The return of the pumpkin spice latte can only signify one thing—fall is just around the corner. With that comes the great debate about when to start pulling out the pumpkin decorations. There are two camps when it comes to seasonal decorating: Those on team ‘it’s never too early,’ and those who adhere to a strict ‘wait until October’ rule.

This year, the first official day of fall lands on September 23rd, but you don’t have to wait to deck the halls with pumpkins, leaves, and scarecrows. If you’re already itching for the warmth and coziness that your favorite autumnal pieces add, we’re sharing how to seamlessly begin transitioning from summer to fall.

As summer winds down, we asked interior designers and stylists to share tips and tricks for getting started on autumn decor. They also weigh in on the age-old question of when to start decorating for fall. (Spoiler alert: It’s whenever you want!

1. Start Outside 

You don’t have to jump headfirst into fall decorating all at once. Interior designer Ami McKay recommends starting with the exterior of your home. “As summer winds down, you may notice your outdoor plants need some TLC, whether it be your vegetable garden or flowers, so take some time to tidy those up for fall,” she says. Then, arrange any potted plants that still look good around the front door or on the deck.

To seamlessly transition your outdoor space from one season to another, McKay recommends incorporating plants that have year-round appeal. “Whenever you plan your landscaping, think about potted and in-ground plants that look good in the fall and winter as well as the warmer months and ones that bloom at different times throughout the year,” she says. Her recommendations include a Katsura tree, which is a beautiful Japanese tree that changes color in the fall, and a curly willow tree that looks sculptural even when it loses its leaves.

2. Take the Layering Approach 

Interior stylist Emily Henderson suggests easing into fall decorating by taking the layering approach. Instead of waiting until October and then bringing out every piece of fall decor you own to give your home a complete makeover, this method is a way to pace yourself, stay intentional, and make the decorating process more enjoyable. “You can add a wreath to your door and switch out some pillows or throws,” she says. “Then maybe a few weeks later add some pumpkins and other fall decor.”

3. Make Small Swaps 

Designer Stephanie Perez O’Boyle agrees with this one-step-at-a-time approach. Slowly transition your interior from summer to fall by making small changes throughout the early fall season. “The easiest place to start is your tabletop,” Perez O’Boyle says. “A summer table can easily be changed over to fall with a simple refresh that doesn’t break the bank.”

She suggests choosing a neutral foundation for your table that can be used year-round and switching out seasonal decor to keep things simple. To take your table from summer to fall, “Swap out a centerpiece of tropical fruits with gourds, pumpkins, and other rustic produce, and change flowers to chrysanthemums and dahlias in shades of purple and deep red,” she suggests. Additionally, she likes to add texture to a fall tabletop with wicker placemats, woven decorative pumpkins, bamboo cutlery, and rattan dining chairs.

4. Switch Out Textiles 

Textiles are another easy way to introduce an autumnal touch and color scheme in small doses. “As fall approaches, swap out any summer textiles for warmer tones and cozier fabrics for those chilly autumn days,” McKay says. “Subdued reds, earthy and rusty hues, and golden tones will set the stage for the cooler months.”

If you prefer a neutral color palette, she suggests going for a Nordic retreat look. “Find some heavier neutral knit blankets and cushions, sheepskins (ethically sourced only please), candles, and woven pieces for a cozy fall atmosphere,” she says.

5. Save Real Pumpkins for October 

“Pumpkins on the porch are great October through November; they set such a festive and cozy tone for guests entering your home”, says designer Mimi Meacham, who heads into fall decorating mode once the start of school craziness begins wearing off. She recommends waiting until October 1 before putting out live pumpkins. Pumpkins typically only last for a few months, and there’s nothing worse than having to toss rotting gourds before Halloween because you put them out too early. Plus, pumpkins do better in cooler temperatures. And although carving pumpkins does speed up the decaying process, there are ways to make your carved designs make your carved designs last longer.

6. Update Your Display Throughout the Season 

To keep your pumpkin display looking fresh throughout the fall months, Meacham recommends making small tweaks to it between October and Thanksgiving. “I prefer to use fun-colored, painted pumpkins in October,” she says. “Since Halloween is traditionally more dark and gloomy, the painted pumpkins stand out and nod to the more playful side of the holiday.”

Depending on the health of those pumpkins, she recommends trading them out for more muted, organic colored pumpkins in November. “I love to mix in the funky shaped ones, like the acorn, scallop, and kabocha varieties,” she says. “These natural colors are beautiful among the changing leaves in the trees and the softer sun.”

7. Your Home, Your Rules 

Ultimately, the choice is yours. “I am a big advocate for decorating when and how you want first and foremost,” Henderson says. “It’s your house!” The type of fall decor you use may naturally affect when you can start decorating, because if you opt for live flowers and produce, some varieties aren’t available until a certain date and only stay fresh for so long. If you choose to use artificial plants and pumpkins, however, you can start as early as you like.

Perez O’Boyle shares why her fall decorating philosophy includes waiting a bit longer. “While I subscribe to the notion that it’s ‘your home, your rules’—my opinion is to wait until October to decorate for the fall,” she says. “Wait for the crisp chill in the air, the shorter days, and the turning leaves to get inspired and bring the natural autumn feeling indoors.”

Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

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