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House Tour: DIY Style with Dark Woods & Natural Touches
Create a warm, cozy ambience for fall with a natural, earthy style.
Written by Kelly McBride
Photography by David Sparks
Styling by Julie Fiato
Mix it up. before Julie redid the kitchen, it was all maple-colored wood, from the cabinets to the floor beams. Painting the cabinets white opened the room, and adding contrasting wood tones gave it drama.
Finding Balance. Plenty of white balances out the dark wood. A chevron rug adds geometric lines to a room where organic textures, like wood and leather, predominate.

Decorating for fall can be tricky—how do you celebrate the season while keeping your seasonal décor integrated with the rest of the home?

Julie Fiato, of the blog Redhead Can Decorate, creates her own cozy autumn decorations, bringing out the best features in her nature-inspired home. When the temperature drops, she simply brings in more seasonal, natural objects to create a warm cozy atmosphere. The home in Lake Orion, Michigan, is at the end of a cul-de-sac. There’s a forest just behind the home; birds that flock to the lake at the back of the house and swans that swim by throughout the day are major sources of Julie’s inspiration. She designed her home to reflect these natural surroundings.

First Impressions. Use your entryway to give a visual introduction to the pieces you’ll carry throughout the rest of your home. Mini pumpkins placed on each step draw the eye, while a cable-knit scarf is repurposed into a chair-rail garland that adds the perfect fall cottage touch.
The Great Outdoors. Julie thinks of fireplaces as another way of bringing nature inside. The house has two indoor fireplaces, as well as an outdoor fire pit. The outdoor feel is extended by the wall sconce lamps.

DIY Life

Julie’s full-time career as a blogger and avid advocate of DIY home projects began when she repainted her kitchen cabinet and her two daughters encouraged her to share her inspiration. What started as a few simple kitchen projects soon grew in scale and spread throughout the house. Julie and her husband, Rick, installed wood beams and new countertops, refinished the large oak island, and updated hardware and light fixtures. Rick even designed the brick backsplash himself. Some of the biggest updates throughout the rest of the home included wood planking added to the ceiling of the master bedroom. “The best thing is that it only cost about $150 and was finished in a weekend,” Julie says of the bathroom project.

Decorating for fall doesn’t have to mean introducing a whole new aesthetic to your home.

But her DIY spirit isn’t confined to home renovation. Julie made many of the home’s furniture and décor pieces herself by repurposing unused or natural objects. A beautiful French door hidden in the basement became an illuminated photo display when Julie added black-and-white photos to the glass with clear adhesive dots and rope lights behind the frame. The stump of a dead elm tree in the yard became an end table for the living room after Rick sanded it and Julie added a polyurethane coating.

Outside In    

  The home takes its main visual cues from the natural world. “Adding the outdoors into the home is very important to both of us,” Julie says. Mahogany wood, brick and silver and gold metal accents predominate. Mixing wood creates some of the home’s most striking visual interest.      


Adding the outdoors into the home is very important to both of us.

  “There should be no rules when mixing wood tones,” Julie says. The master bedroom is a case in point, with the rough wood of the picture frame, the white-painted wood of the bench, and the dark, polished bed. Julie highlights the wood and balances all the dark brown with crisp white walls throughout the home. And all the natural elements get a jolt from the home’s more modern pieces. Julie describes the home’s style as a mix of country, rustic and modern eclectic. “Adding a modern piece like a chevron rug or a brass vase makes it all pop,” Julie says.    

There should be no rules when mixing wood tones.

Touches of Autumn. A small pumpkin and a fur pillow, as well as a bow hung on the wall, bring seasonal, outdoorsy touches to the room.
Thrifty Treasures. A wall of platters shines above a hutch lit from inside with strand lights. Julie found an array of silver and silver-look platters at thrift stores, none of which cost more than $8.
Time of the Season. Small candles and a pile of legs give the large kitchen’s cabinets just the right amount of seasonal flair.
Fancy Feast. Julie’s dining room table was worn and scratched at the edges by her cat. She stripped off the finish, sanded it down, and refinished it with wood stain and a polyurethane coating. It now features a gleaming spread of seasonal decorations, introducing pinecones and apples.
Bricksplash. A brick backsplash is a practical alternative to the fire-damaged wood that previously lined the wall behind the range. Julie and Rick made the backsplash themselves, using mortar, adhesive and thinly cut bricks.

Sights of the Season    

Decorating for fall doesn’t have to mean introducing a whole new aesthetic into your home. Julie brings in fall foliage and chopped wood to complement her already rustic interior. “I like to keep it simple,” Julie says.       
“Christmas is coming, so I don’t like to overdo it.” She places a few carefully chosen objects in key places—logs in the hutch cabinet, tree branches in vases on coffee tables and dressers. “Mums, fresh apples and a furry blanket go a long way,” Julie says.  

Julie heightens the warm glow of the vintage light bulbs and the two fireplaces by adding candles throughout the home.      

In keeping with her DIY spirit, Julie’s decorations are almost all found objects. “Use what you have from your yard,” she says. This keeps a subdued, elegant atmosphere and avoids the tackiness of some synthetic decorations. Candles add a finishing touch. Julie heightens the warm glow of the vintage light bulbs and the two fireplaces by adding candles throughout the home.       
For fall decorating, and interior decorating in general, Julie’s main tip it to use items that matter to you. They could be treasured heirlooms, or leaves that are that perfect flame-red you love best. “None of these items have to be expensive,” Julie says. “They just have to have meaning.”   
Rustic Charm. Julie wrote with paint markers on the white bench at the foot of the bed to give it a used, homey look. The wood planking the couple installed on the ceiling makes her feel like she’s waking up in a cabin.
Faux Floor. Diamond tiles painted on the floor give the look of a fancy inset without the price tag and the visual interest of a rug without the need to wash it.
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