Creating a creepy year-round house that doesn't feel "Halloweeny"

September 21 |
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Okay, FINE. I'm sure these skeletal flamingos are meant to be a halloween thing, but do we really have to limit creepy/kitschy to the month of October? Can't we gently spook the neighbors year-round?
Okay, FINE. I'm sure these skeletal flamingos are meant to be a halloween thing, but do we really have to limit creepy/kitschy to the month of October? Can't we gently spook the neighbors year-round?

We actually got TWO questions concerning this home decorating conundrum…

So hubs and I love nothing more than monsters, Halloween, and fall in general.

How do I tie that all in to a general year round house theme without just putting up Halloween decorations all year? (…With the exception of our extensive Spooky Town collection that will OF COURSE be up all year). -Kaci

AND…

The husband and I want to add more gore, horror, zombies and skeletons in our decor. Unfortunately, I'm finding it difficult to find many of such home accents outside of Halloween decorations. Although they're fun, most Halloween decorations aren't the best quality and are not meant to be used all year.

I can find pieces if I search thought Etsy, but does anyone know of a store that actually sells terrifying home decor? -Meghann

Oh, you mean OTHER than using a bonesaw for your pastries? Our best advice would be to avoid home decor items that include orange, black, and plastic. The combination of these three things inevitably feel both distinctly Halloweeny, and very much like temporary seasonal decor. Perhaps you can aim for monsters and creepiness year-round, but using the more traditional seasonal colors — deep green and bloody red ghouls in the winter, pale pastel gauzy ghostly creatures in the spring, bright saturated orange, red, and green zombies in the summer?

Let's see what we can scheme up, on the fly…

The porcelain Natural Curiosities Jars feature some ominous animals (say that three times fast) and since it's porcelain, they'll last a long time.
The porcelain Natural Curiosities Jars feature some ominous animals (say that three times fast) and since it's porcelain, they'll last a long time.
Natural Curiosities also makes dinner plates with flies, octopodes, spiders and stag beetles! I love love LOVE these.
Natural Curiosities also makes dinner plates with flies, octopodes, spiders and stag beetles! I love love LOVE these.
Sourpuss Anatomical Skull and Heart Set
Sourpuss Anatomical Skull and Heart Set
Let it beetle pillow
Let it beetle pillow
Hang your favorite horror novel as art on the wall: In these pieces from Postertext the negative space from the actual text of Grimms' Fairy Tales recreates an iconic character from the book.
Hang your favorite horror novel as art on the wall: In these pieces from Postertext the negative space from the actual text of Grimms' Fairy Tales recreates an iconic character from the book.
What, YOU don't use a skull to hold your salt and pepper shakers?
What, YOU don't use a skull to hold your salt and pepper shakers?
If the skull is a little too on the nose Halloween-y, try this more colorful nod to horror with these THE EX Kitchen Knife Sets.
If the skull is a little too on the nose Halloween-y, try this more colorful nod to horror with these THE EX Kitchen Knife Sets.
If you're looking for more shocking horror-themed kitchen items, this voodoo doll toothpick holder is cracking me up. I like it's stitched up mouth.
If you're looking for more shocking horror-themed kitchen items, this voodoo doll toothpick holder is cracking me up. I like it's stitched up mouth.
Grey walls with these fabric bat details would just PERFECT any horror/gothic space.
Grey walls with these fabric bat details would just PERFECT any horror/gothic space.
Cover your lampshades with the creepy but elegant lampshade drape.
Cover your lampshades with the creepy but elegant lampshade drape.
Or get industrial gothic with your lighting, like the Loft Your Spirits Pendant Lamp.
Or get industrial gothic with your lighting, like the Loft Your Spirits Pendant Lamp.
I've seen skull decanters before, but this is the first time I've seen a zombie head decanter! I love its exposed brain parts.
I've seen skull decanters before, but this is the first time I've seen a zombie head decanter! I love its exposed brain parts.
This is probably my favorite idea in non-cheesy horror decor -- skull door knobs.
This is probably my favorite idea in non-cheesy horror decor — skull door knobs.
You know how I love dragon decor, so I all kinds of dig this dragon wall sconce.
You know how I love dragon decor, so I all kinds of dig this dragon wall sconce.
Versat-Owl Bookends
Versat-Owl Bookends
Amazon even has that bloody bathmat and bloody shower curtain that went viral not too long ago.
Amazon even has that bloody bathmat and bloody shower curtain that went viral not too long ago.
You'd be surprised what black lace table accents like the If It's Not Baroque Table Runner can do to make your space classy spooky.
You'd be surprised what black lace table accents like the If It's Not Baroque Table Runner can do to make your space classy spooky.

But let's open it up to our darker-minded Offbeat Homies: how can you keep the creepy spirit in your home year-round, without just looking like you forgot to take down your Halloween decorations?

  1. My first thought was, "Well, that's not going to be possible. Creepy things=halloween." But I guess I've just never seen this aesthetic done well enough to where it doesn't look halloween. These ideas are awesome. Maybe you can find some vintage movie posters from B horror movies? Maybe consider colors from horror movies, like Frankenstein green, witchy purple, burnt orange, etc. and then applying them in different ways. Instead of orange leaves, maybe an orange light fixture? Or purple accent pillows? Or green curtains? This could get to be really, really fun.

    4 agree
  2. I totally have those flamingos on my lawn year round!! I also just added a zombie gnome.

    8 agree
  3. It can be done! My house is in a state of creepy without being Halloween. You can tell when the Halloween stuff is out vs the every day decor, because the Halloween stuff really screams Halloween & is orange, purple, and bright.

    I try to stay away from things that are directly Halloween (human skulls/bats/etc) and move more toward things that are timelessly creepy- for instance, I have a giant framed photograph of a women from the 1920's having an ectoplasm episode. Books on magic from the 1800's, and bird skulls. My paint colors are dark (metallic dark green, blacks, and greys), and I don't have any modern looking furniture. My kitchen a (a monster theme) has pictures of monsters and giant tentacles on the ceiling.

    Eventually I will submit a house tour, but I get really self conscious about doing one.

    19 agree
    • Consider this me begging you to submit a tour… or let me move in, whichever is most convenient. :)

      42 agree
    • Ok…where did you find the books from the 1800's????? I've got an occult library screaming for things like that.

      4 agree
      • Lena-

        Mostly magic trick type stuff, not necessarily occult, but I do have a separate collection of those books, too, just not as old :)

        My grandfather died at the wonderful age of 102 a few years back. He really big into magic, but as a boy he didn't have the money to collect a ton of stuff.

        He did have some great old books that now belong to me, and he also left me a ton of ephemera that I've started to frame & hang. You can see some of it here:
        http://vintagemagician.blogspot.com

        2 agree
        • I love your blog! Such wonderful images. Your grandfather must have been the most interesting man to sit and talk with.

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      • Some bookstores specialize in old or rare books. Check your phone book or online merchant directory in your area. I know of several in my area and they are a treat just to go in an peruse.

        1 agrees
  4. My friend is super into everything horror, and he has gotten peronalized autographs from a ton of different horror/spooky related actors–stuff like original Adams Family/Munsters to Friday the 13th etc. He also has a lot of original artwork of zombies and that sort of thing. His place always looks amazing, and not halloweeny at at all. I think it's the organge that really makes things over the top halloween.

    1 agrees
  5. I think I'd go for older decor, like one miht fin in a haunted victorian. I also can't stress the importance of lighting. I made one of these mad scientist lamps (if I can make a lamp without starting a fire, so can you!) and we use it all the time when watching horror movies.

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Mad-Scientists-Light/

    1 agrees
  6. We've run into the same problem– we both lerve us some halloween– to the point where we realized that we just…well, wanted it to be Halloween year-round.
    We have loads of old horror movie posters as decoration, and I have an unhealthy obsession with interesting glass vases that I decorate up into more "all year round but still weird looking" decor.
    I also collect old-timey family photos from thrift stores. They are awesome, because they're arty, but some of the ones I've found are really haunting and creepy in a "why does that little kid keep staring at me" sort of way.

    1 agrees
  7. Those Natural Curiosities canisters are very tempting.

    Garden shops can often provide gargoyles, and gargoyles have a sort of upscale French creepiness to them.

    This time of year, craft stores and/or Target may get the black feather wreath. I've used that as year-round decor, since it is simply a black feather wreath.

    2 agree
  8. My old house with my roommates was full of creepy decorations… Most of them were for Halloween but we liked them so much we kept them up all year. They were mostly glittery, so we had a sort of goth glam thing.. We used creepy metal candelabra candle holders, we had a black glitter skull, a black glitter skeleton and a wonderful black glitter Halloween tree (which me and one other roommate wanted to use as a Christmas tree, other roommate put foot down). We also had creepy tribal masks that seemed like they were watching you!

    0 agree
  9. I have a great set of old poison bottles that apparently originated in the pharmacy in town, that I got at an antique shop down the street.

    They're green glass and get progressively larger in size, like a kitchen canister set only the labels say: Tinct. Belladon, Tinct. Digitalis, Tinct. Arsenic and Tinct. Stramon.

    5 agree
  10. One can find pages (Suitable for framing!) from old/antique anatomy texts on ebay. I love these as decor. When I can afford it, I want a painting or print of people attending an autopsy theater in the 18th or 19th Century. These were quite the events and I've seen some great (and rather grim) depictions thereof on etsy.

    The garden shop is a good idea. My mom got a big gargoyle-sized raven there. She named him Quoth. Quoth the Raven.

    I plan to make one of these little guys and keep him around year 'round: http://cfabbridesigns.com/craft-projects/mini-mummies-2/#.UFnzt6RSRBo

    FInally, perpetualkid.com has some gnome-be-gone creatures (can't link right now, my computer is being stupid. Sorry. Google perpetual kid and gnome-be-gone and it will come right up) that are perhaps more whimsical than /truly/ creepy, but they are toothy little critters bearing garden gnomes away, presumably for nefarious purposes. I really want one when I have my own yard. It can live near some skeletal flamingos if I can get some of those, too.

    2 agree
    • Your little wire mummy just gave me a great idea! I have two little drawing mannequins that I never use for drawing… I can mummify those!

      0 agree
  11. How about finding pieces of creepy death-themed art. Like the death of marat, and hang it in the bathroom. Or other really creepy (almost accidentally so) art?

    4 agree
  12. This is addressed more toward the first question than the second one, but here goes.

    Picking a creepy theme for each room can help to focus what you're looking for in your decor. A theme to decorate around will also give each room more of the creepy/gothic ambiance you're looking for and less of a "oh, they just left up their Halloween decorations" feel. To pick themes, think of whatever feeling you want to evoke in that room (may or may not be related to its purpose) and then match it up with creepy things that evoke that same feeling. A kitchen might be an apothecary. A living room becomes a Victorian reading room (or possibly a Burton-esque fun room). An office can be a Hogwarts-like reading room (wasn't there a Snape-themed reading room featured here some time ago, or am I thinking of a different site?) A bedroom becomes a fairy garden or castle chambers. A basement room can be a dungeon, and so on.

    If you decide to paint, I'd encourage you to steer away from black walls unless you really want to commit to something extreme. I think black accents on other colors, such as lavender, burgundy, grey tones, and pale yellows (not bright, not oranges–too halloweeny) look a lot more put together. Black accents can make a room look more dramatic without also making it super depressing and cold-feeling. And don't forget white accents here and there! They make the black stand out. ;)

    It's old, but this article on the defunct goth lifestyle e-zine Morbid Outlook helped me plan my romantic purple bedroom in high school: http://www.morbidoutlook.com/lifestyle/articles/2003_03_decor.html

    Ultimately, creating an appropriately creepy home is less about skulls and bats and whatnot, and more about creating a "mood." The unsettling sense that something is not quite "normal" in a room, something's subtly off, is much more effective than putting a bunch of ghoulish-but-unrelated stuff in a room together. But that's just my $0.02. I hope you find what works best for you, and please share pictures when you do! :)

    4 agree
  13. I am a year-'round halloween person. I'm sure a lot of people would think my house looks goofy, but it doesn't look like Halloween decorations left up, so there's that at least.
    I've got two prints from this shop framed and hanging up that look nice.http://www.etsy.com/shop/VictorianLowbrow?ref=pr_shop_more
    I also have a print from a local artist that's a recreation of Nighthawks but with the classic universal monsters. Then the framed Creature from the Black Lagoon poster. My more serious creepy items are stuff that I've found at flea markets. Antlers with stitched leather backers, a ceramic phrenology skull, books, old family photos and a large gold baroque framed mirror. Target does have a few good quality things that could be left out all year, too.

    0 agree
  14. I have those skele-flamingos on my to-get list!

    I love Halloween and have been obsessed with The Addams Family since I 1st saw re-runs of the TV show as a kid. So I always keep them in mind as I decorate.

    I've got skulls here & there. Nothing gory simply because I don't want to freak out the kids. (Although I do have a few things discreetly displayed, like small zombie animals, a clay zombie my friend made me, and zombie/mummy salt & pepper shakers!)

    For the bar I have crystal skull vodka and various "Poison" accessories. The dishes & coffee mugs are from Halloween, but ceramic (not plastic) and with skulls & crossbones instead of something specifically Halloween like bats or witches. Also, lots of tarnished silver picked up from the thrift store. A gothic-ish chandelier over the table.

    I also collect mourning art & jewelry and keep those displayed. No one really knows what they are unless they look closely. That's the fun of it, right? And the religious art lying around adds to the spookiness of it all in my opinion.

    Patio & backyard has a little bit of a pirate theme left over from my stepson's bday party. With a few gnomes thrown in, LOL.

    For color scheme I stuck with the color of the walls when we moved in…cream! (Gasp!) Not what I would have painted them, but it actually works well with all the dark wood furniture & accessories. Think old dusty library! We did tear down the ugly wallpaper border that was in the kitchen though. Yuck.

    I could go on & on…but basically, just think old, dark, and subtly creepy instead of in-your-face-Halloween-threw-up-in-here! (Not that there is anything wrong with that either!) Just depends on what you're going for!

    1 agrees
  15. I have Halloween decorations out all year. Most of my friends are like minded, so it's not really an issue.

    Recently I've decided that it's just who I am. I'm going to keep it tasteful, but if i like that pumpkin and want to keep it out year round because I think it's pretty – I will. I think it's silly to spend money on seasonal items just to be put in a closet for 11 months out of the year.

    I've gotten away from things that say Happy Halloween, but at the same time I collect ghosts. They are scattered all over the house, and I think they're just cute. It's who I am, so why not display them instead of hide them?

    I've also started collecting old vintage Halloween items to use through out the house.

    One thing I got new this year was a picture of Frankenstein to go in my kitchen:
    http://www.kirklands.com/product/Seasonal/Halloween/Even-Monsters-Need-a-Break-Framed-Art-Print/pc/2289/c/0/sc/2405/162783.uts

    I think as long as you like it, it doesn't matter. It's who you are, if others don't like it – who cares?! It's your house.

    5 agree
  16. I always think more Edgar Allan Poe than Halloween for creepy year-round decor = graveyard style angels,
    silverplate is easy to pick up at yard sales and thrift shops – let it tarnish for a great goth accent.
    right now, you can pick up some great things at Michaels or JoAnn Fabrics, but don't be afraid to take a cat figuring and spray paint it black or pick up a coffin baking pan after Halloween and use it year round. post some photos of your end results, please!

    0 agree
  17. We're those people and it's a mix of halloween stuff that wasn't too cheesy/ low quality to keep out and making our own. Also, friends who for various reasons have lots of bones and give some to us.

    0 agree
  18. We just moved into a house and even though we are renting it we are working on fixing it up in a variety of Gothic inspired styles.
    My front room is done in what I call Gothic-Bohemiam, lots of rich colors, red and black with gold, blue and purple in it, tons of my art and lots of our odd little knick knacks like skulls, apothecary jars with all kinds of things in them and Gothic toys like stuffed cthulhus, Slelanimals, my giant stuffed toy spider, floor pillows and a "harem bed" couch and a theme of crows and ravens in the art work.
    Our bathroom will be a very Gothic version of day of the dead,Sugar skulls, black wrought iron paper towle holder and cake rack for wash clothes and a black skull votive holder for cotton swabs. I am making bathmats with red towels and skull and roses material and putting sugar skull embroidered earring, necklace holders up.
    Our bedroom is going to bed a deep dark cave for my graveyard working husband to sleep in with black material draped walls and antique Tibetan Thackas on the wall as well as purple lights.
    My kitchen is much more kitschy and eclectic and is mostly just very functional
    here is a sneak peek with more to come
    http://trinaxxl.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/sneak-peek-of-our-new-place-as-i-decorate-it/

    0 agree
  19. Our house is seriously littered with hand crocheted zombie dolls and voodoo dolls made by MischiefMaker, Cori. She also does custom ones, in case you wanted one that looks just like you (or as a great birthday gift for a friend).

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/mischiefmaker

    Our living room also features a Zombie Defense Kit. My husband and I built our own and people seem to love them so much and we started selling them too: https://www.facebook.com/incaseofattack (not that I'm saying you have to buy one from us, cuz you can totally make your own if you're feeling handy)

    0 agree
  20. For color schemes, I prefer black and white with a shot of color (usually a red, green, or purple jewel tone). You can always darken a room with overt (or subtle) creepy accents. Although our living room is brown, black, and red – we are working on a dark tribal vibe. I managed to find some awesome screens on clearance from Pier 1. Mainstream decorating stores can surprise you -who knows where you will find a ceramic skull cookie jar? Of course, if you are crafty you can buy good basics then paint, sew, or embroider your own macabre touches.

    Antique and thrift shops are great for finding home décor you can make creepy: old medicine bottles and glassware (bell jars and the like), sometimes death photos. Sometimes garage or estate sales (heck even e-bay) will have creepy antique home décor; you never know what people have collected over the years. I was lucky to get some deep purple (they look almost black) glass candle sticks from my grandmother. They are my fancy romantic evening or company is over candle sticks.

    I also have some test tubes and a chem lab flask(you can buy these online – Amazon if you want modern, e-bay for antique, and miscellaneous specialty stores).

    Whenever I travel I also keep an eye out for anything dark and creepy. I found some lovely black floral coasters, odd curio boxes, tribal looking statues, and my husband collects masks (most of them are tribal) from around the world (some of these are really creepy looking).

    0 agree
  21. I have a coffin as a coffee table. It was an old theatre prop that was rescued from being thrown out. The lid is in two removable pieces that we keep flipped outside in. We use the inside of the coffin to store game consoles, and spare bedding; the lids hold the tv remote, a stash of candles, and random magazines; and balanced on top of the flipped lids we have a painted top to provide a table surface. Most people don't recognize it at a coffin at first glance.

    1 agrees
  22. These suggestions are gorgeous!

    I've seen a ton of great creepy and quality-enough-to-keep-out-year-round unconventional "Hallowe'en" decor for sale at Homesense (in Canada; Homegoods in the US) this season.

    1 agrees
  23. I would check out http://www.designtoscano.com They've been around for awhile and have the most unusual/awesome home and garden decor selection. Mermaid statues, hanging suits of armor and dragon chandeliers (sign me up!). A ton of stuff that that could work with a dark but not halloweeny theme.

    1 agrees
  24. Check out designtoscano.com and grandinroad.com grandin road is neat looking but quality is not always the highest.

    1 agrees
  25. Consider what mood you would like to create, and whom it is for. For example, I desire a cephalopod-themed bathroom because I think they are delightful and snuggly, not because they are creepy; I also would be very unhappy with a genuinely creepy room (lots of mirrors and dolls, no thank you). But I would love a more old-fashioned macabre study, for example, or a guest bathroom that was done up in Dias de las Muertos fashion. Going for things that are conventionally creepy but which you are enthusiastic about is a good way to go! Nothing ties decor together better than passion.

    0 agree
  26. I saved a bunch of vaguely-creepy antiquey vintagey things from our wedding that sort of have that effect- old busted up water-stained books and such are good. I also picked up a phrenology head and palmistry hand from, of all places, Urban Outfitters (the head was on sale for like $9 when I got it, too, woo! I noticed they just brought them back because occult shit is kind of in again.)

    Also, dead dried flowers (scabiosa pods, also from our wedding), some kind of weird creepy art (we bought a book of James Jean prints at some point that are amazing), some orange candles in cool looking bourbon bottles (okay, those ARE left over from halloween.) Yadda yadda. I'm hoping to submit a home tour someday too, but right now it's still a work in progress, since we moved in in July. So much stuff to hang on walls.

    I was just thinking I need to start looking out for the good decor at Target and stuff…

    Oh also, we had a halloween-themed Christmas last year (linky, if ya care: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alex_tinsley/sets/72157632273001272/with/8320407412/ ) and ended up with a black tree and a lot of sparkly brown and orange stuff, which worked nicely. It's hard to buy explicitly halloweeny stuff out of season so it sort of naturally edits you.

    0 agree
    • Just realized this post was super old, but who cares, HALLOWEEN ALL THE TIME

      0 agree
    • It's NEVER too late for awesome products!

      0 agree
  27. Start a curiosity cabinet! Put your findings in glass jars and display them on a shelf, or even better, in a glass case like the ones in natural history museums. Collecting sciency, creepy things is so much fun. You can find neat oddities by scouring flea markets, taking nature walks (think dead insects, interesting fungi, or if you're lucky, owl pellets or animal bones.) I just worked at a tattoo convention this weekend, and discovered a vendor called Trundle Manor. Dead critters suspended in alcohol solution, amazing rat skull jewelry, and even creepy medical implements! What's not to love? Or if you're crafty, it's fun to make those creepy frankenstein/Severus Snape's potion closet creatures out of clay and display them in jars with colored water. As the clay sits in fluid, it tends to decay over time, which ends up making your creature/organ/biological oddity look even more demented and awesome!

    0 agree
  28. My Boyfriend of 6 years and I have decorated our apartment in a way that is both creepy and classy. We chose deep charcoal grey walls for the majority of our home. Then Slip covered our furniture with black for fall/winter and a leathery camel for the warmer months. natural ram horns on the wall, large pewter framed mirror, dark wood furniture and inexpensive thrift finds painted shades of black and distressed. Display old tattered books, figural busts, animal sculpture, and anatomical prints with heavy dark frames. Add the occasional ivory or white ceramic jars, terrariums with bones and skulls inside and hunt for an animal fur or hide area rug or wall hanging. Use diffused lighting by tea dyeing or purchasing amber tinted lamp shades. Lots of natural wax candles and keep all of your sharp objects on display as though you are expecting someone to show up for dinner at any moment ;) (unless you have small children of course).

    0 agree
  29. I am aiming for Addams Family Chic in the house we're building. Garage sales and home improvement stores are your friend. Look for the offbeat and antique that can be made creepy and unsettling, or outdoor fixtures re-purposed for indoors. I recently scored an oval framed gilt mirror for $10 that has the silver wearing off the back as only OLD mirrors achieve. Very ghostly looking indeed! I actually talked him down because the silver was wearing through! It is going to look great in my upstairs hall, lit with low wattage outdoor carriage fixtures. Other fitting ornaments from the 70's get a good coat of Rustoleum's hammered Bronze spray paint (to cover the avocado green or similar color) and a rub on pewter or silver finish for updating to my creepy aesthetic.

    0 agree

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