar light to your planter.
Enjoy your beautiful, refreshed fall decor and love coming home! Sit on your porch with a cup of coffee or glass of wine and a book before the season slips away and the holiday chaos begins!
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