Christmas House Tour 2018.

Come on in!  Welcome to my Christmas House Tour 2018.  A simple Christmas.  Kind of.

In my defence I really did try to make it a simple Christmas this year. I even went so far as to only dedicate 2 full days to decorating as opposed to 3 or 4. I wrote it on my calendar and everything.

As you can see from the restraint on my kitchen cabinets I went simple here. Simple wreaths, no adornment. Done.  But those cabinets have been decorated with those simple wreaths for years. It was the rest of the house I had to try to rein in.

I’m going to let you know I didn’t exactly accomplish my goal of simple Christmas decorating. As it turns out, simple involves restraint.  In just the past 24 hours I’ve ordered 14 things I don’t need off of Amazon, eaten 3/4s of a loaf of bread and let a friend know what I really think of his decorating.  So.  Clearly I’m not an accomplished restrainer.

I am that person who goes to an all you can eat buffet and even though I don’t want to, even though it’ll make me feel sick and it’s gross, I pile my plate with foods from 7 different nationalities because I don’t want to miss out on something good.  I’ve dipped eggrolls in beef gravy.  I’m an abomination.

So doing actual “simple” Christmas decorating was never going to happen and you should really give your head a shake if you thought it was going to.  I mean even believing that I might accomplish a simple Christmas well … , that just looks bad on you, not me.

Having said that, I did absolutely bring things down a  notch this year.  Just a bit.  Just so I don’t feel quite so overwhelmed by it all.

I’m sure you know what I mean. You love your house filled with Christmas decorations for the first week or two and then they slowly start to bug you.  Close in on you.

You develop Christmas Claustrophobia. 

So I didn’t put out a lot of the little things this year. Like the vintage ceramic salt and peppers.  Or the vintage elves that I really do love a lot and would actually look great on my new kitchen hardware cabinet now that I think of it.  Hmm.

Speaking of the new kitchen hardware cabinet – I love it even more decked out for the holidays.

That’s one real (the long needled pine) and one fake (straight from Ikea) garland on the top. I bought real pine rope and cut it in half.  One half is on the cabinet and the other half is in the backyard staying fresh.  When this one dries out in a couple of weeks I’ll replace it with the fresh stuff hibernating in the backyard.


The bottom shelf of the cabinet holds my kitchen appliances like my ice cream maker, Sous Vide Supreme machine and Kitchen Aid which look a bit messy, so I’ve attached a few tension rods to the cabinet and just threw some holiday print tea towels over them.  Later I’ll probably make linen curtains for it, or something out of vintage aprons.

ALERT!  As of the moment that I’m writing this post,  my Cuisinart Ice Cream maker is on sale for $200 on  (not sadly)  That is a great, GREAT deal.  It’s wayyyy less than half price.  It’s a really good ice cream maker because it has a compressor built into it.  That means it freezes the ice cream as it’s making it. (You don’t have a bowl you have to take out and store in the freezer)

You can see if it’s still on sale by clicking this link to it on Amazon here.

So that’s the kitchen. Not overly simple but not overly over the top either. I do not feel Christmas claustrophobia in this room.

Onto the dining room!  Walk this way ….

I did two things in the dining room to simplify the decorating this year.

  1. I didn’t put any ornaments on the tree.  Just greenery and some sparkly branches.
  2. I didn’t decorate the shelves other than two black, glittery reindeer.



If you want to go with the least amount of waste with your Christmas decorating, decorate with food.  Nuts, oranges, chocolates.  You can’t go wrong with the big 3.  They make any room look festive plus you don’t need to make room for storing them in your basement. You instead store them in your handy stomach.


Beautiful and delicious.  Unlike eggrolls dipped in gravy.

No ornaments on the tree meant less time to decorate it and it’ll mean less time to put it away.

Here’s where simple got hard.  For the past few years I’ve had a huge, massive garland on my portrait of Margaret. You can see it in this post from my Christmas House Tour of last year.  I had strung together 3 or 4 different fake garlands to make one ginormous garland, and then I wove gold leaves, beads and ornaments through it.

It did not scream simple.

So I had to take  a few garlands apart and dumb it down a bit.  Have you ever tried to untangle 4 swags of garland entangled with beads, lights and glitter?  It’s a shitshow.

Wanna see the foyer?

That’s pretty simple, right?

If you missed it the first time around, in the background, on the buffet, those are my DIY wax dipped amaryllis bulbs.  No water, no dirt, no nothing, and FUN to make.   Here’s how to make them.

When I went into this whole “simple Christmas” mindset my goal was to decorate only with candles, greenery and twinkle lights.  I’ve done fairly well with that resolve but it ended with my Christmas tree.  The real tree, not one of the fake ones in my house.

I really wanted to do the tree with just  lights on it but then I remembered the dried oranges from last year and I just had to use them again because I love them.

I was stunned and amazed when I opened the bag I stored them in and they still smelled like orange. They’re darker than they were last year but they still look great.

Here’s how to make those dried orange slices for your tree.

And then there were the candles that I made last year. These are NOT the thing for you to make if you like everything straight and perfect because no matter what you do these flip and flop.  At least they do on a real tree.  They might not on a fake tree.

The last room in the tour is coming up, the living room.

First of all, I’m not a big pom pom fan but I bought this pom pom blanket because it was SO soft. Again, I’d normally  have some sort of official Christmas doodad on the end table but went with a few sprigs of pine.


The only thing that hurts my heart more than a homeless kitten is a flatscreen over a fireplace.  But for now that’s the only place to put it.  I’ve tried it other places and it just looks so messy.

The living room is in transition right now so it’s not at its best but hopefully it’ll all get straightened out with a new couch and furniture placement n the New Year.

The chair.  It’s my spot. I can see outside with the windows open and if I just swivel around a bit I’m staring right into the fire.  It’s. My. Spot.


Directly across from my spot is this.  The spot that I have so far refused to stick a chair into because it would make the room feel squished.  I may break down one day and have a chair there but for now I like looking at this view.  My rickety saddle stand and old saddle.

Like I mentioned earlier, decorate with food. I’ve already gone through an entire bowl of these mixed nuts in the shell this season (see aforementioned issue with restraint).  So I guess my decorating style this really really boiled down to candles, greenery and food.

O.K., and the odd Christmas tchotchke.

O.K.  Tour’s over.

To put it all in perspective, take a walk with me through my house.

Everyone put your shoes back on and get out.  I have some vintage elves to find.

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←


Christmas House Tour 2018.


  1. Mary says:

    Beautiful as usual.
    I breathe easier when Christmas decor is kept simple. How do you keep all of your garlands in place? Mine are forever slipping off and out of place. I always worry they will crash down breaking everything in their path!
    I will definitely be drying oranges this week-end to put on my kitchen greenery.
    I love all of your decorating ideas!

    • Karen says:

      I’m not sure how I keep the garlands in place, lol. On top of mirrors and picture frames, I have tiny finishing nails to hold them in place, but everywhere else they tend to just stay put. ~ karen!

  2. amanda says:

    So beautiful! Thank you for another year of amazing ideas, motivation, and being the funniest person in the blogosphere! You add wonderful-ness to the world, something we need so badly. Keep on keepin’ on Karen! Here’s my Jack helping with the decorating….

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi Karen! Restraint is not my middle name! My sister ordered a light kit with plastic bulbs that stick into holes for a ceramic Christmas tree in her room and we have extra. We talked just now and decided with the extra to make a gingerbread house and a Christmas scene to go with it from yours truly! How can you have a miniature gingerbread house without gingerbread people, snow and possibly Santa, his sled, reindeer and more snow? I have Christmas decorating issues!

    • Karen says:

      I don’t think you have issues, it all just seems logical to me. I’ll be kind of disappointed if you don’t figure out a way to make it appear as though the sleigh and Santa are suspended, flying above the gingerbread house. ;) ~ karen!

      • Sarah Padron says:

        I was thinking that as well!! I was thinking fishing wire potentially and also have holly jolly Christmas in the background!

  4. Deb says:

    It is STUNNING!!!

  5. Bonnie Gutierrez says:

    Your home is warm and cozy with just the right touches. If you feel you’ve gone a bit over the top you could always cut the pompoms off of the throw and it will have minimalist fringe!

  6. Denise says:

    Your home is overflowing with hygge. So comforting and cozy. Wishing you happy holidays and a new year filled with peace and contentment.

  7. Christi says:

    All the greenery is very inspiring. I googled “DIY pine garland” and found this video … which is a tad disingenuous because they say “handmade” when they are CLEARLY using a machine thingy to twine wire around the greenery! Still, I’ll probably attempt a small length by hand.

  8. Kristi says:

    Chocolates as decoration?? Why, that’s about as logistically safe as decorating with twelve pets in the family (not including the two-leggers)! Even HIDDEN, my stash keeps disappearing…

    Our tree has ONLY lights on it, some of the nativities are on display IN the box, and anything round, sparkly, or light enough to knock around or carry off remains packed away. I love all my rescues but they’re complete jerks. I have to put branches back on the tree every morning as it is! Simple is BEAUTIFUL because I can love everyone instead of stressing over the destruction ❤️

  9. sheryl powell says:

    I believe that new kitchen cabinet piece is the most stunning furniture piece I’ve ever seen. It is perfect.

  10. Marcia says:

    I love every single room. Just elegant, gorgeous, and oh so restrained!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Marcia. I’ll probably go so over the top next year that you can’t even walk through a room without knocking something over, but for now … I like it this way. ;) ~ karen!

  11. p says:

    I’m laugh crying because you blew the candles out!
    It’s all lovely!

  12. Susan Hillman says:

    Karen, I so appreciate your emphasis on (and cheerleading for) natural decorating items. They really are so beautiful, healthy, and if not edible, compostable.

  13. Addie says:

    Love all your decor. Sometimes simple is more.
    I have a solution to smelly blown out candles……they do make for a pretty picture but they are dirty and smelly. When you are ready to blow out your candles for the night….take an opened out paper clip, with the curved part dip the lighted (flame) wick into the melted wax. Flame goes out. Then straighten the wick back up straight. Flame is out and NO smoke or smelly. AND it is actually better for the the wick and the candle. Maybe you just did it for the picture which is nice…..but smelly.

  14. Ardith says:

    It’s all perfectly beautiful, Karen. Cheers and Merry Christmas, Ardith

  15. Nicole says:

    I remember reading somewhere that TVs over fireplaces is a bad idea because the heat from the fire is bad for the flatscreen? Not sure if that’s actually a thing, but I remember thinking “gosh, good thing I have neither!” :) I may need to make some dried orange slices, because I think cats dislike the smell and maybe that will prevent my felines from chewing the pine needles (and then throwing them up! Ew!). It might look weird to have the bottom third of the tree covered in orange slices, but if it prevents that situation, it’s worth it!

  16. Karen says:

    LOVE your tour and your decorations. I would love to see the vintage elves…

  17. Peggy Grobmyer says:

    Lovely, just lovely. Merry Christmas!

  18. Jane says:

    The kitchen pig needs a Santa hat. Just a suggestion.,

  19. Valerie says:

    While I appreciate the classy restrained decorating. It’s beautiful. I would love to see your house decorated over the top. It’s Christmas. And the only time I like an excess of natural Christmas cheer. Garlands and wreaths and sprigs of berries hooray! And the feeling of peace and space come January when the decorations go away is so freeing and energizing.

    • Karen says:

      Well, I’ve been decorating it pretty over the top for years. :) I really do find it oppressive by the middle of December. Kind of like I want to throw it all on the front lawn and burn it. ~ karen!

  20. Lynda Loy says:

    Love your decorating ideas for this year! I believe I wIll go the simple way too this time. Just lovely! Appreciate all the ideas and laughter you have brought my way this year! Merry Christmas!!

  21. Diane Amick says:

    I really really really really miss your giant mirror with 500 garlands on it. That one piece is always stop me in my tracks stunning. So…..I guess you did simplify this year …unless you just didn’t want me to drool all over your mirror.

    • Karen says:

      It’s still there, I just ran out of light to photograph it this year. But it *is* in the video. I did the same thing as I did with the portrait garland though, I simplified it so it wasn’t so … much. :) ~ karen!

    • SH says:

      That mirror garland last year was my favorite decoration of all the holiday decorations–loved it.

  22. Barb says:

    Thanks for the tour. Looks lovely. Merry Christmas!

  23. kelle says:

    So great! That large cabinet was worth every penny…it has such a “wow” factor! I love the simplicity of the decorating…seems like many of us are going this. Simplicity in decorating, simplicity in our lives. I love it!

  24. Mary W says:

    ADORE the festive food tree and how the new floors look in the dining room. But, decorating with a big white pole and big white balls? Are you OK? One year I made dried oranges and grapefruit slices and a grand wreath. It was gorgeous and I gave it to my brother as a gift. He proudly hung it over his dining room door. Then he had to take it down since it got black mold that spread to his wall required a deep cleaning and a new paint job. I saw him remove his name from the hat this year when we drew names for gifts. Florida has it’s beyond beautiful beaches but they come with humidity levels in a constant 90 or above. I guess I’ll stick to plastic slices but really love your natural look this year.

    • Karen says:

      Big white pole? You mean the antique church pillar in the corner? And I have no idea what the big white balls you’re talking about are, lol. I was amazed at how well the oranges slices kept from last year. No black mould but I’ll keep my eye on them now! ~ karen!

  25. jaine kunst says:

    Classy and cozy! Well done!

  26. Bunguin says:

    OMG THAT END TABLE!?!?! With the ‘end grain’ twigs…. is that a DIY? That is gorgeous and I really need to know how and why and where it came to be (from).

    • Karen says:

      It was from Homesense from years ago. It’s a copy of a French designer table. I was going to make my own but then I found this one and bought it. What I love about it is that it has a HUGE drawer. ~ karen!

  27. judy says:

    That is magical,so calm and elegant. Thanks for all of the happy laughing out loud informing moments you have gifted me. I wish I could give something back of equal value-lacking that may all your wishes come true and the merriest of Christmases.

  28. Julie says:

    I just discovered your website when I searched for “diy wax dipped amaryllis bulbs”. So glad I did as I enjoy your writing style even more than your great ideas. I laugh as I see myself reflected in your thoughts! This is our first year in a new home in a new section of the country and we won’t be home at Christmas so I too am trying to simplify. And not doing too well! (PS the moving van delay of 5 weeks in storage in Arizona resulted in all my Christmas candles melting together in some sort of blob-who knew I can now recipe and cover my amaryllis bulbs)

    • Karen says:

      I think I’d almost want to preserve the candle blob under a glass dome as a memento from the hellish move, lol. Welcome to my site Julie! ~ karen

    • Marmaloo3 says:

      A Christmas candle disaster? You MUST listen to The Vinyl Cafe’s Stuart McLean reading “Christmas at the Turlington’s” (it’s on YouTube). It’s a Canadian classic.

  29. Brita Barlow says:

    That’s funny, my tree doesn’t have any ornaments on it this year either. Just ribbon, berry sprigs and burlap poinsettias. I did dump some ornaments in a serving tray with pillar candles and put them on the coffee table. Other than that my decor is basically just candles and greenery too.

  30. Jody says:

    Your annual Christmas house tour is always my favourite. So inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  31. Cathy Reeves says:

    Just the right amount of restraint and not; Christmas Trees are supposed to be extra decorated. I can still see air between the branches so it’s perfect. I fact I think your rooms still ‘breathe’ don’t you?
    One thing I didn’t get though is the pole-thing by the cuckoo clock.
    And if you truly hate the tv over the mantle ( I’m not a fan either) you can save your dollars and get one of those TVs that turn into art when turned off.
    Knowing you, you’ll come up with a frame and construct it with your very own black-tipped fingers.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Yes, I love Samsung’s The Frame. It still isn’t ideal because I don’t even like the high up angle of the TV there but it would be better. The pole is an antique church column, lol. ~ karen!

  32. Teddee Grace says:

    Really like this! And those floors you worked so hard on look terrific!

  33. Terri says:

    Merry Christmas

  34. Bonnie Harris says:

    Merry Christmas Karen, your home is beautiful and thank you for sharing your ideas and humour throughout the year.

  35. Mary says:

    Love it. I love all the fantastic pieces you have found over the years.
    Have you thought about a Samsung frame tv that looks like art when not on as a tv. That would be perfect there.

    • Karen says:

      YES!! I have, lol!! I keep waiting for them to come down a bit more in price. The smallest one isn’t a bad price but when you get the next largest one up it’s over $2,000 and I just know every year they’re going to get cheaper and cheaper. ~ karen!

  36. whitequeen96 says:

    Beautiful, as always! Yet I could imagine myself actually doing this (although I’m probably kidding myself). Usually, I feel overwhelmed with hopelessness, knowing there’s no chance of accomplishing anything half as ambitious as you do. So thank you!

    As for that spot in your living room, where you’ve refused to stick a chair because it would make the room feel squished? What about placing a bench there? You have that nice one you used to have in the kitchen. I think it would look great there!

    • Karen says:

      It’s about twice as long as that wall. :) That bench is actually on the other side of the dining room table. In fact, that’s what it was made for. I often have it there in the winter with sheepskin on it. ~ karen!

  37. Kathleen says:

    Just beautiful! What a happy house. And kitty!

  38. Laura says:

    Merry Christmas, Karen!

  39. Elaine says:

    It’s absolutely gorgeous, Karen! It reminds me of the many beautiful interiors shown in Country Living magazine combined with a classy Ralph Lauren ad in a glossy magazine … an elegant, yet country, welcoming style. I love it! Merry Christmas!

    • Karen says:

      Well that’s perfect, thank you for saying that because I was absolutely channelling my inner Ralph Lauren! ~ karen!

  40. Lavada C Shaft says:

    I think it’s lovely. Very inviting, warm and homey.
    Very simple (for you), yet elegant.
    Très bien!

  41. Tina says:

    Ah, it looks amazing! I’m all impressed!

    This year I did outside deco but the only thing I did inside was my vintage toy truck (like yours!). I set it on the table with a mini wreath tied to the front and a tree in the back. The tree is gone and the wreath is muck. And it’s all because of Bob Marley, my new apprentice kitten. He’s very foolish and playful and nothing that looks fun lasts long.

    • Karen says:

      OH! He’s beautiful! Is he a breed or a regular multi mix cat? ~ karen!

      • Tina says:

        He’s a shelter cat, I’m in MA and we get truckloads of animals brought up here from high kill states, Georgia, the Carolinas, Texas, etc. He’s just one of many. He was quite sick when he arrived but not contagious so I fostered him (and others) and, when they were well, they went up for adoption. Except Bob Marley.

        I believe he might have some Bengal in him, his markings look like it, he’s long and thin, he’s very affectionate and not at all timid, and he adores water! When I take a shower, he comes in with me and sits on the seat to bat at the water drops.

    • Thera says:

      It must be the name! I adopted a kitten back in March and they named him Marley (as in Bob) and he is just full of it too!
      And I agree, a gorgeous cat!

  42. Kipper says:

    It looks excellent!

  43. Karen Hamilton says:

    Open that Jameson’s and have a swig for me! ;D

  44. Sue says:

    Love the simplicity!
    I also love the kitchen/hardware tool cabinet. My favorite of all your pieces of furniture.
    I am inspired now to at least put up the single string of lights outside that we do every year and add some decorations to the bookcase. Must get a tree 🌲.
    Thanks for the tour.

  45. Megan says:

    Have you tried to frame your tv?? Might make it more make it more cohesive having an antique gold frame around it.

    • Karen says:

      I’ve actually put a halt to all things gilded and antique coming into the house, lol. I’ve played it up for Christmas, but I’m trying to keep a good balance of antiques and mid century. I don’t think there’s much I can do to improve the big black hole over the fireplace. :/ ~ karen!

      • Beth says:

        It needs a Karen-original cabinet covering it.

      • Eileen says:

        What about a fabric hanging of some kind, split in the middle on those swing-arm curtain rods? No idea if that would work in real life (like if those rods come in the right size, move the right way), but it just popped into my barely caffeinated brain.

      • Sue, a different one says:

        Just fyi, Samsung is now selling an art frame tv. It’s edged like a frame and you can choose a screensaver that’s art for when you aren’t watching. If I needed a tv

        • Karen says:

          I’ve had my eye on that tv for a couple of years. I still prefer it not over the fireplace though. :( Even with its fancy art frame. ~ karen!

  46. Tracy says:

    Beautiful as always!

  47. Janie says:

    All lovely…as usual. Are you tired of the caned chairs yet? I’ll drive up from Texas to get them out of your way…ha ha.


  48. Oh, I just LOVE it!

    Thank you for being our friend these many years!

    Merry Christmas to you!


  49. Colleen K. says:

    Love your foyer tree!!!

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