Vintage Halloween Decor Shines in This Georgia Farmhouse
To say that Halloween is a big deal in Jenny and Chris Zacharewicz's family is putting it mildly. With 10 kids, ages 16 months to 27 years, the couple welcome a holiday that's sillier than it is serious and more fun than foreboding. For Jenny, it's all part of a beloved tradition and letting kids be kids. "I grew up celebrating Halloween, so it's always been something I've enjoyed," she says. "I love that my kids have now gotten into it too."
"I'm telling you, we all get into it," Jenny says. And by all, she means all—even the four oldest kids in their 20s. By August, family dinners at the 10-foot-long dining table in their Dallas, Georgia, farmhouse evolve into brainstorming sessions about Halloween costumes. Often, the family chooses a theme—Wizard of Oz and Disney were past winners—and the siblings dress as characters to match the theme. "It can be hard to get everybody on the same page, especially the little kids," Jenny says. "Sometimes I have to step in and say 'He's 4, let him be what he wants.'"
Of course, the highlight of the season is the costume reveal and trick-or-treating. In 2020, the force was with them as the Star Wars entourage—including Princess Leia (Allie, 27), a Jawa (Jacob, 12), and Chewbacca (Ben, 4)—made the rounds in town with family friends. Jenny and Chris typically opt out of the costuming. "We're just trying to control the masses," Jenny says.
In early October, the focus shifts to spookifying the house. There's always a kid or two around to give Mom an assist with the decorating. Matthew, 14, has become chief cobweb stretcher. "He's amazing," Jenny says.
A ghost hung from the upper window of Jenny and Chris Zacharewicz's modern farmhouse presides over the seasonal festivities. "The ghost kind of says 'Hey, it's Halloween' as you're driving down the road," Jenny says. On the porch, pumpkins, mums, and faux-leaf garlands keep the look classic. Jenny turned an old shutter and a plant holder (currently a pumpkin perch) into a display.
Jenny carves out work time as a social media influencer in her cute she shed near the side of the house. The structure came unfinished; the couple painted it, and Jenny added the decorative touches. A black cat of the plastic variety prowls in the classic autumn landscaping. "It's a really great decoration," she says of the menacing feline.
A handmade sign in the much-used back entry announces the home's temporary "dead and breakfast" status. "I try to find something that inspires me and go with a theme," Jenny says. A skeleton key and lantern help conjure a witchy innkeeper leading leery guests down a dark corridor to their rooms.
Jenny sprinkles moon faces around the living room in various forms after taking inspiration from an Etsy find. The large smiling "man in the moon" art adopts a spooky vibe thanks to a swarm of bats; it moves to one of the kids' bedrooms after Halloween. Jenny's oldest child, Allie, 27, painted the mini-moon face hanging in the wooden box, using a wood circle from a crafts store. More of Allie's moons hang from twine tied around the handles of baskets on a long accent table.
"Where I've headed with decorations is to be as natural as possible and limit store-bought," Jenny says. In the living room, above, branches ("Super cheap—free!" she says) in baskets help to create the feel of a forest. Letters stenciled on burlap spell "Boo." Folded over the rungs of an antique ladder, they tie in with the everyday curtains. Purchased pieces tend to be handmade, such as the black cat from Etsy. "If I'm going to buy a piece, I want it to be unique and not something everybody else has," she says.
Jenny creates tablescapes as an easy way to give a room a holiday focal point. The living room's forest theme carries into the breakfast nook, below, with a twig wreath and a centerpiece anchored by a large black lantern and owls—and by grounding everything in a layer of green moss. "Decorations don't have to scream Halloween," Jenny says. Her look is classic or happy. Tailor to your kids' ages or simply your everyday décor as Jenny did by bringing in branches for a woodsy theme. "It's sort of spooky without being scary."
With a table that seats 16, Jenny needed a big, bold centerpiece. She started with the black runner and cauldron then added stems from a crafts store. "It makes it look like there's smoke or something coming out of the cauldron," she says. Witch hats, crows, and candles complete the look. Josh, 22, gets credit for the Broomstick Café name and not-so-tasty menu on the chalkboard. Chandeliers and pendants are surprise decorating opportunities. Wrap a crafts store garland around a fixture, and dangle mini bats or ghosts from it. Out-of-the-way placement means no need to shuffle things at dinnertime.
When dinner isn't in progress, the stove top becomes a decorative spot. Layered signs (nailed together for stability) serve as a backdrop for a mini cauldron filled with candy and a haunted house—one of six in Jenny's collection from a seasonal line at Bath & Body Works.
The full-size built-in bunks that Chris made for Jacob, 12, and Caleb, 10, have a cozy feel that's perfect for telling ghost stories. Jenny brightens the gray paint with friendly ghosts and smiling jack-o'- lanterns—soft stuffed pieces that can handle tumbles. "My main goal was just to put some pops of color in there," Jenny says.
Metal bats attached to a rope fly between the bunk beds and Ben's special cabin bed. Chris designed and built the structure based on an idea Jenny had. "It weighs several thousand pounds—it's never moving," Jenny says with a laugh. The cabin has become the centerpiece for the room's seasonal décor, which now includes fuzzy wool-ball garlands, a string of bats, and cat decals. "We go all out, and the kids love it," she says.