Unless your entire home is filled with Halloween decorations, it’s hard to make the same kind of impact indoors that you can by creating a spooky entry on your front porch. Instead of spreading eerie atmosphere everywhere inside, opt for a focused vignette here and there.
The best place to stage a sinister Halloween happening is on or around a natural focal point like a fireplace mantel. It’s a spot where you and guests will congregate so why not up the fright factor with a grouping of spine-chilling objects?
We gathered together a mantel of curiosities—vintage things, purchased decorations, downloads, crafted projects—and played with placement until we got a look we wanted. Restricting our color palette to black, white, silver, and amber helped to limit our choice of pieces. If you don’t have a fireplace mantel, try a similar assemblage on a floating picture ledge or bookshelf.
To give the vignette an appropriately creepy setting, we topped the mantelpiece with a black spider web runner. The lacy runner can be purchased here:
Part fine art, part health commentary, this macabre painting by Vincent van Gogh (Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette, c. 1885-86, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) was downloaded, printed, and popped into a standard frame with an 8×10-inch mat. It anchors one side of our mantelscape.
Vintage apothecary bottles with appropriately ominous labels flank the skeletal portrait on one side. We found our bottles at a flea market but you can get a similar look with recycled bottles and labels downloaded free from sites like these:
A glittering skeletal crescent moon hangs over the right side of the scene, lit by a 3-arm candelabrum. A silvery skull and a ghostly mirror dominate the center of the mantel.
To create a haunted mirror, sand the silver from the back of a mirror corner until it’s clear. Print a photo of a scary face onto translucent film and print a second copy onto white paper. Tape the film to the back of the mirror, then tape the white print behind it, slightly off-center for a blurred ghostly image.
See this and other grisly projects at http://www.bhg.com/halloween/parties/elegant-halloween-party-in-black-white-silver
Glam up a standard Halloween skull with a coating of silver spray paint. Dress it in black ostrich feathers for an effect that’s part gruesome, part burlesque.
Providing a sense of movement to the scene is a lenticular portrait of a staid Victorian gentleman. A slight change of perspective, however, reveals a flaming skeleton that visually screams at you. A gothic-inspired black frame completes the spook factor.
Lenticular images are a specialized process but you can make your own type of lenticular portrait with a folded paper project. Check out this tutorial to get the idea:
Looking for more ideas for your spooky mantel? Here are some other pieces we considered but couldn’t find room for:
- A vintage black-faced clock
- An old microscope
- A framed book page overprinted with a witch’s silhouette
- Pillar candle holders spray-painted black and rubbed with gold leaf
- Gnarled tree branches and bittersweet
- Black faux crows
- A weathered window frame
- Framed insect diagrams
- Vintage cameras
- Black and gray bound books
- A tarnished silver tray
© Caruth Studio