If you’re like me, you start thinking about Halloween in July. Which means it’s time to start planning! Need some inspiration? Check out these 14 spooky haunted house ideas. From fake cobwebs to creepy ghosts and animated props, your friends and family will love these Halloween haunted house decorations.
Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year! (As you probably already know if you have been around here before).
Every year I have a Halloween party where the entire inside of my house is transformed into something that is not recognizable as being my house.
Some parts of it look so real that I have actually had people ask which are the decorations that are only there for the party 🙂
And although I usually do all of these things for my spooky soiree, you can still have a great Halloween display by only picking a couple of them if you don’t want to do that much work.
I find that staging things in a way that seems “real” has the most impact (like my skeleton bartender).
Sit skeletons at the table, place dead roses in a vase where you would normally have live ones, replace your family portrait pictures with Halloween portraits, or sit a plastic rat on the tub surround in the bathroom.
That way people don’t always see the props right away. And boy are they surprised when they finally notice they’re there!
One note: I don’t do blood and gore (it’s just not something I’m into), so there won’t be any scary haunted house “massacre” pictures 🙂
Keep reading to find out how to make your house look haunted.
1 | Hang haunted house scene setters
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One of the ways to transform your home into a haunted house is to hang a scene setter on your walls.
Since it covers such a big area, it always has a huge impact on how the room looks.
To do this right, cover as much of the wall as possible with plastic or paper scenes that will make your house look completed different, especially under low light.
It is a bit of a time-consuming task to set up. But I think the end result is worth it.
This haunted mansion scene setter* (in the picture above) is one of my favorites for creating a haunted house.
Once it’s up, the room really looks like it has ripped wallpaper and run down paneling!
Learn more about scene setters and how to install them.
2 | Drape spider webs
Spider webs are a great way to add spookiness to your Halloween haunted house.
Not only do they make everything look older, but there’s nothing scarier than thinking you have walked through a spider web and there might be a spider on you!
So I try to set them up so that people have to walk through them.
Stretchy spider web* works pretty well for pulling across the room or across a mirror.
To make it look realistic, less is more.
Tease the threads apart so you don’t end up with big clumps of spider web.
Creepy cloth* works better for draping over furniture, light fixtures and doors.
Get more ideas for decorating with spider webs.
3 | Add lots of candles
Candles automatically add atmosphere to your haunted house.
I love the look of real candle light, but in a lot of cases, flame-less candles (like these black ones*) are the way to go at a party.
You can put them anywhere. Use them in jack o’ lanterns, candelabras, or Halloween candle holders.
Even hang them from the ceiling for a Harry Potter party.
I recommend getting the ones that have a timer and/or remote control so that you don’t have to spend a bunch of time turning them all on and off.
Find some more ways to use Halloween candles
4 | Use cool lighting
In addition to candles, there are all kinds of Halloween haunted house ideas using lighting. And in my opinion, this is one of the most important parts of making your home look spooky.
Uplights* are a great way to highlight a particular part of your haunted house.
Placing the light behind some creepy cloth (or cheesecloth with holes cut in it) hides the fixture and makes the whole table look like it’s glowing.
Read the step by step tutorial for re-creating this Halloween scene.
Vase uplights* work well for adding some sparkle to your decanters.
I add DIY Halloween bottle labels to make them look more Halloween like.
Or you can replace your light bulbs with special Halloween ones.
Like these flicker bulbs* that will make your chandelier look like it has old-time flames.
Note: These bulbs don’t give off a lot of light so they are definitely for ambiance, not for providing light to see by.
Take a look at our Halloween indoor lighting ideas for even more inspiration.
5 | Buy some animated Halloween props
There are so many inexpensive animated Halloween props available this time of year that are great for making your house feel haunted.
This animated haunted mirror is a crowd favorite at my parties. (It’s no longer available, but I found a similar one HERE*).
It looks like a regular mirror until someone walks in the front door. Then the spooky mirror ghost wakes up and starts talking.
Most of these props are motion or sound activated (or both), so they start working when people come near…definitely a little spooky!
This animated spell book* that opens and closes automatically is one of my favorite haunted house props. (It’s the red glowing book in the picture above).
If you can find props that still look good during the day, that’s even better. (The mirror above looks like a real mirror when it’s not in use.)
6 | Make things glow in the dark
Using a black light* can really up the spooky factor.
Anyone wearing white or fluorescent clothing will light up under it, and you can add all kinds of Halloween haunted house decorations that take advantage of the black light.
Like this glow in the dark sign I painted on my bathroom door using laundry detergent. I thought it was rather appropriate 🙂
Find more glow in the dark Halloween decor ideas.
7 | Put out some candle trees
Metal candle trees* are another great way to add spookiness to your decor.
They’re traditionally used for weddings.
But they kind of look like dead trees. Especially in the candle light. (Who knew wedding decorations were great for Halloween?)
And they’re very durable so you can reuse them for years.
Plus, it’s easy to add a crow* or two to the branches for some extra Halloween ambiance.
8 | Add critters
Speaking of crows, adding fake animals like mice, rats and bats is another way to add that Halloween vibe.
The trick to making critters effective is to place them where people are not expecting them.
I like to put mice on the floor behind the bathroom door, have rats on the piano, and hang bats in a dark corner of the room–all places where people don’t notice them until they get close.
The element of surprise gets them every time!
9 | Hang Spooky Pictures
To make Halloween pictures look good, I like to hang them as if they are part of my normal home decor.
I mean literally. I take down one of my regular pictures and put up a spooky Halloween one in it’s place.
Plus, there’s already a nail there. So no extra work involved in putting it up.
There are lots of options for spooky pictures that you can use for your Halloween decor:
1. Make your own Halloween silhouettes. Just cut some Halloween shapes out of black construction paper and frame them.
2. Buy spooky portrait scene setters*. This is an inexpensive way to get a lot of pictures and I have re-used them every year for a lot of years!
You’ll be surprised how real they look once they are hung up on the wall…especially in the low light usually found in haunted houses…
3. Another option is buy framed Halloween portraits* intended for this purpose.
I especially like the ones like these* that change expressions from normal to scary depending on which angle you are viewing them from.
10 | Use real dead flowers
Why buy plastic flowers when you can use real ones?
I like to buy a big bouquet of roses about 3 weeks before Halloween and then let them die in the vase instead of throwing them out. (Plus you get the added bonus of enjoying a bouquet of beautiful flowers before hand!)
Then I place the vase somewhere that I would normally put live flowers.
11 | Add Spanish moss
Spanish moss* looks spooky regardless of how you use it. Which is why it’s a staple of my Halloween haunted house decorations.
Add it to chandeliers, furniture, planters, centerpieces or anywhere that could use some “brownery”.
See this and other ideas for decorating your chandelier for Halloween.
12 | Lay black lace on tables
Use a Halloween inspired black lace overlay* on top of a red tablecloth or orange table cloth.
It’s an easy way to add spookiness to your tables.
13 | Hang ghosts
It’s pretty hard to make your house look haunted without hanging a ghost* or two.
Making a ghost is a really simple DIY project: Glue or staple a piece of white fabric* (or a sheet) over a round styrofoam ball*. Then shred the ends to make it uneven, and hang it where people will see it.
Or you can use some of the lighting options that are available to project ghosts onto your wall*. These work equally well inside or out.
14 | Position skeletons in chairs
The last of my Halloween haunted house ideas involves poseable skeletons*.
I use a lot of them.
And I usually dress them up with cheap Halloween costumes.
So they look like the grim reaper, a bartender, a member of the Addams Family…whatever fits my theme for that year.
Then I set them up to look like they are doing something realistic (like reading a book or serving drinks).
That way they look like they fit in, and they provide a great photo op.
Now I need to get back to planning my own Halloween party decor, and hopefully, you’ve found some ideas for decorating your house for Halloween, as well.
Other Halloween decor ideas you might like
- DIY Halloween graveyard
- Outdoor Halloween lighting ideas
- DIY Halloween mason jar candle holders
- Haunted house lighting effects
Or browse all of our Halloween Ideas.
Have comments or questions on our Halloween haunted house ideas? Tell us in the section below.
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This post was originally published on September 25, 2017 but was updated with new content on August 5, 2022.