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A $3.99 Plate Inspired This Incredible, Edgar Allen Poe-Themed Halloween Display

Jenny Reimold
Photo credit: Evin Krehbiel

From House Beautiful

They say inspiration can strike anywhere, and when it came to my Halloween decor, I found it in the middle of an aisle of HomeGoods, while staring at a $3.99 ceramic plate. The unique way in which the raven was perched on muted-toned pumpkins, in front of a background of scripted words, became the catalyst for designing an entire table inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s classic literary poem, “The Raven."

I had wanted a look that was eerie without being overly frightening or gory for my children, and after finding that plate, I began brainstorming historical and literary elements that were associated with Edgar Allen Poe and The Raven: books, typewriters, Annabel Lee, birds, oil lamps, plumed pens, mystery and demise. This certified English teacher then began thinking of creative ways that these elements could be incorporated throughout the room.

Photo credit: Evin Krehbiel
Photo credit: Evin Krehbiel

The foundation of my tablescape started with three ivory table runners placed across the width of the table to offset the overall darkness of the mood. My assistant, Sara Brigman, and I layered textured black and galvanized metal placemats with classic hobnail dishware to highlight the raven plates. Amber-colored stemware added a soft pop of color that coordinated with some of the subtle metallic accents. While the appropriately dressed skeletons represented Edgar and Annabel Lee, the literary portrayal of his wife Virginia, I found a watercolor print on Etsy that I displayed to depict this uniquely talented and tormented author.

Although I didn’t find a vintage typewriter, I did uncover a $24 treasure when I spotted a Poe-detailed typewriter at HomeGoods amongst the Halloween displays. After adding this find to the tablescape, I scattered crumpled book pages in between lanterns and décor as a true representation of the writer's work.

Using a feathered craft store wreath, I added Halloween floral accents, like skulls, from the dollar bins at Michaels. I then continued the book theme by wiring one chapter from one of Poe’s poetry books among the faux blooms. A festive “Halloween Town” sign, from Adams and Co, was styled on the buffet to welcome dinner guests to our spirited space.

Photo credit: Evin Krehbiel

Finally, to create Poe’s illuminated reading corner, I spraypainted a large tree branch from our backyard. I then hung old, yellowed books from twine to create a whimsically haunted book tree to summarize much of Poe’s works. (A little clear shipping tape, taped to the back of the pages, helps keep the pages open.) I was able to create three to four mini books from one standard paperback after splitting the pages down the spine. Then, I wrapped orange lights around various branches and used floral wire to attach ravens on various parts of the tree. A color-changing, portable light, set to purple, provides a supernatural gleam that excites my children every time they see it glow. Not only does a Poe-themed room create a lot of visual appeal, it also promotes literacy and history by opening doors to discussions about American authors, poems, and fiction. My four-year-old may not understand the main idea but she can tell you that “Edgar Allen Poe writes creepy books”….. and that’s enough to make my heart happy.

Much like Poe’s creative writing process, seasonally themed spaces require brainstorming, idea organization and a lot of revision. Create a list of related themes, objects, or historical facts. Shop for décor that represent those ideas. Pick up that “inspiration piece” that catches your eye, and let your mind wander. When creating holiday rooms and tablescapes, don’t see things for what they are, but rather see them for what can be!

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