The Biggest Mistake People Make in Decorating for Halloween…How to Pull it All Together: Helpful Hints & Tips

What sets a well-decorated home apart from the rest? You know it when you see a well-done house, it just looks good. But what is it that sets it apart? There are a few things that tie together a good Halloween house, but the Biggest Mistake is…

Mistake #1: Throwing up the Halloween decorations on top of the everyday decor. (This goes for every holiday, not just Halloween!)

It’s messy. It’s cluttered. It’s hodge-podge. It looks thrown together, like you didn’t care. It looks like “Why did they bother”? The best way to get a good look for your Halloween decor is to put away the everyday stuff (at least some of it) and create holiday vignettes where you want the decorations to shine. (Usually the best places to go all-out are where people will be gathering: The porch or patio, the front entry, the dining room. I have a huge antique trunk in the dining room. This is where all the “every-day” decor and tchotchkes are carefully stored away for the holiday season (Halloween-New Years) so I can get crazy and look good for the holidays.

Mistake #2: No theme.

All kinds of stuff, from different eras, tossed randomly around the house. It doesn’t really work. Organize your spooky goodies into themes, by area. I have all sorts of different goodies that I’ve collected over the years from thrift stores and yard sales, but I make it work by grouping by color, era, or subject matter. Do you have an awesome collection of vintage pumpkins? Group them on a table for a delightful vignette. Have a bunch of cool skulls? Display them together on the mantle. Collections have a much greater impact than objects placed individually. Have a bunch of miscellaneous Halloween stuff that’s just all orange? That works, too. And lastly, if you are into the scary stuff, keep that together as well. Cute and scary don’t get along so well in the same space. Try creating a theme in each room, or at least in different areas of the same room. In my main room, I have several different vignettes: The white and black stuff is together on the tall cabinet; the Devilish stuff is on, in or near the short cabinet, and a skull collection resides by the window. All my Dia De Los Muertos decor is grouped on the front porch.

Mistake #3: No unifying factor.

The unifying factor is what pulls it all together. It’s what makes the eye flow easily from one space to another. My unifying factor is sheer black fabric. It goes with every vignette in the house, and even though the displays may be different in the room, the use of the black flowing from one to the other pulls it all together.

Here are a couple examples:

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BEFORE: the Tall Cabinet

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AFTER: the Tall Cabinet

I removed the purple glass collection and grouped all the what and black items here, with some of the “unifying” sheer black fabric.

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BEFORE: the Mantle

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AFTER: the Mantle

Again, all the regular every day decor has been packed away for the glory of Halloween.

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BEFORE: the Small Cabinet

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AFTER: the Small Cabinet

All the “devilish” things are in this corner. I cleared out the cabinet and put my devil head in there with some red lights. Instead of packing away the candles, I decided to just use them differently. You can never have too many candles, they create a great atmosphere. You’ll notice the sheer black fabric repeated here as well.

See all the Halloween decor here: The Front Room, The Entry & Stairwell, and Outside.

Victorian Gothic Halloween, A Home Tour: Part 2: The Entry & Stairwell.

As promised, here is the entry and stairwell, all set up and ready for this year’s Halloween shenanigans…

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This year I brought all my old crow decoys inside the house (see the Front Room decor HERE) and I love the way they look on top of the newel posts, so dramatic! Attaching them was challenging, but I figured it out using zip ties. (Look below to see how I attached them.) I also used zip ties to attach the garlands and lights to the railing. So quick and easy, and super fast to take down. That’s our regular Dogvacay guest Cleo the Weimeraner at the top of the stairs in the second photo. Oh, I almost forgot the mice. Good ol’ Martha Stewart mice, from Micheal’s craft store. I’ve been using them for about 4 years now.

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Here is how I attached the crows with zip ties. I then used sheer black fabric to cover up the bases and the zip ties. I also did the lights a little different this year. Instead of just stringing the tri-color and amber lights along the railing, I gathered more of the sheer black fabric around them, and draped more of the fabric down from the railing here and there. I like the look. On top of that I wrapped in my old fake fall leaves garland. (All of the garland was purchased at the thrift store years ago.) After Halloween, I’ll remove the black fabric, tri-colored lights, and crows and just leave the amber lights and leaves up for Thanksgiving.

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Here is the landing at the top of the stairs. I put a couple of those fun blinking eye shoe boxes here under the chair for a little ghoulish surprise.

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Lastly, here is the front entry at the bottom of the stairs. I used more of that sheer black fabric to drape the mirror (over a string of purple lights), the pedestal, and the chair. The skull on top of the pedistal “smokes” and changes colors. These are also from Target a few years back. I also added some little black bats across the front door. I just printed them off the computer, cut them out and attached to the wall. The graphic on the door is also just a printed image on glossy photo paper. The fun ghoul portraits on the walls next to the front door I bought at Target about 5 years ago, half-off the day after Halloween of course ;-) My vintage “trick” light at the bottom of the stairs is still one of my favorites. It was purchased at a garage sale over a decade ago for a few dollars.

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I promise to post a video tour of the Halloween decor within the week. Happy Halloween everyone!

Victorian Gothic HALLOWEEN!!!!!! A Home Tour: Today, the Front Room. Decorating on the Cheap DIYs, Tips & Tricks.

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Did I happen to mention I LOVE HALLOWEEN! I live in an old “Denver Square” Victorian home, so our decorating tends to be a sort of  “Victorian Goth” style. Today we’ll tour the Front Room, where most of the Halloween Magic happens. Everything you see is either DIY, found, reused, or picked up cheap at the thrift store. This year the only things I spent actual cash money on are a couple of pumpkins, the little gourds, and of course the candy. The biggest splurge was a giant 20 pound white heirloom gourd. It was just too cool to pass up, and I’ll use it for Thanksgiving too. TIP! The trick to keeping your Halloween decor fresh is to use your old stuff in new ways. Move it to another room, create new combinations, or paint it.

Let’s start with the table shall we? (See picture above). Most everything on the table I’ve had for years. The candy jars and beakers I’ve been collecting from the thrift store whenever I find them, usually about $3-5 each.  Even the candy corn is “reused. (I put it in the freezer after last year’s celebration ;-). Those plastic bones were leftover from a cheap “Bag of Bones” that we used pieces from for our voodoo costumes last year. TIP! The awesome big skull, the black tablecloth, and the skeleton salad tongs were purchased half-off at Target years ago. The day after Halloween they mark everything half-off. That’s the time to stock up!

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The Mantle. TIP! The mass of sheer black fabric is what makes the look. I happened to get the fabric as free hand-me-downs from a previous large event I decorated, but you can find it cheap. The fabric is simply knotted and draped over the mantle, with red lights underneath. The red string lights serve double-duty for Xmas. The “Happy Halloween” garland I made last year. (See the DIY HERE). The pumpkins and gourdes are from the grocery store, and the glitter skulls came from Target a few years back. The pumpkins-and-crows graphic I printed out on the home printer last year and reused. See if you can spot the “ghost dog” in the second photo ;-)

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For the cabinet to the right of the fireplace I created a new vignette by putting all the white decorations together there. These are all things we’ve been using for Halloween for years except the mask. It’s been hanging in our closet for a couple years and I decided to add it into the mix for Halloween this year. (we have a thing for masks ;-) And there’s more of that sheer black fabric. You’ll notice it all over the room, used as a “unifying” factor for the decor. Knotting it adds interest.

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For the cabinet to the left of the fireplace, we had a little fun. I emptied the cabinet and created a little scene in there with a few “devilish” items we had elsewhere in previous years, keeping it fresh by moving things around from last year. The top of the cabinet is the same as last year (See a DIY on those candlesticks HERE) There is nothing new here, just the old stuff “re-purposed”.

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Remember those ghoulish blinking eyes that were outside last year? Here they are, moved inside. This is just 3 of the shoe box eyes stacked on top of each other and covered with the sheer black fabric. The black glitter sticks that were outside last year have been placed behind the eyes this year, and I removed the regular art on the wall and replaced it with a couple vintage dime store masks I’ve also had for years.

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The Window. I love how this looks. These are my old crow decoys that I usually put outside. I brought them all inside this year and put two of them in the big pots. I added some more of the sheer black fabric and some black feather boas to create a “nest’ for them and cover their bases. There’s that giant gourd I mentioned earlier. The skull collection inside the black and white display is actually there year-round. There’s a reason why our  friends call us “Gomez and Morticia”!

Here are a couple more pictures for you to enjoy. I hope you’ve been inspired! Next time: The Entry and Staircase.

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That’s our pug Emma in the first picture, and our “guest” Miss Cleo the Weimeraner in the second. (we dog-sit through Dogvacay) What hams!

Halloween Decor, Dia De Los Muertos Style! or…What I did outside the house this year…DIY

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I love Halloween!!! I go a little nutso decorating every year, but always on a budget. Most of our things we’ve been reusing for years, (like the fake pumpkins and crow decoys, though we do add a few new things here and there from yard sales, thrift stores, even dumpster-diving. I try and change it up a bit every year by moving things around and using things in different ways. I acquired these “hand-me-down” Dia De Los Muertos skull graphics from a big party I helped with a couple years ago, so they were Free! And I love them. It’s because of them I decided to go all Day of the Dead-ish outside this year. I used a unifying theme of hot pink fabric. (all leftover from other projects) Here is all I did, step by step:

The Front Door. This was probably the easiest thing I did. The Katrina image I printed out on my computer, the old frame I had laying around, as well as the leftover silk flowers and neon flagging tape. I little hot glue and about 3 minutes and it was done. A fun change from the typical wreath.

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The Skull Altar. The silk flowers I’ve collected from thrift store, usually at about $2 a bunch. The dish I’ve had for ages, and the candles were another hand-me-down from that party of yore. (they are about $1.50 each at many grocery stores). The skull was a failed experiment from last year that I found another use for here. It is cello clay (fine Paper Mache) in a skull cake form from Wilton’s that I purchased on Ebay a couple years ago. I spray painted it white, was not happy with it at the time, and set it aside. I found it in the Halloween storage boxes this year, added a little stain to age it, and now it looks like a concrete skull. Great for the theme! I hot-glued it onto an old ceramic plate along with the silk flowers. I put some hot pink fabric scraps over the existing patio table, added a few of the candles and one of the big skull graphics* and voila! The Skull Altar.

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The Patio Table. The patio table is very simple, Just some leftover hot pink fabric (It’s acetate lining fabric originally from Distinctive Fabric that I got for about $1.50 a yard on sale), one of the old fake pumpkins, some of the silk flowers tied in a bunch with an orange ribbon, and a couple of the candles. One of things that makes it look good is that I knotted the fabric in a few random places. (the succulent garden has been on the table all Summer, I just moved it to the chair.)

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The Main Patio Display. The big display next to the door is also very simple. I draped some sparkly hot pink fabric over a string of pink lights, and added the skull graphics* on top of them. I also added a second string of pink lights behind the big skull to illuminate the tissue eyes. I put another fake pumpkin on the existing pots and added a few more of my silk flowers. (the white wrought iron things are always on the porch I just moved them to be part of the display.)

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Crows & Pumpkins. I love my crow decoys. I’ve had them for about a decade and use them somewhere every year. This year most of them are inside, but I played with the two outside ones and came up with this. The holes in the bottoms of the crow just happen to fit perfectly over fake pumpkin stems. I added a little hot glue to hold them there and then glued on a few of the silk flowers, and this is the result. I like the way it turned out.

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The rest of the yard. I placed the rest of the fake pumpkins around the yard, and the two I have that are missing their lights went on the plant stakes in the front pots. I kept it simple this year ;-) If you look closely, you can see a couple more of the big skull graphics in the upstairs windows.

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Here are some more pictures of the front for you. Enjoy!

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* The Skull Graphics. These were made by having Day of the Dead skull images (that were purchased from istock.com) printed out at about 2′ x 2.5′. These were attached to foam-core board with spray adhesive and cut out with an Xacto knife. I also cut out the eyes on a few of them and taped colored tissue on the backs so light could shine through.

October First Friday in Denver is TONIGHT! And BONUS: the Best (Cheapest) Downtown Denver Parking Secret!

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Albert Chong: The Photomosaics: Works on Paper, Wood, and Stone
Courtesy of Counterpath Gallery

OK kids, it’s our favorite time of the month, FIRST FRIDAY! All the Arts Districts in Denver (Santa Fe, Rino, Golden Triangle) will be in full swing. Yea I know, it’s chilly. Time to break out the Fall boots and sweaters and go see some art!

In addition to all the art happenings, there is also the (Free) The Four Mile Historic Park Pumpkin Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 4th and Sunday, October 5th from 10am to 4pm. The festival is located at 715 South Forest Street. Yes, Halloween is a mere 4 weeks away, time to pick out the perfect pumpkin.

OK, I know this one isn’t free, but MCA is only $5 after 5pm. They are open till 9pm on Fridays, and there is a very entertaining, interactive exhibit at the museum right now. You might want to hurry, as it closes this Sunday. www.mcadenver.org.

And…here is a BIG Downtown Denver Parking tip: The massive parking garage across 15th from MCA is only $3 after 4pm, every day. Best Parking Deal in Town! You can walk just a couple short blocks to 16th street and jump on the free 16th Street Mall Shuttle too. It’s also about a block from Union Station. If you haven’t been since it reopened, you owe it to yourself to go. It’s beautiful. Hint: Take your parking ticket (the one the machine spits out at you at the entry gate) with you, because you’ll pay for the parking upon your return at a standing kiosk next to the elevator in the lobby, not at the car exit.

Without further ado, here is the Art Lineup, courtesy of denverarts.org

 

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A Sunday Funday Fashion Post! Yes, you CAN Look Great Wearing Clothes from the Thirft Store…

I know I haven’t done a fashion post for awhile, so here it goes! I really liked the funky outfit I put together last night so I’ll share it with you.

I always like to prove you can do almost all your shopping from the thrift store and look great, so here is what I wore last night, with descriptions and prices on everything…

(Pictures taken at Denver’s Union Station)

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I love a little pop of color when wearing neutrals! It makes the outfit.

From Top to Bottom:

The long-sleeve square-neck black top is by “Velvet”, Goodwill $3.99, purchased this Summer.

Faux Fur Vest by Charlotte Ruse, also from Goodwill, $6.99, purchased last Fall.

DIY Black Heart Necklace (see it HERE) Created February this year.

Leopard-print brushed cotton jeans by Jones New York, Goodwill $8.99. Purchased last year.

HYPE black and gold clutch, Neiman Marcus Last Call, $38 (Originally about $200) purchased about 6 years ago. (this bag was a splurge for me, but I actually use it a ton.)

Costa Blanca Hot Pink satin ankle boots, Neiman Marcus Last Call $18. (originally over $100) purchased about 7 years ago.

Bracelet, Goodwill, $2.99, purchased a couple months ago.

 

So there you have it, more great looks from your neighborhood thrift store. What have you found lately? I’d love to hear about it.

 

A New Orleans House Tour Too Good Not To Share…

I ran across this delightful, eclectic DIY abode on Apartment Therapy and loved it so much I had to share it with you. It’s chock-full of some great DIY ideas. (See the full Article HERE)

The charming New Orleans home of Valorie Hart is full of personality and great ideas. I know it inspired me…

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Great Ideas in the living room: Simple wide black stripes painted on the left wall; Floor-to-ceiling luscious satin drapes (easy to make); and that old 70’s console, brought up to date with a coat of fresh white paint. The bright pops of color in the artwork finish the room perfectly.

 

 

 

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More fun art in this room, against that marvelous “ombre” wall (I AM going to steal that idea.) And of course, a static disco ball. (I have 2 of these in my house!)

 

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I love the fabric draping here, an elegant way to dress up a plain wall. (Attention renters!) The fabric cord cover on the lamps is the perfect finishing touch.

 

 

 

 

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I’m a huge fan of Fornasetti, but it’s way out of my price range. This is a fabulous idea! Print and decoupage your own wallpaper!

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A great example of making a color work by repeating it around the connecting rooms (Here, orange/red, but this can work with any color.)  And you’ve got to love the Union Jack-painted wardrobe!

 

 

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The outside patio is charming.Using the dark slate grey as a base and adding the pops of chartreuse green (and a little hot pink) works fantastically. I love the light-up ampersand with the plates on the wall.

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Yea, I could live here ;-)