Get real with your home style

Perhaps the biggest theme in home decorating going into fall is comfortable, real, personalized style.

"The perfect-home look is over," says Deborah Needleman, former editor-in-chief of Domino magazine. "It is so not of this moment. We're living in a freer time in terms of design and style. You can simultaneously love modern design, rustic pottery, some piece you picked up on the side of the street - all these things can live happily together in your home."

Where fashion goes, home decor is never far behind. And this fall, home retailers continue to take cues from decades past, such as '60s and '70s styles ranging from loose and relaxed to sophisticated and worldly.

Watch for country-style furniture, cottage print textiles, farm animal motifs, quilts as wall hangings and throws, folk art and faux general-store signage as wall art, flour-sack pillow covers, baskets and hooked rugs.

This isn't throwback decor, with armies of ducks marching across the kitchen wallpaper or plaid ribbons festooning every chair; the vibe is comfortable, yet contemporary. The floral prints are updated, and graphic prints are bold.

Wisteria has some striking game boards, unique replicas of old weather vanes and a variety of colorful quilts. Pottery Barn also stocks a quilt collection, as well as crewelwork pillows, galvanized steel serveware and cool repro signage.

Americana is big. You'll see the flag and other patriotic symbols rendered in faux-vintage painted wood, distressed cotton and painted tin. The colors of the warmer months take on a deeper tone, so the lilac becomes plum and the sunny yellow is now ochre. Burnt orange and deep crimson remain important hues.

Textures also are prominent this fall: faux reptile, suede and hammered tin. Crate & Barrel has several embroidered floral rugs and pillows worth considering, as well as slubby cotton curtains reminiscent of barkcloth. The 1970s were also mad for all things Mexican; now we see beautiful Mexican-style ceramics showing up in stools and decorative items. In fact, ceramics of every sort are important; you'll notice lots of interesting craft in lampshades, vases and trays.

In the 1960s, we were hipsters; in the 1970s, we were disco fans. We'll see some of the groove and glamour of these eras now and through the holidays, with metallics, glass and fur playing a role. Black and white furnishings stay strong, with shots of purple, sapphire, lime and chrome yellow. Look for clear Lucite tables, shag rugs, patent leather and steel furniture, and lots of white.

- Kim Cook,

The Associated Press