I figured that as we get started on designing a Victorianesque Hallowe'en, it would
be helpful to outline a few things. Hopefully, that will make it easier for anyone
embarking on this lovely, spooky adventure to achieve the dark Victorian affect in
their own unique way, rather than being frustrated by not "matching the photo".
Hallowe'en (or All Hallow's Eve) is much like any other holiday in that decor can be
themed to suit personal tastes. Some families with small children will stick with a
"cute" Hallowe'en featuring cartoony cat photos, smiling jack-o-lanterns and all of
the traditional imagery that helps their children get into the spooky mood without
being too scary, while keeping it fun on a toddler's or young child's level. Others
love their gore and screamfests. Zombies are completely in fashion these days, so
it's not difficult to find events, props and costumes that focus more on the fear of
flesh-eating, formerly alive individuals that now threaten to stalk us. Gore is all
the rage and even zombie babies have entered in the scene with little heads spinning
360 degrees and throwing tantrums in the prop stores, just waiting to go home with
someone as their newest grey-green bundle of joy and mahem.
And then there is our style: A Dark Victorian Hallowe'en. The beauty of any "style"
is that it is only limited by the imagination of the decorator. That being said,
allow me to lay a little groundwork. When we think Victorian, we envision huge,
turretted and gabled houses with lacy curtains in windows and deep porches with
wicker furniture or swings and three or four steps up from the front walk. At
Hallowe'en we think of these same homes in their haunted state. When we were all
kids, the best ghost stories included the obligatory abandoned/creepy old house at
the end of the street or the edge of town. It had been "grand in its day" and the
last living inhabitant had usually been some grey haired little old lady in long
skirts and her hair in a bun. The older kids would tell the younger ones to look in
the windows and they would find her looking down at them, watching everything they
Stop for a moment and think about the attributes of this imagery. Which things stand
out? Here are a few: Tattered curtains billowing in the evening breeze, dust on dark
wood antique table tops and yellowing fine lace doilies, tarnished silver candlesticks and unused ornate serving spoons, spider webs in the corners of doorways and music from a long-gone time wafting down staircases or up from cellars. One of my favourite images is of leaves blown across the old porch, collecting in corners and dancing in small swirls as if following the footsteps of some unseen visitor approaching the door.
The appeal of a Victorianesque Hallowe'en lies in the racing heartbeat that
accompanies a realization that we are not alone. There is a sentimental attraction to
an old place with many memories of its own. We can imagine ourselves standing in the
middle of this house, envisioning what it was like in its heyday. We are drawn into
the allure of a puzzle unsolved, or a secret untold. "Who lived here?", "How did they
die?", "Why are they trapped here?", "What horrors went on behind the civilized,
Now your homework is this: Make a list of those attributes that seem most "haunted
house" to you. Walk through your home, AND your yard (I will be posting a few ideas
for there, too, aside from cemeteries). Consider the rooms where you wish to add a
little haunting. Envision your finery after sitting lonely for about 50 years or so.
Will there be cobwebs? Old papers lying about? Disheveled or tattered table linens,
old photos, broken picture frames? Worn curtains and dead plants?
As we move through the month of October I will list suggestions for many of these
things. Knowing most of us are on a tight budget, gearing up for the Winter holidays
and simply taking care of daily obligations, I will try to include as many
suggestions as possible for inexpensive supplies and even things you may already own
and had written off as junk.
You may also notice as we go, that many decorating suggestions are multi-purpose. Or
at least that is the intention. So many of the things we can use to decorate for
"spooky" effect are also easily adapted to be Autumn decor that can carry on through
the season, giving your home and garden a warm, inviting ambience.
I hope this helps to set the mood for your Victorian Hallowe'en preparations. Now I am
off to try out a few ideas before committing them to print, so check back each
evening and I should have something new to share. Remember to haunt your Victorian
Hallowe'en house with a sentimental eye, and perhaps the ghost of that darling little
old lady will sit down to a fine cup of tea or a glass of sherry with you, and share
stories of what it was like in her day.
Above all.. have fun with it. Happy Autumn Blessings to All and Welcome to October!!