A Rustic Porch for Christmas!
Sophisticated Decorating with Laundry Baskets and Underwear

When I was growing up we never had a laundry basket in the house.   That’s because we were so privileged and averse to any form of manual labour that we simply threw our dirty clothes in the woodland forest behind our house and had Yves (St. Laurent) make us new stuff.

By the time I was 8, the pile was so high we could ski down it in the winter.  My skis were made of diamonds and if I ever fell down and cut myself, gold coins spewed out of me instead of blood.

No wait.  That was Richie Rich.

We never did have a laundry basket, but it was because we had a great big wine barrel instead.  That’s where all the dirty clothes got thrown.  A great big wine barrel in the basement.  Actually, chances are it wasn’t a “fancy wine barrel”, but probably a whiskey barrel.   I wish I could say at this point, No wait.  That was the Clampetts.  But it wasn’t.  It was us.  Our dirty bloomers were kept in a whiskey barrel.  And sometimes my mom sent me to school with Sandwich Spread sandwiches.  Nothing else.  Just bread and sandwich spread.  She also used to make me play with a potato.  To this day she insists it was a legitimate toy.

From the moment I was born until the day I moved out, that wine barrel acted as our laundry basket.  And I’m sure my mother will refute this, but we never actually got to the bottom of the barrel.  There was one grungy old tea towel at the bottom of it, that in 25 years never got washed.  It’s true.  Believe me, not my mother.  My mother’s a notorious liar.

So when I visited my mother in the summer to borrow some money, or tell her how much I disliked her multi coloured quilted jacket, or some other daughterly thing, I was rattled to my core when I saw the barrel out for the garbage.  THE GARBAGE!  I rescued that barrel, shoved it in my car and took it home.  What kind of nut case gets rid of a perfectly good  whiskey/wine barrel/laundry hamper?

I stuck the barrel on my porch and put a Boston fern in it.  It’s winter now.  The fern died.  Barrel’s sad and empty.  I have to refrain from throwing underwear and tea towels in there.

Losing the fern turned out for the best actually, because the same way my mother got sick of her wine barrel, I got sick of my normal birch log planters in the backyard.  I grabbed those birch logs and dragged them out to the front porch.   Same logs, different place.  And I love them again.  Often times you can instantly fall in love with things you’re sick of just by moving them.  Your bowels are a perfect example.

So this year for Christmas I changed everything up.  Everything.  I used all the same stuff  I already owned, I just used it in different ways, in different places.   I’m feeling a pull towards a very farm-like, rustic Christmas this year.  It’s probably the chickens.   It’s definitely the chickens.  Chickens DON’T like wearing Christmas hats by the way.  Just so you know.

Here we go … picture time.  No explanation necessary I don’t think, so here, at this point I bid you adieu for the day.


barrel boots & bench

birch logs

barrel and boots

out of focus barrel2

barrel lit

Out of focus door

Porch 4

HOLD YOUR HORSE AND BUGGIES!  I do have something else to say.  It’s almost impossible to get a picture of my front door because there are two porch pillars right in front of it.  So … sorry for that.  AND, when I got inside and started reviewing and editing my pictures at night, I realized I completely and totally forgot to make and put up a door swag.  No wreath this year … a rustic swag.  Looking at the door, I’m not sure I need it now.  Opinions?  Not that I’ll listen to you.  I rarely listen to anyone … but just for fun … opinions?




  1. Brigid says:

    No swag, it takes away from the relaxed, rustic look you’re going for.
    And for God’s sake! put a nasty, dirty old tea towel in the bottom of that barrel and fuhgetaboutit. The barrel will thank you for giving it back an old friend!

  2. Rachel says:

    No need for the swag… the challenge of all decorating is knowing when to stop!

  3. Langela says:

    I think it looks good as is, Karen. I also think it would look even better on my porch. However, if yours goes missing it probably wasn’t me that took it. Probably.

    BTW, where do you get all your greenery? Is any of it real? It looks so full and beautiful.

    • Karen says:

      Langela – All the greenery is real. The stuff in the barrel is blue spruce, which I cut from my own overgrown bushes. It’s on top of the stack of wood too. The white pine garland around the door is also real. I bought it for $9.99. ~ karen!

      • Langela says:

        Do you order it or get it locally? Something like that around here would run about $30!

      • Karen says:

        Just at the garden centre. Must be our Northern climate. Fresh boughs and branches are everywhere this time of year. ~ k!

  4. Babie Knoop says:

    I still want to know why your mother got “rid” of the wine barrel?

    PS: Front door looks FAB leave it. :)

  5. marilyn says:

    oh karen that was hilarious! i love betty! i too have one of those teatowels! only not in a whisky barrel / laundry hamper. but i do have a laundry chute! yup ! a hole in the floor in the closet in the bathroom! just chuck those dirty clothes down that hole and boom! just like that you’ve saved yourself a trip down those treacherous basement stairs with a basket full of wash.every house should have one.i love the rustic look and the reincarnation of the laundry barrel…bet betty wants it back now!

  6. Nicole2 says:

    Karen, you have the most humorous mind, and then you turn around and decorate beautifully, all with the same brain! I’m sooo impressed. And envious.

    Chickens don’t like to wear hats, huh? Who knew? Good to know. Did you get bitten trying?

  7. maggie says:

    Wonderful Karen! Now about the sandwich spread sammies? We had those as kids to. I hated it but we were lucky we did not have to have it in our sandwiches we had to take mustard sandwiches instead but I loved those and still do. Just sayin.

  8. Shari says:

    It’s after December 4th – need I say more? ok, it actually does look lovely, so no need to break your x-mas pledge.

  9. SK Farm Girl says:

    K – I have a question! Where on earth do you people find these mutated, freak-of-nature, larger-than-life, on-steroid pinecones??? They are the size of Texas! I live along the fringe of the forest and we do not have freakish pinecones like that!! Would someone be willing to send me 1/2 dozen of those puppies! BTW – the door looks fabulous! Oak barrel looks grrrrrrreat – might create a shrunken version of that using old nail kegs! Here’s to the eggnog season – cheers! PS – How many of you grew up with a table used specifically for folding laundry? Was watching a show the other day and they couldn’t believe how a person could fold laundry without a table in the laundry room used specifically for folding laundry . . . oh the hardships!

    • Karen says:

      SK – I bought the massive pine cones a few years ago at a garden centre. They were with all the Christmas stuff and they weren’t cheap. I can’t remember how much they were but I remember thinking *holy crap* I can’t believe I’m spending this much on pine cones. Having said that, they were probably only $5 each, but … I tend to be easy shocked when it comes to the price of stuff like this. ~ karen

    • cred says:

      Farm Girl- I believe the super-sized ones are called Sugar pinecones- perhaps from the sugar pine? Anyhow, my dad brought me one back from Florida years ago- he found while out for a walk. He told me there were tons (why I only got one, I’m not sure) But I will be requesting a bunch this year.

      So, if you have any Florida connections…..

      Karen- Simply Lovely!!!

    • Shauna says:

      They are indeed from Sugar Pines. They grow in the Sierras in California too, and every time my friend invites us to her cabin, I bring a couple back with me. Karen inspired me to get an acrylic block to display them upon — simple and beautiful!

  10. Brenda says:

    Oh rustic is nice…looks wonderful.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Brenda! I was inspired by the chickens, as I said. It’s hard not to go rustic when you have chicken crap around. ~ karen

  11. Deb says:

    You don’t need it. But you aren’t going to listen to me anyway :P


  12. RadioRedHead says:

    Absolutely LOVED this post! You are too funny!

    Also love the porch decor – no wreath required. I only WISH I was as organized as you, or took your perfectly good advice to get ready for the holidays early. (Haven’t started shopping yet). Sniff.

    Let me know if you are ever interested in beautifying a fan’s home. (a girl can dream right?!). I have an EXTREMELY long porch that could use some of your creative touch. Well pretty much anything at my home could use a little Karen magic. *Sigh*

  13. Laura says:

    I think your mother is as crazy as my mother for putting that barrel to the curb. Nice! Just one more reason why our next home will have a porch, even if I have to build it myself – be warned, I’ll be asking you for advice!

  14. Susan says:


  15. Kate S says:

    The boots really add a nice touch, all together I think my favourite part is the stack of logs with their pretty topper. Though I have grown to hate coloured Christmas lights, I will let this one pass.


    • Karen says:

      Kate S – Ooooo. See? I love coloured Christmas lights because no one has them anymore. Everyone has the white twinkle lights or the icicle lights. And you can’t get more old fashioned than coloured christmas lights. And as we all know … I’m an old fashioned gal. Um. Kind of. ~ karen

  16. Anemone says:

    I absolutely love your design. Your front porch is beautiful. It really is rustic and farmlike. Wow. I was wondering if that is a black door mat. And if so it looks familiar. Anyway, i bought a mat just like that (if it is) at a particular Hbc store.

  17. Lori says:

    Like it the way it is don’t change a thing!!!

  18. Karen Eggleston says:

    Have you considered crochet capes for the chickens?

  19. Tricia Rose says:

    I think your mother was ahead of her time with the whisky barrel.

  20. Stephanie says:

    Chickens don’t like wearing jackets, either. One of mine was plucked by the neighbor’s dog and now has a bald spot on her back and because she won’t wear the festive jacket I made her now she has to sleep in the house because it’s 10 degrees out. I should buy stock in Clorox wipes.
    Oh, and you don’t need a wreath. Your door is lovely. Cheers!

    • Karen says:

      Stephanie – That was a sad story. Beware of dogs apparently! Um. Where does the chicken sleep that she doesn’t fly all over? ~ karen

      • Stephanie says:

        She sleeps in the mudroom, and sounds very mournful- I never would have believed the sad sounds that a chicken can make (I think she misses her sisters). She’s just lucky that the dog is very old and can’t do much more than pull feathers out. It’s the second time it’s happened but it’s her fault, she keeps jumping the fence. Last time it didn’t take too long for the feathers to grow back, though.

  21. Marti says:

    I have no opinions about your decorating. But I do have one thought. This was some of the funniest writing you’ve done in awhile. Feel like I’ve been going along on Hershey Bars and suddenly got a Zotz thrown in.

    WOOHOO! Karen’s on a tear! EXCELLENT POST!

    I’m done now.

    • Karen says:

      Marti – Thank your lucky stars you get any funny at all. 5 “articles” a week is a LOT. I’m thinking of going down to one. One written post and then 4 days of pictures of my feet. ~ karen

      • Marti says:

        Are your feet that funny? I mean… looks aren’t everything, right?

      • I’ve just cut down to three and my traffic has improved. Wierd, I know, but I think my writing improved because I spend more time on each post. I dunno, it’s just my 2 cents.

        From a selfish point of view I would miss you though!

  22. Ooops…I think I’m a ding dong. I thought you were talking about whether or not you should keep the garland. Duh! Keep the garland…I don’t think you need anything on the door!! :)

  23. Pati says:

    I love it,Karen ! I think you did a BANG UP job decorating rustically… ;o)

  24. Nope. Keep it. :)
    It looks beautiful!!


    • Karen says:

      Thanks Evie. I shall consider your opinion carefully. I’ll probably leave it as is. I’ve run out of greenery and energy. :) ~ karen!

  25. redz says:

    Dangit Karen – how do you manage to make the most mundane materials absolutely magnificent??? I don’t know, but’s what I call ‘stupid clever:’ when something is so cute/gorgeous/clever/amazing/beyond fantabulous that you’re completely gobsmacked over it.

    You, Karen, are blessed with being stupid clever, in the very best sense.

    I, however, am just blessed with being stupid when it comes to things like this.

    I do have a cute little chair I found free by our dumpster sitting out on my front stoop. Can you throw me a clue for that?

    • Patty says:

      Hi! I am new to your feed and I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your writing. I work at home on the computer all day so no one around to talk to and reading your posts really entertains me. I am pretty creative myself when it comes to other people’s junk so I love reading your ideas. I was especially happy to find your instructions on making the table out of a tree trunk as I just had a 30 ft pine tree cut down and have some beautiful pieces. The only problem is they weigh as much as an elephant! Keep writing! I am sure everyone else enjoys you as much as I!

    • Hilary says:

      Hello, I love your rustic decor, just wondering how did you get the birch to stay in the barrel. We have strong winds and I dont know how it would stay in the barrel. Thanks

      • Karen says:

        Hi Hilary – Thanks! Because I have birch logs all around the perimeter of the barrel the weight is fairly evenly distributed so it doesn’t tip over. As for each log staying put, I jammed extra pieces of wood (2x4s, 4x4s, etc) into the barrel in between each log. That added with the spruce bows, etc. in the centre held everything in place. :) ~ karen!

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