Decorate with Crafts

17 Decor Tricks to Dine For

The Country Sampler stylists brew up some clever decorating hints that help transform a formal dining room into a cheerfully haunted Halloween scene.

Many homeowners relish having a room that's a bit of a departure from the rest of their spaces, and St. Charles, Illinois, mother of two Jenny Risch is no exception. In contrast to the soft whites, quiet neutrals and cheery colors found in her kitchen, living room and kids' rooms, the dining room features a deep olive hue that offers a twist on the house's lighter fare. "There was no real plan to make the dining room look this way," Jenny says, adding that the walls featured the same green color when she and her husband, Jeff, moved in several years ago. "We just lightened up the color on the lower half of the wall from mustard to this beige color."

The green walls and black furniture provide a picture-perfect backdrop for decorating at Halloween, Jenny's favorite time of year to revamp her home. "I always, always redecorate the dining room for fall," she says, noting that vintage-style decor and flea-market finds are staples no matter the time of year.

For a fresh perspective on fall decorating, Jenny welcomed Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad and Catherine Parker into her dining room to introduce a variety of ghosts, ghouls and gourds to her everyday displays. "The color scheme of this dining room is just perfect for an autumn makeover," Sally-Jo says. "The oranges pop beautifully against the olive walls, and the darker furnishings stand out against the beige half wall." Read on for Sally-Jo and Catherine's favorite ways to serve up a seasonal scheme in your dining room!

0909wDWC01Hutching a Plan
1. Decorate on the down-low. 
"When you have a room with dark walls, the trend is often to pick white furniture," Catherine says. "Instead, Jenny chose black furniture, like this hutch, for her dining room, which relies on subtlety for impact." 2. Take a shine to it. Pewterware on the bottom shelf complements Jenny's vintage salt and pepper shakers; and, a trio of electric candles on a cake platter cast a continuous glow on the metal. 3. Get spooked. Halloween-themed decor -- a ghost tealight in a bed of foliage, framed pumpkin accents, a pumpkin with a spiderweb -- announces the arrival of All Hallows' Eve. 4. Palette it be. Although the stylists' main goal was to dress up the room for Halloween, they also brought in colorful elements that suit the entire fall season. "The green horse apples and the red dishware remind me of fall leaves," Sally-Jo says. "Like the olive walls and the black furniture, the red and orange accents are just different enough from each other to be interesting." 5. Be a bright spot. Lighten up a dark display with a few splashes of white, such as taper candles, a ghost accent or framed art with a white background.

0909wDWC02Bench (Im)Press
6. Tie it all together. 
In this corner of the dining room, a quaint black bench and a coordinating wall shelf give the illusion of a single element when the space between is bridged by a canvas print hung above a stenciled sign. 7. Get all dolled up. "This bench area is very much for show, so it only made sense to decorate it with some larger-than-average figurines that really set a fun tone in the space," Sally-Jo says. "By positioning one on the seat and one on the back, we made things even more visually interesting." 8. Find prints charming. The whimsical attitude started by the pumpkin couple continues on the shelf overhead with a fanciful print featuring a jack-o'-lantern riding a crow. 9. Think inside the box. The stylists shaped up this display with two sets of decorative boxes with different contours, one large round set resting beside the bench and another smaller bunch, square this time, perched on the shelf beside a stoneware pitcher holding branches. "If you want to add a little something extra, try setting a small accent, such as a stuffed crow or a framed vintage postcard, on top of the boxes," Sally-Jo advises. 10. Be fine with filler. "If everything in your room is holiday-themed, it could be a little overwhelming," Catherine notes. "Try adding elements that offer a little visual relief, such as a vintage suitcase under a bench, feathery potted grass or a fun accent pillow." 11. Set yourself up. If time is at a premium when you decorate, shop for sets of holiday accents, such as graduated boxes or petite resin figures, which create a cohesive display with minimal fuss.

0909wDWC03bIt's Switch-Craft
12. Scare up some fun. 
"Our main goal with this tablescape was to combine everyday pieces, such as the red dishware, with more whimsical items," Catherine says. "The witch's hat looks cute plopped on top of a resin pumpkin light. And, we placed the pumpkin on a large terra-cotta saucer, which is inexpensive and orange for fall." 13. Be corny. At just a couple dollars a bag, candy corn is the perfect low-cost filler for your festive fall tablescape. Pour the sweet treats into a witch's-shoe container or nestle candied apples in a bed of corn for a bright spot at each place setting. Or, intermingle candy corn and crinkled paper shreds inside Halloween buckets to use as home accents or to give as gifts. 14. Keep everything in check. "Black-and-white gingham is a decorating staple at any time of year, but especially at Halloween," Sally-Jo says. "We used it here in the napkins and the ribbon on the apples to add a punch of pattern and to complement the checked valance."

0909wDWC03aMirror, Mirror
15. Visit the buffet.
Jenny's black buffet serves up an autumnal atmosphere with subtle seasonal accents -- a corn plant and a leafy garland for color, candles placed on wood spools -- as well as distinctive decor, such as a Halloween house perched on a black cake stand and a witchy mouse. 16. Round out your look. "We repeated the shape of the three painted plates on the buffet with an outdoor sign hung over the mirror," Catherine says. The big moon on the Halloween print beside the window (see previous photo) also picks up the shapely theme. 17. Stay on the level. The key to great decor, Sally-Jo says, is keeping the eye busy but not overwhelmed. Jenny notes, "I love that the stylists put accents on different levels, such as the haunted house on the cake plate. It's definitely something I'd do myself!"

Visit our Craft Fair online for more information.

Red plates, Abigail's in the Country Gift Shop
Ghost with tealight, Country Avenue
Framed pumpkin accents, The 13th Colony
Boo pumpkin, Cute as Country
Remote-controlled candles, Country Village Shoppe

Cat, Crow and Jack square boxes and set of five Crow Hollow boxes, Plum Nellie Primitives
"Crow Rider" print, Once Upon a Barn
Mary Beth Baxter pumpkins on canvas, New England Saltbox
Come In and Sit a Spell stencil, Scrappin' Along Craft Stencils
Fabric pumpkin girl and guy, Henny Penny's House

Boardwalk flying witch, Folkart Gatherings
I Scream... and Trick or Treat plates, Homespun Productions
Pumpkin plate, Kumie's Country Cuties
Fabric mouse, haunted Tudor house, Henny Penny's House

Resin pumpkin light, Auntie Em's
Red dinnerware, Abigail's in the Country Gift Shop
Witch's hat, Mountain Star Mall
Witch's shoe bucket, Henny Penny's House
"Happy Halloween" print, Once Upon a Barn
Williamsburg check swag, The Bloomin' Barn

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: dried orange balls and artificial silk maple leaves, Factory Direct Craft Supply,

Written by Elizabeth Preston Morrissey
Styled by Sally-Jo Enstad & Catherine Parker
Photographed by Brian Nightengale
Produced by Dennis Morgan