It is officially fall and you know what that means.
No, we aren’t talking Pumpkin Spice Lattes, or sweater weather, or candy corn (though, don’t get us wrong — all those things are fabulous). To us, fall means Halloween, which gives us free reign to spook and scare whomever, whenever, wherever.
What better way to maximize the scale and effectiveness of your scaring than to transform your garage into a haunted house?
Though it seems like quite an undertaking, it doesn’t have to be.
We called upon a couple of all-star garage-turned-haunted-house creatives who have perfected the art of scaring on a big scale, and they were kind enough to share their tip and tricks with us.
So, if you’re feeling the Halloween spirit, read on to see how you can share your scares with the whole neighborhood via a haunted house.
Inspiration is key
Ashley Rabuck and her husband Ryan of Pennsylvania are no rookies at making their garage the ultimate place for scaring ever Halloween.
“It originally started as my husband’s family tradition, but when we bought our own house, the tradition moved from his parent’s house to ours,” says Ashley.
But they do remember what it feels like to be beginners.
“The biggest advice I can give for people starting out is to get inspiration from others,” offers Ashley. “This inspiration and brainstorming could be by watching scary movies, visiting haunted attractions, or watching many, many hours of DIY Halloween Haunt videos on YouTube.”
Once you’re feeling inspired, you’ll want to settle on a theme for your own haunted house. For Ashley and Ryan, “each year the haunted house is different — with a different theme.”
Map it out, and clean it out
Thorough planning is key to a successful haunted house in your garage.
Once you know how many rooms you want to include in your haunted house, you’ll know how much area to clear out.
Ashley and Ryan have settled on four as their magic room number.
“In our haunted house, we generally split it into 4 rooms/areas. Once we have the right measurements,” advises Ashley, “we will use tape to map it out on the actual floor of the garage.”
But, before laying the tape down, you’ll need to clean out your garage to make space for all things scary.
Create the framework
Now that you have everything planned out, it is time to begin turning your vision into a reality.
“We use a lot of PVC pipes, 2x4s, and boards so that it’s structurally sound,” Ashley shared.
Be prepared for your haunted house to experience some beating. When scared, kids of all ages will jump, trip and fall, and bump into things.
It’s a good idea to build your framework strong, and anything that you’re worried about getting broken should be put behind a screen or a fence.
Gather your supplies
Though the supplies you’re going to need for your haunted house will vary depending on what your theme is, and what decorations you’re choosing to incorporate into your design, there are a number of basic things that you won’t want to be without.
According to garage-turned-haunted-house rockstar Erika Robinson of California, you “can’t have too much of:”
- Black duct tape
- Batteries (AA and AAA)
- Staple gun
- Carpet knife
- Black plastic or tarps
Creating this masterpiece is going to require a lot of tools and supplies. Thus, Erika suggests you “have a tools bucket where you keep everything, and keep track of it all because things get lost once assemblage starts happening.”
Bring decorations out of storage
You’ve planned out your haunted house, laid down the foundation, and you are almost ready to begin decorating, but first you’ll need your decorations.
Since Halloween decorations aren’t something you’ll want (or need) to have access to year-round, you can rely on Closetbox to store your spooky supplies during the off-season.
If you’ve got heavy decorations for your haunted house that you need to haul out of storage, don’t stress about straining your back.
Closetbox does all the heavy lifting so that you can keep yourself in shape, and have the energy to create your haunted house.
It’s decorating time
Decorating your garage to become a haunted house is no small task. “This is the part where you can use lots of helping hands,” says Ashley.
For Erika, her haunted house decorations require a lot of batteries, and putting those batteries in the decorations can sometimes be a boring task.
To spice it up a bit, Erika suggests having a “‘Put Fresh Batteries In It’ wine party” where you and your girlfriends get together, drink some wine, and put batteries in your spooky decorations.
Decorating is also a great time to bring in the little ones in your family or neighborhood.
“There really isn’t a need to use power tools at this point,” says Ashley, “so you can have kids help too!”
The specific decorating you’ll be doing in your haunted house will depend upon what your chosen theme is, but here are some classic spooky decorations that you can never go wrong with:
- Fake bloody body
- Ghosts hanging from the ceiling
- Black lights
- Fog machine
Don’t forget the exterior
Most of your decorating attention will be focused on the garage itself, but the exterior is a great opportunity to spook visitors before they even set foot inside your haunted house.
Erika uses a 10×10 pop-up tent to build up anticipation, but has found in the past that it also serves as a great protection from bad weather.
“Our eager young frighteners have somewhere to wait in case it takes too long, or it’s raining.”
And, according to Erika, a candy bowl is a must in the pre-haunted house area. We can’t argue with that.
Share your haunted house online for all to see
Once you’ve gone to all this work to construct a haunted house, you’re going to want to maximize the number of people that get to experience and be spooked by your hard work.
Erika suggests posting your haunted house on nextdoor.com, a safe a private social media network for your local neighborhood. By using Nextdoor, your haunted house will be “known in your neighborhood, but not so crazy that you have a line out the door and down the street,” says Erika.
“Though make no mistake,” she warns, “That’ll eventually happen.”