8 Canadian designers share inexpensive ways to update your home this season

Plants, aromas, and drama are just some things these pros like to use.

Plants, aromas, and drama are just some things these pros like to use

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

We asked these Canadian designers what they like to do to make a space cozier come fall. Keeping in mind that many will spend more time than ever indoors as the temperature drops, here's what they like doing and how you can try it too.

Embracing light, nature and newness

Photography by Dexter Pert (Photography by Dexter Pert)

Designer Dexter Pert says:

I suggest carving out a little area next to your workspace to showcase plants and give your room a sense of renewal. That's something I'm concentrating on — embracing light, nature and newness to inspire me through the more indoor-focused months. The vibrant rubber plant in the corner of my work nook enjoys the afternoon filtered light and though it requires some space to thrive, I find the scale of it exhilarating. Like the rubber plant, most of the plants in our home have been with us for over a decade; from our giant white bird of paradise, to the orchids which bloom twice a year, they're a beautiful thing to tend to and watch. And while I try not to pick favourites, the large heart-shaped leaves and crimson veining of our 'White Queen' caladium continue to inspire me. During this time, being surrounded by a variety of plants has given me moments to pause during hours of on-screen meetings to truly take in their beauty.

Igniting the powerful trigger of smell

Charcoal pucks with essences (sandalwood, frankincense and jasmine) (Photography by Steven Sabados)

Designer and artist Steven Sabados says:

As we move into the fall season my hibernation instinct kicks in. I like to ease myself into the colder weather by igniting my sense of smell — a powerful trigger. I place a small charcoal burner in the centre of a large seashell (you can use any fireproof container), light it, and add pieces of dried sandalwood, jasmine flowers and frankincense resin. The warm smell of sandalwood reminds me of a crackling fireplace and the other aromas ignite meditative thoughts. It's an inexpensive way to help keep me grounded and feeling positive as we head into the colder months. The Rock Store in Toronto is where I like to shop but most crystal/health food stores will carry the supplies you need and offer advice on choosing aromas as well. 

Changing up the walls we stare at

(Photography by Justin Rutledge)

Designer Sarah ​Keenleyside says:

Many of us have stared at our walls more than ever so maybe it's time to change things up. Consider moving some art around, creating a gallery wall or updating an existing gallery wall. You will be amazed at how changing up your home's artwork or imagery brings new life to the space. We have a tendency to go blind to pieces that have been hanging on our walls for a long time. 

Freshening up your artwork will naturally catch the eye, making your rooms feel refreshed. When it comes to artwork, I love to look in vintage shops where you can often find unexpected, inexpensive pieces with a lot of character and whimsy. For instance, I found this beautiful framed painting of an Olympic skeet shooter at a vintage shop for $65. It anchors the dining room and is a great conversation piece as well. 

Creating a warm glow

(Photography by Samson Learn)

Designer Deb Nelson says:

Thankfully, there are some inexpensive ways to evoke cozy fall feelings — and that's pretty important right now. I like to bring the outside in by gathering tall branches in a vase to create instant height and add a punchy, graphic detail to a mantel, kitchen island or entryway. If you long for a fireplace but don't have the space or the budget, create a warm glow in the evenings with large candles scented with campfire. And as the evenings get darker, a lamp in a dim corner can add a pretty glow. Inexpensive dimmer cords (that look much like extension cords) are readily available at big box stores and can be moved from room to room depending on where you're spending most of your time.

Stirring up some drama!

(Photography by Angus Fergusson)
(Photography by Angus Fergusson)

Designers Joonseok Kim and Neda Pandza of Dart Studio say:

As our days get shorter and colder, adding task lighting is a simple and inexpensive way to elevate and brighten your space. A table lamp, floor lamp, or the always enviable plug-in sconce, can transform your room and add drama and warmth without the help of a costly electrician. We also love to switch things up by reorganizing and restyling our bookshelves and who doesn't like taking a 'shelfie'? Try displaying your books in more unusual ways, such as horizontally with objects or plants on top or even spine-in to simplify the look of your bookcase. Leaving some negative space on your shelves can go a long way toward making your space feel uncluttered and inviting.

Making yourself a 'nest'

(Photography by Larry Arnal Photography)

Designer Andrew Pike says:

The first thing I do when the weather cools down is load up my sofa with luxurious velvet pillows and chunky throws. As we start spending much more time inside, it's nice to be able to create your own 'nest' when you're watching TV, reading a book, or enjoying a glass of wine. Pull out colours from your rug or artwork, or if you're working with a neutral space, you can pull out whatever colours you like. Traditionally I go for rich, dark tones in brown and grey, but because it's been a tough year, I'm introducing jewel tones like sapphire, topaz and emerald to inject some brightness and positivity. Keep your pillows the same size from season to season so you just need to swap out the covers. 

Layering up with everything you've got

(Photography by Vanessa Galle)

Lindsay Agnew, lead designer of Si & Oui, says:

My best suggestion for fall is to redecorate with what you have and build layers with bright, reflective materials. Like a beautiful fall or winter outfit, layers can add interest, warmth and sophistication to your space. Pull items out of storage or from other rooms and add them to your main living space. Balance reflective materials with woven ones and bright colours with softer neutrals. More is more in this case; envelop yourself with your own accessories. 

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