October 27, 2012 in Washington Voices

Valley home transformed for Halloween fun

By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

Kristie Gaffney stands in the living room of her Greenacres home which she has turned into a haunted house for Halloween.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

A love of all things Disney and a fondness for holidays has inspired one Spokane Valley woman to completely make over her house for Halloween.

A life-size bellboy mannequin that appears to breathe and move his eyes greets people at the door. The foyer looks like a spooky hotel, complete with a Bates Motel sign and a set of keys to rooms 1313 and 237 – the last a reference to a room where very bad things happened in “The Shining.”

Kristie Gaffney, 44, said the foyer is inspired by the Disneyland ride the “Tower of Terror,” The highlight of this area was the inclusion of a temporary sliding door painted to look like the elevator in that ride.

The rest of the house resembles a different ride at Disney.

“A lot of this is modeled after the Haunted Mansion,” Gaffney said.

If you’ve been to the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland or Disney World, you would probably agree. There is a life-size suit of armor in the living room, a sparkly chandelier hanging from the ceiling, old photos on the walls in the hall, one of which swings back and forth and laughs maniacally at anyone who passes it. In the family room, four wig heads sit on the mantel of a fake fireplace. Ghostly images are projected on to the heads, reminiscent of the end of the Haunted Mansion ride when visitors glide by mirrors and see a ghost sitting next to them.

Gaffney said this year, she found fabric for temporary wallpaper which she cut and hung from the walls. There are fake candles hanging from the ceiling and black lights throughout the area. A machine burps out bubbles filled with fog, which pop to leave small wisps of smoke in the kitchen.

Planning for Halloween usually starts in August. Gaffney’s goal is to have it finished so she can enjoy the decorations throughout October.

“There’s easily got to be 150 hours (of work),” she said.

She scours Value Village and garage sales to find pieces for her collection. Some of her friends have given her old costumes which she hangs in the garage.

Gaffney said she holds several parties during the season for friends. They gather in the garage, which is decorated as well, where they can enjoy music, food, drink and fun.

Gaffney said she first started decorating her living space for Halloween when she was in her 20s. She and her friend, Bob Meek, worked at a hotel in Bellevue and bought old sheets from the hotel which they ripped up and used to decorate. Meek died in 1994, and she said she carries on the tradition in his honor – his name appears in lights in the garage.

When it’s not Halloween, Gaffney stores many of her props in the garage, but also at her parent’s house. They have a barn and live near Gaffney’s Greenacres home.

You would think Gaffney would have a fondness for scaring people, but her haunted mansion is more campy and family-friendly than a typical haunted house.

“I think it’s really cool,” said Kyra, Gaffney’s 12-year-old daughter. Kyra’s twin brother, Keaton, agrees.

“It’s fun, it’s cool and it’s crazy,” he said.

The two frequently invite their friends over to see the house. Gaffney said her children’s friends often ask why their own parents don’t decorate like she does.

“They’re not as nuts as me,” Gaffney joked.

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