Make a Spooky Haunted House

If you'd like to have a frighteningly good time this Halloween, try this project -- a haunted house centerpiece.

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Did you know that I own a haunted house? The lights flicker, figures appear in the windows -- just thinking about it sends chills up my spine!

But I'm sure you'll agree that's what Halloween's all about -- spine-tingling fun. And this Halloween Haunted House Centerpiece is both fun to make and fun to display.

A few weeks ago, friend and co-host Shari Hiller and I sat down to brainstorm some Halloween decorating ideas. When it came to the table centerpiece, we were stumped.

We thought of all the usual ideas -- including pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn and flower arrangements, and they were all good ideas. But we wanted something unique. Then Shari suggested a haunted house.

I thought a haunted house would make a great centerpiece and I knew just the man to build it: me. After all, I build things all the time. How hard could it be?

Well, I must admit that although it wasn't hard, it was very time-consuming. Like in any project, it's the details that make all the difference. And once I started adding little details here and there, they looked so cool I just couldn't seem to stop.

Would you like to build a haunted house of your own? Read on; I'll take you through some of the trickier parts of making a Haunted House Centerpiece.

Materials:

card stock weight paper for making templates
sheets of craft foam for the wall, roof and other architectural features
utility knife
hot glue gun
white lead marking pencil
felt tipped marker
ruler
sheets of yellow vellum
strings of white battery-powered mini-lights

Instructions:

After deciding on the dimensions of the house, I cut paper templates for the walls. To make things a little easier, I decided that I would use two templates, one for the front of the house and the other for the three sides.

I marked all the windows and doors on my templates and cut them out with a utility knife. I then laid the template on a sheet of foam, traced around the openings and cut the shapes out of the foam. So far, so good.

I then glued the four sides together using a hot glue gun. I reinforced the corners with strips of foam, giving the foundation of the house some strength.

I decided I wanted my haunted house to look like an old Victorian mansion. Big mistake. Do you know how detailed Victorian architecture is? I do now.

Using another color of foam, I created the roof, giving the house a real Victorian flavor. I cut the foam and then attached it with glue.

I added other details, too, like door and window casings and gingerbread trim. I even added mullions and a couple of chimneys (I told you I had a hard time stopping).

I wanted to light the house, so I needed to add something to the windows that would simulate glass. Since I wanted a warm glow coming from the windows, I settled on yellow vellum as a window covering.

I used my templates as a guide and traced the windows onto the vellum. To make sure the glue wouldn't show, I cut the vellum 1/2-inch outside the lines and glued them to the windows from the inside of the structure. I also added a stained-glass effect on some of the windows by drawing lines on the vellum using a straight edge and a felt tip pen.

I still wasn't quite finished, however. Just like a real house, my haunted house needed landscaping. I added a crooked picket fence and -- voila! -- it was finished.

Well, maybe not. Just a few more details, like spiders and cobwebs. Then for the final touch (really!) -- a battery-powered string of white lights. Now that is one cool centerpiece.

If you'd like to have a frighteningly good time this Halloween, try this project. Although time-consuming, it was a lot of fun, and it's a great way to get your kids involved in holiday decorating. I bet they'll love working on it with you, and that will be the most fun of all.

(Matt Fox and Shari Hiller alternate writing this column. They also co-host the Home & Garden Television show Room By Room.)

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