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Christmas House Tour, Domestic Imperfection Style

Merry Christmas Eve! I’m sure everyone is busy preparing for tonight and tomorrow, but I thought I’d finally pop in with my house tour just in case anyone is online.

I don’t know if y’all saw all the holiday house tours this month, but there are a ton of them. Evidently house tours at Christmas are a big thing in the DIY blog world. I have sifted through and looked at most of them, and I have to say…I’m impressed. Everyone’s house looks amazing, festive, cozy, and beautiful. Picture perfect. Each one of then looks like a dreamy place to spend the holidays. The big house tour parties are hosted by Jennifer Rizzo, Just a Girl, and The White Buffalo Design Company, each one is a parade of DIY blogger homes. There are over a hundred of them. Allow me to show you a few of my favorites…

This is Carmels living room over at Our Fifth House. Isn’t is breathtaking? Traditional red, green, gold, and silver Christmas decor is my favorite, and she does it so well. I love that gold trunk and cowhide ottoman too, I’m digging the whole “country glam” vibe.

christmas living room - our fifth house

Look at this flocked tree over at Four Generations One Roof. Amazing. Flocked trees are the best.


Ella Claire has s flocked tree and red accents in a country cottage. I think I love her.

Ella Claire

No, this isn’t a magazine, this is the living room of Laura at Finding Home (and it’s flipping amazing).

Finding Home Christmas Tour

This next one isn’t traditional and red, but it just might be my favorite. Traci from Beneath my Heart must have had me in mind when she created this area.

Beneath my heart home tour

I pretty much think that Kelly from Eclectically Vintage has the best mantel sign ever.


Hymns & Verses decked out her porch for Christmas. Oh you know, just little of this and a little of that…no big deal.


Now it’s my turn. You might be thinking that after I posted a few Christmas crafts last week that I would have some stunningly beautiful house tour for you. Not quite.

This was one of the pictures I showed you last week…

Christmas decor

But this one is far more accurate…

Christmas house tour

Every good Christmas house tour has a money shot that includes the tree, and mine is a good Christmas house tour.

Christmas living room

The kitchen, well…I use it. (For storing spray paint and spotlights, of course.)

Christmas kitchen tour

I could tell you that it was clean a few days ago and you just missed it…but that would be a lie. Anyone else have a love/hate relationship with packing peanuts?

packing peanuts

You can either immediately throw them in the trash before your kids spot them….or you can let your kids make a giant mess in hopes that they will forget about you for a while. The mess is always worth it at our house.

Here’s the current state of my boy’s room. They have spent the last week sick and throwing up, so instead of inviting those ticking time bombs into my bed I made a pallet and slept in their room.

boys bedroom

I may have been uncomfortable, but my sick boys slept like logs knowing I was in there with them. Worth it.

Even though those other house tours are beautiful and inspiring, doesn’t seeing my mess make you feel kinda warm and fuzzy inside? Like perhaps you’re not failing at Christmas after all?  Maybe next year I’ll put together a real Christmas house tour…but if that happens just know that behind the scenes my house (just like all those other blogger houses) is a lived in mess.

Let’s take a closer look at the tree though, cause I did accomplish that.


 So our tree isn’t a beautiful flocked work of art…it’s just a small, fake, pre-lit tree. It’s heavy with ornaments on the bottom and I don’t have anything to put on the top. It doesn’t have a pile of wrapped presents underneath because I haven’t gotten around to wrapping a single gift yet. Still I don’t think it looks too shabby, considering.

We don’t have a mantel, so I hung our stockings on the curtain rod. My mom made each one of these, mine when I was a kid, Adams when we got married, and the boys after they were born. Do you like how they get a little crazier with each addition to the family?


Let’s take a closer look at some of the ornaments, just for the heck of it. You know those trees that are full of beautiful, well-planned, coordinating ornaments? Our tree isn’t one of those.


What even is that first one? A bearded, smoking, kilt wearing troll? It’s been on my parents tree since I can remember and I claimed it when I moved out. That swan? same story. It’s hideous.  I painted that cat back in 1987, and  “Quail Man” is for Adam since his nickname is Quail.

And then there are a few photo ones…

picture ornaments

When we hung that first one on the tree this year I asked Elijah who those people were and he said “That’s mommy….and that’s Levi!” I don’t think he quite understands where babies come from yet, lol. Levi and my brother do look eerily similar, in his defense. That little gold ornament is me as a baby, and when I was a kid I would put it in the hand of the angel on top of our tree just to annoy my brother. He would eventually spot it and hang it in a less prominent place, then I would find it and put it back in the angels hand… and so on and so forth. Good times.

Let me tell you a little backstory on the actual tree. I bought it just after Christmas in 2006, when we lived in New York and Adam was in the Army. We lived in a tiny 350 sq ft apartment, and Adam had been deployed in Afghanistan for nearly a year. He was scheduled to return in February, which meant there would be no Adam for Christmas. So I decided that we would just postpone Christmas till when returned in February. I had a great name for our late Christmas, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. Just know that it was good. So I bought this tree after Christmas at the PX (Army Wal-Mart, basically) for like $8 or something ridiculous.

When Adam finally returned home safe in February I had our little apartment all decorated for Christmas. Now Adam and I aren’t really gifts people, in fact we have a deal that there is no expectation for us to buy gifts for each other for any occasion (like Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, whatever). We still celebrate, just not with gifts. But I had missed him so freakin much that year that I wanted to show my love in every way possible, including gifts. So I went crazy. Well, crazy for two young, broke, super practical newlyweds. I don’t remember what all I bought him, but I DO remember buying a (used) series of books (cause back then we had time for stuff like reading) and wrapping each one individually. I also remember buying him new undershirts and underwear (aren’t we fun?!), opening the packages, and wrapping each and every one. Anyway, he had a huge pile of gifts…that probably added up to less than $50. Haha, deployments make you a little crazy… as does 6 months of intense winter in upstate New York. When you put those things together you find yourself wrapping underwear individually to try and impress your husband.

Anyway, I want y’all to know that if you don’t have a beautifully decorated house, it’s okay. If you didn’t get out Christmas cards, bake up a storm, or have any time or desire to keep up with an elf on the shelf, that’s okay too. You are not a Christmas failure. Or maybe you are…but I’m right there with you :) I know that this time of year means different things to different people, but to me it means celebrating the birth of a savior. And you can celebrate that even if you don’t have extra money for gifts or get to be near family and friends. You can celebrate that no matter what. Because Jesus loves you no matter what. And who knows, you may just look back on your tiny Christmas, in your tiny cold apartment, with your tiny tree, when you gave your husband piles of individually wrapped underwear and think “you know what…that wasn’t so bad after all.”

Merry Christmas


Domestic Imperfection Home Tour

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  1. I’ve been going on the virtual Christmas house tours for weeks now as well. And you know what? I think yours is my absolute favorite!! It’s always refreshing to see a little bit of reality in home tours because come on, those houses can’t always look that beautiful 24/7. And your tree is adorable, I personally think that sentimental ornaments are better than plain old store bought ones, as they are much more of a conversation piece. Every time you look at one you think about the memories it holds. I bought a fake white tree a few years ago and I love it, because it works with any color scheme. this year i went with the non-traditional pink/blue/purple/lime green/silver ornaments, but the few that aren’t store bought are my favorite: my “baby’s first Christmas” one that I took when I moved out that reminds me of my mom; the pretty one covered in pearls that I made last year (that cost me more in burned fingers from hot glue than in actual components), and a couple I’ve received from friends. Since I’ve grown up I’ve really felt like Christmas is really more about time with family and good friends and that warm fuzzy feeling. If a room strewn with packing peanuts to keep the kids occupied for a little while and gives you some time to do your own thing makes you smile, then I’d say keep those peanuts coming. You should make an ornament out of some just for the memory :) Merry Christmas to you and yours Ashley and I hope you have a wonderful, family and smile filled Christmas!

  2. Great post Ashley! I love real life. Merry Christmas to me favorite online family and thank you for keeping Christ in Christmas!!

  3. Love the real life Christmas! Thanks for sharing with us. Love the underwear story too, we do all kinds of silly stuff sometimes!

  4. Your tour was my favorite of all that you showed. It shows that real people live there who love their two little boys enough to let them have toys in the living room and packing peanuts all over the house. And a crockpot on the counter with something yummy for dinner. Merry Christmas!

  5. THIS is why I love your blog! I am a single mom. I have a 4yr old little girl and a 3yr old little boy…and I just can’t keep up! Try as I may, when I clean one room they never let down on their mission to systematically destroy the rest of the house. It’s glimpses of real life like this that remind me that we are normal…and we are gonna have a Merry Christmas whether the house is clean or not! Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!

  6. i love you girl!!! You always bring the “real” to the blogging world, where it is MUCH needed. Thanks for sharing and for reminding us all the real reason for the season. I am all alone this year, no money, no gifts, no family or friends to celebrate with, but I still have faith and Christ’s redemption.

    Thank you SOOOOO much for sending the card and pictures to my mom, they made her day! Especially now, reading how sick the boys have been, I know it wasn’t easy for you to do. THAT is the true meaning of Christmas, God bless you and your beautiful family this Christmas and throughout the coming year.


  7. I didn’t follow much of the holiday home tours, they are beautiful but not something that ever fit in my life. Yesterday, I was smiling I had the house clean and looking just the way I wanted it for this year without too much work, how much can there be in 300 sq ft? Then I had my granddaughter ask to spend the night. She came in and announced she wanted to craft. Craft we did, all night and all morning until she left at 2 pm. Let’s just say I need to start all over again. It reminded me of when my boys were little. Always chasing after them trying to put the house back together before company arrived. I love your home and the honesty you show. The packing peanuts, while great babysitters they give me major headaches but I haven’t seen any in years.

    Your tree is probably my favorite tree ever because of all the sentimental ornaments you have up. Enjoy your holidays with your family.

    Merry Christmas.

  8. Ashley, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for the real-life behind the scenes tour of your home!!! While I enjoy looking at other homes I cannot help but imagine if real people lived there! I love the white furniture and how it’s all neat and tidy… but while I don’t have human children, my 5 pets and husband sure can do a lot of wrecking on their own!!! I would love to own something that looks like one of the tours, but know in my heart of hearts it will never be for me, for I cannot give up the animals, and I love to LIVE in my furniture!!!! I enjoyed your story about your Christmas tree… I’m sure many of us can relate! Mostly, however, I’m grateful to know I’m not a failure!!! I work nights as a Registered Nurse, and I am the sole worker in my home. Between work and life, I did not have time to put up a tree this year in a spot that it would be safe from 3 dogs and 2 cats! I always say, “next year”, but “next year” has yet to come! Thanks for keeping Christ in Christmas, and have a peaceful, warm, Merry Christmas yourself!

  9. thanks for keeping it real..right now my house looks quite like yours…I didn’t bake all that I usually do and my kids (ages 19 and 23) are a little miffed about that, but oh well…I’m choosing to do what I want this Christmas…wishing you and your family all the best this Christmas!


  10. Oh Ashley…. Thankyou so much for this post. We moved house a couple of weeks ago, so the house is a mess (less so after spending today unpacking). My five month old didn’t get anything from Santa, or even us. There is no tree. No gifts from each other. A very basic lunch. I don’t believe in God so we celebrate our blessings… and that is enough in the end.

    (And I love your pics… I would feel very comfy hanging out at your place).

  11. Best post ever. I love seeing houses done up as inspiration but seeing reality can be equally inspiring for those of us who don’t yet live in our magazine. Thanks!

  12. Thank you! This is awesome, and I love your “this is life” attitude! I can so relate. Both my attempts at baking this year turned out awful and ended up in the trash. We don’t have room for a huge tree so we bought a skinny one after Christmas last year and it is pretty bare-looking, but I just threw a bunch of ribbon on it and all our ornaments to try and hide all the holes! My husband says our tree is on a Subway diet. Oh also – when we were first married I did the “12 days of Christmas” gift-giving for my hubby and he got exciting things like underwear, undershirts, 4 kinds of mustard (haha), and office supplies. All individually wrapped! Anyway – thanks for keeping it real, such a breath of fresh air!!

  13. Ah, Ashley, this is why I love you! You are honest and real, and so funny. This Christmas house tour was a perfect breath of fresh air. We live in a two-bedroom suite, and we had 15 people over on Christmas day, all of them adults except for one newborn. We weren’t even able to sit at the table for dinner but had to have the plates in our laps. I got fired three weeks ago, and S’s paycheck got messed up the Friday before Christmas, so we didn’t even have a tree until Sunday, when one of our daughters showed up at the door with a huge, gorgeous one, along with tons of Christmas spirit. Most of our gifts this year were handmade, and our tiny place was an absolute disaster – the messiest I’ve seen it since the day we moved in – and you know what? Almost all our kids said it was their favorite Christmas so far! And we used to do the whole nine yards – perfect house, millions of gifts, cards, photo ops etc. It just goes to show what is more important, I think.
    I hope your little guys are feeling better, and that you all continue your warm and loving Christmas adventure! Thanks for being you and and not ever becoming “Domestic Perfection”…

  14. Best Christmas blog ever. Thanks for being “real.” I loved all of your pictures, from the laundry hanging over the chairs to the packing peanuts! “Perfect” Christmas pictures are nice, but “real” Christmas pictures are brave and amazing! God bless you and your family in the new year!

  15. “let your kids make a giant mess in hopes that they will forget about you for a while. The mess always worth it at our house.” This. is. my. life.

    I ALWAYS will take the mess to give myself 15 minutes of toddler free time. I feel like it makes me a terrible person for doing it when I am doing it, so I’m glad I’m not the only one haha! Also, loved your Christmas reality tour. In my crappy Christmas house tour, in the living room I had to move a giant castle tent from one place to another in order to avoid it being in photos. Bloggers are just really good at being sneaky.

  16. The first several pics are my DREAM holiday home. LOVE LOVE LOVE them. The ones of your house are like my ACTUAL holiday pics. Glad to know I’m not the only one. Maybe some day! *sigh*

  17. Love! Love! Love! You seriously crack me up and yes I do feel warm and fuzzy inside after seeing your Christmas home tour…looks much like mine with 5 animals (husband is a veterinarian) and a 10 year old and two 4 year olds! Try as I might, it ends up in chaos! Thanks for your posts!

    1. Yes, chaos is our way of life…and we don’t even have any pets!

      Funny story….I used to want to be a vet, so for shadow day one year I went and assisted our local veterinarian. Long story short, I “helped” him spay a dog and ended up passing out. I woke up in the waiting room quite a bit later and decided being a vet was not for me.

  18. Love your blog! Love the Christmas post! You are a real inspiration. God bless. I could never keep the house spotless with small children. Spending that much time on perfection is not worth it. Your children are here today and gone tomorrow. Enjoy them.

  19. Ashley, If there are awards in blogger land, you deserve one! Thank you for highlighting how easy it is to create a constructed view of someone’s life through social media and for not allowing yourself to be satisfied with the world seeing your life through the rose coloured and narrow view of the first photo! You rock!

  20. This is the best Christmas post I’ve read in a long time! True Christmas spirit and thanks for showing the real deal behind the scenes. You just got a new follower! You have a beautiful family:)


  21. I sent you an email today but have spent the rest of the afternoon browsing your site, and THIS post is just… spot ON. That Christmas in NY will live on in your memory much longer than a perfectly decorated one. Christmas is about the birth of a Savior and not our pretty, picture perfect houses. That is a hard thing for me to remember sometimes, when surrounded by beautiful, “curated” things on social media but living in the midst of my “3 young boys chaos”!! Thank you for this. Please repost every year ;)

  22. I know this is an old post and your house tours are probably all ‘grownup’ now but I loved this! I literally LOL in bed when I saw the picture of your boys in the living room!
    That’s what it’s like IRL. I can only imagine the work it took to get those perfect pinterest house tours to look like a catalog. More power to them!
    Honestly I like the real house look 10x better, makes me feel less bad:)

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