Fall décor gets personal: ‘Your house becomes your story’

  • This photo provided by Graham & Brown shows a sample of Carnival wallpaper. Carnival and Retro Brights wallpaper patterns bring modernist graphics into living spaces, and serve as wall art of their own. The company has a collection of exuberant floral patterns as well that reflect the trend toward bolder wallcoverings. (Graham & Brown via AP)

As fall nesting season returns, home décor retailers are presenting collections that reflect the idea that home is where our hearts and heads are.

Our long housebound stretch may have made us restless for the outside world, but it has helped us appreciate our homes more. Even if you didn’t redo a basement playroom, rehab a bathroom or create a workspace in an apartment closet, you probably rediscovered what you like about your home.

“Our living spaces moved from sanctuary to command central,” says Elaine Griffin, a designer in Sea Island, Georgia.

Months of working from home has many people transforming their abodes into multitasking marvels of purpose, practicality and personality.

So how do you give your rooms that personal stamp as we snuggle in for fall and winter?

Maine-based designer Erin Flett has a mantra: “Collect things you love, that are authentic to you, and your house becomes your story.”

Rather than a basic chair, generic carpeting or ordinary wallcovering, designers are favoring items that have a little “soul,” from the cozy nap of a plush textile to the tool marks of an artisan-made bowl, all the way to the over-the-top gorgeousness of a sleek lacquered cabinet.

There’s something for everyone. Pieces that give off a homespun, handmade vibe. Polished pieces that get the heart beating, with exciting prints or bold shapes. Freeform, elegant mirrors. Patterns that span centuries of artistry. Colors that reflect our need for nature’s restorative qualities. And at the other end of the spectrum, colors that rev up our imaginations.

The most interesting new home décor has the look and feel not of a factory assembly line but of a studio. An atelier. A small production house.

A few examples of what’s in store for fall:


Look for saturated hues — cobalt, cinnamon, charcoal, ruby, green and mustard among them. It’s the depth of these colors that’s new, and also how they’re used. They’re enveloping entire rooms, from walls to moldings to fireplace mantels and even the ceiling. The kitchen too.

“In North America, red is our warm-color best-seller,” says Valentina Bertazzoni, head of style and design at high-end Italian kitchen appliance maker Bertazzoni.

“By incorporating colors like red, the kitchen space can feel livelier and more inviting. And more homeowners are catching on to the idea that a colorful range can serve as an anchor or protagonist for a design concept.”

Charcoal and black have gone from being goth teen shades to go-to colors for chic, dramatic rooms. Even nurseries are getting these inky hues, which help make furnishings, artwork and other colors pop. In childrens’ rooms, they speak to the gender neutrality that many modern families are going for.


“I love that maximalism is taking over as minimalism phases out,” says New York designer Courtney Sempliner. “The pattern play that I’m seeing with upholstery, the layering of patterns of varying scales and the bold use of color is exciting and much more interesting.”

It also allows more of a homeowners’ personality to come through.

Regional and global tribal patterns continue to get attention; textiles for living and sleeping spaces feature these eye-catching and often story-driven designs.

“The Navajo are among the finest rug makers in the world, featuring loom work and design on par with the best Persian rugs,” says Atlanta-based design writer Leanne Potts, a contributor to HGTV, Gardenista and other outlets. ”

Joanna Mahserdjian, founder of Upstate Rug Supply in Hudson, New York, agrees.

“Hang one on the wall as art, place one on the floor in a midcentury-modern home, or layer them with Persian rugs, as Ralph Lauren does,” she suggests.

There are some fun retro wallpapers too, like Hovia’s Memphis-era abstracts, and Graham &Brown’s large-scale, midmod, ’70s and ’80s abstracts. Look for trompe l’oeil designs like origami, crocodile, faux bois, and crystal or mineral patterns.


You’ve probably noticed it in the aisles of big box and neighborhood décor stores: Rattan and jute have moved from the porch and storage closet to just about every room in the home.

Dressers, side tables, headboards, lighting, seating and even kitchen/bath cabinet fronts are featuring the tight weaves of these materials.

Geometric textures and shapes are also attracting designers looking to create a modernist vibe, but with a geologic look that appeals to nature lovers too.


Design and shelter magazines’ Instagram feeds are getting likes galore for posts featuring floating vanities; mixed-color kitchen cupboards; shapely, soft seating; Brutalist objets d’art; and matte-black window frames, cabinet knobs and faucets.

In furniture, there are chunky, framed wood pieces, like Pottery Barn’s Westbrook Parson’s-style side table with a cement top, or the Jack table, with a marble top perched on an architectural bleached-wood base. But there are equally interesting pieces with sensuous, rounded corners, like the Runwell dresser and side table in Shinola’s fall collaboration with Crate &Barrel.

Wood and wood-look floors add another homey dimension to eclectic rooms, and soften the austerity of minimalist ones. Beyond real wood, there are great-looking laminates and hardy, beautiful porcelain tiles whose realistic looks exemplify how far digital printing technology has come.


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