How to Turn Your Outdoor Summer Entertaining Space Into a Cozy Fall Retreat

Prepare your space for shorter days and festive nights with these simple swaps.

Whether your outdoor entertaining area includes a spacious lawn complete with a backyard kitchen, pool, and projector screen or an intimate patio with bistro seating for two, it's an essential part of your home—and as the weather cools, transitioning it from summer hotspot to fall respite will allow you to host friends or relax with a cocktail long after Labor Day.

"The days become shorter and cooler, so how you spend your time outside reflects that," says Philadelphia-based interior designer Glenna Stone. "Schedules become more hectic after the kids go back to school and that summer office lull ends, so instead of large gatherings, like backyard barbecues and lawn games, get-togethers are more intimate." Here's how to create an autumnal atmosphere for your gatherings.

fall front porch decorations
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Prepare for Fall Evenings

With the sun setting earlier and temperatures dropping, one of the most important changes to make to your outdoor space involves heat. "Adding a fire pit or fire bowl helps get that fall mood going, and there are so many wonderful propane fire bowl options available if the smell of wood smoke bothers you," says Stone. "I also recommend keeping a selection of clean throw blankets in a basket or cubby just inside the door so that they're easy to grab."

Put Up New Lighting

Brightening up your space with solar lamps, torches, or LED bulbs is critical both for safety and for setting the mood. "My number one recommendation is to consider lighting," says Stone. "Lanterns, candles, and string lights feel cheerful and make up for the earlier sunsets!"

When it comes to the latter, Margarita Bravo, a luxury interior designer, says that string lights are her go-to for lighting since they can create a warm and inviting atmosphere. "In addition to being visually appealing, string lights can also provide a practical lighting solution for areas where natural light is limited," she says. "For example, they can be used to illuminate a dark corner in a room or to provide a gentle light source for reading."

Implement Jewel Tones

Changing out your summer décor accessories for autumnal options creates a warm atmosphere, and doing so doesn't always require a huge investment. Put away your bright yellow-striped throw pillows and neon pink planters and accent your furniture and porch with jewel tones, instead. "Transitioning from bright, light colors to deeper ones helps make that seasonal switch," says Stone. "That doesn't mean that you need earthy shades if they aren't your style, but swapping in rich tones like navy, forest green, or aubergine changes the mood."

Add Texture

Mixing textures is another low-stress way to create a comfortable year-round space: "Chunky knit throws and pillows boost the cozy quotient of your outdoor space instantly," says Stone. In need of other fall touches? Bravo recommends faux sheepskins to place over your outdoor furniture to add comfort to the space.

Decorate With Fall-Centric Accents

Consider adding fresh plants and foliage that speak to the season, such as mums, pumpkins, and gourds. "I love the way they add color and variety to a space," says Bravo. If you have fallen leaves in your yard, decorate your fall area with them to easily add autumnal hues. "Artificial plants are available in a wide range of colors, so you can easily find ones that complement your fall décor," adds Bravo.

Refresh Your Landscaping

As summer blooms fade, add in seasonal plants that provide color and texture to your beds and pots. "If you want seasonal blooms, you can't go wrong with mums," says Stone. Prepare for fall by stocking your vegetable garden with "cold-tolerant leafy greens, like kale and lettuce, and root vegetables such as radishes and beets," and take advantage of the cooler weather to plant flower bulbs, garlic, and onions that will become the first pops color and life in your garden come spring.

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