Decorate In Haunting Style | Midwest Living

Decorate In Haunting Style

Get some Halloween inspiration from a Minnesota antiques dealer who loves to showcase her spooky collections and vintage curiosities.
  • Eerie decorating

    "Some people like pretty; I like creepy," says Lisa Balke, an antiques dealer whose Edina, Minnesota, home reflects her quirky style with animal skulls, preserved tarantulas and other eerie oddities.

    Click ahead to see how Lisa gives her home haunting style -- and find some ideas you can use at Halloween in your own house.

    Pictured: For custom-looking exterior doors, the Balkes glued sheets of galvanized metal to builder's grade doors and sanded the sharp edges. Rivets form a decorative border.

  • Halloween accents

    For a Halloween display in her dining room, Lisa tops her usually empty terra-cotta pots with white faux pumpkins and scraggly dried moss. Ripped cheesecloth gives the illusion of cobwebs on candelabra, and fake crows perch on the centerpiece.

    Throughout the home, rooms dressed in mostly white with stainless-steel, brown and black accents highlight Lisa's curious collections. She and husband Jeff, an internist and hobby carpenter, remodeled the house, once a modest 1,000-square-foot cottage, to add space for their three kids and to create an industrial look with farmhouse and cottage features. But it's their vintage pieces, especially the offbeat ones, that give the home its unexpected style.

  • Quirky living room decor

    A wild boar's head snarls above the fireplace. Other taxidermy -- alligator heads, chickens and rabbits -- inhabit shelves throughout the first floor. In honor of Jeff's medical profession, a skeleton dangles on an iron coat rack in a living room corner. Scorpions and tarantulas in glass frames bring frightening flair to bookshelves. "I think it's fun to have quirky things that people comment on," Lisa says.

  • Repurposed treasures

    Lisa repurposed an antique coffin dolly (found at an estate sale for $5) as the base of a concrete-top coffee table in the living room. Ostrich and emu eggs and a bear skull create a unique arrangement under cloches.

    Most of Lisa's treasures come from local estate and garage sales. Her must-have pieces change constantly, and not all have an eerie aura. "I'm attracted to certain materials," Lisa says. Miniature metal buildings, terra-cotta pots, stainless-steel medical furniture and pages from agricultural farm charts are favorites. Artifacts not showcased in Lisa's home end up on the shelves at Hunt and Gather, an eclectic Minneapolis antiques shop where she is a dealer.

  • Bookshelf of curiosities

    A hornet's nest, framed insects and other natural curiosities decorate bookshelves.

  • DIY kitchen details

    Gothic architectural detailing on the island contrasts the white and stainless-steel kitchen, where Lisa and daughter Kate make caramel apples.

    DIY projects helped Lisa and Jeff save money while adding innovative design. In the kitchen, they converted a salvaged church altar into an island, adding a concrete countertop to match the floors. Restaurant-style, stainless-steel lower cabinets complement Jeff's white upper cabinets. Along the perimeter, stainless-steel countertops stand up to heavy use. "You can set anything hot on it, and it doesn't destroy it," Lisa says.

  • Retro accessories

    A working rotary dial wall phone accents the retro kitchen.

  • Home office

    Built-in cabinets organize the home office. An antique typewriter and reptile jaw add Lisa's distinctive design flair.

  • Spooky buffet

    A salvaged doll head and resin hand haunt a buffet.

  • Bedroom update

    New fabric updates a vintage sofa in the master bedroom.

    In the bedroom and elsewhere in the home, a light and airy interior balances the spooky fun. Soft-taupe walls blend with Jeff's white-painted custom-made cabinetry and trimwork.

  • Bathroom style

    An antique dental chair doubles as a towel holder in the master bath.

  • Collectibles and essentials

    A vintage medical table in the bathroom displays scary collections and bathroom essentials.

  • Attic bedroom

    Black paint updates an old iron bed in Kate's converted-attic bedroom. Orange pillows add color and a seasonal accent.

  • Buying guide

    Designer: Lisa Balke (homeowner).

    Throughout the house: Paint color (On first-floor walls) 975 Tapestry Beige. Benjamin Moore (benjaminmoore .com). Vintage items Hunt & Gather, 4944 Xerxes Ave., S, Minneapolis (612/455-0250;

    Living room: Grain sack pillows Sandy Stone Design Studio (612/618-6457; Sofas Room and Board (800/301-9720;

    Kitchen: Lighting Schoolhouse Electric Co. (800/630-7113; Range Viking (888/845-4641; Refrigerator Sub-Zero (800/222-7820; Stools Lyon all-welded stool (800/630-6105;

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