Monday, 18 January 2021

Make your home and mood ready for autumn

  • For designer Lucille Buell, painted wood gives nature a touch of glamour. (Courtesy of Lucille Buell Interior Design)

  • Designer Lucille Buell interprets the autumnal abundance with a cascading effect of pumpkins at the front entrance. (Courtesy of Lucille Buell Interior Design)

Our lingering summer weather can blur the edge of the autumn season, but it’s important to acknowledge the transition, otherwise how can you appreciate it?

I asked five wonderful local designers to share their best ideas for embracing autumn as we slide ever so gently into it. For more beautiful design inspiration, check out their online portfolios.

Ann Lowengart

• “I prepare my home for autumn by adding pillows with warm colors like pumpernickel and taupe gray. You’ll need three for each sofa plus a big chunky throw to add texture and create a cozy vibe that’s perfect for chillier days.”

• “For the dining room arrangement, I select a concrete planter and fill it with fall florals and succulents to emphasize warmth and texture. It makes a huge difference.”

Ann Lowengart Interiors, a full-service, luxury interior design company in Marin County,

Stacey Lapuk, ASID

• “Change out accessories. Choose warmer colors with more texture for pillows and throws. Change out area rugs. Think nubby, fringe and anything that can help you bring in texture.”

• “Consider your artwork. Rent original art — warm landscapes or abstracts — for a month or more from MOMA’s rental art gallery in Fort Mason.”

• “Pay attention to the smells in your home. Should you light essential oil infused candles with a scent that speaks to you of the season? Plan your kitchen with new cookie cutters in anticipation of a wonderful afternoon of the aromas of baking?”

• “Bring the outdoors inside. Winter houseplants can add more texture, and bring in as much light as possible to help shake the darker days to come.”

• “Rearrange your seating plan to allow for room for a tree, and take advantage of a wood stove or fireplace. Create a game table space for puzzles, cards and other indoor activities.”

• “Be aware of air flow. Though it may be a bit chilly, be sure fresh air circulates to avoid the stale, stagnant odor of inadequate ventilation. That’s where cozy, nubby throws can come in to play.”

Stacey Lapuk Interiors, and Indigo Interiors, Inc., Novato. Specializing in design for people building, remodeling or moving into “forever” homes.

Kimberly Rider

• “Bring in fresh flowers and foliage that represent the season. Deep rich red flowers, changing leaves, branches with moss and other natural elements can remind us that the outdoors is always there for us.”

• “Candles are a great way to warm up a room and add a cozy feeling and scent. I especially like candles that smell more savory than sweet. With herbs and blends as an inspiration, try your favorite local home shops likes Makers Market in Mill Valley ( that usually stock the best natural candles.”

• “Food is always seasonal for me and after signing up for, a new CCOF-certified produce delivery service, I received large heads of lettuce, zucchini, kale and delicious apples. It inspired me to make a great salad with sliced apples, pecans, organic roasted chicken and a fresh salad dressing.”

• “Be inspired by what is natural, local and made with attention to quality.”

Kimberly Rider Interiors, San Rafael and the Northwestern states specializing in sustainable living,

Lucille Shaw Buell

• “Turn those cliché autumn decorating ideas upside down and present them in an inspired and original way that is unexpected and chic.”

• “Say no to leaf garlands and consider a feather garland instead. Drape it on your fireplace surround or on the inside of your front windows, or wrap them around a wreath of magnolia leaves to complement their beautiful copper undersides.”

• “Ensure your hearth is fire ready with a basket or bin stocked with firewood. Consider birch wood with ends dipped in black, white, gold or silver paint to make something ordinary a little more extraordinary, because nothing feels more autumnal than a cozy fire curled up in your favorite chair with a sumptuous blanket and a good read.”

• “Go all out at the pumpkin patch. Load up your wheelbarrow with an assortment of cream, green, orange and multicolored pumpkins and gourds then arrange them as if they were “waterfalling” down your front steps.”

Lucille Buell Interior Design, Mill Valley,

Holly Hollenbeck

• “Add pops of fall colors such as yellow-gold, orange or rich berry to your existing decor. Often throw pillows and cozy blankets are an easy, low-commitment way to add a layer of seasonal color to a room.”

• “Use candles throughout the home for a sense of warmth and comfort and think beyond the dining table. Place them on sideboards, windowsills or fireplace mantels. Fill the firebox of a non-functioning fireplace with cream-colored large pillar candles to light on dark or chilly evenings.”

• “Bring in seasonal elements from nature. Try a row of mini pumpkins on a fireplace mantel — I happen to love the white ones — and a bouquet of colorful autumn maple leaves in place of the usual flowers on the dining table.”

HSH Interiors, San Francisco,

Don’t-miss events

• Pick up pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, lemons, mixed bouquets, lavender sachets, lavender wands and kids crafts from children living with juvenile diabetes, and their parents, from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at a JDRF fundraiser, “Farm Stand for the Cure,” outside Prabh Indian Kitchen at 24 Sunnyside Ave. in Mill Valley. Questions? Call 415- 847-0622

• Ready to try bonsai? Sloat Garden Center pros will guide you through basic planting and care techniques so you can make-and-take your own bonsai in a “Bonsai 101” workshop at 10 a.m. Saturday at 2000 Novato Blvd. in Novato. The all-inclusive fee is $20 for members or $20; registration irequired. Call 415-897-2169 or go to

• Learn how to plan a plant palette to suit your fall menus and get better plant production while you practice planting seeds and seedlings with Sierra Vasquez in the Marin Art & Garden Center’s edible garden from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 2 at 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Ross. Admission $25. Call 415-455-5260 or go to

• Enjoy Slavic music and folk dancing, sample Russian tea and relax in a lavish garden of fragrant roses in an autumn celebration from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 6 and 7 at the Russian River Rose Co. at 1685 Magnolia Drive in Healdsburg. Donations appreciated. Call 707-433-7455 or go to

PJ Bremier writes on home, garden, design and entertaining topics every Saturday and also on her blog at She may be contacted at P.O. Box 412, Kentfield 94914, or at 


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