How to decorate a spooky Halloween mantel with a realistic twist!
If you desire this year’s Halloween mantel to be a little spooky without too scary, here’s how in a realistic and affordable way, using things gathered from your own home!
This post will share a full tutorial on how to stage, what to select, make Halloween accessories such as steamy magic potion, creepy cloth, how to achieve realistic spider web and more!
Today’s post is a bit of a departure from my usual DIY reclaimed wood projects!
I don’t normally decorate much for Halloween these days with my son now grown up, except for a few faux pumpkins on Halloween evening.
However after browsing online and spotting some amazing Halloween decorating ideas from some pretty outstanding sources, (I share the list below) inspiration hit BIG.
However mine has a simple homespun spin…
My goal was to decorate a spooky Halloween mantel that was easy to put together, and super price efficient since it’s mainly built from things I already had at home.
Within minutes, I had a pile of simple everyday supplies gathered up from my junk storage stash downstairs and made a mental note to stop at a dollar store to pick up some final spooky accessories I don’t normally stock.
So if you desire this year’s Halloween mantel to be a little spooky without too scary, and have it affordable too, here’s how, in a realistic way, as if you walked into a real abandoned house!
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How to decorate a realistic spooky
Create a Halloween story
Before I decorate something, I visualize a story behind what I’m decorating so the staging marries my desired theme. So I ask myself a series of questions to build the story on.
- Where is this spooky mantel located?
- What’s on the mantel that gives it an eerie vibe?
- How did those objects end up they way they look?
So this Halloween mantel decorating comes with a little twist… I’ll be telling you the story along with tips on how to decorate a realistic spooky Halloween mantel with things you have around your own home so you can easily pull this together if desired too!
So let’s begin. Once upon a time…
The Halloween story begins…
… there was an abandoned old house nestled in the deepest part of the woods that had long lost its tenants many years ago. Old relics aged with time along many years of layered dust and cobwebs lined dusty shelves and on a prominent old stone fireplace that hadn’t seen daylight in quite some time.
As the howling wind outdoors picked up, the rickety wind shutters slammed against the window frames, startling a crow hiding inside in the shadows. He took flight and landed on the mantel, nestling right in as if it was part of the staging.
But for an old abandoned house, who lit those candles?
Can you feel the chill in the air? Just maybe this old abandoned house is haunted after all…
And that’s when the front door creaked wide open… with the sound of footsteps shuffling their way towards the fireplace.
A black cloaked figure’s shadow played tricks on the fireplace rock from the flickering candles, creating long, eerie distorted images. Then gloved hands reached for some abandoned firewood heaped up in a corner of the room, and started to build a fire.
How to create realistic faux spider webs
- Pull apart faux spider web very thin until barely there. The thinner the web, the more realistic the spider web looks!
- If you desire more, add more layers. But keep it super thin.
As the fire started to crackle, the figure reached for a witch broom that was leaning against the wall, and started to sweep years of accumulated leaves that lay scattered across the creaky wooden floors.
Who was this person that had the bravery to wander into this big rickety abandoned house in the middle of the dark forest night?
Maybe the secret lies inside the book… The Secret Warning by Franklin W. Dixon. How’s that for a perfect Halloween storybook?
How to create creepy cloth
- Cut cheese cloth in small strips.
- Gently pull the cheese cloth apart in sections to create a worn out look.
- Position the creepy cloth after you arrange all your other mantel accessories first.
The creepy cloth is inspired by Nesting Place from Instagram HERE
Or perhaps a sip of magic potion that was foaming from two ancient bottles would reveal the entire story.
How to create steamy magic potion bottles
- Insert pieces of Buffalo Snow (loose pillow stuffing) into some antique milk bottles. Even better if the bottles are dusty!
- Gently pull and twist the fluffy material until it resembles puffs of steam floating through the air.
This amazing steam effect is inspired by A Crafty Mix’s – Magical Floating Can
However neither the book or magic potion were touched.
Instead, the cloaked figure reached for a nearby rocking chair, and sat mesmerized staring into the flames, while the wood snapped, crackled and popped its way towards adding some warmth to the chilly room.
Suddenly, the black crow took flight and dropped onto the lap of the cloaked figure!
Then a hand reached out to pet the crow, when suddenly a flume of white smoke devoured them both… instantly turning the crow into a purring cat!
“Well, that’s better my pretty!” cackled the cloak wearer.
Then as the room warmed up, she proceed to remove her hood to exclaim, “Whew… that run into town was a long one! I ought to move a little closer into town one day. Time to clean up this place and flick on some Netflix!”
I mean, since we’re talking about my real own house and all… heh.
How to style a spooky realistic mantel
The key to styling a realistic mantel vs. a cute or pretty one is to think in terms of scale and tone.
Choose life sized props (vs. mini decorating accessories), and keep the tone muted. Even my pumpkin is a toned down orange.
- Gather things a spooky abandoned house mantel would naturally have on it.
- Choose accessories in muted tones, and leave any dust intact. (real spiderwebs are a bonus!)
- Start with your largest accessories first for your main focal point, such as an old window or mirror.
- Fill in with smaller accessories, such as candles, books, pumpkins, vases, bottles, etc.
- Add elements of nature, such as real dried leaves. Mine are from the yard.
- Enhance the accessories with faux spider web, moss, pillow batten for steam, etc.
- Lay out the creepy cloth last by draping it around the other accessories.
Then light the living room candles and fireplace, and enjoy your realistic spooky Halloween mantel before the kids come by to trick or treat! You will feel like you fit right in!
Halloween mantel decor ideas gathered from home:
- old books
- candelabras, black iron candlesticks or old lanterns
- old glass bottles, wearing a layer of dust if possible
- an old window to emphasise ‘old house’
- branches with leaves removed
- faux or real mini pumpkins or neutral gourds
- dried leaves from the yard
- old desk clock
- old picture frames displaying black and white portraits
Halloween accents to purchase:
- faux spider webs with spiders
- tall black candles
- black crows
- black Halloween mice
- cheesecloth to make creepy cloth
- Buffalo Snow pillow stuffing to create magic potion steam
And my sincerest thank-you to these wonderful blogs for inspiring me to get off my non haunted sofa to finally do a simple Halloween mantel decorating rather than just Christmas!
And now I get to enjoy Halloween with eerie flickering candles casting shadows on the walls, just like in the movies!
Oh… since you’re already here, won’t you join me for a cup of potion? How do you take yours?
Other creative fall decorating ideas:
Other current favs!