Fall favorites, with some new twists

By Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Seasonal trends may come and go, but some pieces have more staying power. At the recent Homestyle Harvest Dish and Design event, I was able to share a few of my fall favorites. Working alongside interior designer Cynthia Hahn of Cynthia Hahn Design in Detroit, she expanded upon my top picks with creative ways to integrate these fashionable finds into your rooms year-round.

First, in order to learn the latest design developments, I turned to national shelter publications such as Country Living and HGTV magazine. Online sources like Pier 1 Imports, Rugs Direct and Ballard Designs also guided the way by providing plenty of eye candy. Lastly, I visited a number of retailers to see their new merchandise.

While this particular season may be synonymous with pumpkins and leaves, you can elevate your fall decor by adding a few of the latest finds. For instance, cobalt blue appears to be making a comeback. This vibrant hue plays well with autumn-inspired shades such as amber, another color trend that suits the season and beyond.

Texture remains prevalent among the latest design predictions and selections; often resulting in a mix of contrasting materials that look as good as they feel. Making a conscious effort to blend various types can make your space extra special. In addition, natural elements like bamboo are making a steady statement in the home category. These neutral finishes have a timeless quality that complements any style.

Analog clocks are coming on strong, taking us back to the past before we had all those digital timekeepers. For one of Hahn’s clients with a watch collection, she arranged a series of clocks with faces in his favorite shade of blue to create a mini gallery in a man cave area of the home.

Animal prints are another classic that’s big this season, popping up in unexpected places and ways like tabletops and paler palettes. Even the standard black and white zebra stripes add pizzazz to your surroundings when paired with pumpkins and gourds for a striking seasonal display.

Florals have become another popular pattern with an updated take on the traditional. Smaller designs are appearing on pillows, bedding, artwork and more. Other nature-inspired trends include animal figures and images, and camouflage patterns that come in a variety of colors.

A comfy armchair and ottoman with floral fabric bring the outdoors in year-round. Mix a pillow with a different pattern to make the pieces pop.

Pastels, which can work surprisingly well with seasonal pieces, can be found on furniture and other décor. These soothing hues have a calming effect in any space. On the flip side, bandanas are considered to be part of the fall lineup. Their familiar patterns and compact size make them the perfect napkins for a casual gathering. They can also cover pillows for a classic accent that lasts.

Here to stay

As Hahn explains, seasonal pieces can be incorporated into your everyday decor in cost-effective ways. For instance, a pastel plate with a pale pink border is subtle enough to pair with other shades like silver and gold. Then the trend acts as an accent instead of a major investment or commitment.

The same can be said for a cobalt blue vase that can be rotated and reinvented throughout the year. “Good design builds on itself; it evolves,” says Hahn. “When you add a classic element, it has staying power.”

Heading into the holiday season, she suggests starting with a white tablecloth as your base for a cobalt blue centerpiece and floral or animal print napkins. Come Christmas, gold flatware and leopard-patterned napkins pair well with red.

You can combine multiple trends like amber and animal prints (try tortoiseshell picture frames and tiger-themed pillows) for a fall-like feel that takes you past the current season. For an easy and affordable way to try one of the latest styles, Hahn says amber-colored light bulbs cast a warm glow.   

Texture can be added to the equation with anything from animal prints to bamboo. Whether you prefer those that are soft to the touch like sheepskin rugs or have visual appeal like sisal, this category hits all four seasons versus just one, says Hahn.

Get two trends in one with sculptural elements like an animal bust made from textured wood that offers a current touch without breaking the bank. Or, you might try ceramic dinnerware that sports a camouflage pattern in pastel colors for an abstract take on the traditional.

Words remain decor-worthy. Take a wooden plaque and make it your own as Hahn did with the one she found that features the phrase “Our story begins here.” Though the saying may be intended for newlyweds, the decision to display the sign in her twins’ bedroom gives it a whole new meaning.

Whether you choose to add some of the latest styles or any other elements, your home should always be a reflection of you and your family. “Design is more than creating beautiful spaces; it is a way of living and connecting to your brand of lifestyle,” says Hahn who helps clients define, hone and elevate that link. “A great way to keep that connection current and fresh is to incorporate trends in a classic way that can flow between seasons and be used in an ongoing, everyday way.”

The trends we are seeing this fall, such as cobalt blue, natural textures, and specific prints can be reimagined for the winter, spring and summer months.

For example, Hahn says cobalt blue candlesticks from your fall tablescape can update your bedroom come summer for a lighter, beachy vibe. Think crisp white linens paired with pale blues, taupey grays and warm metal finishes, along with pops of cobalt blue in your art and accessories (led, of course, by the candlesticks on your nightstand). Add accent furniture or accessories with natural textures and touches of tortoise print and you've created a calm, inspired place of retreat.

Leopard print acts as a neutral when it joins other colors like the blue chair shown here that’s embellished with a patterned pillow and an ottoman turned side table.

So, go ahead and pick your own fall favorites and work them into your seasonal arrangements for a fresh take on the items you already have in your home. Then you can repurpose them later and stretch their longevity throughout the year to make them more meaningful for everyday living.

Jeanine Matlow writes the Smart Solutions column in Homestyle. You can reach her at