How to Decorate for Halloween with Style

Spooky and chic don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

By Karin Vandraiss October 1, 2020

Seasonal decorating doesn't mean sacrificing your well-honed aesthetic. 

Brandy Brown and her daughter have an understanding when it comes to decorating for Halloween: Ava retains full creative license in her own space, but the rest of the house is Mom’s domain. For the founder and creative director of Marabou Design, this translates to festive but not kitschy, with nary an inflatable Frankenstein in sight. Brown offers a few workarounds for those whose aesthetic proclivities lean more toward the ethereal polish of Practical Magic than the chaos of Beetlejuice, from shirking Hallmark-approved color schemes to sourcing eco-friendly spider webs.

Pick Your Palette

Shudder at the thought of electric green as an accent color? Try chartreuse. (Which lends itself well to a midcentury interior when paired with golds, notes Brown.) Over candy orange? Use salmon or peach instead. Stick to five colors max, including a neutral or metallic base, or a monochromatic palette using various shades of one color. Tone down metallics by opting for matte rather than sparkle-forward material.

Try vinyl clings instead of paper cutouts on windows or mirrors. 

Set the Scene

An intentionally designed entryway sets a distinct tone using minimal real estate. Use a range of sizes, be it pumpkins or planters or skeletons. Hang things if you have the option for added dimension, like bats strung with fishing wire or cobwebs clinging to vines. “Creating different heights, sizes, and levels results in a more balanced, put-together look,” says Brown.

Get a Little Dramatic

Whether it’s ten-inch tapered candles in the antique candleholders you dug out from the attic or striking floral arrangements (irises, poppies, lilies, and roses all come in haunting colors), All Hallows' Eve calls for design touches with a bit of drama, says Brown. If moody flora isn’t your thing, greenery and vegetation can add an autumnal vibe without feeling macabre.

A frightfully good (sorry, we had to) signature cocktail lends a highbrow vibe. 

Tasteful Tradeoffs

► We get it, carving isn’t for everyone. Painted pumpkins can serve as another tie-in to your chosen color palette.

Painted pumpkins last longer, too. 

► Trade polyester spider webs for muslin (aka cheesecloth) that can be pulled apart for an equally spooky and more eco-friendly effect.

► Instead of filling the front yard with headstones, opt for a few well-placed window silhouettes.

► Skip the mystery punch in favor of Brown’s Grim and Tonic cocktail, which blends pomegranate seeds and blackberries to create an eerie brew.

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