Halloween Chic

Simple Halloween decor that is classic and spooky

Our Halloween decorations were all sourced from Michael’s craft store. We spent less than $100 and will use all of the decorations again next year. I wanted to bring in the “spooky” and “freaky” without making the decor too dark or sensational, and on a white bookcase it was impossible to make the decor too dark anyways, so I worked with what we had and even incorporated some of our usual shelf decor, that with the black fabric looked spooky too!

The hand mannequin that is always on our shelf looks spookier with the Halloween colors

I flipped all of our books so that black, white and red bindings were the only visible colors facing out. I removed all items from our shelves that were out of color scheme and hid them below. I layered a combination of black fabric, black stuffing and faux fall leaves across the shelves with a mix of styrofoam (read: cheap) skeleton heads, black crows and a “bag of bones” nestled in a chicken wire box.

All of the books turned out or face forward were red, white and black / B&W

The black stuffing went a long way to elevate basic shelves to Halloween chic with the mix of faux leaves. Be sure to stand the leaves up in the stuffing so that you can see them from afar vs. simply laying them down flat.

Leaves standing up in the black stuffing add more color and texture than leaves laying flat

The crows were a fun addition to the shelves and we were able to tuck a few away in some “surprise” places throughout the house.

A crow perched atop the Sapiens bookcase

Each fireplace mantle was decorated differently with a combination of small pumpkins, white and orange, and more faux fall leaves. In total, I used four bags of the faux leaves and they went a long way. I took all of the extra leaves and piled them at the edge of the fireplace on the ground.

Out of frame is a pile of faux leaves at the base of the den fireplace

The dining room fireplace was decorated with faux leaf branches from Michaels and a line of orange and white striped pumpkins from the patch!

The faux leaves look real against the [real] mini orange and white striped pumpkins on the dining room fireplace

The dark Calla Lillies that we always have in our living room in their bone vases look perfect for Halloween! The white pumpkins are simple and sweet. 

Friendly “Halloween” flowers in the kitchen

All of our mini pumpkins were purchased at the pumpkin patch. We bought 15 of these minis and scattered them though the house!

All of our pumpkins were cleaned before we placed them around the house. 

While we will have to toss the pumpkins end of season, all of the other decor can be stored for next year. 

In our entry we nested a bundle of dried corn against a cluster of larger pumpkins and more faux leaves

Happy Halloween!

Stephanie Hier artwork

For the dining room and the den

We came across Stephanie’s work for the first time at an exhibition in Chicago called Note G at Chicago Manual Style. The first piece I saw was in a ceramic frame.

Stephanie Hier, It’s time to pay the fiddler (2018), Oil on canvas with glazed stoneware frame, 15 x 10.5 inches. Chicago Manual Style, Note G Exhibit.

I love this painting and I especially love how technically detailed it is. I thought about the work after the show and almost immediately went down a rabbit hole to find more works by this artist, and learn more about her, and maybe find a piece I could buy. And, I found two! The first is an edition that is really beautiful with unique, hand-applied, temporary tattoos. I got first pick and chose the strawberry and cherry because I just love them! I bought this edition from David Dale Gallery in London.

Stephanie Hier, With a belly full of the classics (2018), Digital print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag, hand finished with temporary tattoo, 69 x 53 cm. Variable edition of 12. Private collection, from David Dale Gallery.

I separately found a stunning piece from Downs & Ross in New York. A perfect fit in the dining room. The second I saw it I knew it was the one. It couldn’t be more perfect for the green room in subject and color and size and depth – I couldn’t love this more.

Stephanie Hier, Step into the light (2017), Oil on linen, 60 x 49 inches. Private collection, from Downs & Ross.

Both pieces have been hung – one in the den and one in the dining room. Both making me happy! 🙂

Fake flower faux paus?

To embrace or reject fake flowers in design (embrace!)

I’ve noticed that many of the most beautiful homes in magazines share one thing in common – beautiful flowers – no big surprise. This got me thinking – are these flowers all REAL? I did some extensive researching on how designers are using fake flowers and found a spectrum of “never” to “love them”, but my favorite was a use-case in between that blends the real with the fake. Buy a few fake stems and tuck them into greenery. I like this idea.

NDI Flowers – love them, every day!

Now the question is – do they look fake? Take a look for yourself. These flowers were purchased from NDI. NDI is a family business and have been selling beautiful silk florals for 50 years. The flowers are made to order and I think they look great. I have a number of individual stems to rotate through and greenery for the holidays. These arrangements were made by NDI and even the water is faux.

The dining room is coming together with beautiful tulips from NDI

Smaller NDI arrangement on the mantle

The dining room, in process

Ellis green, a needlepoint rug, and Ikea hack woven leather chairs

I posted the “before” photos of the dining room many months ago, when it was gray (and boring!), and I am not quite ready to post the “after”, but I’ve certainly made progress. What makes this room special is that all of the major elements were either made by hand or procured second hand from Ebay and 1stDibs. The most expensive item in this room was the paint. We painted the dining room Ellis Green from Farrow & Ball for a big impact. While the dining room has a lacquered look and feel, it is actually a high gloss finish and not a traditional lacquered application which is why it is not a perfect mirror, but it is close. This saved ~$5k and it works. I love the high gloss green and it makes a big impact for less [than Swedish putty / lacquer]. The inspiration home (linked above) was painted with the traditional lacquer treatment. Otherwise the paint color and finish (high gloss) are exactly the same. Comparing the two rooms you can see a difference, but one that I am willing to live with for the savings.

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Farrow & Ball “Wendy’s Green”, Ellis Green high gloss paint in pre-war dining room

The ceiling and molding is painted Wimborne White. Similar to the guest room, the rug was from Ebay and is an Asmara needlepoint rug. It was a great price (<$1,000) and a perfect fit, in perfect condition.

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1stDibs Chandelier, South Loop Lofts credenza, Ikea hack chairs (I made them), Asmara rug

The chairs were an Ikea hack with a $25 Ikea frame and leather strips purchased from an online supplier, based in TX. I posted a tutorial on these chairs on my old blog that you can find here. The chairs were ~$90 each. My father made the table and the bar cabinet.

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High gloss Ellis Paint, Farrow & Ball, Ikea hack chairs, window will ultimately have drapes

The artwork is my own and flanks the large window while it awaits the perfect chintz drapes, TBD. I have pulled a few samples and am working on my final selection for long drapes, but haven’t made a final decision yet.

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Will add a large piece of art over fireplace and decorate mantle

The fireplace is marble and was custom made for the house (by the prior owner). We will hang a large piece of art over the fireplace this month. The piece that I have chosen is currently in a show at Downs & Ross in New York. I will post the great unveil when it is hung!

 

Lighting

and how I shop 1stDibs

The current “lighting look” is post-modern and Circa Lighting and Foundry Lighting are not short of options in this category. When I began my hunt for lighting, I started a shopping cart at both of these online shops and filled it with selections for every room of the house. I purchased an Aerin white glass flush mount for the guest from Foundry, the Ralph Lauren Allan large flush mount for the master and Ralph Lauren Allan sconces for the hallway from Circa.

And then, I stopped short.

I was discouraged that this post-modern look is everywhere and the pieces from the various brands are recognizeable (not unique), not always made well and are not inexpensive. I hate that.

I shifted gears and started to search 1stDibs and WOW did I get excited. While it does take some additional time to investigate, and at times a leap of faith as you cannot always see these pieces in person first, I find I am happily rewarded by 1) a lower relative price, 2) a higher quality item and 3) a truly unique design.

When I am searching 1stDibs I always start by setting the filters to the size of the item I am looking for and the price range I want to fall within. Then, I always negotiate and bid lower than the listed price. Sometimes I will bid over 35% off of the listed price. More often than not, the seller will work with me. I also check Ebay and Chairish as sometimes the same or similar items are listed on these sites for less.

For the dining room, I was initially considering the Aerin Jacqueline chandelier.

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Aerin Jacqueline Two-Tier Chandelier / Brass

It is lovely, but after I saw the lacquered paint job I knew it wasn’t right for the space. The Aerin chandelier retails for $2,520 and you can purchase it here. It is constructed of white beads and antiqued brass. It is 38″ high and 32.25″ in diameter.

After a deep, deep dive through 1stDibs I had a “favorites” list of over 15 fixtures. Then, I narrowed down pretty quickly to my favorite chandelier. Behold, a 1980s Staff Leuchten chandelier made of solid brass, listed for $3,535.

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1stDibs, Staff Leuchten brass chandelier, circa 1980s, Germany

The light is an adjustable 43” high and 30” in diameter, which is the perfect fit for the space.

I bid $2,000 and ultimately checked out for $2,300 + shipping, or, 35% off the original listing price and less expensive than the Aerin fixture. The chandelier will be delivered next week and I can’t wait to see it in the space!

The dining room, before

A high-gloss finish in process

The dining room can be closed off from the living room and hallway by two original sets of wood pocket doors. The ceilings in this house are 10 feet and this room will have a chandelier when the paint is squared away. Here is the dining room today

The dining room has beautiful original wood pocket doors

The room will be painted lacquer olive, Wendy’s Green from Farrow & Ball. The molding and trim will be painted Wimborne White to make it easier to update the wall color in the future, although I do love a full high-gloss (including ceiling!) room.

There are two built in bookcases and a large street facing window

The mantle is marble and was sourced from New York by the previous homeowner. The previous owner also refinished the doors, so they are in good condition.