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. Vikki says:

    I think your 2013 Christmas is my favorite. I love the silver table. I love your pensive cat. I love your little soldiers. I love the luscious garland with the grey ribbon. But most of all, I love the gold twig tree—I’ve coveted that ever since I saw it for the first time. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do for 2020. 🎄

  2. Sebrah says:

    How much for your house? I want it.
    Just for me, no kids or husband or dog to spoil it. I might let my cat and chickens move in.
    Leave the Christmas stuff and I’ll throw in a bonus.

  3. You can tell from this alone you dont have children. Its beautiful sophisticated, elegant and what i desire in my own home. No one has taken the lower third of the ornaments off your tree and eaten them. you have a beautiful basket of shiney brights within grabbing distance. UGH. a big part of me cant wait until they are older and I can do what I really want….

    Is your greenery fake or is some of it real?

  4. Jasper says:

    Karen I love your house.. You did a very nice job… Is that a picture of your grandmother in the dining room?
    She is very pretty..
    I just love your Blog, I look for it every day in my email.
    Thank You

    • Karen says:

      Hi jasper! No, that’s not even a relative, :). It’s a portrait of a Scottish woman I bought at an antique auction many years ago. Her name is Margaret. ~ karen!

  5. Karen says:

    Hi Karen – I’ve been checking out your website periodically over the past year and I’m finding my visits becoming more frequent. You’re so talented and witty! And I love your decorating style so much so that I think you should decorate as a sideline! Great job! I’ll continue to visit and want to wish you the happiest and most peaceful of holidays. Merry Christmas too (even though it’s not politically correct to say that.)

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Karen, lol. That’s O.K. I’m fine with Merry Christmas and say it myself when I know the person celebrates Christmas. There’s nothing wrong with that. Hope you keep coming by more and more often. ~ karen!

  6. Dana R says:

    How about a pared down January instead? I love your house. I could totally live there.

  7. Cussot says:

    Your dining room table looks absolutely beautiful!

  8. NikiDee says:

    J’adore the soldiers! Congratulations on the photo shoot ~ but its no surprise, you have an amazing ability. I didn’t see the “fairy” glas light thing-a-ma-bob that you recently created (those lights are now on my Amazon wish list – ummm thanks

    • Karen says:

      Heh. Sorry ’bout that. Look on the bright side. I could have convinced you to buy the $400 speaker lights! The cloche is on the sofa table in the living room. ~ karen!

  9. Sally A. says:

    It’s all beautiful! I especially love your tree!

  10. Irene says:

    Oh heck. Your house is so airy and light that now I don’t want to walk into my lounge and look. :-(
    My house is WAY overstuffed with furniture and STUFF, because when my mom died we ended up with all her things.
    Some I kept for sentiment, some I kept and tossed MY stuff because it’s better quality and the rest my husband refused to let me get rid of. Feeling soooo cramped!
    Gorgeous job on the decorating by a gorgeous lady for a gorgeous home!
    Such frantic work on your part has created such a serenity vibe; I hope some of that serenity seeps into you. Just chill now girl!
    Enjoy it. :-)

    • Karen says:

      Irene – Tell your husband he’s no the decorator in the family (unless he is) and get rid of stuff. I got rid of ALL my stuff 5 or 6 years ago and it changed my life. I now know where EVERYTHING is, and I never have that house falling in on me, claustrophobic feeling. Do it! ~ karen

      • Irene says:

        My poor husband. There is absolutely NO sign of him living here. :-)
        It started with me tossing his Iron Maiden posters (which I sort of regret now), to moving his tools, motorbike and car parts and other stuff right out of the house. Yes. The house. This is a man who, if he lived here without me, would have a stripped motorbike on the dining room table.
        Soooo, I will tolerate the excess but comfortable lounge suite and other such stuff, consoling myself that my kid will probably move out in the next few years and then she can move some of it out with her.
        Or I’ll rob someone for the funds to enlarge my house.
        Either will work for me.
        I did see your ‘toss everything’ post. Your ‘before’ was cosy if in a cluttered grannified way. Your ‘after’ BREATHES! :-D

    • Sally A. says:


      I am in the EXACT same boat! Except the furniture in question belonged to HIS mom…how can I ask him to get rid of it? I feel evil! But there’s barely any room to move in our living room!

      • Jennifer says:

        Irene and Sally, Karen is right! Just do it (to borrow a Nike ad)! You aren’t getting rid of your family or memories, just the furniture they bought to use in their spaces. If it’s not useful to you, let it be useful to someone else! (We’re not talking priceless antiques here, are we?) I just gave my grandmother’s sofa bed away to the Salvation Army and my living room has room to move now. Gramma would have agreed!

        • Irene says:

          Jennifer, not quite antiques but getting there. :-)
          Loads of 60-ish year old Imbuia, which I HATED while I was growing up, in my mother’s depressing biege, off white and brown house.
          It actually looks pretty cool now, in the same house, now mine, which is a riot of colour! The dark wood glows against my red lounge walls. I got a bit clever too, and asked my husband to turn her triple door ball and claw wardrobe into the TV/entertainment unit. People do a double take when they walk into the lounge and see a wardrobe, but I dig it; it works really well at hiding the giant-ass TV no one ever watches except for the odd movie on DVD.
          I have given away tons of stuff, but hey, life sometimes keeps throwing more at you. Maybe BECAUSE we keep giving stuff away. :-D

      • Irene says:

        Sally, I know, right?! One of the couches even ended up in my son’s bedroom! You must KNOW how many times I have moved stuff around in an attempt to find that ellusive ‘space’. Don’t even get me started on the BOOKS! I’ve given away what feels like thousands, stored loads more in crates in the ceiling (not even an attic, just a ceiling), and STILL don’t have enough shelving. :-D

  11. Barbie says:

    It’s lovely Karen! How was the shoot? I’m late in reading this.

  12. Agnes says:

    I really like the driftwood (?) thing holding the blue ornaments on your mantle. I swear I recognize it from an old post you did, maybe to hold eggs?…can’t remember what you called it though.

  13. Jen says:

    Wow! I love the swags on the beam! It gave me an idea for my arch.

    Well, if I can survive my final project part, final quiz, final exam, an art show, a new position, and holiday lights that need to be re-hung, that is so going on the to do list!

  14. Lovely! I love the touches of teal, the burlap and pine cones, and those antique soldiers. Great mix of old and new stylization!

  15. Sue says:

    You are such a talented woman! Your home is lovely and your decorations are so lovely!! I especially love the little toy soldiers. Great job!!

  16. Carole McGinnis says:

    You did an amazing job – I love the box of balls under the coffee table, the garlands, your fireplace, the trees, well…just about everything. Well done! Now you can sit back and enjoy the beauty of it all.

  17. Shauna says:

    A lot of great inspiration here. The least of which is the inspiration to clean up the house so I can make it look pretty for Christmas.

  18. Jennifer says:

    Understated, comfortable elegance. That’s the first thought that came into my head. Beautiful!

  19. Feral Turtle says:

    Your home is just stunning!!! You are the glitter queen and I am becoming the glitter princess. I just discovered the stuff and I am hooked.

  20. Jodie Coher says:

    Beautiful! Of course. I especially love the dining room table.
    By the way, are all of your walls really, truly white? I need to paint my house and I’m amazed at how cozy your home appears with white walls!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jodie – Yup. The walls are really and truly white, lol. It’s Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White which is a warm white. But make no mistake, it’s definitely white, not ivory or cream or off white. The warmth from white rooms comes from the textures and everything else you add to it. White makes a nice backdrop for everything you put in front of it.

  21. Linda S. in NE says:

    Truly Classy, Karen. Truly Classy!!

  22. Your home is awesome, Karen! Like many other commenters, I adore your little soldiers and what they represent. My father served in the military for 26 years and now one of my sons serves. We are thrilled that he will be with us this Christmas but never take that for granted.

    Hope your Holidays are filled with many blessings!

    xoxo from New Brunswick

  23. Deborah Griffin says:

    Karen, absolutely fabulous! I LOVE your taste! You and I would decorate the same way if I went through the same amount of trouble! BTW, where did you get the little gold twig tree on your credenza? Did you make it? If so, how? LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!!

  24. Marion says:

    Looks beautiful! It doesn’t seem overdone and unlivable as a lot of magazine homes look like.

    I, also, love the tiny soldiers!!! Very whimsical. And thank you for reminding everybody that not all families get to enjoy Christmas together. My brother is currently serving in the U.S. Army and will be in Afghanistan for Christmas (again) this year.

  25. Ella says:

    It’s all so beautiful, Karen. The tiny soldiers are my fave. Beautiful.

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