Autumn has arrived and we're pulling out our boots and sweaters once again. It's actually my favourite time of year - a fresh start with crisp air that delivers new possibilities.
Just as we transition our wardrobes, we should also transition our homes - not to be trendy and redecorate with all new things; but to ensure our homes help us embrace the colder, darker, moodier season. Though I'm an advocate for minimizing consumerism, I do think that refreshing our homes a couple of times a year in order to inspire creativity, relaxation, efficiency, and contentment can do wonders for our emotional state, not to mention keep us healthy and energized.
So the key to transitioning our homes for Fall without spending money or consuming new goods is to repurpose and reclaim what we already have. Here are some ideas.
1. Use lots of lamps, and turn them on early.
With less natural light coming in due to shorter days, good lighting is key. Connect lamps to main switches if possible, to make it easy to turn on multiple lighting sources at once. For overhead lights, use daylight LED bulbs and turn them on as soon as the light starts to fade so that it doesn't feel like the day is ending so soon. Pull out all the lamps you can find to use for ambient and task lighting on side tables, desktops and even hanging in dark corners. Embrace the dark evenings with lighting that makes your home intimate, warm and welcoming.
2. Remove toxins from the air.
Now that the windows will be closed a good portion of the time, indoor air quality needs to be a priority in order to remain healthy and vibrant. One way to keep the air clean is to not add new toxins in the first place. Switch out your commercial cleaners full of chemicals for natural homemade formulas using things you already have in your cupboards. You can get all of the formulas and printable labels you need right here.
As well, ditch your plastic vinyl shower curtain immediately (see why here) and swap it for a PEVA liner, or just go with your outside 100% cotton curtain (if you don't have one already you could sew yourself from an old duvet cover). Gradually remove as much plastic from your home as possible and switch it for non-toxic alternatives.
Make your own natural air fresheners with essential oils - see how here - and don't burn artificially scented candles. Opt for natural beeswax or soy with essential oils instead.
Vacuum all carpets and rugs really well, and shake out any throw mats outdoors.
Finally, try not to introduce new materials to your home that leech toxins, such as new vinyl flooring, furniture sprayed with chemical fire-retardants, or rugs made of polypropylene. If you need to go with these materials because of the cheap cost, try to wait until nicer weather when you can air them outdoors for a few days before bringing them inside.
3. Bring greenery indoors.
After doing your best to eliminate bringing new toxins in, you'll also want to work on removing the everyday environmental toxins that are in the air we breathe. Bringing potted plants that were on the porch for the summer back inside transfers life into your home and cleans the air at the same time, making rooms healthy and fresh. It's easy to create a little vignette with just a stool or side table and a plant. Even dormant plants in vintage pots look interesting in a windowsill. If you don't have a green thumb, put some large branches in a vase for a natural display. Or simply pick some wildflowers from a neighbor's garden (I'd suggest asking first) or from the side of a country road.
4. Declutter and organize your entry to handle a new season of gear.
If you don't already have lots of handy hooks for coats, backpacks, umbrellas and scarves, get out your drill. Get creative by repurposing branches, scrap metal, paint brush handles, bent cutlery, wine corks, old door knobs or even tools from your garage. Consider adding a row of hooks down low to hang shoes and boots as well - it will keep the floor uncluttered and also allow them to dry faster. Making a space at the entryway so that everyone has a place to keep their gear will prevent it from drifting into your home, contributing to keeping it tidy and germ-free (well, at least germ-resistant).
5. Do a little home maintenance.
It pays to take a day during the Fall to keep your house in tip-top shape so it will work more efficiently through the colder seasons and give us peace of mind. Clean the gutters, caulk and weather-strip around windows and doors, fix any damage to the roof, sweep the chimney, and clean the air exchange or humidifier filters.
6. Create a few cozy spots for relaxing down time.
Fall typically means getting back into the frenzy of school, work, and extra activity schedules, and that means we need to be mindful to also schedule down time to rest and recharge. Figure out the ways you like to mentally and physically take a break. Whether that's taking a hot bath, cozying up with a book, or Netflix and chilling, getting the spots in your home ready to accommodate these things will mean you don't put them off so easily.
Pull out the wool and organic cotton blankets and the goose down duvets that were packed away for summer, and put them both at the foot of the bed and in a basket by your favourite reading chair. Continue to use your same white bedding, but add layers of texture on top so it beckons you to get there early and read a great book. Cut up a plaid shirt or plush worn sweater and turn them into new cushion covers for the sofa. Fill up a jar with Epsom salts and lavender oil and keep it by the tub. Adding these sensory layers and pleasures will make it easier to enjoy the chilly, moody weather.
I hope you have a wonderfully blissful and simple Fall and Winter season. To make the transition easier, I've created a handy little checklist you can download here. Have fun!