Transform your apartment into a haunted house

Last Updated February 2020

You're the person who counts down the days until the Halloween aisle opens at your local supermarket and everything is pumpkin-spice flavored. In fact, you're such a big fan of the spooky season that you want to turn your apartment into your very own haunted house.

It might take some hard work, but you can transform even the tiniest apartment in a house of horrors ready to scare or delight, depending on your intended audience. Ghosts, goblins, witches, and vampires — nothing's off limits in your abode.

Halloween comes but once a year and you want to make the most of it. You don't have to own a large house in order to make fun Halloween memories. Plan ahead and you can easily turn your apartment, whether big or small, into a super-scary haunted house.

Pick a theme

While you can simply opt for a generic haunted house containing all kinds of spooky paraphernalia, some of the best ones are based around a single theme. Come up with something special and people will be talking about your haunted house until October 31 rolls around again. Some possible options include Dracula's lair, zombie apocalypse, Carrie at the prom, or a witches’ coven. The only limit is your imagination.

Start in the entryway

As long as your neighbors don't mind, set the scene by decorating the hallway leading up to your apartment. You can go all out with this or keep it simple. Even some fake cobwebs, coffins, or mock gravestones will help to get your guests into the spooky mood.

Get the lighting right

No matter how much effort you put into your haunted house, if the overhead lights are glaring down, the ambience just won't be right. Instead, dim your lights as low as they'll go, or, if you don't have dimmer switches, turn off your main lights and illuminate the place using lamps instead. Alternatively, you could turn out the lights completely and have guests use flashlights to navigate their way through your haunted house. You'll also need to cover all your windows with black craft paper or something similar to block out the light.

Using plenty of fake cobwebs is a good way to cover your walls and create a spookier environment for your haunted house.


Add terrifying tunes

Some spooky, atmospheric music can make a world of difference in the creepiness of your haunted house. Imagine watching the tense moments of your favorite horror movies without any sort of soundtrack — they wouldn't be half as scary! You can buy haunted house soundtracks on CD, or look for playlists on YouTube or Spotify. The best haunted house soundtracks are peppered with sound effects, such as cackling, howling, creaking doors, and screams.

Block out a path

You'll need to create a path so that people know which way to travel through your haunted house. If you have the kind of apartment where one room leads into another or all your rooms lead off from a central hallway, it will be easy, and you might get away with simply using signs or arrows. However, you'll have to get more creative with a studio or loft apartment or any other open-plan space. You can use boxes on the floor or sheets or tablecloths hung from the ceiling to create a path. Bonus points if the sheets are black or "blood" splattered.

Stage your scares

Once you've planned the route, you'll need to decide what displays or activities you'll use to frighten your guests. Of course, you'll need to keep things age appropriate. If kids will be present, aim for Goosebumps scary rather than Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In addition to general spooky decorations, you might want to go for some jump scares. Either buy some motion-sensitive decorations that pop out when people approach, or enlist some friends or family members to dress up and jump out at people. You might also want to have a room with some spooky activities, especially if your haunted house is designed for the younger generation. You could go for the classic bowl-of-peeled-grapes-as-eyeballs trick or something seasonal but innocuous, such as bobbing for apples.

Serve spooky snacks

If you want to feed your guests, come up with some appropriate snacks to keep the Halloween vibe going well into mealtime. Some of our favorite Halloween foods include mini pizzas topped to look like jack-o-lanterns, hotdogs or veggie dogs wrapped with puff pastry to look like mummies, and cupcakes with spooky decorations (you can be creative here). Blackcurrant cordial or cranberry juice (or red wine for the grownups) can be "blood," and lime cordial (or vodka, lime, and soda) can be slime or “toxic waste.”

Written by:
  • Lauren