Spooky Elegance Comes Alive

Story by Nancy Miller

Photos by Jolea Brown

Ghosts, witches and creepy crawlers share a home (at least for a few weeks) with glam-to-the-max décor in Rebecca and Paul Cox’s Georgian Revival home. They’re a couple who would be happy if Halloween were a monthly, not merely an annual, holiday. Such Halloween enthusiasts they are, they were married two years ago on October 31.

Choosing Halloween for their nuptials wasn’t a surprise to people who knew them well and remembered their first date was for the Zombie Walk, Bardstown Road’s unofficial kick-off to Halloween. “We’re serious when we need to be, but we’re really silly most of the time,” says Rebecca, adding that she and her husband call each other Boo. The nickname isn’t seasonal. They’re Boos all year. 

The Coxes, who own TheraPlace, a pediatric out-patient therapy clinic, dress their house in high Halloween style. Orange and brown, two of the most popular colors for Halloween, have added significance to Paul. They are the colors of DeSales High School, where he was a student and where the Paul B. Cox Stadium is named after him.

“A little Halloween is sprinkled everywhere in the house,” says Rebecca. “People give me Halloween decorations for my birthday, which is October 15, and I have been collecting them for years so I just want to display all of them.”

Neighborhood children can’t resist trick or treating at the Cox’s, where the outside of the home is spooked out with zombies, a tombstone, skulls staked in the ground and a ghost. The younger ones are often startled when they come upon the display and need to be reassured that it’s a faux tableau… hmm, or is it?

Any fears they have are allayed when Rebecca and Paul, sometimes outfitted in jack-o-lantern sweatshirts and funny hats, hand out Halloween treats.

Paul had owned the house a few years before he and Rebecca were married and undertook an extensive interior design project with Barry Wooley and Jacqui Smith of Barry Wooley Designs.

The design team fused luxuriousness with casual comfort, a combination that provides an intriguing canvas for any holiday décor, particularly that of Halloween.

“This is the most glamorous room,” says Rebecca about the “front room” that has a Cartier-wallpapered ceiling, a stunning centerpiece of an overhead light fixture and wall lights that are works of art above two gold chests. Small changes easily announce each season. Orange and red sequined pillows and a copper throw state that fall has arrived.

Not usually a flamboyant person, Rebecca unveils humorous flamboyance with her fireplace mantel Halloween decorations. A mere glance isn’t enough to take in all the details such as a black candelabra with white candles that drip “blood” when they burn. A shiny skull, an owl, a ghost, cobwebs and sparkly mini black, white and orange pumpkins whisper “look at me next” even though you haven’t had your fill of orange and black leaves in a gold vase, a vampire blood bottle with fangs, a creepy bride and groom and a spider that hangs over the edge of the mantel. “It’s Halloween on steroids, but very tasteful,” Rebecca laughs with a slight hint of wickedness.

A ghost sits behind the desk in the home office that was converted from a dining room. Pick up the handle of the old-fashion phone to hear a spine-tingling voice say, “Look behind you. I’m coming for you.”

When Rebecca reluctantly puts away the Halloween decorations, a Persian rug regains its rightful place as a focal piece. “It was one of our first purchases. Every time I look at it I see new colors,” she says. Its blend of colors is complemented by any season’s accouterments, including the autumnal floral arrangements that remain through Thanksgiving.

Halloween was waiting to happen in the kitchen, where there are orange elements, such as a bowl and rug. To the bowl, Rebecca added a skull that sings and moves. Next to it are black ghosts, orange candles, a bat and a cobweb table runner. Nearby are spider plates that were wedding gifts, black Waterford crystal Champagne wedding flutes, skull barware and skeleton glasses.

No room in the house is off limits to family and friends, but the family room has its own magnetism, with a gray color scheme that pops with color and mixed metals. “We pushed the boundaries with color,” says Jacqui, singling out a peacock blue ottoman. That boundary leap was a major deviation for Paul, who Rebecca calls the “Tan Man” for his usual gravitation to what he clearly considers a range of tan.

“Rebecca and Paul are the fun ones, the hostess and host of the year,” adds Jacqui. “So, we designed the room to have an abundance of seating and fabrics that hold up and wear well.” Rare would be the guest who doesn’t remark on the organic, antique brass chandelier with tumbled quartz accents or the vintage French poster the Coxes purchased in Key West, where they often visit and own rental property.

Placed on the room’s Mid-Century credenza is a pumpkin bedecked with a witch’s hat, a crow, a gourd for a nose, pheasant feathers and a centipede.

Even when Halloween decorations are hidden away until the next year, the Coxes celebrate when they sit on the sofa and look through a book of photographs from their Halloween-themed wedding reception at the Henry Clay. It was an affair of ingenious creativity and elegant bewitchment, with fit-for-Hollywood red lighting and dazzling embellishments. Guests were invited to come in costume or choose one of the many that were provided at four Halloween stations.

On display in the front room is a photograph of Paul and his nephew dressed as zombies. Written on the frame are the words, “Memories fill our heart with happiness.” The irony of those words next to the photograph isn’t easy to ignore, but they have another level of meaning to Rebecca, who says of her husband and her marriage, “Our chemistry and personalities mesh so well. Seriously, Paul makes my heart happy.” VT