A Home Comes Alive With Day of the Dead Decor

Melissa Love Tristan and her family go out for Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. At the end of every October, their Dallas home is awash in paper flowers, skulls, skeletons, sugared treats and Halloween decoration.

Melissa was introduced into Dia de los Muertos with her husband, Guillermo, whose family is originally from Mexico. This Mexican vacation comes right after Halloween — on November 1 to two — therefore the family unites the decor of both holidays in their merry, two-bedroom residence. “The civilization of remembering loved ones who’ve passed and celebrating them this way is indeed amazing,” she states.

in a Glance
Who lives here: Guillermo Tristan, Melissa Love Tristan, son Luca (age 4) and the spirits of previous generations
Size: 1,370 square feet; 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms
Location: Elmwood neighborhood of South Dallas

Sarah Greenman

Bright Mexican textiles, Fiestaware, candles and maracas set the mood. Tiny sombreros and paper flowers adorn the overhead lighting fixture.

Sarah Greenman

The Dia de los Muertos celebration focuses on food and family, which makes the dining room party central for the Tristan family. A pink hand-embroidered Otomi fabric hangs as a drape in the dining area.

Wall paint: Hearts of Palm, Sherwin-Williams

Sarah Greenman

Vignettes throughout the home honor the custom of producing little altars for family members that have passed away. “My decorating doctrine is, if it catches my eye and makes me grin, I need it around me,” says Melissa.

Sarah Greenman

Guillermo, a chef, typically spends his time preparing French cuisine at Boulevardier in Dallas. In the home that he keeps it easy with conventional dishes such as Dia de los Muertos. “If we are lucky his mama will make us some homemade tortillas,” says Melissa.

Sarah Greenman

Son Luca and his buddy Hudson shake maracas in expectation of candy bowls and kiddie mocktails being prepared in the kitchen.

Sarah Greenman

A vintage sideboard from an antiques mall in Gatesville, Texas, houses Melissa’s expansive group of sugared skulls, miniature coffins and skeletons dressed in formalwear.

Sarah Greenman

Melissa produced a spooky apothecary of doll parts, jarred innards and imitation fingers for her kitchen windowsill. “My taste leans towards the frightening and the bizarre,” she admits.

Sarah Greenman

An adult cocktail pub stands at the ready on a serving tray in the middle of the kitchen. This is only one of many small party stations Melissa has created throughout the home.

Sarah Greenman

A candy channel replete with lollies, candy corn and gummy pumpkins sits in the entrance to the kitchen. Melissa sets her extensive collection of glass jars and vintage containers to utilize during that season.

Sarah Greenman

“You can’t go out and buy your decorations at one time. Hunting and gathering is key for this type of party,” she states.

Sarah Greenman

Monster portraits, skulls and other spooky curios deck the living room. A classic trunk, found in Guillermo’s grandmother’s attic, serves as a coffee table. The sofas were a roadside discover that Melissa had reupholstered. “My key for finding furniture would be to follow along with the bulk trash signs,” she states.

Wall paint: Oyster Bay, Sherwin-Williams; rug: Ikea

Sarah Greenman

A Ouija board serves as a spooky coffee table tray, and a doll head onto a black candleholder keeps watch over the living room.

Sarah Greenman

Sarah Greenman

Luca and Hudson show their eyeball marbles during a holiday-themed card match.

No matter what the vacation, Melissa makes certain to generate a special place for kids from the living or family room which has a small dining table and chairs. “Kids should feel comfortable in their houses,” she states. “I also don’t need anything in our home which [Luca] can’t touch is afraid to be around.”

Sarah Greenman

Framed portraits of circus sideshow performers share space with doll parts under glass bell jars in a living room corner.

Sarah Greenman

Tall black and candles cat figurines flank the hearth. The vintage leather ottoman was a garage sale score. “Can you think I got that for $1?” asks Melissa.

Sarah Greenman

Is it a ghost, or is it Luca running throughout the living room on the way to his bedroom? A hand-me-down midcentury console from Melissa’s mother holds extra seasonal decoration. “I truly am inspired by lines, shapes, textures and anything from art deco to midcentury,” says Melissa.

Sarah Greenman

Publications, sturdy furniture and comic book paraphernalia fill Luca’s room. “The visual rule of eye level for kids is important,” says Melissa.

Sarah Greenman

Melissa put a great deal of thought to Luca’s bedroom. “I really wanted him to feel motivated in his room,” she states. “I think it’s important for kids to have a place in the home where they can have quiet time as well.”

Rug, artwork above bed: Ikea; pub cart: thrift store

Sarah Greenman

Melissa made certain that Luca’s favourite things are in his fingertips from the playroom. “His distance is a reflection of him. And there’s nothing better then wooden toys, Legos and musical instruments to fulfill a day of exploration and imagination,” she says.

Sarah Greenman

An extra shelf keeps small collector’s things from harm’s way.

Sarah Greenman

There aren’t any holiday decorations in the master bedroom, to keep its serene and quiet feel. “I love everything girly, but since I’m the only lady in my property, I want to make sure there’s a balance of masculine and feminine,” says Melissa.

Wall paint: Lemon Verbena and Hearts of Palm, Sherwin-Williams

Sarah Greenman

A group of vintage suitcases and one antique portable record player make up a tower in the master bedroom.

Sarah Greenman

This coated side porch was the house’s main selling point. “I love sitting out here when it rains or to watch Luca play in front yard,” says Melissa. “For me it’s about a sanctuary. It is my retreat from the rest of the world.”

Sarah Greenman

A skeleton sits inside a twig wreath and greets guests and trick-or-treaters since they approach the property’s entrance. The legs clack against the door when it opens and closes.

Sarah Greenman

The front yard explodes with Halloween decoration and autumnal cheer. The Tristan family’s 1920s cottage is dressed with hay bales, gourds, pumpkins, black spiders and smiling skeletons.

Sarah Greenman

Luca and his neighbor, 10-month-old Jacob, are in costume and ready for a night of trick-or-treating. Melissa smiles as she surveys her handiwork. “That is definitely my favourite time of year,” she states.

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