Smith also suggests decorating a chalkboard in seasonal designs for an additional piece of art. In his home, he decorated his chalkboard with a "spooky" picture of his home surrounded by bats.

"It sounds kitschy, but it's really nice," he said.

And for those ambitious do-it-yourselfers, Smith suggests creating a wall piece by alternating luxurious fabrics in black and orange.

At Brzozowski's 2,000-square-foot Middle River apartment, the magic starts at the front door. Her entrance is adorned with a black-and-orange wreath and "Happy Halloween" sign. The patio is filled with goldenrod and mums in colors of eggplant and burnt orange from Richardson Farms on Ebenezer Road.

"I set the tone as soon as you get to the door," Brzozowski said, adding that she strives to give each room a distinct feel.

Brzozowski has loaded her living room with sparkly pumpkins. She's also filled vases with items such as plastic skulls and glass ghosts to give them a different look. She crowns each vase with pillar candles.

The dining room has a "black widow" theme. The table is adorned with a black spider web tablecloth, silver-and-black runner with spider web lacing, and black roses centerpiece.

"There's lots of sparkle," she said. "Everything goes together."

In the bathroom, Brzozowski uses a black shower curtain and hand-tied cloth banner to give it a "fun, crafty Pottery Barn look," she said.

She uses black cheesecloth in the dining room instead of curtains. "It looks much better than it sounds," she said with a laugh. "I place little purple spiders on it. It looks nice."

Even the kitchen's dishwasher is adorned with festive window clings.

"I make sure each room is different, but the overall house goes together — it's the transition from room to room that builds excitement," Brzozowski said. "I love to have items that complement each other, not that match. It is more appealing to the eye to look at a room of things that go together, in different ways, than a room that has all things matching."

Most importantly, you should keep yourself in mind when decorating your home, according to Brzozowski.

"Remember that you will be the one looking at it the most, so surround yourself with things that make you smile or that remind you of your childhood," she said.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com



Party tips



Invitations: Melanie Brzozowski, event design consultant for Chef's Expressions, advises setting the tone with invitations, preferably on paper. "There is a joy that overcomes me when I open the mail and there is a nice paper invitation; already I want to go to the event because I feel the host has put time and energy into it," she says.

The menu: "Make sure your menu fits the time frame of the event," Brzozowski says. "If you are hosting a party that starts at 5 p.m., serve enough food so it is equivalent to dinner. You can still do a cocktail-style reception during this time, but you have to go heavy on the hors d' oeuvres so you satisfy your guests. You never want guests to leave hungry. If you want to do a lighter meal, then opt for a later start time and serve wine, cheese and some desserts."

Homemade goods: Carmen Brock, owner of Trohv, says the best way to incorporate that Halloween feel is through homemade treats. "Use orange frosting for a chocolate cake," she says. "You don't have to do a million things. Take one item and put a Halloween twist on it. It will also photograph well."

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