Halloween is traditionally scary – not just through the horror movies and trick-or-treating, but in its decor as well. Garish ghouls and plastic skeletons are not the best look for our homes. But how do you make a home cozy for Halloween?
Luckily, if you want to embrace spookier themes in Halloween decor without the overtly cartoonish motifs, there are several approaches you can take.
Here, interior designers have shared five tips for transforming your space into a comfortingly spooky – not scary – scheme.
How can I make my home cozy for Halloween?
Between using the right color scheme and picking out subtle Halloween decor, these five tips make any home hauntingly cozy this season.
1. Use non-traditional Halloween decor
Although there are lengthy lists of the best indoor Halloween decor to pick from, if your focus is on making our space cozy, then there are some non-traditional options you might want to consider instead.
Willow Wright, home decor and antiques expert, and owner of Urban Redeux, suggests opting for antique, reminiscent of the Dark Academia trend, to help create spooky sub-messaging through your decor and avoid going over the top:
‘There are definitely ways to create a dark moodier space for Halloween that doesn't necessarily include the typical seasonal items. Dark green and black hardcover books, for instance, can be stacked to create the base of a vignette. We used vintage Reader's Digest books, but this can probably be achieved by removing the covers off of existing books in someone's collection.
‘Unpolished silver candlesticks or candelabras make for a great display. The more wax the better and they can easily be made to look more aged and spookier with a few different color waxes dripped on it. After Halloween, this easily transitions into the holiday season.
‘Lastly, don't forget the living room. Think coffee tables topped with black and white marble chess sets, stacks of beautiful (and maybe horror-themed or classic) coffee table books just waiting to be pored over, and a few vintage curiosities to spark conversation and interest. It’s the perfect place to cozy up with a chunky blanket.’
Made from antiqued brass, this classical candlestick provides a polished accent for the table.
2. Try out new textures
Using texture in interior design is a must for creating a cozy space, but can also be manipulated to give a Halloween vibe when used correctly, suggests Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight:
‘Textures absolutely play a pivotal role,’ he says. ‘For that haunted mansion vibe without the scary motifs, consider integrating heavy fabrics such as velvets and tweeds for curtains, cushions, and upholstery.’
Based in New York, Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight, has a decade of extensive and considerable global design experience. Prioritizing minimalism, sustainability, and authenticity, Artem, alongside his team of professionals, works on projects in the US and worldwide.
3. Use darker color schemes
It should go without saying that Halloween color schemes mean dark, moody colors.
Jennifer Verruto, Founder and CEO of Blythe Interiors urges us to experiment with these new palettes in the bedroom to create Halloween coins in a space that is otherwise more difficult to transform for the holiday:
‘I recommend incorporating darker colors that might not be found throughout the rest of the home. Decorating with deeper hues can bring a warm, cozy atmosphere to this intimate space.
‘Add a warm black tone, dark gray, or amber through throw pillows, blankets, or modern but cozy candles to make a comfortable room that is perfect for the upcoming chilly nights.’
Jennifer Verruto is Founder and CEO of Blythe Interiors. Blythe Interiors has of a team in Spokane, WA, and a San Diego Design studio/showroom as well as an online shop.
4. Layer subdued lighting
Your lighting ideas are a simple way to allude to a creepier Halloween spirit while also making your home cozy to be in, says Erin Klawiter, interior designer and founder of The Nifty Nest, so ditch the traditional indoor Halloween lights and look to your existing bulbs instead:
‘One thing most people forget to incorporate is accent lighting and this is a key design element that creates that yummy rich look. Lamps on a side table, on nightstands, on entryway tables, and even in a kitchen are my go-to no matter what style you like.
‘Picture lighting over art is another way to add a warm glow. Also, use dimmer switches in every room if possible.’
5. Use fall foliage to full effect
Just because you are decorating with Halloween in mind, doesn't mean you have to abandon all the principles of traditional fall decor. Jacky Chou, designer and director at Archute recommends using fall flower and foliage decor to create a spooky scheme indoors, with dried florals and foraged elements contributing to a somewhat overgrown look:
‘You can use pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks, leaves, pinecones, and branches to bring some warmth and texture to your space. You can also use flowers and plants that have a fall or Halloween vibe, such as sunflowers, chrysanthemums, dahlias, roses, ivy, and ferns.
‘You can arrange these elements in vases, baskets, bowls, or trays. You can also carve or paint your pumpkins to make them more festive.’
Inspired by an autumn hillside, this preserved bouquet is textured and tonal, perfect for your favorite vase.
Jacky Chou is the Principal and Director at Archute, an editorial magazine about architecture, home and garden. They have been referenced by The New York Times, Bustle, House & Home, Bloomberg, and Angi. Jacky also his own an online interior design company as well called Laurel & Wolf.
How can I make my house look good for Halloween?
When decorating for Halloween, it is important to shrink the right balance between spooky and timeless – otherwise you end up with a hodge-podge of garish cartoons and not much cohesion. Consider picking out some less overtly Halloween decor, such as antiques, skull decor that is not painted, and dried foliage to create a darker, spookier scheme without the children's party look.
When should you start decorating for Halloween?
Although it is technically up to you, it is best to leave Halloween decorating until the beginning of October, starting with the less overt Halloween decorations such as antiques and foliage, and working up to the more traditional pieces closer to the main event itself.
Making a home cozy for Halloween doesn't mean you have to hold back on your outdoor Halloween decor, especially if you are opening up your yard to trick-or-treaters on the big night. Nevertheless, remember to practice restraint to prevent going over the top.
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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