12 Halloween Decor Ideas to Scare and Delight

Gather inspiration for your seasonal style with these spooky tricks and treats

By Gwendolyn Purdom Courtesy of Houzz.com

Getting dressed up for Halloween is hardly limited to people and pets. Decking out your home with jack-o’-lanterns, spiderwebs and other creepy decor details can be just as fun as getting your little pirates and witches in costume this time of year — and often easier. Here’s a goody bag of our favorite tips and inspirations.

1. A Gothic Glow

Part Phantom of the Operaand part haunted house, a cluster of flickering candles sets an instantly spooky scene. To get the most wow for your wicks, combine tapered candles of varying heights and thicknesses all in the same color (white is classic, black a notch more mysterious). If you don’t have an appropriately unnerving candelabrum or individual candleholders handy, a heatproof tray or platter should do the trick as a base. Keep the candles in place with a dab of candle adhesive to bond each candle directly to the display surface.

Decorator beware: Candles packed together like this mean more heat and more danger if they aren’t monitored closely. Never leave the candle arrangement unattended, and if you have young kids or pets nearby, flameless candles will likely be a safer bet.

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2. Spooky Specimens

Going for Mad Scientist Chic? A collection of classic candy dishes goes from sweet to sinister when you swap out the gumdrops for snakes and spiders. Stock up on rubber critters in the toy aisle and show off your specimens on a mantel or as a chilling centerpiece. Bonus points for (gently) knocking one over so it looks as if the creepy crawlies are on the move.

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3. Freaky Foliage

Fall color palettes go beyond oranges and reds. Plant an unexpected jolt of black blooms or foliage in the yard or your front porch container garden to keep things feeling haunting but not over the top. Fall is a great time to plant the perennial black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) shown here, for instance. It adds visual interest, texture and a contrasting backdrop for the pumpkins.

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4. Trick-or-Treat-Ready Front Door

The warm wood door that Boston design firm JS Interiors found at a Maine salvage company combined with frosted-glass star lanterns, a friendly Halloween doormat and three pretty pumpkins makes for a well-appointed, well-lit entryway to welcome candy-seeking boys and ghouls.

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5. Color-Coordinated Candles

Make these cute candy-corn-inspired candles yourself or just use the iconic sugary fall treat as color inspiration. An array of glowing orange, white and yellow candles gets across the same sweet and seasonal idea.

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6. Orange-Free Zone

Some design-minded homeowners may shy away from Halloween decor for fear of overdoing it on the orange. But black, gray and silver accents, like the paper skull garland, tombstone and candles on display here, feel just as holiday-ready without all the intensity of the season’s dominant shade.

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7. Eerie Terrarium

You don’t have to be crafty to give planters or terrariums you already have an unsettling Halloween upgrade. A handful of moss, faux cobwebs or a flameless candle or two can evoke a Halloween feeling without sacrificing style. Or, if you’re up to it, you can build your own seasonal terrarium from scratch.

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8. Words of Warning

There’s a way to get into the holiday spirit without turning your yard into a parade of zombies and ghosts. Why not have some fun guiding visitors to the door with a not-so-threatening warning written with vinyl decals? Similar messages could work in the window or on the front door too. 

Want to make things even scarier? Throw in a terrifying guard dog, like the one shown here. (Just kidding, that pup’s adorable.)

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9. Gourd Goals

With the autumn-tastic art above the mantel, the bold candleholders and the eclectic pile of pumpkins spilling from the fireplace, this whimsical scene gives an example of how to take your Halloween decor in a more playful direction. And by using painted pumpkins instead of carved ones, the homeowners also saved themselves a lot of time, effort and goop.

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10. Taking Flight

With a little creativity, the Houzz user’s garage door shown here went from wasted space to an unexpected canvas for a colony of bats. With the help of stick-on vinyl decals, yours could too.

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11. Sophisticated Scares

You might as well think about your mantel as a little art gallery for you to curate. These homeowners in Brooklyn, New York, took that concept and filtered it through a sophisticated Halloween lens. Clean white gourds, a bouquet of black ostrich feathers, a faux crow and a cloche jar filled with seasonal root veggies capture an easy-to-replicate fall feeling with a dash of grown-up Halloween scares.

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12. Rethinking the Definition of Decor

Sure, candy corn is great by the handful and fall leaves signal the season in the yard, but they can make for great home accents too. Display the colorful corn in a pretty glass vase, thread the best leaves you rake up into a festive garland, and keep an open mind when it comes to other autumn staples and how you might be able to repurpose them around the house.