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10 Budget-Friendly Decorating Ideas to Freshen Up Your Home for Fall

By Trish Snyder

Published October 6, 2023 • 5 Min Read

When it gets chilly outside, nothing feels cozier than sinking into a sofa layered with velvety cushions or wool blankets. Or rolling out rugs so bare tiles or wood floors feel toasty underfoot. As our indoor time increases with the cooler weather, making a few simple décor updates can help you see your home with fresh eyes. And best of all – it doesn’t have to be a huge expense.

The interior design industry is huge in Canada – $1.7 billion in 2021, in fact, according to Statistics Canada.1 There’s no shortage of expensive design options. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend big to get results. You can spruce up your space for fall without spending a dime, and often without creating harmful waste. Here’s how you can make stylish and sustainable decorating updates on a budget this autumn.

Switch up accessories

Simple changes can make a big difference as the seasons shift. Adding heavier fabrics and textures in the fall and then storing them in the spring can make your home feel more comfortable and inviting.

Play with pillows. Move pillows around for a quick and free makeover. Decorative cushions or bolsters on a bed can freshen up the look of a sofa or armchair, or vice versa. Does your extended family have similar taste and style? Ask if they’d be interested in a seasonal swap: you loan them a few of your cushions and borrow a few of theirs.

Plan a décor swap. This fun event works like a clothing swap. Invite people who are open to the idea to show up at your place with clean decorative pillows, blankets, lamps, vases, bowls, coasters, tableware, art, etc. Group together similar items to make browsing easy. The number of items you donated to the swap is the number you’re allowed to take home. If there are leftovers, distribute or donate them.

Dress up candles. If you’ve got a collection of candle holders, wrap them with a sprig of fresh rosemary or a branch clipping held in place with twine. (For safety, either display the candles unlit, or make sure the tie and herbs are not exposed to the candle flame.) If you’re restocking for the season, try beeswax or soy candles for an eco-friendly choice over traditional wax.

Switch up your photos. How many awesome photos are buried on your phone? Every year, I like to print new favourites from winter adventures to replace photos of last summer’s memories (then I swap them again in the spring). Thrift stores often have cheap frames that can work well in a gallery wall with an eclectic mix of frame sizes and styles.

Buy secondhand and save. Scour local flea markets, vintage shops or thrift stores to get your hands on new-to-you home decor and accessories such as rugs, pillows, lighting, kitchen stuff, platters, blankets and more. You may even find the occasional fall rummage sale in your neighbourhood.

Bring nature indoors

Displaying elements of nature is like opening a window: it instantly brightens up your home.

Leverage fallen leaves. Canada’s trees offer us an abundant  and free! display of gold, orange and red accessories every autumn. Collect fallen leaves from your yard or local parks. I take the simple route by arranging leaves in an array of jars on tabletops, topping a place setting or cloth napkin with a single leaf, or highlighting a few in a bud vase. If you’re crafty, search online for DIY projects using leaves, such as “hanging leaf display” or “fall wreath with leaves.”

Display natural collections. Pick up fallen pinecones or acorns and group them in bowls or baskets on a coffee table, sideboard or kitchen countertop. Voila, instant design feel!

Forage free flowers. Instead of paying handsomely for out-of-season imports with a hefty transportation footprint, fill a small vase with late bloomers from your garden or balcony window boxes. Look for asters, goldenrod, daisies or chrysanthemums.

Branch out. Prune leggy shrubs or bushes either with their leaves intact or as minimalist bare branches. Display them in vases or jars that are tall enough not to tip, then toss them in your yard waste when they’re no longer fresh. After a storm, collect twigs, fallen branches or even driftwood if you’re near a lake or ocean, then arrange them casually in a short square or rectangular vase. Creative crafters can mount larger branches into the wall to function as a natural hanger for jewelry, belts, ties or scarves.

Turn everyday fruit and veg into art. Heaping a bowl with fresh fruit is a great sustainable choice. Choose fall orchard harvests, such as apples or pears and pile for colourful effect. Replenish what you eat when you restock your weekly groceries. Try the same with autumn veggies: pumpkins or squash can be arranged like sculptures, then cooked into soups, muffins or pie (the roasted seeds don’t last long in our household!). Ornamental gourds are another popular choice that can easily be composted when they’ve passed their prime.

We don’t need to spend a lot of money to create a homey vibe. It can be simple and fun to find unique ways to decorate your home for different seasons. Enjoy!