Embracing October: Falling for Fall Decor

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This is my fireplace mantel, currently rocking a fall motif. It brings me joy every time I look at it.

But I’m still pretty new to all this. Except for the month of December, I never used to bother with seasonal decorations.

I’d thumb through the September issues of Real Simple and Better Homes and Gardens and admire other people’s displays, but it never occurred to me to try to bring the autumn spirit into my own home.

In my mind, there were magazine houses and there were real-people houses. I had two (now three!) young boys.

With our living room a frequent staging area for wrestling matches and Hot Wheels racing, I’d long since concluded that pretty things didn’t belong.

Our space was cluttered and chaotic–most definitely a real-people house.

But last year around this time, I came down with a hardcore case of nesting brought on by pregnancy and the sheer amount of time we were spending at home due to the pandemic.

For the first time in my adult life, I decided to experiment with interior design.

I replaced some old furniture and played around with new seating arrangements. Picked out a new color palette. Learned how to decorate a fireplace mantel and select items for a coffee table tray.

In doing so, it wasn’t just the look of our house that changed, but the feel. In our updated living room, my mood lightened. I relaxed. I’d even say the decor changes, in making our home a more pleasurable place to be, helped me become more present with the kids.

I learned that homemaking matters.

I’m not talking about the 1950s version of homemaking that says women should derive their life satisfaction wholly from domestic life.

I’m talking about the actual process of making a home, of transforming a house from a nondescript building to a personal sanctuary.

And with the realization that the aesthetics of home mattered, I decided to ratchet things up a notch–yep, bring on the seasonal decor.

For me, these special touches say, “Yay, it’s THIS time of year again! We’ve waited so long and now it’s here and we get to celebrate!”

It doesn’t take all that many decorations, either. I get overwhelmed at the idea of seasonal dish towels, bathmats, etc. since we don’t have a ton of space to devote to storing stuff we use only once a year.

And besides, I don’t really need or want fall decor when I’m hopping out of the shower or making spaghetti.

Instead, I’ve concentrated the decorations in the areas where we relax and spend time together, mostly the living room and dining room. I also make sure that all my fall, Halloween (*totally different type of decorating…more on that soon), and Thanksgiving decorations fit in a single storage tote.

I’ve chosen to focus on the items that, to channel Marie Kondo, spark joy. Turns out I have a thing for faux branches that evoke the season – who knew?

I also love pops of bright orange and pretty gold accents and natural materials.

As for that nonsense about not deserving pretty things because I have kids? It’s precisely because of that fact that I want to inject some beauty. One day I spent a solid hour cleaning up my living room and by the next afternoon it looked like this:

You’ll notice that all the throw pillows are on the floor because they were part of the 7-year-old’s soccer skills training session that morning. (What, you don’t see the connection? Yeah, I don’t get it either.)

There are books cluttering the couch. The baby’s car seat and the diaper bag and a tote of halfway-sorted-through hand-me-downs occupy the corner.

But amidst all that is my carefully curated coffee table tray with its fall foliage, gold-trimmed candle holder, and one straw pumpkin. It’s so much easier to roll with the chaos when it’s interspersed with pockets of home-making loveliness, especially those that evoke the warm fuzzy feelings of the season.

How do you make space for beauty in your home? What fall decor brings you joy?

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  1. I love your idea of decorating select places. I get a bit too overwhelmed when thinking about decorating an entire room or my entire house.

      1. Frugal and aware of the ecological impact! I get tempted by window clings for the kids and other “fun” stuff… and then balk at the plastic-y throwaway nature … and don’t do anything. Your choices are minimal, reusable, but with a BIG impact! Lovely!

        1. Thank you! Yes, I have that same reaction to buying things I know we’ll only use once. Same struggle with alternatives to candy for Halloween treats. I get wanting something other than all the sugar, but how many plastic spider rings or little ghost stamps are in the trash by late November?

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