Super Subtle Halloween Decor with Items from Around the House

I don’t go big for many holidays, but I do like that Halloween is an excuse to gravitate towards dark hues and eerie decor. I don’t do inflatable skeletons, glittery pumpkins, cartoony ghoulish figurines, nor over-the-top gore scenes. I like a classic and simple halloween look that’s really just an extension of my every-day style. This year, I didn’t want to buy anything, so I made a few spooky scenes with 99% decor I already have and use on the daily, and 2% last year’s halloween decor.


Here’s a before and after of my everyday decor turned subtle halloween decor. (If you’re in an RSS reader, you’ll need to click through to see the change!)

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The first thing I did was sort through my art inventory to collect anything that has a lot of blacks, or when combined with other items, could be a little odd or eerie. The hand painting and vintage girl painting are beautiful on their own, but when put with the other elements, they look a little more like images from a morgue.

The wonky candlestick was in my halloween box from last year. I kinda dig it.

I rounded up all of my books with black spines and scattered them throughout the room. They don’t necessarily go together content-wise, but when you squint from a distance, it works for my dark decor look. Actually, maybe they could have a Halloween vibe. One is a magic-themed book which can be haunted and spooky. And one is a Ruth Bader Ginsberg memoir which gives me chills when I think of her retirement.

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The spider webs were leftover from years previous. A little bit of that stuff goes a long way, so I probably have enough to last a lifetime. Plus, I don’t like to waste it, so I put it back in the bag at the end of each season.

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I drew the spider on the mirror with a black wet-erase marker and eyeballed the shape looking at a photo online. I use these pens in the pantry to label jars with expiration dates, so I already had one around. I considered covering the mirror in spiders but I decided one simple critter is better than a cluster of arachnids.

I limited my doodling to just the mirror, but you could easily go to town drawing witches hats on the glass of your family portraits, or use a red marker to ooze blood out of a still life painting you may have. Maybe give fangs to the picture of fido. The options are endless!

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I swapped out a brass and white-shaded floor lamp (see it above in the before and after) for a wooden one with a black shade. It toned down the palette plus the dark shade makes the spiderweb pop.

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The green glass is one of my favorite candles that I enjoy all year long, but rotating it to hide the white label, provided a hard hue the mantel needed.

I started to cut out a silhouette of a witch to adhere to that moon on canvas, but it started to look too kitschy, so I stopped. But, cutting out images from black paper is a good alternative to the wet-erase marker on things that don’t have easy-to-clean glass to doodle on.

I swapped out the pale green foliage for spikey branches with blood red flowers for a more chilling look. I got them from my front yard which was easy peasy. Another option is to cut all of the foliage off gnarled branches and put naked stems in a vase.

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Speaking of plants. I recently killed this ivy, but instead of composting it, I decided I’d just plop it on the coffee table. Everyone that has come to the house has pointed it out and asked why I have a dead plant on display. Hey, it’s a conversation starter.

The dead plant sits in a planter I grabbed from my master because of the swooshy greys colors that fit with all the black books.

The skeleton hand is from last-year’s halloween decor, but I almost kinda like it for year-round decor. Would you keep this on your coffee table throughout the seasons?

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In searching for black books, I found this one with artist Matthew Barney on the cover. Perfect fit.


Here’s that before and after for ya. But I’m not done yet. I also took the same decor ideas to my bedside table.

I kept the alarm clock and nightstand which were conveniently black, but switched up the accessories.

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When we picked up this piece in Austin, I knew that the weird clown standing in the shadows by the cottage made for a perfect Halloween art opportunity. While a waiting clown in the middle of nowhere is weird, I love that from a distance, there doesn’t look to be anything off at all.

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I sifted through all of my art school text books (thats how I found the Matthew Barney one) and found Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others. Now, I don’t want to dilute the gravity of her writings by using her book solely as decor. It’s overdue for another read, so I’m glad my hunt for moody books brought this one out of the shelf and onto my nightstand.

I grabbed my trusty wet-erase marker again and drew black drips where this vase already had a black band at the top. I didn’t go for particularly Halloween-themed plants this time, I just simply can’t resist the arabian lilac.

And there you have it. My super subtle Halloween decor. Is it too subtle? Not subtle at all?

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