How we decorated our house for Halloween
Well, we did it. The house has been Halloweened, and in the name of all things blog, we really went for it. These holiday decor posts are meant to give you lots of ideas and inspiration of rather simple projects. It takes me (and a team) days to really shop (4 trips to different Targets – yes all things Halloween are from Target), ideate (create a lot of mess) and execute with the hopes that you don’t have to think about a concept, wonder if it will work or how it will look. Like scientists in a laboratory, we now have our perfect haunted halloween potion…. and, friends, we have been drinking it.
I went as hipster witch, obviously. It was September 27th when we shot this so while I could halloween my house, I guess I couldn’t bear to halloween my body… yet. Although beware, there might be a cute costumed kid photo or two in this post …
First up – the style. What would our theme be this year? Last year it was more modern and minimal, and very toddler friendly. And while I thought it would be in the same vein (ha, how many puns can we possibly pepper into this post?) It ended going spookier, and more ‘haunted’ with a heavy dose of ‘happy’.
Since we live in a 100 year old house with a lot of old-world elements I figured it was perfect to turn it into a spooky haunted castle …. but instead of zombies and a lot of… death stuff, it would have friendly ghosts and pumpkins who give hugs instead of scares. In fact we worked it out where our ghosts are trained to set good examples for our two young kids – they share, use their words, don’t hit/bite/throw things. They eat their (rotten) vegetables and stay in their beds all night despite how often they want ‘new water’.
The elements of this theme include: cobwebs, spiders, crows, googly eyes, spooky fabric, a skeleton hand here and there and lots of happy jack-o-lanterns.
Let’s chat about color palette first. As you may have read in the living room reveal post, I loved that vintage rug but it was too colorful for me. I wanted cooler tones and less colors in general, and I got ’em. Introducing this amazing rug from Dash and Albert. We used it in a project recently and I was like, yep, this is it. It is plush and soft, and yet medium toned so hopefully it will hold up to my kids. It does exactly what I wanted it to do the room. It. calms. it. down.
Now you might notice there is no orange in this halloween room and that’s because orange is not my spirit color (thats 3 puns already…please keep count). Now I don’t mind it for others, and I think I’ve used it (maybe once, ha) but for halloween I prefer to bring it in with real pumpkins. Since we hadn’t shopped or carved pumpkins yet, I made the choice to not have orange inside my new calm cooler toned living room. Outside is fine, I’m not a total warm-toned-scrooge. I figure when our kid-produced-not-so-pinterest-worthy-jackolanterns are done I’ll allow them. Listen, until they can produce magazine worthy work it has no place in our home.
You know I’m joking.
We’ll add them in once they are done. Meanwhile I’m LOVING this black/white/gray/blue/sage world.
Now many of you are noticing the other reason why it feels so calm and less busy – no book spines. Now historically I’ve been ani-this gimmick, because it just doesn’t make sense. In no world is it ok to not see what the book is, and yet keep them so your shelves will say ‘I have so many books’. But for a haunted halloween castle it kinda works, no? Of course I secretly LOVE how much more neutral it is without the spines and it is inspiring a solution, just not sure what it is. I jokingly said that I would have to go out and buy all neutral toned novels (the shelves are not deep enough for big books) and then just use those. But how pretentious would that be? To go out and buy pretty white books just to fill the shelves? (P.S. it’s happening … remember when I was going to get rid of those shelves and then I decided not to because I wanted to keep as much of the original character as possible? Well, now I’m reconsidering again. They really aren’t the most proportional or functional shelves and they do just create busy-ness … unless I put my pretentious angelic new book collection on them … ugh).
Oh where is my first edition of ‘The Tropic of Capricorn’ you ask? It’s in between ’50 Shades Darker’ and ‘Infinite Jest,’ on the top shelf (true story).
Enough about me. Here’s how we halloweened our life.
- We neutralized the color palette so that we could add more ‘stuff’ without it getting crazy. Target had a ton of great white and black halloween decor so we simplified the room (the rug and book conversation that we already had) and kept the rest of the decor that was in our palette. I didn’t get too crazy and buy halloween pillows (although I would if they were amazing – I’m headed down that year-round-holiday-hole.
Next we added big impact but affordable things like the spooky cloth and the spider webs. You guys, if you want to be lazy and only spend like $30 this is where you spend your money. That fabric says ‘halloween’ and you can store it so easily for next year. It comes 30′ long so one sheet can go over multiple pieces of furniture (or gates). Drape it around and it’s insta-haunt.
The oversized spider webs might be my favorite thing (I used them last year, too). Big and graphic, high impact but affordable and so easy. We hung them with command strips. Done. We bought ‘friendlier’ spiders for inside because my god there are some terrifying ones.
By the way (because I’m in a blabbing mood) did you guys see my insta-story with Birdie at Target? I couldn’t tell what was really going to terrify her so I brought her shopping to get her honest reaction. I would hold up something and say ‘do you like this?’ and she would either say ‘YES!’, which means uh, yes, or ‘uh.. huh’, which means she is kinda scared, or ‘too scary’ or ‘too spooky’ which was nixed. She was the one that actually pushed me to be spookier. I thought she would be terrified of some things (like the skeletons and all the little spiders) and while she didn’t like the huge skeletons she didn’t mind the hands (which I loved for their horizontal sculptural quality). She tells me it’s ‘no real’ all the time. I know she is just reminding herself. It’s like how she says ‘no eat it’ before she opens a play dough can. She knows she shouldn’t but she knows that her future mouth wants it in there, so she has to remind herself but pretends that she is just letting us know that she knows the rules.
She really liked this bow-tie wearing skeleton. I think it was $5 and you can hang that on a door or window and call that one done. The BOO was around that same price, too and I love how graphic and simple it is. Bang for your buck, folks.
The stretchable webs (seen below) are easy, cheap and high-impact, too. Spread them over any art and it looks like old haunted, crumbling English castle.
Now many of you are terrified of portraits of strange old men in your house all year round, I get it, but we Hendersons don’t mind them. This one which is about to be switched out for a more modern piece but had to stay for halloween, no? He is perfect. Of course we amped up the spook factor by adding those googly eyes. If you aren’t into risking ruining your expensive antique oil portraits, think about putting them on family photographs. Equally spooky – or more so if it’s old uncle weirdo with the beardo.
Probably my favorite things (and the biggest investment) are those light-up pumpkins. At night they are amazing and give off such a good glow. We bought them last year and had some left over. If you are buying 10 at a time they can add up, but if you know that you’ll have them for years (like we will) then that helps. Or buy a few this year and a few next year. They come in three different sizes (the smallest ones are battery operated).
We also added crows wherever we needed a dose of ‘spooky’ without needing to add too much. This corner, above already had a lot in the shelves, so a crow and a gold pumpkin was all we needed. As you can see we kept these books facing a normal human direction because they are in our color palette. The whole universe is curated if you are a stylist.
My little french cabinet got spooked as well, with that plug-in candelabra (with orange flickering lights), some webs and a dome full of super creepy vintage doll-house furniture that I’ve been hoarding for years (Charlie was uninterested in my doll-house furniture and I’m counting the seconds until Elliot wants to dollhouse all summer with me). This dome haunts my children, not because they are scared by it but because I don’t really want them to play with it and ruin my weird little universe. I’ll do an insta-story and show you what is in it – it was super hard to photograph.
By the way between the lit pumpkins and the candelabras, the lighting at night is awesome – together they create such good ambient light that is even but spooky.
Over on the piano we did the usual again – we stuck in our color palette (black/white/green/blue), added spooky fabric, spider web, googly eyes and skeleton. Good advice when it comes to decorating for any holiday isn’t just about keeping it in the color palette but buying the multiples of the same thing. It’s an easy recipe you can repeat over many surfaces and while you can vary it and change the exact styling it makes decorating easy and it looks consistent.
The kids “helped” us style while we were working, and then they “unhelped” a lot every night by “re-styling” everything. Lucky for me, it’s actually all really easy to put back, because there strangely doesn’t feel like that much stuff. Sure, all the little spiders don’t return to their style birth spot, but otherwise it’s pretty easy. Obviously the candy had to be removed IMMEDIATELY, but not before we got some cute shots (how else do you think we could possibly get cute shots of a 2 and 4 year old at the same time?)
I dressed them up in Target costumes which really kicked off ‘the season’. 🙂 It doesn’t matter what you put a 2 and 4 year old in for Halloween, they look ADORABLE. Charlie wants to be a ghost, and Birdie wants to be Hulk Hogan. And when I say that “Birdie wants to be Hulk Hogan” I obviously mean ‘Brian and I are playing our last parents-get-to-choose-the-costume card’. When her hair is down it looks like his and she loves to shake her head really fast (so it was an obvious choice). It’s hilarious. Remember when we dressed almost-2 year old Charlie as Mario Batali? The orange scrunchie, the crocs … it gets me EVERY TIME.
Back to the entry:
My that piece of furniture is looking more and more baby blue. I really need to paint it a darker/deeper color. But I like the spooky styling on top. We switched out the painting for a dark, moody seascape that I had been hoarding. And then we continued the pumpkin, candelabra, spiderweb theme in here, too. So easy. Once we found the formula we just repeated it and we love how it looks.
Into the dining room.
Now we have to eat three meals a day at this table so I styled it out like I will for a party or Halloween night itself, not for the month. We went slightly more “adult” in here with the ceramic pumpkins, and real candles. We created different levels with the spooky fabric as a runner, then a variety of sizes of pumpkins, in gold and white, a couple lower candles and a crow to bring a bit of spook in the shape of a sculpture. A spiderweb and spider cover the dining room window, which overlooks the back yard.
I switched out the painting over the cabinet (which is also Target, by the way and wonderful – the cabinet, not the painting).
More spooky strangers covered in webs. For the month we’ll have the webs and the cabinet styled, but the dining table will be blank so we can live.
The kids love it. For the week while we were styling and a few days thereafter they would get so excited coming back from the park or pre-school with a ‘what spooky web is up now?’ kinda look.
Now that the house is decorated I need to have a party like every single day to make it all worth it. We’ll probably do a pumpkin carving party and have people over that night. Not going to lie, this lady is LOVING having the house change for the season, and so do my kids.
If you are into what we did (which admittedly is great for specifically young kids) then here you go. Target has more in store than is online so you may have to go check it out for yourself, but as you can see it’s pretty great stuff (and a lot that you can store for years and years).
1. ‘BOO’ Banner | 2. Tall White Jack O’ Lantern | 3. Small Black Jack O’ Lantern | 4. Small Gold Pumpkin | 5. Hanging Spider | 6. Witch Hat | 7. Skeleton Hands | 8. Black Candelabra | 9. Tall Crow Feet Bowl | 10. Giant Spider Web | 11. Large Gold Pumpkin | 12. Small White Pumpkin | 13. Skeleton | 14. Black Candlestick | 15. Plaid Pumpkin | 16. Large White Pumpkin | 17. Small White Jack O’ Lantern | 18. Large Cloche | 19. Ghost | 20. Short Crow Feet Bowl | 21. Mini Critters | 22. Spider Web | 23. Spooky Garland | 24. White Cheesecloth