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Autumn is in the air

Here’s a question: what does 22nd September mean to you? Unless it’s your birthday (in which case, enjoy!) you could be forgiven for thinking it’s just another day. However… it happens to be the first official day of autumn. And we think that’s something to celebrate. Because the advent of autumn tugs at our deepest memories like no other season.

It arrives with a reassuring rush of familiarity; that back-to-school feeling, but in a good way. Evenings start to draw in. There’s a special crispness in the air. As children, this meant playtime conkers, armfuls of russet leaves, toasty fires. Being made to button up your winter coat.

As adults, we tend to do less kicking through leaves come autumn (although we do recommend a quick foray while no-one’s looking). Instead, we do more in the way of preparation, listening to our natural instincts. Because something is telling us to hunker down, feather the nest and settle in for winter.

Here are some ways to prepare for – and thoroughly enjoy – this evocative season.

Embrace new beginnings

Like spring, autumn brings the chance of a fresh start. On the home front, it’s an opportunity to take stock and replenish. Think of it as a spring clean with a twist.

Change the cushions

Swap your summery cotton cushion covers for richer, warmer tones. Mustard, Fox and Dark Rye are deliciously autumnal. This time of year is all about appreciating textures: the soft, the comforting and the cosy.

Stock take your wardrobe

In all honestly, are there some things in there that you didn’t wear last winter? Well, there’s even less chance you will, this year. It’s time to donate to charity – and give yourself a different kind of warm feeling inside. See our declutter blog from earlier this year for tips and tricks on how best to have a thorough clear-out.

Refresh your rugs

If you put yours away for summer, unroll them and give them a good dusting. Then reassess them. Did the hall runner survive last year’s muddy paw prints? Would a deeper weave add interesting texture to your living room?

‘Tis the season of sofas

Autumn is when we all appreciate the simplest of pleasures, like arriving home. On a brisk walk back from the station or a drizzly school run, you can almost picture your sofa waiting for you. If you’re lucky, some thoughtful soul (ie, you) will have already laid a fire in the grate.

To ensure the warmest welcome home in your living room:

Left: Long Island sofa in Emma mustard, Arthur stool in Isla Finch, William armchair in Elliot Granite & scatter cushions. Right: Wardley chair & throws.

Get chimneys swept and order in logs and kindling for winter.

Pre-plan your box sets or Netflix fix for this season. Oh the joy of knowing staying in is the new going out.

Select luxurious throws for sofa-side relaxing. Choose from warm wool, chunky knits and classic plaids and stripes. Perfect for those evenings when you can’t quite justify turning on the central heating.

Slow down and savour

Summer was all about tossing together a quick salad. But autumn is the season of foods that need time to bake, marinate, simmer, roast and soak up plenty of herby flavours. It’s a reminder that good, wholesome meals take time. And smell fantastic while everything is cooking. Here’s how to give your autumn menus a boost:

Print, cut out, bookmark and flick through new recipes. Or ask a friend how she did a great dish – the nicest way to get inspired.

Bake your own loaf: sourdough, spelt, gluten-free or sprinkled with poppy seeds. Even if you only manage it once a week, it’ll be the best thing since, well, sliced bread. We promise.

Mix, measure, spoon out and bake biscuits with your children. If you’re dubious about the results, do two batches side by side: one by you, one by them.

Love your lighting

The natural light in autumn takes on a softer, more mellow quality. Gone is the bleaching, ‘flat’ light of high summer, replaced by a far more flattering intensity. Shadows are longer. Paint shades and fabrics acquire deeper tones. Night-time descends more quickly. As the quality of light changes, here’s how to fine-tune your illuminations:

Think in halos:

Several pools of light around a room create atmosphere, rather than a single overhead source.

Room to read?

If you have a reading chair, ensure floor lamps cast a puddle of light around it.

Work with your scheme

If you’ve recently repainted your walls in a darker shade, you might need to up your game with extra lamps.

Add bedtime bliss

Bedside lamps need to be the right height and level of brightness, so check if yours need adjusting.

Burn bright

Candles are the magic ingredient for dinner parties. Stock up in advance. Because plain white, tapered candles are impossible to find at 7.55pm on a Saturday night. And we speak from experience...

Get your hallway in order

There’s going to be more coats. Way more coats. Plus boots, wellies, brollies, book bags, trailing scarves…

Hook up

If last year saw layers of coats spilling off your pegs, now is the time to add to their numbers.

Shoe horn in more storage

A pile of trainers and discarded boots is never a welcome sight, so provide for the overflow before it starts.

Cater for pets

A dedicated basket of clean towels for your dog’s muddy paws is a good way to start the winter season.

Take gloves in hand

Gloves, hats and scarves benefit from a separate section in your hall storage, be it a drawer, basket or pigeonhole. Oh, and weed out or reunite any rogue single gloves or mismatched mittens. So annoying to root through when you’re in a rush.

Come on inside

There’s a reason why this time of year is lit up by annual festivals. Harvest Festival, Halloween, Diwali: they all have roots in traditional events that brought people together before winter set in. Friendships were forged. Family ties were strengthened. Everyone feasted and felt more secure for the coming months. Following our ancestor’s example and celebrate the season with get togethers, be it apple bobbing with the neighbour’s children or a Sunday roast with the family. It’s the best way to give autumn a warm welcome in your home.

Words by Jo Leevers.

About the author
Jo Leevers writes for some of the UK's most acclaimed lifestyle magazines and national newspapers, from The Telegraph to Homes & Antiques.

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