Halloween How-To: DIY Haunted House Tips!

Easy instructions for Halloween decorations that will wow a crowd.

ByABC News via logo
October 25, 2009, 6:19 PM

Oct. 14, 2010— -- You don't have to break the bank to create a spooky Halloween home that your family and trick or treaters will love! Check out these easy instructions from DIY expert Michele Beschen for making your own scary decorations this year.

Black birds, ravens and crows get a lot of love during Halloween season, as they should, because you can have a lot of fun decorating with these dark-feathered friends.

Step 1: Vintage Owls

Hit the thrift stores and score as many bird knickknacks as you can find. Owls were popular in the 1960s and 70s so there are always some for sale. To transform the birds for Halloween night, break out the black spray paint. Create definition by taping off certain areas so they are not solid black. Cover in spray paint. Don't worry about coating it solid black because having it sparse in areas adds to the creepiness. Scatter and display around the house.

Step 2: Making Ratty Blackbirds, Ravens or Crows

Visit dollar discount stores to stock up on ravens, black birds or crows. Or you can use birds left over from ornaments or floral arrangements and spray paint them black. Rough them up by taking scraps of black and grey fabric, and gluing them to the bird over the feathers. Glue buttons over the eyes.

Step 3: Displaying Your Birds

Take inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock and "The Birds" for your displays. Score a few mannequin heads from hairdressing schools. Tease the hair to create a ratty look and put a few of your birds in it. Display the head on a candleholder. Visit a tailor for old mannequin stand. Dress in black clothing and wrap a black scarf around the neck. Spray paint a bird's nest black and sticky-tack to the top of the neck. Take one of your birds and perch it on the shoulder. You could also score bird cages and fill them with a few of your birds and place them around the house. Or put some tree branches into a vase or a Christmas tree holder, cover it in fake spider webbing, and perch some of your birds around the limbs.

Attach "Caution" or "Keep Out" signs

Distress signs by puncturing with hammer and nail

Attach old rusty objects – like license plates or XXX

yellow caution tape

Step 3: Attach Boards to Home Exteriors

Cut industrial strength Velcro into 4 squares, and attach one to each corner of the back of your boards.

Note: The Velcro will leave a little residue behind on your doors. Use citrus cleaner to easily remove.

Take the backing off the Velcro and stick to the door or window frame.

Step 4: Create Tattered Curtains for Windows

Staple gauzy material, such as cheesecloth, to your newly created, boarded up windows. Or you can just trap the material in a closed window.

Rip material into shreds or put some holes in itFill a bowl with coffee or tea – dip a rag into it and stain the gauzy material to make it look dirty.

Step 5: Finish off the Look

Some other ideas to make it look like your home is abandoned:

Adorn with fake spider webbing

Put doll heads/hands/feet on tombstone

Step 3: Paint on Tombstone

You can use spray paint or artist acrylics. Create lettering with stencils or paint freehand. Paint on epitaphs, such as "R.I.P" or "I Told You I Was Sick"Paint on names of the deceased, such as "Ima Goner" or "Ben Dismembered"

Step 4: Installing in Front Yard

To create a base, so your tombstone can stand on its own: add another board to the bottom of your tombstone using a power drill and screws.To plant your tombstone into the ground: using a power drill, attach two stakes to the outside of your tombstone.Or, just hammer a stake into the lawn and lean your tombstone against it.

Happy Halloween!

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DIY expert Michele Beschen is the host and creator of how-to television programs with an eco-friendly focus, including her newest series, "B. Organic," currently airing on public broadcasting stations. Her unique approach to the do it yourself life can also be seen in her monthly columns with Scripps Howard News Service, contributions to "Do It Yourself Magazine," and her DVD collection.