A DIY Blogger Queen’s Halloween
Photos by Rana Faure
Halloween has always been my thing. The costumes, scary movies, mischief night—I love it all. But even if you’re one of those who turns off the lights on October 31, you’ll be inspired by the creative approach that popular blogger Charlotte Smith takes when decorating her home for the holiday.
At first glance, Smith may seem like your typical mom, trying to survive in suburbia with husband Mark, their five young children, and rescue pup Pacey. But what you may not know about Smith is that she’s kind of a big deal.
Smith is a sought-after DIY expert and perhaps better known by her Instagram handle @charlotteshouse (17.3K followers) or via her blog, At Charlotte’s House. She’s refreshingly honest and exceptionally talented—if not downright dangerous in a good way—with a glue gun and power tools.
Aside from being an approachable, down-to-earth woman who seems to effortlessly juggle work and motherhood, Smith made her own name as a professional blogger. She left her cubicle job to pursue a degree in psychological counseling, and went on to work at PS 165 in Brooklyn, where she lived with her young family.
Smith’s first introduction to blogging and home renovation came after purchasing their own real-life fixer upper in Southport, where her husband was raised. They would visit on weekends and take on small projects, but it wasn’t until their beloved nanny took a job overseas that they decided to relocate for good. To help cope with her new stay-at-home mom status, Smith launched Ciburbanity (city + suburb + sanity) as a creative outlet to explore her design ideas.
“I knew nothing about blogging,” explains Smith. “There was so much to learn about editing, social media, and photography, in addition to expanding my own skill set as a designer.” Smith discovered Haven, an annual DIY/decorating and professional blogging conference. Not knowing anyone, she purchased a ticket and traveled to network. According to Smith, the attendees were mainly women, many of whom were friendly and willing to offer support and share information.
“I learned you have to live through the process,” says Smith. “Rather than try and plan too much, live through it, and educate yourself along the way.”
About half-way through their renovation, Smith noticed a home she had always admired up for sale. On a whim, the family purchased the Paschal Sheffield House (c. 1826), an historic 19th-century home less than a block away. The home’s structure had seen renovations, but its charm remained intact with original wide plank floors, carved wood details, and high ceilings.
Even without its Halloween decorations, this 200-year old home will give you goosebumps. Not because it’s haunted, but because of its grandeur—a special characteristic of the stately homes lining the Southport harbor historic district.
The Federal period home, done in a Greek revival style, features four white columns flanking the front door, some with traditional scroll details, others with carved scallop shells. It’s tucked behind a thin white picket fence and has black shutters pop against the white façade. The front and side doors have two functional sets of tall black shutters, something you don’t see often.
But don’t let the white stately exterior fool you; the home is brimming with color and whimsy. Throughout her design, Smith cleverly layers color, pattern, textiles, and repurposed flea market finds, each room offering delightful new eye candy. “My style is fun, frugal repurposed eclectic,” describes Smith.
When asked to trick out her home for Halloween, she went to her happy place, the Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market, a weekly stop Smith chronicles on her Instagram stories. “I have small kids, so no super scary stuff,” says Smith. “And no gore.”
As she browsed, she felt a mad scientist theme brewing. Smith purchased black and white vintage photographs, an old plug in television, and two audio receivers from a vendor who did set design in Los Angeles.
Rather than overwhelm her own decor, she created spooky vignettes in the entryway, around the living room mantle, the dining room,and front porch, which played host to a skeleton party, complete with outfits for the main characters.
“I wanted to bring some of the Halloween story outside for the trick-or-treaters,” she says.
Inside the front door, Smith’s collection of audio equipment is enhanced with a welding mask, and plasma ball, while the plug-in television broadcasts black-and-white “snow,” Poltergeist style. Smith adorned the antennae with bats and spider webs, and simply transformed a floor lamp with stickers for eyes.
She spread her collection of small, vintage photographs across a side table and laid an antique magnifying glass for an eerie effect. On the mantle, Smith hung a large portrait of a woman whose eyes seem to follow you in every direction.
Believe it or not, this was Smith’s first time decorating for Halloween. She suggests starting small—maybe with one room or area first, like the porch—if you want to embark on your own creative Halloween-themed décor. If you’re in the neighborhood on the spookiest day of the year, take a trick-or-treating detour to Southport harbor—you won’t be disappointed.