Fall is here! Get your home ready.
My favorite season of all has arrived, and I am thrilled to share with you some of the things that make fall so special to me. It’s a time when cooler temperatures juxtapose with warm colors, and comforting foods are best enjoyed in small gatherings—a reason to make our homes feel cozy and to put our displayed collections to use.
In this article, we‘ll touch on a few pro tips for the dinner party host, as well as some seasonal recipes to get you into the fall spirit.
Keep in mind that a bit of household preparation comes with the fun of entertaining. After all, what are our homes if not safe refuges from the elements and a welcoming retreat for family and friends? The promise of winter is near, so take the time now to get your home prepared for the months ahead.
I have assembled a fall checklist to help you “hop to it” while the weather is prime. The fall vibes are strong in this issue, and I hope you’ll find enjoyment in and around your home throughout this season of color, cuisine and comfortable living.
Check Into Fall
A change in weather and the onset of colorful foliage are reminders that fall is on the way. Get your home ready for the season with these recommended home maintenance reminders:
Clean the gutters: Inspect gutters for any leaf collection before leaves start to drop. Once gutters are cleaned, install metal gutter screens to prevent debris collection.
Protect the exterior pipes: Combat potential pipe freeze with foam pipe wrap insulation for outdoor faucets.
Check and replace the weather stripping: Weather stripping is a simple, but effective, step to keep your home comfortable and energy efficient. It does degrade over time, so keeping it fresh means fewer drafts and lower energy costs.
Service the furnace: A clean-running machine means longer life for your furnace and less likelihood of issues when you need heat the most. Have your furnace serviced by a professional before the cold arrives. And, while you’re at it, have the duct work professionally cleaned—including the dryer vent for added safety.
Upgrade the furnace filter: Are you tired of spending money on high-quality furnace filters every three months? A washable filter can be an excellent alternative, particularly for anyone with allergies. Shop online or talk to your HVAC specialist to order a washable filter that has a custom fit for your air intakes.
Hire a chimney sweep: If you plan to use your fireplace through the fall and winter, have a professional service the chimney for a safer and cleaner home.
Review home safety: Check fire extinguishers for proper pressure (most expire after five or six years). Replace the smoke alarm/CO2 detector batteries. Dispose of old paint, chemicals and used batteries at your local hazardous waste facility.
Touch up the paint: Take a few moments to assess any areas of your home’s exterior that are showing wear. A few paint touch-ups on a warm day can go a long way toward protecting your home from the harsh winter elements to come.
Warm and Wonderful Helpers for Fall Hosting
For many of us, entertaining is a big part of the fall season. Preparing the perfect meal can bring immense satisfaction to any host, but keeping a bountiful spread piping hot can present some challenges.
When I have a large meal in the works, I consistently rely on warming plates. If the oven is full or needs to be at a higher temperature for other dishes, a secondary warming surface comes in especially handy.
Perhaps the most notable mid-century maker of warming plates was Salton, Inc. Its small “Hotray” appliances have been in home kitchens for decades and are still plentiful today. The Salton catalog covered a variety of unique sizes and styles that ranged from single-plate trays and bun warmers to multi-dish surfaces and even a deluxe walnut-and-brass buffet warming cart. The signature “sun spot” seen on many models was especially designed to keep beverages 40 degrees hotter than the rest of the surface to ensure piping-hot coffee, tea or soup.
Chances are you’ve seen a Hotray while shopping the small appliances aisle at your local thrift store. If you come across one, bring it home and enjoy its usefulness for fall hosting, or for everyday meal preparation.
Find more vintage collections, recipes and DIY projects at midcenturymaurer.com.
Hot Cinnamon Apple Cider
Yield: 10 8-ounce servings
½ gallon fresh apple cider
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1 apple (Envy or Pink Lady, thinly sliced)
1 orange (thickly sliced)
¼ cup cinnamon syrup
¼ cup mulling spices
Amber rum (optional)
Combine the cider, cinnamon, apple slices, orange slices and cinnamon syrup in a medium stock pot. Pour mulling spices into a tea ball and place it gently into the pot. Cook on medium-high heat (covered) and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to simmer and cook (covered) for one hour, stirring occasionally.
Serve the cider in an insulated bowl on a warmer tray. Ladle it into insulated mugs garnished with a cinnamon stick.
Optional: Add 1½ ounces of amber rum to each mug for a rich, warm flavor.
Tip: Try making this beverage in a slow cooker on “low” for three hours to fill your home with the warm, spiced aromatics.
Serve spiced cider in an insulated vessel such as this vintage West German pottery tureen that also has matching cups.
Add a touch of modern style to your fall décor by creating a dried floral arrangement. Display it on a coffee table or hearth for a warm and welcoming conversation piece. Consider these guidelines when creating your own composition:
Simple vessel: Start with a piece of understated pottery that allows its contents to be the star of the show. Fill it with floral foam to secure the stems into the arrangement.
Sculptural elements: Seek out interesting dried items with textural qualities, such as lotus pods, various nuts and seeds, and dried fungus.
Soft touches: Fill any empty areas with various dried mosses, nesting this material and just a few delicate stems.
Seasonal color: Accentuate the fall season with tones of gold, brown, red, orange and/or cream. Green items can be used as accents, but they shouldn’t dominate the composition.
Fall Hosting Recipes
Did you know that the first reference to fondue dates back to 17th-century Switzerland?
In America, it took until the 1960s/1970s for fondue parties to reach their prime. While skewering bread into a communal pot of delicious, simmering “goo” might have fallen out of style for a few decades between then and now, it’s a tradition I count on every fall season.
One fondue pot might be more than enough for the average household, but I like to have a couple on hand, because there are many directions to take this dish (cheese, oil, broth, chocolate) for a full-course feast.
Whether vintage or modern, fuel-based or electric, there are many styles of fondue pots to choose from. Much of my collection is porcelain-coated aluminum from Japan. The bulbous shapes, tapered wood accents and vibrant colors add the perfect mod vibe to any party setting. If you’re searching for a fondue pot, look for brands such as Dansk, Copco or SIGG for wonderful retro flair. And don’t forget the matching divided plates and forks!
Choosing just one recipe to share with you is no small task, but I have selected one of my favorites: Welsh rarebit. It’s a little less known than the classic varieties, but it offers a savory, tangy profile that’s best served with crusty French bread or toasted baguette slices. Enjoy a pot with a few friends, and use any leftovers as a dipping sauce for breakfast potatoes.
Serves 6 to 8
1 Tbsp. butter
2 lbs. sharp cheddar cheese,large grate
1 Tbsp. grated yellow onion
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. dry mustard
¼ tsp. paprika
Dash of ground black pepper
½ cup brown ale
Melt the butter and cheese in the top of a double boiler over hot water. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Add all the remaining ingredients. Cook and continue stirring until the consistency is smooth and incorporated. Serve in a fondue pot alongside French bread for dipping.
Tip: Try using a warming plate to keep the fondue at the perfect temperature without the hassle of fuel burners and scorched pans.
For more fall hosting ideas, browse 7 Essential Furnishings for a Formal Fall Dining Room. And of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Mid Century Modern inspiration!