Gary LaVasser, academic director in Set & Exhibit Design at The Art Institute of California, Hollywood, a campus of Argosy University, says that while everyone thinks of orange and black consider the combination of dark red and black. At Halloween, any time black is used it represents scariness and the dark red can be symbolic of blood.
"For a more sophisticated look, combine dark red arrangements of roses, cover them in black hat veiling so that you see the roses through the veil and tie them together with black satin ribbon," he suggests. "If you want to go a little further, place the arrangement on an inexpensive black placemat and drip dark red nail polish from a few rose petals onto the placemat. It will look like the roses are bleeding."
LaVasser also has these tips for alternative but sophisticated Halloween decor:
* Use vintage Halloween toys from the 1930s, '40s or '50s as part of the design. If they are worn they have more character. Combine them with garlands of silk fall leaves available at most craft stores, tree branches or wheat and place on mantels or dining tables.
* Paint objects black that normally are not this color. For example, jack-o-lanterns are orange so spray them black for a twist on a familiar item. Also consider painting real flowers black. To make objects more interesting, select different black textures such as using matte, glitter, satin, gloss or metallic paints.
* The colors of fall are rich earth tones and these colors also are associated with Halloween. Add a little "punch" by using a deep purple color. It can be an interesting contrast to oranges and gold tones. Also consider using metallic gold, copper and pewter colors. You can paint leaves or pumpkins with these shades as well.
LaVasser adds that one can look for inspiration among different cultures and how they celebrate certain holidays or Halloween. A Latino tradition is Day of the Dead, observed on Nov. 1-2, which celebrates family and friends who have passed.
"Day of the Dead decor includes folk art, candles, colorful flowers and bright ribbons together with skeletons," says LaVasser. "This theme offers great options for Halloween."
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