We’re currently enjoying the last throes of what has been one of the hottest UK summers on record. You’ve probably spent a lot of time outdoors and away from your home. But it’s now time to start thinking about life after long, sunshine-filled days.
We all use our homes differently in autumn. As the nights begin to draw in, we spend more and more time cuddling up in the cosiness of our personal refuges. This is why it’s always a good idea to get your home ready.
We’ve put together a quick guide to getting a home ready for the autumn. You may not follow all the steps in the guide, but implementing just one or two of them could make your home more hospitable when the temperatures really start to drop away.
Prepare your garden
The grass and a lot of the plants in your garden will eventually stop growing as autumn progresses. Before the weather takes a turn for the worse, get in your garden and tidy up as best you can. Mow the lawn (although it might need one or two more runs before winter arrives). Prune your hedges and bushes, and remove weeds from their roots.
Deep clean your home
You’ve heard of spring cleaning; this is autumn cleaning. The former involves preparing your home for the warmer months, and the latter involves getting ready for winter.
Approach this job on a room-by-room basis. Remove all the furniture, and clean all the surfaces you don’t clean on a daily or weekly basis — including skirting, coving, light fixtures and window frames. You’re going to be spending a lot more time in your home with all the windows closed, so get ready.
The autumn is a great time to reset your family home. During the warmest months of the year, many of us amass a range of possessions we don’t need during the autumn and winter. Get rid of them by placing them in storage, selling them, donating to charity or upcycling them.
Once you have decluttered, you can think about adding some items to your home that are more conducive to a comfortable autumn. The addition of a few throws, pillows and thick rugs is a great way to create cosier living spaces.
Prepare your bedroom
Keeping a bedroom cool during the summer months is very important. Switching to thinner sheets and pillows is just one way to make the temperature more conducive to restful sleep.
But in readiness for the colder months, it’s best to make your bedroom warmer and cosier. The easiest way to do this is to get that thick duvet out of storage. The addition of an extra sheet, a thick rug and lined curtains will also help to keep out the cold.
During the summer, light and bright is best. Whites and pastel colours tend to reflect light well, making rooms feel larger than they actually are. But during the autumn and winter months, we like the walls to close in a little. Switching to reds, browns, greens and blues adds another level of cosiness to any living space.
Change your curtains
During the summer, it’s great to allow as much of the sunshine into your home as possible. Switching to thinner, lighter curtains achieves this — as well as keeping rooms a lot cooler. But the opposite is true during autumn. Prepare your home for lower temperatures and bigger draughts by hanging thicker curtains.
Clean the oven
Salads, sandwiches and al fresco dining become very popular during the summer. Let’s face it: huge roasts and stews aren’t all that appealing when temperatures outside are high. But as the nights draw in, we all tend to spend a lot more time cooking in the kitchen. To get ready, give your oven a thorough deep clean.
Remember: you don’t need to rely on expensive and caustic oven cleaners for results. Baking soda, white vinegar and lemon juice work wonders. If you have a handheld steam cleaner in your home, use it to cut through the worst of the grease and carbonised food.
Clean your fireplace
If you’re lucky enough to have a real fireplace, now is the time to clean it. You certainly don’t want to be cleaning it when it’s needed during the winter.
Use a wire brush to get rid of soot from the surrounding brickwork, mantel and hearth. Remove any excess with a damp sponge. It’s also a good idea to get a professional to check your chimney flue for potential blockages.
Introduce some natural scents
Certain aromas give people a sense of comfort and safety during the autumn months. Only you know what works best in your house. Autumnal potpourri is perfect, although essential oils work just as well.
Citrus is also a great way to freshen up your home for the winter ahead. Boiling some lemon, orange or lime rind in a pan of water every morning. Let the glorious aroma float around your home.
And don’t forget to stock up on fuel for your fire.
Create an autumnal ambience
There are several ways to create an autumnal ambience in your home. Think about how you want your home to look, feel and smell. Some people introduce a few autumnal plants or nature-based murals. Others rely on autumnal art.
A great way to introduce autumn throughout your home involves the use of candles. A pine-scented candle just oozes autumn.
Generally speaking, anything you can do to bring Mother Nature into your home at this time of year will pay dividends.
Don’t forget the practical stuff
Getting your home ready for autumn isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about practical measures that counteract worsening weather. Here are a few things you might want to do before the weather takes a turn for the worse.
- Check your windows and doors for damage, gaps and draughts
- Program your thermostat for the colder temperatures that lie ahead
- Inspect your roof and guttering
- Stock up for power cuts — it’s always a good idea to have candles, torches, thick blankets and other essentials if the lights go out
- Check all your home safety gadgets, including smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
- Store away garden furniture
- Check your water pipes for leaks
- Clean air vents, radiators and dehumidifiers
It’s usually better to prepare for winter right at the end of summer. Leave it until the cold, dark days are here, and things become a lot more difficult.