Haunted Man­sion

A cen­tury-old Vic­to­rian home is the per­fect back­drop for eerie Hal­loween dec­o­rat­ing.

Country Sampler Autumn Decorating SIP 2018 - - Inside - Pho­tographed by Larissa Jenk­ins of Fol­low the Yel­low Brick Home. Writ­ten by Mag­gie Gins­berg.

From the mo­ment Larissa Jenk­ins first set foot in the historic Shenan­doah, Iowa, fixer-up­per, she was en­vi­sion­ing her an­nual Hal­loween party there. “I’m al­ways dec­o­rat­ing, think­ing about the hol­i­days,” says Larissa, who’d been driv­ing to look at a dif­fer­ent house when she and her hus­band saw the Vic­to­rian’s “for sale” sign and called the real es­tate agent on the spot. “It had been on and off the mar­ket for years; no­body had bought it, but I just loved it as soon as I walked in,” she says. “It was in kind of bad shape; there was a hole in the ceil­ing in the foyer, but it’s my dream house.” The cou­ple made an of­fer that day and be­came only the third fam­ily to own the sto­ried 1900 “Welch Home.”

With its beveled win­dows and quirky wish­ing well, the house is beloved by lo­cals and per­fect for hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing, es­pe­cially at Hal­loween. As Larissa drapes cheese­cloth and cob­webs over an­tique fur­ni­ture and can­de­labras, she can al­most pic­ture the grand galas she’s told were once held in her enor­mous third-floor at­tic.

Al­though she loves el­e­gant decor, she ad­mits she is also thrifty, pur­chas­ing ev­ery­day fur­nish­ings and Hal­loween dec­o­ra­tions from Craigslist and dol­lar stores and also repur­pos­ing items she al­ready owns. “Ev­ery­one thinks it must take me for­ever to get my Hal­loween stuff out, but I re­ally don’t have a lot,” she says. “I like to use what I have. You can make any ev­ery­day thing look creepy.”

To keep her dec­o­ra­tions fresh, Larissa seeks out one spe­cial item a year for her hol­i­day col­lec­tions. “That way, you grad­u­ally get a col­lec­tion go­ing,” she notes.

When you’re ready to spook up your home for Hal­loween, she ad­vises get­ting cre­ative be­fore hit­ting the stores. “Don’t be afraid to paint things, to think out­side the box,” she says. “Just look around your house.”

“I like to use what I have. You can make any ev­ery­day thing LOOK CREEPY.”

“Don’t be afraid to paint things, TO THINK OUT­SIDE THE BOX.”

OP­PO­SITE: Busts are a must for set­ting that ghostly mood. Dress them up with masks, shawls and witch hats, or a Marie An­toinette wig—a fit­ting nest for some dol­lar-store birds (al­ways spooky, thanks to Mr. Al­fred Hitchcock). Drape cheese­cloth for that el­e­gant, moth-eaten look, and black plas­tic gar­land gives a hint of some­thing once beau­ti­ful, de­cay­ing. RIGHT: A chalk­board be­hind a dec­o­ra­tive an­tique frame lets ev­ery­one know what day it is. A clear­ance-rack owl don­ning a gold crown perches re­gally among pump­kins, pinecones, and match­ing can­de­labras.

ABOVE: Larissa Jenk­ins re­pur­posed the witch cos­tume she wore on a pre­vi­ous Hal­loween to fes­toon a dress form. The hat placed on top gives the fig­ure a head­less look, and green hands plucked from a drug­store aisle add the per­fect creepy de­tail.

ABOVE: It pays to be thrifty like Larissa: The fab­u­lous tufted couch is a Craigslist find, the cof­fee ta­ble is from a garage sale, and the spi­der­web back­drop is ac­tu­ally a table­cloth!

BELOW: Larissa col­lects sec­ond­hand mir­rors all year long and then haunts them with win­dow clings from the dol­lar store. A stan­dard party-store skull is spray painted gold and topped off with a vin­tage hat. White pump­kins sewn by Larissa make the black birds and cage look even more creepy. Turn­ing all your books back­ward is a quick trick that doesn’t cost a penny.

ABOVE: Larissa prints out spooky pic­tures, or browses Etsy for doc­tored Vic­to­rian por­traits, and tem­po­rar­ily swaps them with ex­ist­ing pho­tos just for the sea­son. En­cas­ing a black bird and nest in­side a kitchen cheese dome is in­stantly un­set­tling.

RIGHT: This regal French arm­chair is yet an­other Craigslist find. Malef­i­cent the cat hangs out year-round but looks es­pe­cially dash­ing in Oc­to­ber. Toss­ing a hat and broom on the fur­nish­ings gives the feel­ing that a witch just left the room.

ABOVE: Cob­webs and cheese­cloth wrap the fam­ily pi­ano as well as the pieces it holds. Larissa opts for a pal­ette of black and white over the more tra­di­tional orange, demon­strated per­fectly with black os­trich feath­ers and white roses. The doe mount joins the party with a black shawl and lace mask.

BELOW: Larissa hung a French ta­pes­try above the cob­webbed buf­fet to boost the Hal­loween mood and brought in leaves and spray painted gold sticks from the back­yard. Black rib­bon has many uses when haunt­ing a din­ing room scene, whether ty­ing around linens and white pump­kins, or cre­at­ing masks on statue girls. Don’t for­get to perch some black birds in the chan­de­lier.

ABOVE: White roses and pump­kins of­fer nat­u­ral con­trast to the crys­tal ware and Larissa’s grand­mother’s china (white with a single black rose). Minia­ture caul­drons from the dol­lar store an­chor each place set­ting.

LEFT: An­other thrift-store bust is brought to life with a mask and creep­i­fied with nat­u­ral el­e­ments from out­side. Larissa keeps these black lace spi­der­web pan­els on hand for when the white cheese­cloth or cob­webs just won’t do. She wrapped a stan­dard black feather boa around grapevine to form a won­der­fully strange wreath for the mir­ror.

ABOVE: Meet Fred, the talk­ing but­ler who greets guests in the foyer each Hal­loween, un­less he’s out on the porch dis­tribut­ing candy to neigh­bor­hood kids. Fred is es­pe­cially pop­u­lar on Larissa’s Instagram page and with her 4-year-old son.

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