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How To Make Your House Look Haunted For Halloween

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Planning on having a Halloween party this year? Or want to create a spooky Halloween haunted house for the trick or treaters? Learn some easy ways to make your house look haunted.

How To Make Your House Look Haunted For Halloween

Today I’m taking a break from “serious” decor and having some over-the-top decorating fun with Halloween!

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 parts that are only there for Halloween 🙂 (I do tend to go all out with the decorations.)

With Halloween getting more and more popular, I have had a few people asking me lately how I go about creating my Halloween haunted house. So I thought I would share some of my tried-and-true haunt your house tips. And although I usually do all of these things for my Halloween party, 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.

Skeleton behind a Halloween bar cart
Skeleton behind a Halloween bar cart

In all cases, 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 in my haunted houses (it’s just not something I’m into), so there won’t be any scary “massacre” pictures 🙂

Keep reading to find out more about how to make your house look haunted.

Cover Your Walls

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Halloween haunted house scene setter

One of the ways to transform your home into a haunted house that will have the biggest impact is to use a scene setter to cover your walls.

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 it has a really big impact on the spooky factor!

This haunted mansion scene setter* is one of my favorite scene setters for creating a haunted house. The room really looks like it has run down paneling!

To learn how to install scene setters, click HERE.

Drape Spider Webs

Halloween creepy cloth draped from the ceiling and over mirrors
Drape creepy cloth from the ceiling and over mirrors

Spider webs are a great way to add spookiness to your Halloween haunted house.  But making them look realistic is the key to success.

Try to set them up so that people have to walk through them.  In my opinion, there’s nothing scarier than thinking you have walked through a spider web and there might be a spider on you!

Halloween spider web stretch over a mirror
Halloween spider web stretch over a mirror

Stretchy spider web* works pretty well for pulling across the room or across a mirror.

To make them 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 using spider webs in your Halloween haunted house HERE.

Add Lots of Candles

Crows and candles in a Halloween haunted house

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* are the way to go in a haunted house.

Halloween candles hung from the ceiling

You can put them anywhere…even hang them from the ceiling to imitate Harry Potter.

You can also get the ones that have a timer and/or remote control so that you don’t have to go around turning them all on and off every night.

Find some more ways to use Halloween candles HERE.

Use Great Halloween Lighting

An uplight makes the "spider web" (cheese cloth) seem to glow
An uplight makes the “spider web” (okay, cheese cloth) seem to glow

In addition to candles, there are all kinds of other lighting options you can use to make your house more haunted. And in my opinion, lighting is one of the most important parts!

Uplights* are a great way to highlight a particular part of your haunted house. Placing the light behind some creepy cloth hides the fixture and makes the whole table look like it’s glowing.

To read the step by step instructions for re-creating this spooky uplighted Halloween scene, click HERE.

Lighted Halloween Decanters
Lighted Halloween Decanters

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.

Halloween haunted house chandelier with flicker flame bulbs

Replacing your chandelier bulbs with these flicker bulbs* 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.

For even more ideas for Halloween indoor lighting, click HERE.

Buy Some Animated Halloween Props

Halloween haunted house mirror

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 that I hang in my front hall is another crowd favorite. It looks like a regular mirror until someone walks in the front door. Then the spooky mirror ghost wakes up and starts talking.

Halloween portraits hung on a wall

Most of these props are motion or sound activated (or both), so they start working when people come near…definitely a little spooky!

This lighted 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).

The face in this spooky urn* only shows up and starts talking when someone walks by…another prop that is perfect for a haunted house.

Halloween spooky urn and mirror

Here are the urn and the spooky mirror when they haven’t been activated. They still fit right in with the decor!

Make Things Glow In The Dark

Halloween glow in the dark writing on a door

Using a black light* can really up the spooky factor in your Halloween haunted house.

Anyone wearing white or fluorescent clothing will light up under it, and you can add all kinds of decorations that take advantage of the black light.

I painted this glow in the dark sign on my bathroom door. I thought it was rather appropriate 🙂

Add Critters and Other Creepy Decorations

Halloween crow and candles
Stand crows in candle trees for a realistic effect

Metal Candle Trees* are a great way to add spookiness.  They kind of look like dead trees in the candle light.  (Who knew wedding decorations were great for Halloween?)

And it’s easy to add a crow* or two to the branches.

The trick to making critters effective is to place them around where people are not expecting them.

Halloween haunted house rats on piano

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 they are there until they get close. The element of surprise gets them every time!

Hang Spooky Pictures

Halloween pictures
Spooky Pictures

I like to hang Halloween pictures as if they are part of my normal decor…to figure out where to put them, I usually take down one of my regular pictures and put up a spooky Halloween one.

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.

Halloween portrait scene setters

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…

Halloween portrait behind a light

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.

Use Real Dead Flowers

Dead roses on the piano for Halloween
Real dead roses on the piano

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.

Faux red and black roses for Halloween

Of course, if you can’t be bothered with live flowers…there are always black fake roses* (like the ones I used for my Phantom of the Opera party) which can be re-used over and over again.

Add Some Spanish Moss

Spanish moss and skulls add spookiness to your chandelier
Spanish moss and skulls add spookiness to your chandelier

Spanish moss* looks spooky regardless of how you use it.

Add it to chandeliers, furniture, planters, centerpieces or anywhere that could use some “brownery”.

Click HERE if you want to read the tutorial for making this chandelier.

Lay Black Lace On Tables

Halloween haunted house black lace over red table cloth
Black lace over red table cloth

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.

Hang Ghosts

Halloween ghost hung from ceiling
Halloween Ghost

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*[wgCjTracking]. These work equally well inside or out.

Position Skeletons In Chairs

Skeletons in chairs
Skeletons making themselves at home

Setting up some poseable skeletons* up so that they look like they are part of everyday life in the room makes them more interesting.

These ones are so much a part of the room that my cat decided to go to sleep in the skeleton’s lap.

Now I need to get back to planning my own Halloween party decor, and hopefully, you’ve found some ideas for your haunted house as well.

Have comments or questions on how to make your house look haunted?  Tell us in the section below.

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  1. Pat Johnson says:

    LOVE the candelabra with orange voitives. I do all out also. Last year, papered entrance to look like stone walls. Would love to know where you found this. Can’t find it on internet. Thanks.

    1. Hi Pat…Sorry, I have a couple of candelabras with votives so I’m not sure which one you were referring to. If it’s the long one in the second picture with the mirror and the spider webs, it came from Pottery Barn a long time ago…unfortunately I don’t think it is still available. If you’re thinking about the candle tree with the raven in it, you can get those HERE. Or if I completely missed the mark and you meant something totally different, just let me know and hopefully I can help 🙂

  2. Love all your ideas and decor! Spooktacularly beautiful!

    1. Thanks, Kathy! Halloween is my favorite holiday so I always go all out 🙂


    1. Hi Loraine…we must have the same taste in Halloween decor! Glad I’m not the only one who likes to go all out for Halloween 🙂