While I typically don't subscribe to the "Sex is great but have you tried…" sayings that seem so popular right through here (because sex is kinda incomparable), I do have a semi-short list of things that are somewhat like mental climaxes to me. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the fall season is one of them. I like the cooler weather. I like the turning leaves. I like layering my clothes. I like hot apple cider and hot chocolate. Two of my favorite men ever (who are both gone now: my late fiancé and father) are both born in October. Weddings during the fall are dope. I personally celebrate Rosh Hashanah and it happens in the fall. I could go on and on. I really could.
Something else that I like about the fall is it's a cool time to do a bit of switching around when it comes to my home décor. Nothing really big or super expensive. Just some touches here and there that convey feelings of warmth, coziness and peace.
Listen, fall is literally right up the road. If you want to create a few looks in your house that will make you want to stay in more once the weather starts to drop closer to freezing, I've got 15 that you could easily pull off over the course of a weekend without breaking the bank in the process.
1. Go with Some Low-Watt Light Bulbs
Although we've still got a couple of months before it will be time to "fall back" as far as daylight savings time goes, because it's darker during the autumn and winter seasons, this would be a good time to cop a few low-watt (40-watt or lower) light bulbs. They tend to offer a softer glow that can make the various rooms of your house feel warmer and more comfy.
2. Get Some Pine Cones
If there was a signature plant for the fall and winter season (other than poinsettias), it would have to be the pine cone. While technically, it's considered to be an "organ" in the family of Pinophyta plants, I doubt any of us would give those plants a second thought if it weren't for the pine cones that are hanging from them.
Anyway, I like pine cones so much that I've got a basket that's full of them that I keep in my living room, year-round. However, if you don't really dig them unless it's cold outside, we're about there. Pick some up and put them in a basket, a glass vase or even make a wreath out of pine cones to hang on your front door. As far as where to purchase some, local arts and crafts stores typically carry pine cones (especially as the fall season rolls in).
Oh and, if that wreath idea is something that you're interested in, click here for some step-by-step instructions.
3. DIY Some Fall-Themed Potpourri
I don't know about y'all but something else that I'm a fan of is potpourri. It just has a way of making my house smell so, shoot, "delightful" is the word that immediately comes to mind. If you want to customize your own this year, it's pretty easy to do. A particular recipe that I like consists of "fall-ish scents" like apples, oranges, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, allspice and nutmeg. I found it on the blog, Pip and Ebby. You can check it out here.
4. Play Around with Kernels of Popcorn
Speaking of centerpieces, if you plan on doing a little bit of entertaining over the next few months, a super inexpensive décor idea is to get yourself a couple of tall glass cylinder vases. Then fill them halfway with popcorn kernels and stick some in season fall flowers like sunflowers, chrysanthemums or pampas grass into them. Corn ears are something that's oftentimes seen a lot around Thanksgiving, so the popcorn kernels are something else that can speak "fall" in a subtle kind of way.
5. Decorate with (Preserved) Gourds
While in all honesty, gourds aren't the most fun to eat, they are a wonderful thing to decorate with. Matter of fact, I can't think of many fall harvest décor themes where I don't see them as a major focal point of the design. Whether you want to use them as candle holders, centerpieces, a hanging for your front door or something else, if you preserve them correctly, they can easily last for several weeks. On Sutton Place is a blog that can walk you through how to do just that (here).
6. Darken Your Window Treatments
This particular point is a bit of a play-on words. The reason why I say that is because, if you want to block out the daylight so that you can sleep more while you're off during Thanksgiving (and later Christmas), I can certainly vouch for the fact that blackout curtains (and/or blinds) can get that done. The other spin on this point is to go with some window treatments that are darker in color. It can make various rooms of your house appear "richer".
7. Buy Some Pumpkin Shapes
C'mon. We all know what the signature fruit for fall is — the pumpkin. One day, we'll have to get into the whole "which is better?" debate — pumpkin or sweet potato pie. For now, let me stay on topic and just say that whether or not you adore the taste of pumpkin, it can be cute to have some pumpkin-shaped ideas to decorate your house. Arts and crafts stores (along with places like Walmart and Target) typically have pumpkin stuff. If you think that the orange ones are a little too "country" or even corny, look for metallic ones instead. I saw some on Grandin Road's website that I thought were pretty dope (check it out here).
8. Invest in Some Huge Pillows and/or an Ottoman
Two things that can make even a really nice place feel more like a dorm room (and not in a good way) are bare walls and a lack of big ole' pillows. Keeping this in mind, beside my loveseat, there's a space that's designated for nothing else other than some really large pillows; they really help to make my living room look and feel more comfortable. Or, if you want to fill up an area but you don't want anything too large or bulky, an ottoman may be just what you need.
In the spirit of fall, go with hues that immediately bring autumn to your mind — white or off-white, shades of brown, shades of orange, deep greens, metallics, greys or even purple. The cool thing about this particular tip is you can store the pillows elsewhere once fall/winter is over. Also, if you're looking for another décor theme, the ottoman can be reupholstered or you can put a throw blanket or something over it once a new season arrives.
9. Hang Some Faux Autumn-Colored Foliage
Fall is usually the time of year when folks are down for hanging twinkle lights around their bed (you know, since it's darker longer outdoors. Plus, it's a precursor for Christmas decorations).
If you'd like to have more of a nature-like feel, how about going with some faux foliage that comes in autumn colors like yellow, orange and red? Listen, I've got a nice sized fake tree in my bedroom and it's one of the best things I've ever purchased.
You can get faux foliage at your local arts and crafts store too.
10. Look for Some Jewel-Toned “Accessories”
Colors that reflect autumn leaves are very popular when it comes to home décor. Something else is the rich shades that derive from jewel tones. If you're curious about what falls under that category, it's literal jewel colors like sapphire, ruby and emerald. Dishes, picture frames, glasses, shower curtains, linen, serving trays, plant holders, vases, blankets, pillows — these are just some of the ways that you can add jewel tones into your décor in order to add some elegance that says "fall" in the most sophisticated way possible.
11. Bring in Some Fall-Scented Essential Oils (or Candles)
Other than potpourri, another way to keep the various rooms of your home smelling fall-themed-divine is using an oil diffuser or some scented soy candles (it can't be said enough that soy candles burn cleaner and last longer) that come in some of the season's signature scents. Some of those would include vanilla, apple, pomegranate, fig, sandalwood, berry, patchouli, spice, sage and the combination of frankincense and myrrh.
12. Accent with Cinnamon Sticks
Another scent that's amazing for fall is cinnamon. One way to incorporate it into your candles is to get some cinnamon sticks that you can line up all around, say a vanilla-scented tall candle that you've got. Can anything smell better than that? Lawd. Anyway, tips on how to DIY this can be found on the Home Stories A to Z blog here.
13. Put Some Autumn Leaves in a Contrasting-Colored Vase
My maternal grandmother used to press plants and flowers a lot. Matter of fact, I've got a large beautifully framed piece of her work in my living room. Since the vibrant colors of autumn leaves are also a huge part of fall décor, if you want to press your own leaves, check out Red Ted Art's list of ways to make that happen here.
Another cool take on autumn leaves is to cut down a few small branches and then put them in a vase that is a totally different color from them like a royal blue or a deep purple. That way, the leaves will "pop" as the combo makes your home office desk or even a centerpiece in your kitchen look "fall ready" with a bit of a modern twist.
14. Get Some (More or New) Throw Blankets
I think I've told y'all before that I don't even know how many throw blankets I've got in my house at this point; that's how much I adore them. I like to put them across my ottoman, drape them over my loveseat and I really like at the foot of my bed. A particular kind that I currently don't have is what I'm gonna invest in this year — a huge cable knit throw blanket. Without a doubt, throw blankets are warm, they're cozy and they definitely are a great way to make your house look like it's all about the fall (and winter) season.
15. Add Some (More or New) Throw/Area Rugs Too
Speaking of "throw stuff", there is something that looks very inviting about a throw/area rug on the floor. Here's the thing about them too — they literally help to keep the rooms in your house warmer (especially if you've got hardwood floors). As bonuses, they can make it more comfortable to walk around barefoot and they even can reduce the noise in the rooms that they are in because they absorb sound from the air (wild). The throw rugs that I have keep my neutral carpeting from looking "blah". One or two in your place could make a dramatic difference. Just in time for the fall season that is definitely on its way.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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There's no denying that Black women are making their mark in the wine industry. From Issa Rae's Viarae prosecco to the McBride Sisters' Black Girl Magic rosé, we're slowly but surely staking our claim in the multi-billion-dollar market. And while it's great that we are growing consumers and builders of wine brands, there's still a lot more work to be done when it comes to volume and representation.
With only 1% of wineries Black-owned, and only 12% women-owned, many enthusiasts, connoisseurs, activists, and entrepreneurs are rallying in a collective effort to not only diversify the representation of what it means to know, love, and consume wine but also how to fight the longstanding barriers of funding, access, discrimination, and cultural division that exist.
Angela McCrae, founder of the media platform Uncorked And Cultured, has turned her love for travel and wine into a major career pivot toward fulfillment and advocacy. "I actually got started in the wine business after a trip to South Africa in February 2020. A friend of mine scheduled wine tastings, and the very first we went to was a Black-woman-owned winery and vineyard called Seven Sisters," McCrae shared.
"I got a chance to meet the owner, as well as a woman who was working on transformation efforts within the South African wine industry to bring equity to Black wine producers. I was inspired."
Courtesy of Angela McCrae
Finding Her Wine Career Niche Within Challenges
Upon coming back to the U.S. and in the midst of the beginning of total global lockdown, McCrae, like millions of other women, began to strategize her next move. "I didn't know what was going to happen next with my career," she said. "I reached out to a friend of mine who I knew doing a lot of work in wine, and low and behold she was doing ambassador work through a very large production company based in Napa Valley. I became an ambassador and quickly started building my clientele."
At the time, she had been doing grassroots work on documentary projects to amplify Black culture, voices, and history. She'd also previously worked at NBCUniversal in creative production and found joy volunteering in the diversity and inclusion space, helping to push DE&I initiatives within the company's employee resource groups (ERGs). "I found my passion points with those experiences."
"Being resourceful, having an entrepreneurial spirit, building communities, having a background in content creation, and being fearless has been really helpful in the work I'm doing now."
She launched Uncorked And Cultured as a Facebook group where Black wine industry leaders, lovers, and producers could network before deciding to expand it to a full content site in 2020. "At the time, there weren't a lot of Black-owned publications that were amplifying what was happening in the movement from a holistic standpoint."
McCrae also started working with Dr. Monique Bell, author of the "2023 Terroir Noir Report: Study of Black Wine Entrepreneurs," and partnered for the State of Black Wine Business Summit. "When the report came out, I knew as a media professional the value of data and the value of, when telling stories, having the numbers behind it." She and Bell collaborated to launch the Sip Consciously Directory, highlighting Black wine producers, distributors, and retailers.
Angela McCrae, director, and Chrishon Lampley, vice president, of the Association of African American Vintners, at WSWA Access Live conference in Orlando.
Courtesy of Angela McCrae
Leveling Up In The Wine Industry
While balancing the duties of her media platform and wine-related projects, she also serves as executive director of the Association of African American Vintners, a nonprofit that works to increase diversity in the industry, boost awareness of Black winemakers, and offer resources to students from underrepresented minority groups pursuing wine industry careers.
"It's been an interesting ride. I never would have imagined I'd be leading an organization helping women winemakers and wine professionals. Our organization was founded in 2002 with just four members, and now we have over 200." The organization is inclusive of Black winemakers and professionals as well as allies from diverse backgrounds who support the foundational mission.
"One of my biggest accomplishments as an executive director is developing a program called the AAAV Wine Entrepreneurial Grant. It's my baby because it allowed us to be able to give $5,000 to five entrepreneurs for the first time in the organization's history."
With the funds, McCrae added, the entrepreneurs selected could "slowly but intentionally scale their businesses," using the funds for vital business functions like hiring sales brokers to get their brands in stores, updating their websites or social media strategies, or upgrading their packaging for wine products.
Pushing For More Representation Of Black Women In Wine
For Black women who want to pursue careers in wine or launch wine brands, McCrae is all for exploration, research, and networking. "First thing you gotta do is drink the wine, and not just what's in the grocery stores. You gotta be a student of wine. Try what's new and unique, at different price points. Ask questions when you go into a wine shop or wine tasting. Take a few courses or even get a certification. I'm certified level 1 with the aspirations of going up to level 2 and possibly going beyond that. Wine education is needed, respected, and appreciated. People invest thousands of dollars and many years of their lives to be an expert in this field, so that's definitely a requirement."
She also recommends volunteering in order to get hands-on experience within wine companies, events, or other spaces where industry leaders are. "Most of our producers in this country are small, family-run businesses, and they can always use the help and support. Go to your local wineries and ask if you can work in their tasting room on a weekend. Show up and ask questions. Be available to meet and network."
McCrae even recently added yet another unique career experience to her plate: serving as an apprenticeship with Silver Oak Cellars, a leading California wine producer. Through the program, she's enjoying her own immersive experience in everything from marketing to the actual grape harvesting process.
And pursuing a career in the industry doesn't end with being a wine producer or brand entrepreneur. "Look into other ways to get into wine like the retail side, or most importantly, the distributor side because they're the gatekeepers," she added. "The more we're part of the distribution pipeline, and the more we diversify that, the more equity can potentially trickle down to make the wine brands be on par [with] what the consumers look like."
For more on Angela McCrae's journey in the wine industry, follow her on Instagram. You can also find news and other stories linking Black culture, entrepreneurship, and wine via Uncorked And Cultured.
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Featured image courtesy of Angela McCrae