(ARA) - Just as animals use the fall to prepare for winter, now's the perfect time to transform your home into a cozy nest where your family and friends will love to gather.
Ginny Bean, publisher of Ginny's catalog, suggests the following simple decorating touches to add seasonal warmth.
* Put out the welcome mat -- literally. Make visitors feel welcome from the moment they step through your door. Decorate your front door with a seasonal accent and an attractive mat.
* A crackling fire naturally draws people to it. Rearrange your furniture to create a conversation area around your hearth. If your home doesn't have a built-in fireplace, there are a number of attractive electric fireplaces on the market that provide warmth with no mess or outside vent. Some even hang right on the wall.
* Light the candles. Choose candlesticks in metallics (gold is popular now) or in warm colors. For a unique look when entertaining, Bean suggests making your own votives from apples or gourds with a votive carver.
* Bring the beauty of outside, in. Add richness to your home by using fall's palette of warm colors. Select fabrics and accessories in warm shades of browns, reds, oranges and yellows. Increase the feeling of coziness by adding layers - think table runners on top of cloths or rugs over carpets -- and texture in the form of nubby throws and pillows scattered throughout the room.
* Drape your home in warmth. Now is also the time to replace the summer sheers for more substantial curtains, which can keep out drafts and add color and texture to a room. For added energy savings, check out the variety of thermal window treatments available.
* Think back to black. A touch of black can add sophistication to your home decor. Use it sparingly though, perhaps in a few picture frames, a ceramic vase or a throw or pillows, because too much black can make the room look dreary.
* Continue the theme with decorative accents inspired by nature. Brighten the mantel with a swag of fall flowers and leaves or use artificial flowers to make your own autumn centerpiece. Bean likes to use mums or natural dried grass in unexpected containers such as baskets, terra cotta pots or chipped china pitchers or bowls. Scatter a few gourds, ceramic pumpkins or a leaf-shaped accent piece throughout the room to complete the look.