Decorating for the Holidays is one of my chief pleasures. Halloween is one of my favourites because the decorations are chicer, and you get to dress up. Plus, candy! Below are my best styling tips for creating a chic Halloween décor scheme that’s giving equal parts spooky and beautiful.
STYLIST’S TIP No. 1: Think Outside Traditional Colour Palettes
Most Halloween commercial decorations lean toward kitsch. But with a little creativity, you can break away from boring (Boo!) themes and tacky Jack-O-Lanterns. Our Lady-of-Perpetual-Taste, Martha Stewart encouraged us to look past grinning Jack-O-Lanterns and inflatable lawn ornaments, to decorating with a more sophisticated theme. Think about dark, moody colours with pastels or lighter neutrals for a more refined, grownup look.
STYLIST’S TIP No. 2: Go Big
Nothing makes a statement like some big cuttings of leaves or branches. In past years, I’ve cut down bare branches and spray-painted them black. But this year, I’ve carefully cut branches from a favourite flowering tree at a local park. What? I pay taxes! I keep them fresh in florist containers filled with water until I’m ready to decorate, but also allow some of the lantern-like blossoms to dry naturally, letting the faded colours show.
It looks spooky but still pretty enough to serve as a focal point for a display. Branch cuttings are free, make a huge impact, and are, of course, right on theme for Halloween! Save a few leaves or petals to scatter around your display to make it look more natural. Pull some bare branches together and paint them black if you can't find a flowering tree. They look fantastic as a graphic display.
STYLISTS’ TIP No. 3: Mix High + Low
Stylists know how to mix cheap things with one or two “good’ things to make a lush display without breaking the bank. I’ve mixed a cheap metal candelabra from Amazon with even cheaper plastic ones (spray-painted black) and set my real silver candlesticks next to them. Add some dried flowers with fresh ones, add a realistic skull, and we have a gorgeously ghoulish vignette.
STYLISTS’ TIP No. 4: Use What You’ve Got
This time of year, every supermarket is awash with colorful, warty-gourds and pumpkins of every type. The produce section is a great source of inspiration with seasonal fruits and vegetables in gorgeous colours. I also think mushrooms are inherently creepy and I like to display some exotic species in a faux-bois cachepot for a haunted forest vibe.
Just think about the gorgeous Autumn palette that Mother Nature gives us: Golds, browns, dark greens, and deep ruby-reds all look amazing when grouped together with some pastel “Fairytale” pumpkins. They are more expensive than the typical orange pumpkins, but they last forever if you don’t cut them. And, they have a second life as gorgeous centerpieces for Thanksgiving!
We inherited a wonky cocktail table from my grandmother that I trot out every year because it's perfect to hold a little Halloween vignette. Dried flowers with anything tarnished, old-fashioned or Victorian works amazingly well, too. Have a look around the house and try and incorporate your furniture or regular accessories into your scheme.
For example: When we moved out of our rental, I made the mistake of laundering some linen curtains that had been faded by the sun. They came out of the washing machine shredded to ribbons, but instead of throwing them out, I saved them and use them to decorate every Halloween. They look fantastic when layered with cheap cotton “creepy cloth” over them, and the addition of our Dutch Girl bust and two black candelabra make it read more like Miss Havisham than a traditional "Haunted House".
IDEA No. 3: Repetition. Repetition. Repetition!
I like multiples of anything good-looking, don't you? When I found these standing Crows a few years ago at Rite Aid, I became obsessed with them. They might be cheesy alone or in pairs, but grouped in a large murder, they become positively Hitchcockian. I always buy a few before Halloween, then scoop up any remaining on the shelf on November 1st!
Likewise, this display of black butterflies I saw on Domino would be tacky alone or in pairs. But flocked together, they become a major décor moment (simultaneously creepy and chic!) with almost no effort. They’re inexpensive, easy to mount, and you can reuse them again next year.
The message is to think beyond the orange-and-black. Cast your eye wider for decorating ideas. Almost anything dark, faded, tarnished, old-fashioned, or super-ornate will work. Look to old movies for inspiration. You probably have lots of things around the house to play with already! I'm not against a Big-Box Skeleton (or five). Mix them with sophisticated accessories and lift your decor from kitschy to dead chic. 💀
Happy Halloween, Kitten!