Tag Archives: decorating

Low-Boo Halloween Decor for the Little Ones

By: Mary Jo Bowling, Houzz Contributor 

Interior designer Kristi Will spends most of her time creating high-end, luxury interiors. But for clients with small children, she turns her mind from custom furniture to decorating pumpkins at Halloween time. “It started last year,” she says. “Because the kids are young, the family wanted me to help them find something that was Halloween but wasn’t superscary.” That first year she decked the halls with what she calls “happy monsters.”

This year while visiting the family, Will noted the youngest child’s affinity for Sesame Street’s Elmo and, with that in mind, designed a new Halloween look that thrills more than it chills.


The large picture windows on her clients’ home make the perfect frame for spooky decor, and last year Will dressed them with friendly monster silhouettes she designed and cut from foam core.

But after spending hours holding an X-Acto knife, Will decided to take an easier Halloween route this year. She created a friendly ghost, a gentle “boo” and a nonthreatening, lantern-bearing witch silhouette, then sent them to Dezign With a Z, a company that makes vinyl wall and window decals. The window decor was installed in an afternoon.

She used the same technique for the not-so-warm welcome on the front steps, although the sweet dog at the top of the stairs seems poised to wag his tail rather than bare his teeth.


But once the young residents get closer to the entry, something more treat than trick awaits them. “The children love Sesame Street, and when I was visiting them, they were playing an Elmo song featuring Colbie Caillat called “Belly Breathe.” It’s about having a monster inside that is calmed with deep breaths.”

The idea stuck in Will’s head and, tapping into the skills she had honed while volunteering as an art teacher in her own kids’ school, she created pumpkins in the likenesses of the residents of one of America’s most puppet-populated neighborhoods.


On the step are some of the best-known characters: Elmo, Bert, Ernie, Count von Count and Oscar. Flying above the Count are numbered bat silhouettes. “The kids are just learning to count, so we thought it would be fun,” says Will. She used a Cricut, an electronic craft cutter, to make the bats and the numbers. “They are wonderful machines,” Will says. “They are a great tool for parents.” Also key to the installation is Uhu putty. “It keeps the bats on the stucco, but it doesn’t damage the house when it comes off,” says Will.

For the pumpkins she used the novel technique of shaping the features from Crayola’s Model Magic, a clay that hardens when exposed to air. She shaped the features, let them dry, painted them with acrylic paint and attached them to the pumpkins with a hot-glue gun.

“Making the eyes, noses and mouths with the clay gives them an extra dimension they wouldn’t have if they were just painted on,” she says. “This way they look more like actual Muppets — who, of course, also have their features glued on.”

For Oscar, Will glazed the pumpkin with a light green glaze and shredded some fabric samples she had in the studio for his hair and eyebrows. (Bert and Ernie have manes crafted from a costume wig.)

Of course, Oscar is at home in a garbage can. “Elevating the pumpkins is key to the look,” she says. “We also purchased dark gray crates of various sizes and used them as pedestals. We draped a black tablecloth from Target around them to finish it off.”


In addition to ease of installation, the decals are great because they can be enjoyed from the street and inside the playroom.

“The business of interior design can be 90 percent paperwork and 10 percent creative work,” says Will. “This small project was the opposite: 90 percent of the job was creativity. It wasn’t in any way typical for me, but it was fun.”

The bonus was witnessing the youngest members of the family see the finished project for the first time. According to Will, their faces lit up like jack-o’-lanterns.

Related Articles:
Easy Halloween Decorations From Stuff You Already Have
Brighten Your Decorative Porch on Halloween
Welcome Trick-or-Treaters Outside

Design Recipes for a Fun and Functional Entry

By: Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor

A well-designed entry helps propel you out the door in the morning, keeps you organized and gives visitors a hint at your personal sense of style. It’s a lot to ask from what’s often the smallest room in the house! Let these five examples of stylish and feature-packed entryways inspire you. Plus, get how-to tips to help achieve these looks at home and ideas for keeping this hardworking space tidy.

Playful Modern1. Playful modern. Set a lighthearted tone at the front door with a bold splash of citrusy colors, from lemon and lime to tangerine. The round mirror is a welcome touch, while a trio of woven pendants makes the most of a double-height ceiling.

Tidy tip: A half-console table is a smart space saver. Tuck one into even the narrowest of entry halls, and gain a spot to set your keys, mail and more.

Get the look: 

  • Colors: lemon yellow, lime green, tangerine
  • Bright and bold front door
  • Painted console table
  • Woven pendant lights
  • Flat-weave dhurrie rugBotanical Charm

2. Botanical charm. With its botanical wallpaper and simple furnishings, this entry radiates nature-inspired calm. And don’t think of a look like this only in the country — why not infuse your city apartment with relaxing rural pleasures?

Tidy tip: Hidden storage inside the bench seat and a row of pegs provide ample space to stash your belongings.

Get the look: 

  • Colors: mossy green, white, natural woods
  • Botanical wallpaper or art
  • Vase of cut ferns or a potted plant
  • Shaker-style peg rail
  • Natural-fiber rug
  • Ladder-back chair

Farmhouse Eclectic3. Farmhouse eclectic. With barn-style sliding doors made from reclaimed wood, a kilim rug underfoot and a modern George Nelson pendant light overhead, this entry covers a lot of ground designwise while managing to look utterly simple and comfy. The secret? It’s the power of three: The light is the most modern element, the barn door the most rustic, and the warm rug ties it all together.

Tidy tip: A closet for coats plus a credenza tucked in a nook make for ample storage in this entryway (luckies!), but if your entry lacks a closet, you can make a rustic-industrial coat rack with pipe fittings mounted on the wall.

Get the look: 

  • Colors: cream, white, spice red, natural wood
  • Reclaimed wood barn doors
  • Modern Bubble light
  • Kilim rug
  • White credenza
  • Handmade pottery

Midcentury Pop

4. Midcentury pop. A cherry-red door, pottery horse and oversize midcentury pool photo by Slim Aarons set a playful, party-ready tone in this entry.

Tidy tip: A low credenza is a great piece for the entryway since it offers ample hidden storage for quickly stashing items (the dog’s leash, paperwork), as well as a surface for holding keys and a bag (or a drinks tray at a party).

Get the look: 

  • Colors: cherry red, black, white, a dash of yellow
  • High-gloss front door
  • Oversize pool or beach photography
  • Midcentury-style credenza
  • Shiny chrome light fixture
  • Lacquer accessories in bright hues
  • Handmade pottery or sculpture

Art Gallery Chic5. Art gallery chic. Create a minimal oasis with smooth floors, putty-colored walls and a sleek bench — it’s all the better to draw eyes toward a special piece of art on the wall.

Tidy tip: If you love this look but need more storage, swap out the bench for a version with hidden storage inside or a low credenza.

Get the look: 

  • Colors: espresso, putty, gray
  • Bare floors
  • Sleek bench
  • Sculptural stool or side table
  • Potted succulent
  • Original painting

Related Articles:
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10 Tips for Creating a Welcoming Entryway
Add Color and Comfort to Your Entryway

Feng Shui Basics for a Happy Home

By: Gabrielle Di Stefano, Houzz Contributor

Our homes are our havens, and with a little thought and effort they can help us keep a clear mind and a calm outlook. Apply a few of these simple feng shui principles to your home — good chi (energy) may very well flow.

Feng shui, literally translated as “wind and water,” is a 5,000-year-old Chinese system and theory based on a set of universal principles and laws of nature, applied to our living environment. These principles are believed by many to help us attain happiness, health, prosperity and freedom. While feng shui has no detailed scientifically proven studies to back up its principles, hundreds of feng shui masters stand by their results.

In feng shui speak, your front door is called the “mouth of chi.” Help bring good energy into your home by keeping it clean and well lit. Remove all clutter from inside your front door so you don’t block that good energy.

RW Anderson Homes
Painting your front door green is said to bring growth; red can bring wealth; blue, relaxation; and brown, stability. And as even those who don’t practice feng shui know, the relatively simple project of painting your front door a new color can change your mood.

Clutter is the archnemesis of feng shui. Air and energy should always be moving, and clutter is like a stop sign to energy, trapping it and keeping you stuck in the past.

My Houzz: Contemporary Country Style in the Netherlands
In some Asian cultures, spring cleaning is done three days before the Asian New Year’s Day, symbolizing the sweeping out of any misfortune or traces of bad luck. People in the cultures don’t sweep again until after the new year, so they can collect the good-luck dust into a corner of their home.

Throw out any broken objects, replace blown lightbulbs and be ruthless with items that you haven’t used or worn in the last 12 months. When you have finished cleaning, wash your hands under running water for at least three minutes. This washes away all the bad energy that got on your hands in the process.

Paperweights are not just beautiful decorations; they can also help promote growth and strength in feng shui. Circular paperweights conjure the stability of earth.

Put one in your study or office and help increase your creativity and encourage new ideas. Try sitting a crystal paperweight on any invoices you are owed to increase prosperity. Don’t put a paperweight on any bills you have yet to pay, as it may increase your expenditure.

Collect your favorite paperweights and display them together for added luck.

Turn of the Century Modern

Plants bring vibrant chi into a home or working environment. Home offices require as much good energy as you can muster, so why not get it from vibrant and vigorous plants? Large plants like lily, bamboo and jade varieties are top on the list for good energy.

If you are short on space, one small house plant is better than none at all. Keep your plants healthy and well fed and they will reply in kind.

This soothing, minimalist study space shows us how happy indoor plants can make us if they are looked after, and these plants look happy in return. Maybe it’s because they get to enjoy an occasional jam session.

Mops and brooms are used to remove clutter and dirt from the house. Feng shui believes they carry part of the negative energy that comes into the home. Keeping them outside would be ideal but is not necessarily practical. Keep them in a cupboard in an upside-down position to help to block the negative energy.

Birmingham mud/laundry room, MI
Try to make sure that the cupboard you store a mop and broom in is not in the room you eat in, as the dining room represents food and prosperity, and you don’t want that swept away. Also, a broom or mop should not live in the front room of your home, as you don’t want the positive energy that arrives to be swept away.

A well-organized laundry or mudroom like this one will help keep your mind full of positive energy.

Screens are extremely popular with the Chinese, as they are a practical and beautiful way to block energy that is moving too fast. Ideally, energy should curve and flow gently throughout your home.

If your front door faces your back door, the energy will race from one through to the other and won’t benefit you at all. Try placing a small screen somewhere in between to redirect the energy.

If you don’t have a dedicated room for your home office or study, use a screen to divide it from the rest of the space. This will contain the work energy as much as possible.

A busy workspace could happily exist behind this modern fretwork screen.

2011 Dream Home Bedroom at Merchandise Mart

Music is a positive and soothing element in feng shui. If your home is too quiet, you may have an abundance of yin, or passive energy — which could affect your whole family, even making you unwell.

A perfect opportunity to get the yang, or good energy, flowing is when you are cleaning or decluttering your home. So open all your windows, turn up the music and get moving. And as a regular resolution, play gentle music for 10 minutes once a week for a few months, and you should see a permanent improvement in your energy levels.

Keep all your equipment behind closed doors, as with this stunning custom-made television and stereo cabinet, to avoid negative energy.

Electronic devices are said to produce negative energy via electromagnetic fields. Ideally, you should minimize your exposure to the myriad devices our homes now seem to have.

The bedroom is a haven for rest, and uninterrupted sleep is paramount to achieving a successful and productive life. Try a couple of easy ideas to help reduce the flow of negative energy. Keep your alarm clock at least 3 feet away from your bed. If you are not going to banish your television from your bedroom, enclose it inside a cabinet and shut the doors when you are sleeping.

The blue-gray used with abundance in this luxurious bedroom strongly encourages relaxation.

Related Articles:
Display Plants Inside
Decorate With Intention: A Crash Course in Feng Shui
Shop for Screens

11 Reasons to Paint Your Interior Doors Black

By: Fred Albert, Houzz Contributor

A few months ago I saw a quote from a designer espousing the beauty of black doors. I had never thought about painting my doors black before. But then, up until a few months ago, I had never considered painting my ceilings black, either. Then I wrote a piece for Houzz called 11 Reasons to Paint Your Ceilings Black, and I was an instant convert.

Black doors don’t seem quite as radical to me. But the results can be transformative. Take a look at the photos that follow, and see if you become a convert as well.

1. They’re classy. OK, let’s state the obvious right from the start: Black doors are elegant. A white door would have looked charming and cottage-y in this entry hall. But splash on a bit of ebony paint, and you have instant, drop-dead sophistication.

Tamara Anka
I love the way the black door is framed by the black walls in the foreground. Which leads me to reason No. 2 …

2. They’re wonderful at picking up other black accents in the room. If you’ve got black elsewhere in the room, a black door will repeat the color and make the space feel more cohesive.

I love the way the black door echoes the color of the bed frame in this room, giving the space a rich, masculine feeling.

The Yellow Cape Cod

Notice how in all these examples, the door casing was left white.

3. They’re good at making things disappear. Got a door you want to downplay? Black is great at disguising shortcomings (like a large slab door, if that’s not your style) so you don’t notice them.

Wow Great Place

Black doors work well in an open space like this, but avoid using them in a confined area with a confluence of doorways, as they can look chaotic.

4. They frame views. Just as a piece of art looks better if it’s framed, a view is enhanced if there is something in the foreground to set it off.

5. They’re good to a void. Notice I didn’t say “avoid,” I said “a void.” As in, if you’ve got a big fireplace that’s unlit 99.9 percent of the time, and a dark painting or flat-panel TV above it, a black door will help mitigate the impact of those big, black voids, so they don’t look as noticeable in the room.

Thom Filicia Inc.

This room looks fine now, but when the TV is turned off, there’s a big black hole in a fairly small space. The black door balances the void so the blank screen isn’t the only dark expanse in the room.

6. They make a stock door look special. Slap on some black paint, and a typical paneled door takes on an air of swanky elegance.

7. They don’t show fingerprints. How many times have you had to clean dark smudges around a doorknob? Black doors won’t repel dirt — but they won’t show it as readily, either.

8. They mark a destination. This black door is like a punctuation mark at the end of a sentence — it marks the end of the long hallway and provides a clear destination.

Brooke Wagner Design

9. They look great with dark floors. White doors would have been fine in this space. But I love the way the black doors extend that sultry, dramatic mood.

They also send a subtle message, suggesting that the spaces beyond are special. This would be a great way to keep out prying eyes if there’s not a clear distinction between public and private areas in your home.

10. They add shine to a room. Every room could use a touch of reflection, especially if the other elements are textured or neutral. A mirror is one solution. A shiny black door is another.

Use a satin finish for minimal sheen. Or go for broke and apply a clear polyurethane topcoat for maximum shine and protection.

11. They make a ceiling look taller. Contrast draws the eye, so a narrow black door draws the eye up, making a low ceiling look higher. This makes black doors especially useful in basements or other low-ceilinged spaces.

Related Articles:
Browse Interior Doors
Wake Up Your Woodwork with Black
Get Help Installing Your New Doors

Smart Solutions for Nonexistent Entryways

By: Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor

If you live in a home without an entryway in the traditional sense (that is, a nice, wide hall or an open foyer), I can feel your pain. Perhaps someday I will be lucky enough to have a formal entry with room for a full-size table, lamps, benches and all the works, but for now I must make do with what I have: a door that opens onto a sliver of wall, smack in the middle of my living room/dining room/office. Thankfully, smart solutions do exist for remedying a number of entryway challenges — so whether you have a very narrow hall or no hall at all, there are ways to make your space work efficiently and beautifully. Let’s get started.

MAK Design + Build Inc.

Dilemma: An Open Entryway

This is such a common scenario, especially in smaller homes: The front door opens directly into the main living space, with no defined foyer or hall. In this situation the challenge is creating a transition from outside to inside without breaking the flow of the rest of the space.

One smart solution is to use a console table behind a sofa positioned near the entry door. This creates the enclosed feeling of a hall and provides a place for mail, keys and bags.

If you prefer to keep the space open, try setting up a wall-mounted system near the door instead. A mirror hung above a floating cabinet is a foolproof combination. Having a few drawers is great for keeping messy piles of paper and other odds and ends out of sight.

Jennifer Grey Interiors

Another sleek and efficient option is to hang a row of hooks on the wall and place a boot tray on the floor below. If your space is small, don’t worry about not being able to accommodate tons of guests’ coats — those can go in another room (or on a rented rolling coatrack). A few hooks for daily use is all you really need. A market basket on one of the hooks can hold odds and ends.

If you have children, two rows of hooks are wonderful for corralling everyone’s gear. Having child-height pegs or hooks helps little ones gain independence, as they can reach to put their own coat away.

Dilemma: An Extremely Narrow Hall

With an entryway this narrow, a table (or even floating shelf) is out of the question. Use what little floor space is available to wrangle umbrellas in a chic holder, and attach a few small hooks to the wall to hold keys.

Photo credit: Ricci Shryock
Design details: In a tiny hall, you can use the surfaces to bring in color and pattern. Here, the patterned tile floor, pendant light and glossy black door paint dress up the space, and even the narrow radiator cover is used to hold a vase of flowers.

If your hall is a smidgen wider than the space above, you may have room for a full-length mirror or chalkboard propped against the wall. And if a full-width console table is too wide, look for a half table that attaches to the wall. If you are handy, you could even attempt your own DIY version with a wooden table.

Moroso Construction

Dilemma: The Door Opens Onto a Stairway

Many older homes have a formal entrance that opens directly onto the stairway, with no real space for a table. In this case you may want to redirect to a wider spot in the next room with a full table. Otherwise it’s time to put every little sliver of wall space to work.

If the stairs are very close by and you have little wall to work with, consider installing a wall bracket or a few decorative hooks on the stairway wall to hold essentials.

Barbara Egan - Reportage Photography

A wall-mounted coat tree is a smart idea for those with a bit more space beside the door — it adds personality and performs a necessary task, yet hardly takes up any space at all.

Tell us: What has been the biggest challenge in designing your entryway?

Related Articles:
Add a Console Table Near Your Front Door
Key Measurements for Entraces Great and Small
Display Your Rain Gear With a New Coatrack

Part 2- A Warm Welcome Forget decking the halls—it’s fall! Prep for all the fun of the season by adding creative décor to your entry doors.

When you’re out of ideas, a must-try tactic is to follow your favorite interior designers, magazines and retail stores on Facebook, where your news feed will routinely fill with stupendous ideas for styling your entryway. Payne, for that matter, is quickly becoming an addict of Pinterest, the site that’s created a craze of creative new folks. “With Pinterest, everybody has the opportunity to be creative. There’s a wealth of information and images that had not been at our fingertips before,” she says. The designer’s been seeing a ton of fabulous tricks for door decorating from the friends and media outlets she follows there, from oversize monograms, to contemporary square wreaths, to a hodge podge of picture frames painted in the prevailing color palette. For fall, use a few yard sale frames painted yellow, orange and brown. Come Christmas, shake up the spray cans and lacquer them again shades of green, gold and crimson. It’s a clever way for, say, college students in apartment building or homeowners in subdivisions to make their homes stand apart from lookalike neighbors.

You can source a surplus of ready-made wreaths, faux leaves and pliable ribbons at craft and decor stores. Even some retailers’ garden sections offer an array of seasonal items to quickly spruce up your door. Need a little more design inspiration? Try Pottery Barn, suggests Payne. “From the moment you walk in the store, you’ll see new ways to put things together. It’s classy, it’s classic and the seasonal decorating classes to teach you how to create those looks at home. It’s definitely worth checking out the class calendar.”

For a Masonite wood entry door, all you need is a nail and wire or a door hanger. But many Masonite doors are made of high-quality fiberglass or steel, so you’d never deign to drill a permanent hole in them. Yet this shouldn’t stop you from festooning the front with festive trinkets. “One of the things I like to do with Masonite doors is use fasteners or hooks. They leave no marks and they have a clean look,” Payne says. And in lieu of the typical hangers that hang on a door, there are magnet hangers that can be purchased at big-box retailers. If you do opt for the old-school door hanger, take measures to make it chic. “When I use a normal door hanger, I always paint it to match my door,” explains Payne. “Some people use fabric to cover them, but I don’t love that look. Use a little spray paint, and it doesn’t stand out. People pay more attention to what you’ve got hanging instead.”