Christmas House Tour 2013

Remember, wayyyyyy back to a week ago when I lied to you but didn’t know I was lying to you because at the time I was actually telling the truth?

Well, I’d like to explain that lie.

I told you that I would be paring down my Christmas this year. I thought at the time I typed those words they were true. In fact they WERE true.

Until 2 days later when Brett, an editor from Canadian Living magazine emailed me to ask if I was going big with my Christmas decorating this year.

Um. Sort of. I guess. Not really. I suppose I could. Crap.  Me no speaka di english.

7  really bad iPhone photos and a couple of emails later it was confirmed.  Canadian Living was coming to shoot my house for their Christmas issue to be published next December.

And they were coming in 4 days.

So as it turns out, this wasn’t the year that Christmas got pared down.

Instead, in fact, this turned out to be the year Christmas got jacked up.  I decorated until I had scars.

This is not a lie …  I found sparkles in my … well never mind.  But they shouldn’t have been there.

Behold Art of Doing Stuff readers, the Christmas House Tour 2013.


Dining Room Christmas Hall
White Christmas Tree
Christmas Buffet
Christmas Doe
Dining Room Christmas
Living Room

A military guard might seem like an unlikely Christmas ornament, but these little metal soldiers were my father’s when he was a little boy. They have enormous sentimental value. Plus it’s a good reminder that not everyone is sitting by the fire this holiday season.
Coffee Table
Christmas Tree
Cat Christmas


I’ll remind you all next year when the article comes out if you promise to remind me that NEXT YEAR is going to be the year of the pared down Christmas.  A year of rest, solitude and where every body part, and organ will be declared a sparkle-free zone.


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  1. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Love it! Leave it to you to pull something this BIG off and with such great results. Thank you for sharing all the special details. I love that your style is not stuffy or overdone. It’s truly beautiful and would feel right at home in your home. Do you provide lint rollers for sparkle removal?

  2. Nancy Blue Moon says: are good girl..I really like the little deer on the acrylic cute..and your Dad’s soldiers have great meaning to many people..past and present..Those are wonderful pictures of Cleo and Ernie..they are beautiful kitties..I hope they don’t un-decorate the tree for you like some kitties around here

  3. Auntiepatch says:

    Make sure they get the cats in SOME of their pictures!

  4. Danni says:

    Absolutely amazing! I will have just as nice a house.. When my children are gone. Who am I kidding ill be napping a lot lol.
    Love the glass table btw.

  5. Tres says:

    Your house looks beautiful and quite festive. I’m glad to hear you are looking beautiful and festive as well! A little sparkle *everywhere* is only appropriate this time of the year.
    Have a Merry Christmas!

  6. Ev says:

    Very nice! Your style is really refreshing-spare, clean, lots of white lights. The tree is great ( I am partial to the icicles-My crafty 91 yr old mother-in-law showed me how to make them out of beads). I hope Canadian Living uses the pic with the cat. Thanks Karen. Watch out for the sparkles!

  7. I feel like such a slacker! Everything is magical. I really love the crate of shiny ornaments under the coffee table and the soldiers on guard with the little gold trees. Nicely done that!

  8. JF says:

    GOR-geous, Karen

    and I love how your All-Out manages to be Big and yet also Classy — lovely from start to finish!

  9. marilyn says:

    looks amazing usual..and congrats!

  10. Tracie says:

    Absolutely breathtaking Karen! I love the armed guard, a humbling reminder……you are a classy broad, my dear, Merry Christmas! Next year will be a most deserved pared down Christmas. You could have a pajama Christmas dinner like my sister had last year. It was the absolute best, most relaxing Christmas dinner ever!! And I’m getting myself a gorgeous white tree for my dining room too, what a great inspiration you are….xo

  11. Sandy says:


  12. Sarah In Illinois says:

    Who can have their house ready for a magazine photo shoot in 4 days!?!?

    If you weren’t my idol before, you sure are now!

  13. Cindy says:

    Gorgeous! Will you come do mine?

  14. Bobbi says:

    Makes me want to curl up on your sofa with the warm blankie and sip the cup of whatever is sitting on your stump-table. Stunning, yet calming. A++. Well done.

  15. paula says:

    Karen, it all looks so lovely, what a fantastic home you have. I too loved the soldiers and their meaning. My husband is a police officer and in the early days of our marriage and young family he had to work every other Christmas. It made it hard to have start a tradition since each year was a bit different. I had started to buy a Christmas ornament for the two kids each year beginning with their first Christmas. We would give it to them on Christmas Eve as sometimes our daughter would cry that her Dad had to go to work and it would help to soften the blow. This is now something we do every Christmas Eve, the children unwrap their Christmas ornament and we include who else is at our table that night with their ornament. I find an ornament that represents something they have done that year or has some sort of meaning to them. This year our daughter is away working in the US over Christmas though we will see her at New Years. This tradition has helped connect and tie our little family as we have gone through the years. When my children eventually have their own trees, they will have a lifetime of ornaments to take to add and hopefully continue that tradition with their families.

    Thank you for sharing your home, it truly is beautiful. paula xx

  16. Leslie Zuroski says:

    Beautiful job Karen! Now, sit down and eat some chips.

  17. Lynn Rollins says:

    LOVE to see the soldiers, LOVE sentimental! What’s Christmas without sentimental? They’re the best part of the whole kit and kaboodle! I swore I wasn’t decorating either this year and I’ve decorated my regular house AND my vacation house…. the clean up part is the problem…. the decorating part is fun and fulfilling and sentimental! OOPS! I lied to, the 2nd thing that caught my eye was the fuzzy throw on the dining bench, I’ll be sitting there if Brett will hold me from behind, my old hurting back needs support, but that invites me. Merry! Hope your hoo ha is glitterless by now, unless you wanted to attract a …. eek. sorry! edit

  18. Kelly says:

    love the tree with just the white lights. guess what i’m going to do later today after a quick trip to Home Depot (my plan to hang a few red bulbs on my norfolk pine and call it a day having been nixed by my husband, who has no hand in decorating the tree)

  19. Awesome job. We’ve all gotten that call before. Except mine was from my daughter Friday night. We are coming tomorrow to do Christmas. Eh? Shopping,wrapping, cleaning,tree up,decorating,groceries and cooking all in one day. No time for lists, just get ‘er done. It went so well they came back for brunch on Sunday and decorated the tree.
    Merry Christmas.

  20. Jody says:

    Fantastic! Where do you get the clear Lucite blocks. I love those?

  21. Twyla Harkey says:

    Just gorgeous!!! Merry Christmas

  22. Tigersmom says:

    Nicely done.

    I totally failed at paring down this Christmas, even with my sprained ankle. Something about seeing ornaments and decorations that I didn’t put on one of the trees sparks my creativity and I must find a way to use them somehow.

    And what is it about cats and tree skirts? My favorite cat, may he rest in peace, was convinced that the Christmas tree was just an incredibly ornate water bowl with a built-in napping blanket made just for him. There is something very sweet about anything napping under the tree whether it be a cat, dog or that Idris Adobo guy (in your case) or whatever his name is.

    I love your sentimental reminder about our various military members, as well.

    If you want to leave your decorations up until after the spring garden is planted so you can rest, that’s ok, too.

  23. Carol says:

    Sooo beautiful. You are amazing. Love the cats and the boots by the tree. They make it look like home.

  24. Farquist says:


  25. jainegayer says:

    It’s beautiful, Karen!
    The mantel is my favorite but the christmas balls in the box under the table are a close second.
    Thank you for all the great ideas.
    Well done!

  26. JennyW says:

    Simply put – perfection (insert sigh here).

  27. Maureen Locke says:

    Absolutely gorgeous Karen. Every single bit of it. You have such a knack with decorating, something I always wish I had. I am the queen of clutter with not a wall or surface that doesn’t have something on it. However, this year for Christmas, all I have up is the tree. I’m too tired to decorate and it just means putting away “stuff” and hauling out more “stuff”. The tree is my favourite part and as long as I have that, I’m happy. :)

  28. Laura Bee says:

    Love it! Although for a second ~ I thought the pinecones were wasp nests! (It was late & I went to bed right after…)
    When are you going to share the outdoor shots?

  29. Wendy says:

    Love the soldiers and all the unexpected components. Absolutely lovely!

  30. Julia says:

    My favourite bit? The box of baubles under the glass topped table… Effortless, but beautiful.

  31. Kathy says:

    Karen– You are SO adorable that it pains me. I want to reach across the miles and give you a big hug. You are such a treasure, I just can’t even explain. After reading the first several paragraphs of this post, I thought, “ok…nice–pretty pared down, but nice.” But then came the big reveal which led to all the following emotions and exaltations–! Oh MY! Wow. …. woh!…….Wowie wow wow! Awwwww, cute…. Gasp… awwww……adorable……. Wow….. Oh my God!….. and then–being the mother of a darling daughter myself— I could not help but think….What t.* … is wrong with the expletive Fella???????…… This girl is a National Treasure! I don’t know why I went there, but I did.

    You take my breath away….make me laugh…..make me smile…..make me cry……make me want to be a better person and mother– like your dear drunken mother……. I just don’t even know. Good grief. Merry Christmas, Karen.

  32. Jane says:

    Congratulations on your article in next year’s December edition of Canadian Living Magazine! How exciting! Your home is lovely and certainly deserves the spotlight! Of course, I guess you should get some of the credit. After all your home didn’t get this way without your love and dedication. As for this post, I love your white tree. It is absolutely stunning! Thank you for mentioning our service men during the holiday season. They are so deserving of our love and holiday wishes. The pictures of your kitty are adorable! I’m so glad you included them.
    I hope you have a joyous holiday season and a very Merry Christmas!

  33. Rondina says:

    My favorite parts are the soldiers/trees and antler displays. I really like the box of ornaments under the glass table. I’ll probably copy that one. The tree is beautiful. If you are anything like me, the tree took an equal amount of time as everything else.

    I don’t think you pulled out all the stops. This is tasteful. Like it should be on the Tone on Tone blog. I mean, look at what you have done, then compare it to one of those HGTV “celebrity” Christmas shows. OMG. Gaudy, gaudy, gaudy. To me, they pull out all the stops and it looks like someone threw up Christmas.

    What I see are TWO CATS. I don’t remember these cats. I don’t remember you talking about these cats. No outdoor pictures. And we haven’t seen the coop in quite a while. Or the chickens. The coop decorations were especially beautiful and I suspect you got the porch ready also. I’m curious as to what is going on up there.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Rondina! Yup cats. TWO cats. :) The Siamese is Cleo and the bigger one is Ernie. I found Ernie on the porch in the middle of winter several years ago. I’ve talked about the cats before … a lot in fact, lol. They did take a bit of a back seat once the chickens arrived though! Outdoor shots coming up on Thursday. ~ karen!

  34. Cathy says:

    Well done, Karen! Congrats for being chosen and giving us a sneek peek. How ever did you get the felines to pose…a bit of catnip in the kibble perhaps?

  35. Becky says:

    I love the box of ornaments. I just recently was informed that my mother in laws collection of handblown antique glass ornaments are coming home… where we have a four year old person, a cat, and a very large dog in a very small house.
    Its a recipe for disaster, but if I put them in a display box, they are a little more protected than hanging on the tree.

  36. Allison says:

    Your home is gorgeous Karen! It is so beautifully decorated for Christmas. Congratulations on your magazine feature! I love that you have your father’s little soldiers from when he was a young boy. Sentimental touches are always so nice to have during the holidays. Your kitties are so sweet!

  37. Grammy says:

    Stunning. All of it. But your father’s toy soldiers is the most touching Christmas display I’ve ever seen.

    Your camera work is very nice — especially the shot of the living room with the tree reflected in the mirror. Thanks for it all.

    Will the “glitter in special places” make it into the magazine? Say it ain’t so.

  38. Sue T. says:

    Karen, it all looks lovely as usual …and it’s nice to see pic’s of your kitties again !
    I’m sure in the next few weeks you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor. I’ve always loved in the evening having only the candles lit and the Christmas lights on, laying on the sofa listening to soft jazz/holiday music. If I can watch it snowing at the same time it’s like heaven! Enjoy it.

  39. ruth says:

    It looks calm and soothing and lovely. Nice to see the kitties too. :-)

  40. Jean Thomson says:

    Fabuloso! Love all of it!

  41. karol says:

    Very, very nice, Karen. Your big tree is beautiful, I love the glass (I assume) icicles on it.

  42. Sandy says:

    Your home is stunning Karen, I actually love the military guard too. Every bit of it made me smile. Merry Christmas and thank you for all of your hard work. I can’t wait until next Christmas to see your pared-down decorations.

  43. KiwiKat says:

    So will Brett turn up to help you take it all down again, after putting you on the spot to get it all up? Huh? Yeah, that’s what I thought….maybe you need to go on holiday over Christmas. Come visit us in New Zealand. It’s the middle of summer, but we always have a spare seat at our table and because it’s summer and holidays, we’re all laid back and relaxed. Betty could come too. And the rest of your family (although I’d have to put out a call to get extra accommodation at that point)…
    :) You know you want to, right?

    • Karen says:

      Pfttt. I’ve already bought my ticket. See you in a day. ~ karen

      • KiwiKat says:

        Closer to two days to get here, but the spare bed is always made up….I live in the beautiful Bay of Islands in the far North of NZ – you can either kick back on the beach, out on the water or head to one of our amazing cafes – bother, I’m starting to sound like I should work for the local tourism organisation…I guess, given that this is where I live, it is only to be expected –
        Oh, and I have a new kitten that you can play with, so you don’t miss your fur-buddies too much!

  44. Amie Mason says:

    Two Christmas Trees!!! Holy crap, I can barely handle one! Nice work Kazza!

  45. Nicole says:

    Spectacular! (I liked the cloched lights and tree near the Picasso, too.) A wooden plane my dad made for my son make its way into much of my decorating for the same sentimental reason. Congrats on the Christmas photo spread!

  46. Marti says:

    Looks great. The tree is spectacular and I love-love-LOVE the burlap bunting. Congrats. Go float the excess sparkles down the tub drain.

  47. Susan says:

    Ha! You can pare down the same amount I pare down….not!! Beautiful, by the way!

  48. Cindy Marlow says:

    You did an amazing job. I think you work even better under a deadline.

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