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Fall Refresher…High Impact Design Ideas that Make the Most of Your Home

Fall has always been the busiest time of year for the design trade. Many homeowners entertain during this time and want their homes to look wonderful and inviting when company arrives for Thanksgiving.

I’ve put together a list of high impact changes for you to choose from to give your home a noticeable, overall improvement. Any of these are great projects to prioritize this time of year. Starting early will ensure you get your items on time as well as help you budget for the expenses that come along in December.


There’s no use making improvements if they aren’t noticeable. Recovering or slipcovering your sofa and/or chairs is a high impact item. It’s also a relatively cost efficient improvement, meaning you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Sofas and chairs are large surfaces. If they are stained, the arms are tattered, or if the colors are fading it will have a big effect on the overall appearance of your room. Choose high quality, well designed upholstery and light weight slip cover fabrics to ensure wearability and “lasting style”.

Window treatments

Window treatments are another popular item for fall. Spring too. Heat, cold and aesthetics are the main drivers behind this one.

There are a wide variety of styles and price ranges so it’s important to understand your own budget and timeline.

I try and take some of the challenge out of the decision making process for my clients by sticking with timeless, classic styles. I feel simple window treatments are almost always best. The exceptions are large, Victorian homes, mansions or grand hotels.  

I’ve mentioned this in my column before: a good rule of thumb is to do floor length draperies and sheers on traverse rods in the living room and dining room and in the guest rooms do valances and wooden blinds or shutters. It’s a way to control costs, ensure you get a classic look that doesn’t date quickly, and add resale value to the home.

Custom draperies, shades and valances take several weeks (about five or six, barring surprises) to measure, design, fabricate and install. Sometimes alterations are needed (designers, installers and seamstresses are human) so you must also allow for unforeseen contingencies. Shutters and wood or woven shades are generally quicker.


Custom bedding is a nice touch in the guest room as well as the master bedroom. Once you’ve seen a really good seamstress’ work you’ll know the difference. Paying for custom work is a waste if the workroom doesn’t do quality finish work. You definitely get what you pay for!

I always do either a gathered or box pleated bed skirt. I like to do a duvet rather than a bedspread, sometimes with a tiny welt around the outside edge or a pillow case hem. Duvets are basically covers for comforters. They both protect the comforter and make it look pretty. Additionally I like to do two coordinating pillow shams with flanges and welts and two coordinating kidney pillows with welts or fringe. Too many pillows on the bed are problematic for spouses and guests.

One recent master bedroom project had a framed bed that we tucked the duvet into. The duvet was done up in a pale greenish-blue texture, two pale taupe matelassé pillow shams with a welt to match the duvet and two kidney pillows in a beautiful pussy willow print with the same matching welts. We did a handsome, lined woven shade on the window and a russet chenille upholstery fabric on the small bedroom chair.

Another project, this one a guest room, had a duvet in a gorgeous, pale yellow and coral “open” floral-paisley linen, with cream matelassé shams and bed skirt. The architecture of the home is stunning and I didn’t want to overpower it with too many details. We kept it simple and elegant.

We are in the process of doing the second guest bedroom in another beautiful fabric. This time a cream linen with a kind of latte colored, “open” floral. It looks golden yellow at first glance then you realize it’s more tan than gold. And we are doing bench and chair cushions for both rooms in a striped cotton with contrasting welts.


With a price range of $250 to $1,200, a home makeover using the furniture and accessories you already have is perfect for getting your home ready for fall. Having your furniture properly arranged, and pictures, lighting and accessories artfully placed makes a huge difference in a room.

A hidden benefit is that once the makeover is done, it keeps you from purchasing the wrong things for your home. In many cases, it saves you from buying new things altogether.

Sofas/Love Seats/Chairs

Of the fall projects listed here, new sofas and chairs are one of the biggest investments and therefore require some planning. Choosing the right style, size and fabric will create long lasting satisfaction.

Remember my simple rules for sofas. If the space is small, choose a sofa without a skirt (legs showing). Unless you’re buying an apartment sofa or love seat, three cushions are best. No one likes to sit on the crack. If you prefer a solid colored sofa, go with a heavy texture. If you prefer a print, choose a heavy linen blend. Textures and heavy linen blends wear well and don’t show spots and stain’s as much as other fabrics.

Most sofas are 84 to 97 inches wide. If the cushion quality or fabrics are cheap, it will begin to show in a few years. Kiln-dried, hard wood frames are important for long lasting use.

New Throw Pillows

A great way to perk up a tired looking sofa or chair is with new throw pillows. I prefer down blend (although I’m looking into alternatives because of humane issues with down). Two custom throw pillows require 1 ½ yards of fabric, two forms, labor, and an extra yard to a yard and a half of fabric for welts sewn on the bias. I usually do two to three twenty inch pillows for medium to large sized sofas, and eighteen inch pillows for love seats. I like to do a tiny welt in a contrasting fabric rather than pre-made trims. I also do brushed fringes. I never get tired of brushed fringe though it’s been around awhile.

If you love my blog posts and need more help, hop on a free fifteen minute call with me to get your most pressing design question answered! 

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree

Or if you need more, read all about my Pain Free Design Strategy Session . These sessions are super targeted to each individual. In the sessions we:

Discuss in detail what you love about your home and what you hate about it.

Identify your style preferences; lifestyle; short and long term dreams and your other unique set of challenges.

Determine how your home is currently functioning and not functioning for you.

Devise a decorating, remodeling, or building plan for a truly unique version of you.

Choose colors, textures and styles that feed your soul.

Create one ideal furniture layout that enhances your sense of stability.