Phil & Vicki's Halloween House in Providence

House Tour

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Name: Phil Gelatt & Victoria Dalpe
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Size: 2,704 square feet; 4 bedrooms
Years lived in: 2 years; owned

Phil and Vicki's Rhode Island home is the answer to what happens when Goths grow up: they buy a house in Providence, the birthplace of H.P. Lovecraft, and adorn each room with skulls. This historic house, built in 1897, is perfect for these two horror writers. Phil is the screenwriter of Europa Report, author of the graphic novel Petrograd, and writer/director of The Bleeding House. Vicki previously worked at MoMA (when the couple lived in New York), is a writer whose stories have recently been published in the Dark Hall Press Ghost Anthology and 100 Doors to Madness, and is also an artist with work hanging in local galleries.

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Though every day is like Halloween for these two horror fanatics, Phil's Dad mailed them three large treats to celebrate the holiday: a scary mannequin draped in gauze guards the main staircase upon entering, another pokes her blue face out of the tiny attic window in Phil's writing studio, and a third ghost hangs by chains off the front porch. There are other gems to be found throughout the house: an extensive horror book collection, Vicki's art studio decorated with skeletal drawings, gas masks, and framed movie stills, and two vintage back braces hidden inside the eaves just waiting to be displayed. Despite all the macabre décor, their home is cozy and comfortable; the couple themselves are warm and delightful hosts.

For more of their creative work, you can find Vicki online at victoriadalpe.blogspot.com, and Phil at philipgelatt.tumblr.com and IMDB. He also co-hosts The Double Shadow, a Clark Ashton Smith podcast.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Someplace between opulent, classic and kitsch.

Inspiration: All over the place, really. I am constantly looking, documenting, stealing ideas and making notes. We try to balance the house evenly between the two of us. I tend toward the more ornate and textural, Phil likes items made by artists we know or collectibles, and comfort/function are important to him. We were both fortunate to be raised in houses filled with beautiful things that were also stuffed with kids and pets and chaos and mess. Life must incorporate all of that. We try to combine the mundane with the more precious. Neither of us wants to live in a showroom or in some bland catalog spread.

Favorite Element: Being bold. It’s the unexpected that works (a la the authentic human skull on the mantel, or the perverse acrobat wall hook.) We like creating an environment where anything goes. If I like a mid century chair, or a gaudy 80’s movie poster, or some absurd baroque mirror, I like knowing I could find a place for it.

Biggest Challenge: Clutter! We are collectors: books, skulls, games, you name it! We have lots of stuff, and we love and use our stuff, but inevitably it leads to areas of clutter. The challenge for us is not really to get rid of the clutter but to arrange the chaos in a fun way. So that is our practical challenge.

Biggest Embarrassment: That our house is still very much a work in progress. For every behind the scenes update we’ve done (insulation, electric, floors refinished, chimney crack sealed, etc.) a dream kitchen, light fixture or wallpaper project gets pushed down the list. My laundry list of future updates includes so many new lights fixtures, custom window shades, new paint jobs, more storage, etc. So I guess my embarrassment would be that that list is still so long.

Proudest DIY: I stained the back deck myself. I painted the coffee tables and bathroom mirror. A week after we moved in we figured out how to fix a running toilet ourselves — a small victory, but one that meant a lot for first time home owners and their nerves.

Biggest Indulgence: Getting the bathroom redone and having not one but two slabs of marble put in for benches. I just love the sleek natural feel of stone. And it’s so easy to clean! The floors are also heated as well as the towel bar. So all of that… indulgence.

Best Advice: Take your time. You live in the house and as you live there you decide what and how to change things. I watch a lot of HGTV and it is annoying how quickly everything gets gutted and redone, and voila, another nice, near identical showroom looking house. It’s hard to not fall right into trends. Industrial chic, shabby chic, mid century modern, I love all of that. But that is how every house from the fifties has a pink powder room — or the 70’s avocado and mandarin craze, or the eighties and brass and black lacquer and those semi transparent glass bricks. I want to retain as much historical integrity I can while still making it our own as we update. I like trends but I don’t want to be beholden to them and look back ten years from now and wonder what I was thinking. So that’s my advice, take your time and design a home that is both timeless and unique to you.

Also, having a nice house is no excuse to lack comfortable seating. I swear I have been to so many lovely homes and apartments where there is no place to actually sit, or spread out, or really put your drink down. From the tiniest apartment to the biggest house, seating and comfort are key!

Dream Sources: Vicki: Design within Reach, ABC Carpet. Phil: The Bazaar of the Bizarre.

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Resources of Note:

LIVING ROOM

  • Sofa - Mitchell and Gold
  • Media Storage - Restoration Hardware
  • Chair - Stickley
  • Coffee Tables - repainted Pier 1
  • Carpet - Overstock
  • Malleus “Suspiria” and “Tenebreae”
  • Wall paint - C2 Cappuccino

DINING ROOM

  • Table Restoration - Hardware
  • Card Catalogue - Vintage
  • Chairs - Overstock
  • Three legged chairs - Vintage
  • Octopus Prints - One Kings Lane
  • Wall Color - C2 Dolphin Blue

KITCHEN

  • Table and Chairs - Vintage
  • Rug - Overstock
  • Print - Edward Gorey
  • Paintings - Tyler Crook

MASTER BEDROOM

  • BedJoss and Main
  • Bench - Home Goods
  • Bureaus - Thrift
  • Rug - CB2
  • Print - Louis Remarkers “La hecatombe, La syphilis”
  • Wall Color - C2 Granite

BATHROOM

  • Wall Color - Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

FOYER

  • Wall Color - C2 Vancouver Day
  • Print by Malleus
  • Painting by Victoria Dalpe
  • Photograph by Robert Doisneau “L’Enfer”
  • Painting on table - Tyler Crook “Russian Orthodox”

2ND FLOOR LANDING

  • Wall Color - C2 Vancover Day
  • Print by Malleus

LIBRARY

  • Chair - Thrift
  • Bookshelves - Ikea
  • Desk - Home Decorators
  • Prints - Clark Ashton Smith, Goya, Robbie Rodriguez

PHIL'S OFFICE

  • Couch - CB2
  • Rug - Overstock
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Thanks, Phil & Vicki!

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(Image credits: Andrea Sparacio)

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