With the official arrival of autumn, your thoughts may have turned to energy-saving upgrades for the winter, but don’t overlook your décor when it comes to creating a cosy and welcoming environment this season. Here, some simple DIY tips that won’t bust your budget.

Cues from colour theory

Warm colours are called that for a reason: our brains are wired to associate yellows, oranges and reds with heat sources like fire and sunlight. In other words, warm hued items in your home will stand out and have you thinking warm thoughts. With the variety of hues available, you can play with colour to work with your décor. Yellow and gold make great accent colours because they are lighter in value (in terms of light and dark) in addition to their warmth. If your colour scheme already leans towards fall colours, throw in these highlights for an extra “pop”.

Some of the season’s favourite colours — plums, burgundies and eggplants — provide a nice contrast because they are darker and they flirt with the opposite side of the palette. Throw them into the mix and they’ll help pick up the cooler shades (or compliment the warmer tones) in your room. Greens and browns provide a good base. Take a look in your garden: nature pairs them with just about any colour. Play with warm and cool greens (yellow or blue undertones) as the base for wreaths and floral arrangements. Fall colours are a natural compliment to any wood furniture.

Some quick ways to add colour:

– Pick up some colourful seasonal ribbon. You can tie it around a wrought-iron candle holder and pair it with bright coloured taper or pillar candles. Wind it around a plain wreath, tie up a bow on a basket or adorn your potted plants. You can even use a long piece to tie back the drapes if the colour is right.

– Splurge on some new throw pillows or sew up covers for the ones you already have. Coordinate them with an afghan, quilt or throw rug.

– Visit the market. Play with the colours and textures of fresh fruit, coloured corn and gourds. Include them as part of an arrangement, or display in a bowl on the table.

– Pick up a potted plant in a bright colour. Chrysanthemums can brighten up your front step and your garden, and gerbera daisies can brighten up any corner.

– For a quick and easy table topper, purchase enough fabric to make a large square and cut the raw edges with pinking sheers or a decorative blade on your rotary cutter. (One metre of fabric will give you a 40 inch square). Top it off with a hurricane candle holder or a vase of fresh flowers.

– For a dinner party, dress up a plain tablecloth with theme napkins and preserved leaves. A gold or cream tablecloth will coordinate with decorations for just about any season.

– Colourful linens like hand towels, dish towels and table linens don’t need to be fancy to tie into your colour scheme. Tuck them in a woven basket with a bow or some artificial flowers. Even something as simple and inexpensive as a printed tissue box can play along.

– Watch for sales on fall garlands to hang around your home.

Warm décor

The leaves may be changing colour but we should still be thinking green. Some décor items can add warmth, regardless of their colour:

– Take down those lacy, sheer drapes and swap in some heavier-weight curtains. They’ll help trap heat in the room and block the draft around windows. Keep them open during the day to let in the sunlight and close at sunset. Look for insulating or thermal linings to get the full effect.

– Wishing you had heated floors? An area rug or mat might be just the thing on cool, bare floors. Look for ones that have an anti-slip backing, or invest in an anti-slip mat for safety.

– You’ve heard the advice to turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater? Think whole body and try a colourful throw to snuggle under while reading or watching TV. A solid colour with an interesting texture will work on a printed chair or sofa, while a novelty print will compliment a neutral print or colour.

– Display a pumpkin-shaped or Halloween-themed LED night light. You’ll cut your energy consumption by eliminating traditional incandescent bulb lighting, but you won’t be sacrificing your ability to see in the dark.

In the mood

– Another energy saving hint is to opt for “task lighting” or “mood lighting”. For example, a reading lamp by your chair uses less energy than lighting the entire room, and it provides a cozy feel.

– Use your “common scents”: apple, pumpkin, cinnamon and cloves capture the aroma of harvest baking. Citrus blends like orange and grapefruit, though neither local nor in season, can provide a much-needed lift on grey days. Look for scented candles, potpourri and fragrance oils.

– If you or your guests are sensitive to perfumes and chemicals, try using essential oils instead of perfumed oils or scented candles. If you don’t have a diffuser, simply add a couple of drops of oil to a small dish filled with water and allow it to evaporate. (Check the label for instructions.)

– For a flickering glow without the fire hazard, try battery-operated tea lights, votives and pillar candles. Many stores carry rechargeable versions, and they’re less risky than open flame in arrangements, centre pieces or high-traffic areas.

– Hang some decorative lights indoors or around your patio to contribute to a fall-themed or Thanksgiving get-together. Choose LED — it takes 100 LED lights to use the same amount of energy as a incandescent bulb.

Extending the outdoors into your home

Experience the latest home and garden trend… in reverse. While we spent the summer working on “outdoor rooms”, fall accessories are all about bringing the fiery colours of nature inside.

– Flower arrangements — whether fresh cut or artificial — can work with any colour scheme. A simple arrangement such as a single colour of roses or a bunch of sunflowers won’t compete with a “busy” room, while mixed flowers are sure to be an attention grabber when paired with low-key décor. (Check out some florist websites for inspiration.)

– Experiment with projects that use natural materials such as twigs, pine cones and preserved leaves. Hanging decorations, simple wreaths and centre pieces are all projects you can work on with the kids or grandkids.

– Let the photographer in you have a go at the artwork. Play with the settings on your camera to take some stunning landscapes or colourful close-ups to blow up and display in your home. Digital camera owners will want to use the highest setting for the best resolution and detail. Smaller photos can be arranged and displayed in a series.

Remember: as with Christmas decorations, fall decorations can be forgiven if they don’t quite match your home’s colour scheme. There’s plenty of potential for playful accessories, whether it’s something as elaborate as decorations for a special event or a few simple touches for everyday use.