Falling Into Place

Jack Frost is coming but he’s not here yet. There’s still time for some work—inside and out—to get ready for fall football viewing, holiday hosting, and effortless spring gardens and lawns.

Kids are back in school and the freewheeling days of beaches, golf and festivals are numbered. The sun is setting a little earlier, the air is a bit chillier, and we’re getting the first hints that winter might be on its way. Let’s get ready for it.

For the sports fans among us, fall means one thing: football. For others the change of seasons signals the return of network favorites (Glee anyone?). But a comfortable family room requires more than just a cutting-edge flat screen. “Believe it or not,” jokes Woodworks manager Kelly Hofmeister, “there are times in the day when people turn the TV off.”

Hofmeister says Woodworks carries a number of consoles and wall units that optimize television viewing while the TV is on and then minimize its presence when the screen is off. “We have some very nice wall systems that will integrate not only component storage, TV space and speaker space, but they’ll also have glass shelves and doors with some back lighting,” she says. “You can combine storage and display space, and it’s a nice way to take the focus away from the TV when you’re not watching.”

The right seating is also critical. Hofmeister says sectionals are popular because they are so versatile. You can fit a crowd, and everyone can reach the snacks or put their feet up on a central upholstered ottoman. Some still opt for recliners, and newer versions have button controls and smooth transitions instead of the old-fashioned levers that launch footrests up or down.

Hofmeister recognizes that most people want to nestle into their furniture when they watch TV, and she encourages customers to seek out pieces that will allow them to do that. She says some shoppers shy away from cushy, comfortable seating because they think firmer foam is automatically better quality and longer lasting, but that’s not true. “I don’t think you should be afraid of purchasing something that has a softer feel,” she says. “With the right quality, the softer sit is going to last as long as the firmer sit.”

Cool weather causes other homeowners to reassess their kitchens. Jeff Hensen, president of Hensen Fine Cabinetry, says many clients start or rekindle remodeling projects once they come back to their kitchens after a summer of grilling. “Fall pushes people into the kitchen,” he says. “When they spend more time there, they start pondering that remodel again.”

Hensen says many homeowners don’t want the worry of remodeling during the summer, but they don’t want the house ripped apart during the holidays or torn open during the cold and snow. So fall is a great time to get to work. He cautions clients to be ready to move quickly if they want things done by the holidays. While his lead time is about eight weeks once decisions are made, there are other factors that can add time to projects.

For example, solid-surface countertops won’t be fabricated until the cabinets are installed, so there will be a two- or three-week lull in the action if you’re getting quartz or granite. And if your mind isn’t already made up on the design, the cabinet wood species or the countertop material, you probably aren’t going to ring in the new year in a new space. “There are a lot of decisions to be made,” Hensen says, “but with a little help it all comes together!”

Other projects, like converting former kids’ rooms to home offices, aren’t driven as much by calendar constraints. Murphy beds are a popular option, Hensen says, for homeowners who want to welcome grown children home for visits but who recognize that their college-educated kids probably don’t need shelves enshrined with ribbons, trophies and other high-school memorabilia.

Fall isn’t all about the indoors for everyone. Avid gardeners know it’s a great time to split, move or plant some perennials. “Fall is a great time to plant,” says Linda Barcz, a horticulturalist at The Bruce Company. “You don’t have to water them as much, and then they start out in the spring and already have their roots established. They can take off and go.”

Barcz also notes that fall plants sales offer end-of-season bargains.

She also recommends seeding lawns.In late September or early October, seeds germinate quickly because of the warmth during the day. Barcz advises against seeding in late October because there won’t be enough warmth for seeds to fully germinate. But homeowners can seed again in November. In dormant seeding, grass doesn’t germinate until spring when the snow melts, “but then it pops right up,” Barcz says.

Some outdoor projects create spaces that can be used right away. Permanent outdoor fireplaces or moveable fire pits are popular, Barcz says, and can extend the life of outdoor spaces. “There’s something very appealing about that crackling fire,” she says. “When you have a party outside, people are scattered all over out doors. When you have a fire, people naturally gather.”

– Jennifer Garrett

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