Decorate for Halloween with these stylishly spooky decor accessories.
Boo! It’s that time of year again! Halloween is lurking just around the corner and if you love this haunted holiday, now’s the time to get some inspiration for adding a spooky look to your home. But forget tired and tacky … we’ve rounded up Halloween decorating ideas that are chic and stylish. Each one will help you add the spirit of the season to your home in an effortlessly elegant way.
1 Pumpkin and Ornament Garland
Garlands are traditionally a Christmas decoration but this Halloween-inspired garland is an easy and elegant way to bring the spirit of the season into your home. The jet-black garland is accented with shiny glass balls, faux orange pumpkins and shimmery curls of ribbon that come together to make a dramatic decorative statement! Pumpkin and Ornament Garland, Pier 1, $39.96.
2 Black Glitter Light-Up Tree
Another twist on a classic Christmas decoration, this bare tree features black glitter and safety candles that twinkle in the night and will add a spooky atmosphere to any room in your home. Cluster two or three trees together for a more dramatic effect and consider using them as a centerpiece on your table when you have guests visiting throughout the month of October. Black Glitter Light-Up Tree, Pottery Barn Kids, $47.
3 Matte Black Pumpkin
Pumpkins are a sure sign of Halloween, but in this beautiful black painted finish and with their gold foil stems, they take on an eerie effect that’s quite striking. Made from Styrofoam and plastic, they’re light and easy to move from indoors to outdoors and make a great addition to your seasonal decor. Matte Black Pumpkin, Pottery Barn, $39.50.
4 Creepy Crawly Polyester Window Treatment Collection
This fine-gauge lace window treatment adds the appearance of a large spider’s web to your window, adding just a hint of a haunted Halloween to your house! Easy to hang and subtle in its style, this is the perfect Halloween decoration for anyone who prefers to keep things a little more subtle. Creepy Crawly Polyester Window Treatment Collection, Wayfair, $39.99.
5 Falling Leaves Small Pumpkin
What’s black and white and chic all over? These gorgeous embellished pumpkins, that’s what! Made by Mackenzie-Childs, designers who revel in creating decorative items that feature traditions with a twist, these painted resin pumpkins will be the star of your Halloween décor, year after year. Fall Leaves Small Pumpkin, Horchow, $54.
6 BOO Outdoor LED Sign
Let trick or treaters know you mean business the moment they approach your front door. This pre-lit orange LED sign comes with hanging hooks and a removable kickstand to help make set up simple. Perfect for indoor or outdoor use, this sign will add a playful touch to your Halloween home. BOO Outdoor LED Sign, Balsam Hill, $49.
7 Black Branch Wreath
Gnarled bare black branches twist together to create this exceedingly creepy Halloween wreath, perfect for your front door or hung over a mantel. Black Branch Wreath, Crate & Barrel, $69.95.
8 Mr. Skeleton Figure
Granted, this skeleton is pretty creepy, especially if encountered in the dark. But it can also be a hilarious homage to Halloween when placed in amusing positions around the house. If your style is more funny than frightful, this might be the perfect decoration to add to your Halloween repertoire! Mr. Skeleton Figure, Urban Outfitters, $60.
lead image by Pier 1 imports
Buying guide: The truth about thread count
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
What is thread count, really?
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
What to look for when buying sheets
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
What to avoid when buying sheets
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
What do you prefer?
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
How to: Paint outdoor furniture
When undertaking a DIY project, there are usually a few things to consider. Add tempermental weather to the list and suddenly that little list has multiplied. How do you prepare your furniture for painting? What type of paint do you use? How does it differ for different types of material?
Though the process of painting outdoor furniture may seem daunting now, the best way to go about a DIY job is to be prepared. We talked to an expert at Canadian Tire to do just that. Michael Bache, Category Business Manager at Canadian Tire, shares his prepping and painting how tos to help put your DIY nerves at ease.
1 What supplies will you need for prepping and painting?
Depending on the state of the furniture (e.g. new wood, old plastic, painted metal, painted wood) and the type of paint chosen, a variety of items should be considered.
If using brush-on paint, consider using a primer before applying a new fresh coat of colour. When priming your furniture, make sure to use a good quality paintbrush and rags or drop cloths for clean-up. However, if you're using Krylon® Fusion™ no primer is required.
If repainting a metal or wood surface that has loose peeling paint, it must be removed for best adhesion. You can use sandpaper, steel wool, wire brush, scraper, or a stripper. You may require a tack cloth to clean up dust residue when sanding. If sanding a latex paint, a simple damp rag will work just fine.
2 Do these steps differ when prepping different materials, such as metal, plastic, wicker or wood?
Yes. Some products don't require primer, saving you a prep step. Using an aerosol is a benefit, too, as you also save a step in the prep. It generally dries faster and doesn't require clean-up since no paint brushes are involved. Even better, aerosols tend to give a factory style, air brush finish when applied properly, as opposed to a brush-on paint.
Bare wood generally requires a primer to seal the wood prior to painting as the surface is porous. The primer is used to provide a nice, smooth finish. Krylon Dual saves a step on both bare wood and metal since it primes and paints in one easy step. This saves time and allows people to have more time enjoying their furniture and less time prepping it!
3 What type of paint should you use for outdoor furniture?
Always follow the directions on the label for specific product use. This will ensure proper adhesion to your surface.
Plastic patio furniture should only have a paint specifically designed to adhere to plastic and hard-to-bond surfaces. Many general purpose paints can adhere to most surfaces except plastic.
For wicker or rattan, spray paints tend to make a nicer finish and easily gets into the grooves. Muskoka chairs are also easier to paint when using an aerosol as opposed to a paint brush. Now there's even an aerosol wood stain by Krylon. Spray stains make fast work of Muskoka chairs and planters - no brushes to clean up either.
5 What about rust prevention?
Paint designed especially for metal surfaces tends to add rust protection into the paint - make sure the paint says "rust proofing" or "rust inhibiting".
As our climate changes, U.V. rays are also a consideration - they're hard on our skin and our exterior patio furniture! Some paints actually have U.V. protection in their paint. This will help protect your finish to resist harsh weather conditions. We suggest storing patio furniture during the fall and winter months when not in use. If space is a problem, a variety of covers and tarps are available to help protect your investment.
6 What are the best painting methods to use?
Much of this is personal preference. However, some surfaces, like wicker and rattan, have a nicer finish when sprayed versus brushing.
7 What kind of finish, if any, should you use?
Most paint companies offer a variety of finishes to choose from - satin, gloss, textured, metallic, hammered, and more. As long as you use an appropriate paint for your exterior surface and follow the instructions, you should achieve the finish you want. The really nice thing about the variety of paints and finishes available is that people can turn "garage sale finds" into treasures. Mixing and matching old and new creates a different and personalized patio set.
8 How many coats should you use
Follow the instructions on the can, however many paints suggest two coats. When painting remember this rule of thumb: Thinner coats are better than thicker coats. Thinner coats dry faster and produce a harder finish.
9 What should you look for in a brush?
Is it the right paint brush for your paint? Oil-based paints generally have different bristles than latex paints. The brush label will specify this.
Is the paint brush the right size to do your project? If you are painting furniture, smaller brushes may be better. Ensure it fits into your paint container.
A roller can be great for large flat surfaces, like a tabletop. This can help reduce brush marks, too!
10 How does climate affect the painting process?
Weather is a big factor. For the most part, if you're getting a sunburn and sweating, it's probably too hot to paint. This will cause the paint to dry too fast. If it's too windy and you're using an aerosol paint, your paint may dissipate before it reaches the surface. Either wait for the wind to die down or use cardboard to build a spray tunnel. Humidity can affect the paint's dry time, which leaves more time for surface imperfections to take place on your finish. In general, 21ºC and about 50% humidity are ideal conditions for painting.
12 Any last tips?
Remember to protect other surfaces if working outside by using masking tape and drop cloths. Most importantly, regardless of your project, remember to always read product labels thoroughly and follow directions.
Recipe: Thin crust pizza dough
1 Place the flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
2 Pour in the water and the olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon to combine, scraping down the sides until the mixture forms a shaggy dough.
3 Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed for 8 to 10 minutes, stopping the machine as necessary to adjust the dough and ensure even kneading. After 10 minutes the dough should be smooth, shiny and elastic.
4 Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
5 When ready to make the pizzas, divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, about 10 ounces each. Shape the pieces by hand to form tight round balls and rest, loosely covered, on the countertop for about 30 minutes, until slightly risen.
6 Dust the countertop with a little bit of flour, if necessary, and stretch and roll each ball out to a 12" circle about 1/4" thick.
7 Place each round on a pizza peel (or an upside-down baking sheet) dusted with a little cornmeal to prevent sticking. Give the pizza peels a shake to ensure that once the pizzas are topped they will readily slide onto the hot stone in the oven.
8 The dough is now ready for the toppings.
Prep and cook time: 5 hours
Makes: Four 12" pizzas