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It's fall! Enjoy the new season with these 10 decorating and entertaining ideas

The first crisp day, the first red leaf, the sky a richer shade of blue, the yellow school bus making its stops again... As signs of fall begin to pop up all around, take this opportunity to slow down and savor the little things that make the season meaningful to you. From simple, natural decorating ideas to library corners and cozy quilts, here are 10 ideas for filling the season with heartfelt delights.

Decorate with nature. Fresh apples, quinces, pomegranates, figs, acorns, dried leaves and fall-blooming flowers all make wonderful (and easy!) decor. Why shop for fall-themed merchandise when there are so many beautiful options available in your own backyard or from the local farm stand?

Pull out your softest old quilts (or hunt down a new one). Handmade quilts deserve to be loved, displayed and used all over the house, not just in the bedroom. Nor are they just for rustic or country homes, either. A quilt does wonders to warm up a modern space, as displayed by the cozy fireside seating area shown here. Fold a quilt and drape it over the sofa, lay one across your favorite chair beside the fire or simply stack up a few on a bench and enjoy the colors and patterns.

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Curate a library corner. What could be better than curling up in your favorite chair beneath a toasty quilt on a crisp fall day, with a mug of hot cider by your side? Answer: Doing it with your favorite book in hand. Take on the role of home library curator and spend some time sorting through your volumes — you’re sure to come across a few treasures that entice you to page through them again. Roll out a thick rug near your bookshelves and make sure a comfortable chair and good reading lamp are nearby.

Create soft experiences underfoot. As the weather cools, it’s nice to have plenty of warm spots to burrow in around the house, particularly if you have wood or tile floors that can be quite cold to bare feet. Treat yourself to a new pair of slippers or fuzzy socks, and lay out fluffy rugs in key spots, like beside the bed and beneath your favorite armchair.

Incorporate tactile textures. Felt, wool, knits, velvet, leather and nubby linen are wonderfully textural materials to incorporate into your home, particularly in the fall and winter months. I find that even the smallest touches — a little felt basket here, a knitted throw there — are enough to shift the feeling in a space. Your eyes (and fingers) will rest on these little things and think, “Ahh … ”

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Savor a cozy afternoon cuppa. If you don’t normally make time for a tea break in midafternoon, consider beginning the tradition this fall. A pause for a cup of tea, made just how you like it, and perhaps a little scone or piece of cake (or apples and cheese) can really lift the spirits. I find it’s especially appreciated after a brisk weekend morning of raking leaves.

Host a harvest swap. Perhaps you have excess squash from the garden, your neighbor has eggs from backyard hens and a good friend has made so much jam his family could never eat it all — why not host a swap? It can be as small and simple or as elaborate as you like, but the heart of it is about connecting with your friends and community, and sharing your homemade and homegrown resources, so everyone benefits. Turn it into a festive event by offering hot cider and snacks, and allow plenty of time to mingle and chat.

Create some order. A bit of organization can really help you feel on top of things. A good project for the fall is to set up some proper shoe and boot storage, to keep that mucky footwear off the entryway floor. I’ve found that the more complicated the system, the less likely my family is to use it, which is why I especially like the looks of the simple wall-mounted boot rack shown here.

Dig for treasures. There’s something about old things that makes a house feel lived-in and comfortable, and all the better if the items in question have a story behind them. Go digging for treasure in your own attic or basement, put a family heirloom on display or browse some local antiques shops or flea markets for a special piece. It doesn’t need to be big or expensive, just meaningful to you.

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Spend some time in the kitchen. Even if you don’t normally do a lot of cooking from scratch, there’s something to be said for the warming comfort of a bubbling pot of applesauce or tomato soup on the stove or the scent of something delicious wafting from the oven as the leaves fall and the wind blows outside the window. Hang out and chat in the kitchen while the pot simmers or, if you’re alone in the house, pull up a stool and enjoy the peaceful moment with a good book.

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