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Splash into Fall!

With all of the orange and black decor in the stores, you'd think Fall is right around the corner. Except that we live in Texas and we know that, no matter how many scarecrows we put on our porches, or bales of hay we artfully stack at the mailbox, the temperatures still say Summer. The trees are only dropping their leaves because they are near death with the 100 degree days they've endured. The best part about this paradox is that everything "summer" is on sale right now! I never buy new pool towels or outdoor cushions until at least mid-August and I try to hold off until September, when you can find smokin' deals of up to 75% off if you know where to look.

I was in Tuesday morning the other, er, morning, and they had the most exquisite Turkish cotton pool towels. They felt as good as they looked and at $12 a pop, they were very underpriced for their quality. They also had all of the outdoor planters and patio cushions at half off. Considering that they are already a discount store, you can furnish your patio set at a very reasonable price. The thing is that patio cushion designs tend to stay very similar year after year and even if the prints look a bit trendy, you can always just buy the solids and jazz them up with some new pillows each year. Buy them now if you need them, or want to update, and store them away until next Spring. It will feel like opening a present to yourself next year.

Now is also the time to invest in some more sturdy planters for your porch and patio. If you have a store like At Home, or even just some of the big box stores, go and peruse their collections. You might end up spending the same amount as you would on the cheaper lightweight containers, but you'll be getting much better quality and they will last years instead of one or two seasons. I decided to go cheap this year on my planters for my front porch, only to come home and find one tipped over because THE BASE MELTED in the sun. Now I know better.

One of the best places to shop for summer sales is actually online because the inventory is much larger than at the stores. Go to and check out their cushion inventory if you can't find the full matching set at your local store. Most retailers will now ship your purchases to the local store for free and you can just pick them up. Online retailers like Grandinroad and Frontgate offer their luxury outdoor items for up to %50 off as well. Sure, they're still very expensive, but they are top quality. Sometimes you can find smaller items on these sites to add a little touch of luxury without spending a ton. I like their pillows and side tables which are more colourful than most on the market.

Outdoor candle holders, lanterns and flameless candles tend to be on clearance now too and they really can add a dramatic touch to your outdoor seating area without being very expensive. I found a really cool one at Lowes last month that, when pushed down, spreads out into a globe shape and comes in lime, teal and coral. It was $14 then and I'll bet it's half that now. Flameless candles are the best - no worry about wind or accidental fires. Target has tons of them on clearance. Now is the time too, when you can tell which trends are going to become stable and last more than a season. Remember those garden stools that everyone had to have a few seasons back? Those heavy ceramic "stools" that were really just side tables because no one in their right mind would sit on a piece of pottery? Yeah - you can get those for a song now, because they became ubiquitous in every design project and then we discovered that they're pretty useless. That being said, if you want something that will last outside as a little table or plant holder, you can buy one of those for around $20. Go look at the inventory at your favorite home store and see what's stacked up on end displays and on serious discount. Those are the items that, if you really like them, buy them, but if you just want to jump on the trend, pass them up. They won't be making a comeback next Spring.

One of the things I like to do to change up my screened-in porch is to replace the back cushions on our folding teak chairs with inexpensive throws (Which I purchased after Christmas for about $6 each) once the weather does cool down. It's a nice touch for our dinner guests to be able to snuggle in once dinner is over and we're still hanging out having drinks. Those little throws come in almost every colour and are made from the softest material ever. You can find them to match your cushions and just fold them over the backs of the chairs. It's a good way to transition to Fall, should those temperatures ever really drop.

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