Friday, October 7, 2011

A Victorianesque Hallowe'en: String lights

Definitely NOT just for Christmas and Winter holidays anymore, string lights in their
myriad colours and blinking configurations have become a mainstay year round for
everything from Mardi Gras and garden lighting to our favourite, Hallowe'en. However, they are not just for stringing along the edges of eaves or the trim of a back patio.
So let us get into many of the fun ways you can use blinking and non-blinking lights
of different hues to set the tone for your haunted Victorianesque home without a huge
investment as most home improvement stores are now stocking up on all manner of
colours, lengths and styles at discounts in preparation for the holiday season.

And that brings us back to planning. Do you want a warm glow or a haunting one? How much of your house and landscape do you want to make a part of the show? There are many places you can use your lights, and the trick is to determine where to place them. While string lights are hardly Victorian in the historic sense, they do provide the glow needed for a haunting visual, and can in some cases mimic candle and gaslight. Very victorian.
  • Tack mini-lights under the eaves of the house or behind the trim of porches todirect the glow down and inward against the house. Yellow or orange lights create a warm, almost surreal atmosphere in the area closest to your "haunted" house as if all eyes are on those at the entrance, blocking the rest of the world out. Purple lights create an even more eerie glow, making darker objects seem to appear more shadow-like.
  • Line the top of cabinets and shelves with coloured lights to cast their eerie glow upward against ceilings and decor such as plants and pottery, brass and statuettes. This draws the eye upward and brings more of your home into the overall haunted picture.
  • Unused a/c and heating vents (if you are fortunate enough to have weather that permits NOT using climate control in your home) are great places to bundle small strings of lights. If you are fairly handy with a few basic household tools like a screwdriver and masking tape, remove the grill on horizontally-run ductwork and place a small bundle of lights just inside behind it. Run the plug end out and reattach the grate but do not screw back in tightly so as not to damage the cord. Leave enough out to run an extension cord from the vent to the nearest outlet. These days cords and masking tape come in many different colours, making it easier to blend. Silk vines can also be looped around the cords from the corner of the vent to near outlets (but not against them) to give the appearance of growth invading the inside of your old haunted home.
  • Glowing shrubbery and vines: Many party and holiday decorating retailers carry a wide variety of "eyes" that light up and can be placed in shrubs around the house. An alternative is to use string lights, buried under the foliage to give a glow, and if placed creatively, the look of many small pairs of eyes peering out at visitors.
  •  Hallowe'en trees: Need I say more? Alright, I will. As mentioned in an earlier post, you can create your own barren tree, centerpieces and ornamentation from dead branches. String lights are the perfect accent to bring your tree "to life" to speak. A small strand loosely strung over a tabletop mini-tree or strung through the branches of a 6'-7' room enhancer cast lovely shadows on the wall as the clawlike branches get in the way of the glow. Choose colours that contrast with the colour of your walls. This will accentuate the shadows and add an air of surreality to the room.
  • String lights are also wonderful along floorboards and can be secured in place easily with scotch tape, but be careful not to use in higher traffic area or if you feel your pets will get the overwhelming urge to munch and self-electrocute. They may intend to munch, but I assure you, the electrocution will come as a complete surprise (I chose to take the high road and not say "shock"). Lighting along baseboards, much like lighting along shelving, creates a nice backsplash of light in whichever colour you choose and illuminates the house itself, bringing the whole place into the picture.
  • Exterior Graveyards: Now honestly, who does NOT have a graveyard outside their haunted home this time of year? Add a few loose leaves on the ground (not that difficult considering the season) with a string or three trailing between the stones, closest to the base of the more ornate ones to cast their light upward. If you use ornate fencing around your boneyard, loosely drape a few lights along the top. Guaranteed the shadows they cast will dance gleefully in a soft Autumn breeze.
  • Drape string lights over or around portraits of dearly departed relatives. It is a way to bring them into the celebration and honour their memory at the same time. If you traditionally do an altar or choose to do some form of homage to honour them, string lights are a wonderful way of accenting the entire creation and can be left on over night. While most altars include the use of candles, it is never safe to leave them burning. More recent string lights are made to stay cool, and if used with caution (never place bulb against anything, least of all anything flammable, and keep plugs where they will remain undisturbed), the lights can be left on all evening or possibly overnight until November 1st.
I will spare you all of the obvious places (along walkways, etc), but these are a few
of the ideas you can add to your haunted house to add to its glow. Unlike Christmas
decor, we are not looking to create the illusion of glistening snow and icecicles.
The idea is to bring the house to it's own illuminated, haunting life, and your
choice of colours will create just the ambience you are looking for.

I do hope to hear about some of the ideas used and how it worked out for you. Now I'm off to find more lights.

Until next,


1 comment:

  1. I never thought about putting lights along the baseboards!! I love it!!! That will be perfect in my foyer and hallway!! Thanks!!