The transition from summer to autumn can be a delightful one ó a certain freshness that you feel in the air in contrast to sultry heat, a softer quality of light, a sense of purpose and organization. But letís face it; sometimes it can be awfully hard to make the psychological shift to a new season, especially if youíre still blissfully reliving that dream vacation you took back in July. So do it slowly. Continue to enjoy your cedar deck or concrete patio, for example, but update your decor with these sweet and subtle ideas, which whisper, ďFall is on its way.Ē

Colors: Donít get too heavily into autumnal hues, such as oranges or browns, for your deck decor just yet; there will be plenty of time for those when the calendar page turns to October. You will want to gently segue to a richer color palette these days, though. How about adding some splashes of vibrant shades like teal blue, deep violet, or bottle green?

Leaves: No, itís not your imagination. The leaves are indeed starting to show the first streaks of yellow and red. Somehow, they are at their most enjoyable right now. I wonder whether that is due to their novelty value or to the fact that we donít have to get serious about raking them up off the lawn just yet. String variegated leaves from your deck rails or porch ceiling as a mobile or garland.

Branches: There is a certain wistfulness to the beauty of bare twigs and branches that seems to embody autumn perfectly. When using these as decorative elements on your patio or terrace, proceed subtly ó for instance, mingle a few with end-of-summer flowers to create either a transitional arrangement for your favorite vase or a timely wreath for the front or back door.

Throws: That new all-white outdoor furniture looked oh-so-cool when the temperature hit 90 degrees Ö and kept rising. However, now itís going to need a gentle touch of warmth to keep it up-to-the-minute chic. Right now, a throw (yes, thatís Grandmaís afghan updated for the 21st century) in chenille or a lightweight wool will serve to add a drop of color. Come the end of September, youíll want to use it as a cozy cover when you relax on the couch.

Fruit and Veggies: Weíre not quite up to pumpkin time yet, IMHO (though I started spotting Halloween costumes in the stores back at the start of August Ö sigh), but thin-skinned squash like crookneck, delicata, or adorable little pattypans can be the basis for an attractive display. Heap them in an earthenware bowl on your porch table, mixed with contrasting green, red, or purple bell peppers. (TIP: Late-summer squashes donít last like their thicker-skinned fall counterparts do, so change them out every few days. Then simmer them into a hearty soup.) Apples and pears look great piled in a basket; add some zip with more unusual pomaceous fruits like rose hips and quinces.

Lighting: The sun has already begun setting earlier and earlier, even though we wonít make the big switch from Daylight Saving Time back to Standard until November. We sincerely hope itís still warm enough where you are to let you sit out on your deck, patio, porch, or outdoor living room in the evening, but you will want a little bit of extra illumination. Try a few candles for a warm, romantic glow. A luxurious outdoor touch: Install a patio firepit, which will provide both light and warmth, while paying homage to the carefree atmosphere of summer.

ó Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.