Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Achieving Creepy While Avoiding the Cheesy

I love Fall, and really love Halloween. The old tales of All Hallows swirl in my head, conjuring up images of ancient feasts, consuming fires, dry leaves blowing free of their branches, and mystery lurking at every nightfall. There is so much inspiration around every corner....the creak of wind against the windowpanes, lengthening shadows, harvest moonlight, and an abundance of harvest produce. 

Unfortunately, so many commercially-made items for Halloween teeter on the abyss of tacky. While day-glo orange plastic jack-o-lanterns are great for trick-or-treating and large black plastic spiders do their job admirably, my tastes are a little more subtle. 

So when I moved into my current apartment, I wanted to find sophisticated and spooky decor that reflected my love of the holiday. Below are some of my favorite finds:

 Ravens. It's amazing how a few well-placed ravens can lend to an eerie atmosphere. I found these specimens at a Michael's store a few years ago for only a few dollars apiece. They perch at the top of my hutch, on top of a lamp, or in the arms of my chandelier.

Cheesecloth. Instead of using the spider webbing found at almost any discount store, I shred cheesecloth to make my own old-fashioned webs. I like the finished product better, and I drape it everywhere: the tops of bookcases, mirrors, picture frames, lampshades, etc.
Pumpkins. It doesn't matter their color, shape, or size; natural or faux; I place pumpkins all over my apartment. I have gorgeous cream-colored wax pumpkins from Pottery Barn on my kitchen shelves. I found silver pumpkins at Michael's and placed them on my ever-present silver candlesticks (below). In past years I've glittered pie pumpkins in purple and black. And of course I always pick one perfect specimen for carving (like last year's jack-o-lantern, above).
Bones. I found some cheap plastic skeletons at Oriental Trading Company a few years ago for our annual Halloween party. Inspired by a project in Martha Stewart Living, I glittered a few of the bones and presented them on a big silver platter. Add a few mercury glass votives, and voila! Instant display.

Lanterns. Flickering candlelight creates perfect ambiance every time. I have a few black metal lanterns and I place black pillar candles inside them. There's something about the complete darkness of the lantern and candle illuminated only by a flame that looks so wonderfully spooky.


Feather wreaths. While not a find per se, they are one of my favorite Halloween decorations. I had to make these wreaths myself because the inspiration for them was way too expensive. I wrapped wire wreath forms with inexpensive feather boas (easy to find in the costume section at discount stores!) and topped it all off with orange ribbon. They look great hanging in my living room windows, and even look a little creepy when the radiators are blowing the feathers about.

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