Hal­loween Hey­day

A Cal­i­for­nia home­owner has plenty of tricks and treats up her sleeve as she dec­o­rates for her fa­vorite fall hol­i­day with vin­tage goods, flea-mar­ket finds and hand­made cre­ations.

Country Sampler - - Contents -

Inspired by a life­long fas­ci­na­tion with spooky stuff, a Cal­i­for­nia home­owner gives her abode a hap­pily haunted look with vin­tage col­lec­tions and hand­made goods.


holds many mem­o­ries for Rose­mary Ol­son, who mar­ried her hus­band, Mark, in the month of Oc­to­ber and had a child­hood pas­sion for read­ing ghost sto­ries, so it’s no won­der she goes all out in her sea­sonal decorating. “Fall is my fa­vorite time of year, and Hal­loween is my fa­vorite hol­i­day, so it’s par­tic­u­larly fun for me,” she says. “I have al­ways liked spooky stuff.”

The cou­ple has lived in their mis­sion-style W New­bury Park, Cal­i­for­nia, home for three decades, and Rose­mary takes pride in con­tin­u­ally com­ing up with fresh ways to dec­o­rate it, not­ing her style is best de­scribed as eclec­tic. “It’s a lit­tle flea mar­ket, a lit­tle in­dus­trial, a lit­tle farm­house—and it’s al­ways chang­ing,” she ex­plains.

When seek­ing out pieces for her home, Rose­mary’s num­ber-one rule is to keep an open mind, fol­lowed closely by the man­date to buy what you love, with­out hes­i­ta­tion. “If you’re look­ing for some­thing spe­cial, you will never find it, but when you see it, you’ll know,” she ad­vises. “And when you find it, don’t worry about where you are go­ing to put it—buy it and bring it home, even if you need to sell a piece to fit it in.”

Some­times Rose­mary leaves fur­ni­ture pieces as is, but she fre­quently picks up a paint­brush and chalky-fin­ish paint to give them a quick makeover. And she’s quick to add dec­o­ra­tive de­tail­ing to smaller ac­cents, of­ten us­ing glit­ter or pa­per em­bel­lish­ments. “I can’t leave well enough alone,” she says. Her fa­vorite ad­dons in­clude vin­tage sheet mu­sic, book pages, crepe pa­per and vin­tage glass glit­ter. She earns “flea-mar­ket money” by sell­ing some of her cre­ations whole­sale to lo­cal shops and party plan­ners.

Al­though Rose­mary en­joys shop­ping flea mar­kets and garage sales, some of her fa­vorite pieces have come from un­ex­pected places. For ex­am­ple, the chairs that sur­round the farm ta­ble in her din­ing room are like those from a fa­vorite restau­rant. “I men­tioned I loved the fleur-de-lis on the back, and the owner or­dered some for me. They were only $100 apiece, and I painted them with Chalk Paint and re-cov­ered the seats with toile fab­ric,” she notes.

Her home is burst­ing with color, but the back­drop and main fur­nish­ings are mostly

white and gray. “I fig­ure if you keep the walls neu­tral, you can add what­ever col­ors you want ev­ery­where else,” she says. Color re­ally comes into play with her sea­sonal decor, par­tic­u­larly for Hal­loween. Rose­mary be­gan col­lect­ing vin­tage Hal­loween items, in­clud­ing noise­mak­ers, games, cos­tumes and dec­o­ra­tions, in the 1980s. At the time, the goods were rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive and easy to find. To­day, they are a bit pricier, but she still keeps an eye out for unique pieces with in­ter­est­ing graph­ics. “I love the col­ors and feel of any­thing vin­tage Hal­loween be­cause it’s fun and spooky, not too scary,” she ex­plains.

Dur­ing the fall sea­son, she mixes her Hal­loween col­lectibles in with her own cre­ations and other decor, plus piles of pumpkins. “Pumpkins are ev­ery­thing,” Rose­mary re­lates. “I can’t pass a farm­ers mar­ket with­out buy­ing some, but I keep them up through Thanks­giv­ing and re­dec­o­rate around them.”

Rose­mary en­joys en­ter­tain­ing, and her lively hol­i­day decor al­ways at­tracts oohs and aahs from guests who en­joy check­ing out her new­est de­signs. She’s pleased to see the tra­di­tion of Hal­loween decorating con­tinue to the next gen­er­a­tion—her adult daugh­ter spends months cre­at­ing a “grave­yard” on her own front lawn. “She went more to the dark side, but she likes spooky stuff and scary movies, too. It’s in the blood or some­thing,” Rose­mary says with a laugh.

“I love the col­ors and feel of any­thing vin­tage Hal­loween be­cause it’s fun and spooky, not too scary.”

Rose­mary painted the mas­ter bed­room side ta­ble to match her man­tel head­board. A metal ban­gle on the or­na­men­tal hand picks up the lus­ter of the mercury-glass ac­cent lamp and dec­o­ra­tive dish. In the back­ground, a vin­tage ac­tiv­ity book printed in or­ange and black sets a Hal­loween tone.


Left: On the liv­ing room man­tel, a store-bought framed print is lay­ered within other empty frames. Dried mums and white pump­kin gourds min­gle with Rose­mary’s col­lec­tion of old tro­phies. She made the stamped pen­nant from the page of an old book.

Be­low: Rose­mary be­gan col­lect­ing the vin­tage Hal­loween noise­mak­ers that are gath­ered in a bowl in her liv­ing room decades ago, but she still seeks new ones to add to her col­lec­tion, which num­bers about 40. She says the charm­ing party fa­vors now com­mand prices from $15 to $50, de­pend­ing on rar­ity.

To jazz up her front stoop, Rose­mary ap­plied porch paint in a black-and-white di­a­mond pat­tern. Mark gave the plain door a makeover with wood trim and rus­tic iron clavos nails, and Rose­mary added a dis­tressed painted fin­ish. It not only matches the style of the home but also pro­vides a per­fect show­case for fall and Hal­loween flour­ishes.

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