Even for those who aren't headed back to school, the end of summer can bring on a nasty case of the blues. Instead of moping, embrace the excuse for a change. Check out some of our favorite ways to spice up your space for fall.
1. Add Accents
Spruce up your space with a few inexpensive additions that make a cheerful impact. "This is when you want to make some juicy upgrades," says Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, founder of Apartment Therapy. "Think about bright pillows for the sofa, new drapes, and area rugs to warm up bare floors." If you've considered painting an accent wall a bolder or richer color, now's the time.
2. Bring Nature Indoors
Just because you're going to spend more time inside doesn't mean you have to cut yourself off from the natural world. In fact, why not bring home fresh flowers once in a while? Also, gather branches, berries, and leaves to add a lovely element to the home.
3. Clear the Air
According to the EPA, the air inside a home can have two to five times the pollution level as the air outside. Since fall and winter bring longer stretches of time indoors, pay extra attention to your home front. Annie Bond, author of "Better Basics for the Home," offers a simple strategy: Leave your shoes at the door so you don't track dirt, mold, allergens, and chemicals into the home. While you're at it, add a few indoor plants such as English ivy to help clear the air. Lastly, eradicate lingering mold, a known allergen, by using Bond's all-purpose solution: Combine a teaspoon of tea tree oil per cup of water in a spray bottle and spritz.
4. Pare Down and Pack Up
Rather than stow all your old summer gear, determine what might last another season and what won't. You'll cut down on clutter and storage, as well as save yourself the trouble of making these same decisions next spring. If those ratty beach blankets have seen better days, don't pack them into winter storage; cut them up and use them for dust rags. Recycle, donate, or sell your unwanted stuff, and pack the rest of it away.
5. Hang Mirrors
Reflective surfaces get you more bang for your lighting buck, opening up the rooms of your home and expanding tight spaces. They add no visual weight of their own, so you can use larger mirrors without fear of them overpowering a room.
6. Overhaul the Pantry and Kitchen
Take a cue from local-food advocate Deborah Madison, author of "What We Eat When We Eat Alone," and revamp your pantry. "Every fall," she says, "I clean out my cupboards and fridge, using up what's there, throwing out the old and expired stuff, and assessing what I need." By doing so, she ensures that she's got fresh versions of everything on hand -- from smoked paprika to dried lentils -- should the urge to cook strike in the middle of a snowstorm. In addition to stocking up, make sure your kitchen appliances are running efficiently. Maggie Wood, a green home consultant, suggests vacuuming the condenser coils of the refrigerator and cleaning up the grease buildup in the oven's vent system.
7. Stoke the Hearth
One of the best ways to make your house feel homey, says Gillingham-Ryan, has nothing at all to do with decor. "Start cooking again!" he says. Break out a new cookbook, experiment with an unfamiliar recipe, and start sizzling, sauteing, boiling, and baking. Nothing creates a cozy indoor atmosphere, especially when it's cold out, like the smell of a home-cooked meal.
More from Martha Stewart Living:
19 Tips for Perfect Laundry Every Time
24 Bathroom Organizing Tips You Haven't Thought Of
10 Clever Ways to Save Space in Your Kitchen
12 Secrets for a Cleaning the Bathroom in Less Time
A simple paint project can do wonders to liven up your space.