Good Enough Christmas Decorating For When Life Isn’t Perfect. Because isn’t that Always?

simply easy christmas decorating

Welcome to our home! If you are new here from Chris at Just A Girl we are so glad you stopped by. If you are old here, then today I’m joining in a blogger Christmas tour of homes that will last all week. And I won’t pretend like I didn’t wait until the last minute to snap these photos. It was yesterday in the gloom when I had the house in order enough to hide the piles, decide that dog hair doesn’t show up in photos and take a few close ups.


After six years of writing a decorating blog while in a rental and paying off debt, this is our first Christmas in our new little farmhouse. In August we moved to the country on 12 acres to a little fixer-upper built in 1987.


fireplace before

Here’s what the fireplace looked like when we closed. I took the mantle down to paint but then, yesterday, as I was standing with 30 feet of heavy garland in my hand I realized I needed another surface for candles and greenery and I was so happy that I was too lazy to remove the two large screws that held up the corbels that supported the mantle back when I painted. I had painted over them and they were as secure as ever. Up went the mantel!

Christmas Mantel


In the pictures everything looks so calm and simple and cleared off. Which is something I long for.




But the truth is you only see what I show you.

I’m not showing you closeups of all of outlets sans covers, or the extension cord that our range is plugged into or the dolly that it is still sitting on. I’m not showing you the green pool or the telephone poles that run through our yard or the pink toilet in the boys bathroom that I’m guessing isn’t flushed. I’ve only hung three things on the wall because we knocked down walls and there will still be hammering and drywall dust this very week. So we are living lightly in this house right now.

So I’m mainly showing the parts that feel done and peaceful and put together.

Because when things aren’t perfect, which is always, you have to choose what you are going to focus on.

Actually, you GET to choose what you are going to focus on.


look closely, see the spots on the wall that aren’t gold? those are drywall repairs from doing work on the wall directly behind, fresh paint coming soon, hopefully! For now the gold dots say ‘look at me!’







When I turn around from snapping a photo of the Christmas tree, I see this. And that is normal. And that is okay. And isn’t that exactly how life is?

Christmas will still come. Ready or not.

weary world rejoices

I learned years ago that when decorating for Christmas starts to feel like a burden that’s a red flag.

A red flag that I’m grateful for because why in the world do I keep doing something that usually ushers in joy if it’s causing me a bunch of stress?

So I simplified my Christmas decorating.







The year I simplified and snapped photos for the blog, Better Homes & Gardens contacted us and our home with the simplest, humblest, most inexpensive Christmas decor is featured in this years Christmas Ideas Issue. 

I knew it all along but that feature became proof to me that even on a limited budget, even in a rental house, even without decking the halls to the point of exhaustion, you can still create beauty wherever you are. Because every imperfect home has a silver lining.


Decorating is like placing arrows around. “Look here. And now here.” And anything you don’t want to see you either don’t put an arrow pointing to it, or you simply put an arrow in front of it. And anything you want to accentuate, you make sure it has a big arrow.








Thank you so much for stopping by our imperfect, average home. Be sure to click over to the next tour, Cassie from Hi Sugarplum, here’s a picture from her beautiful home…


And Jen from Tatertots & Jello…


Thanks so much to Chris for hosting the Tour, be sure to stop by her house too…


Sidebar photo ChristmasHouseToursidebar_zps30afa66a.jpg
And you are invited to join us for the 5th annual Christmas Tour of Homes for anyone to link up to here at the blog next Monday and on instagram using the ridiculously long hashtag #idhtbptbbchristmas
(it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful Christmas)
tour of homes


{If I get questions in the comments I’ll add to the sources list}
Herringbone Cowhide & Other Rugs
Leather Chairs
Weary World Canvas
Grandfather Clock
Gold Dots
Baby it’s Cold Outside Pillow
Pom Wreath & Garland
Antlers & Painting the Fireplace
Furry Throw: HomeGoods
Need more Christmas inspiration?
Lindsay from White Buffalo Styling Co. started her Christmas tour today too!
white buffalo
related posts:
Chirstmas Giftwrap from our Better Homes & Gardens photo shoot
Last year’s rental house decorated for Christmas & featured in Better Homes & Gardens

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  1. Looks great! I like it! :)

  2. Sigh. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read today. Our house is for sale and well over 95% of my Christmas decorations are in my parents’ basement and I’m trying to make do and make festive…. Thank you so much for this timely post!

  3. Very simple and well put together. I love everything about your style and can’t wait for your book. I said At the Barn that I felt like I knew your bust personally. (ha, ha, ha…I really crack myself up)

  4. love your home.
    every detail.
    so simple yet so stylish…..
    digging what you’ve done in this new house.

  5. Your transparency is balm to my weary soul. We have had the amazing blessing of a kitchen renovation this year. I lose sight of the beauty in the nearly-done space while focusing on the lack of trim, absence of switchplates, occasional appearance of a ladder, lack of a few door knobs, constant presence of tools, and yet-to-be-adorned walls. THANK YOU for being real, and helping me refocus on what is already beautiful….especially during Advent.

  6. Amazed at how settled you can look in your home in such a short amount of time (if only in photographs! Still pretty impressive.) Merry first Christmas in your new house.

  7. Love it all!

  8. Love your simple look for Christmas. Five years ago I started letting my kids decorate the house. THey were 20, 15 and 11 and oh yes, they have Down syndrome. Up go the nutcrackers, creche and various other decorations. It looks great and is enough.

  9. Did you hide your heater turner-on-er thingy under the star?

  10. Love the fireplace makeover! Beautiful home and love the leather chair with that pillow! :)

  11. Please tell me you’re leaving the mantel wood! It looks FANTASTIC! Love, love, love it! :-)

  12. the first decor post that’s ever choked me up?
    because everything about is so gloriously, messily, *right*
    I love everything about this… and you.
    my word, I thank Jesus for you, M.

  13. i adore you. everything you touch is beautiful.

  14. Hi! I love your style, period. But, I am in lust with your herringbone looking rug. What in the world is it made of exactly and where in the world did you acquire such awesomeness, may I ask? All I want for Christmas is THAT rug!

  15. What a great post to read right now. I’m finishing report cards, painting the dining room chairs, trying to make teenaged boys do laundry, making enchiladas AND trying to figure out what to do for Christmas decorations (because I’m tired of what we’ve got). My plan was to find calm and peaceful. And I found your great post. Thanks for reminding me that simple is beautiful and life is good!

  16. Beautiful home, even in process:) may I ask where you got your leather chairs? Gorgeous shape and color I’ve been loping for! Thanks.

  17. going simple is a gift to yourself and to others. You can be more of who God intended you to be during the season! I love it!

  18. perfectly beautiful! Love how fresh the fireplace looks now!

  19. I’ve had a paper source magazine tab off for months. They have these paper placemats that are gold polka dots. I had an idea to do my daughters wall like the placemat, and than house of smith came out with these gold dots…I was like “its on like DONKEY KONG!” I’m simply waiting for my hubby to repaint her walls white. I’ve been so excited to do it. Than I few weeks ago I saw your blog post…and you did it. I was totally bummed, buuuuttt I love it, and it’s just as cool as I thought it would look.

  20. BTW where did you get your dots from?

  21. This made me laugh. Thanks for being real. Beautiful vignettes!

  22. This is exactly what I needed to see and hear right now. I have been feeling so down about my home! Thank you for showing that bloggers are real people with real homes and real messes!!! By the way, I am totally obsessed with your polka dot wall and have been wanting to do something like that for a while. You may have just given me the push I needed. Thanks!!!

  23. Well, as I suspected, I’m in love with every single inch of this tour! Not sure how you made a house under renovation look so spectacular, but you pulled it off, friend! Beautiful! Thank you so much for joining.

  24. I can so relate to the need to simplify and knowing the red flag of Christmas Decorating Stress. Who needs stress from Christmas decorating? It’s supposed to be fun, I made it un-fun for way too long. Your new house looks so pretty, fresh, simple yet loved and decorated, your ability to pull it all together is wonderful and thank you for sharing not only your home but your beautiful perspective!

  25. Thank you so much for being so real. It is nice to know that everything isn’t always picture perfect. Makes me feel much better!

  26. Your beautiful imperfect house has inspired me to want more. I have been unsettled for months and your writing just makes sense to me. Your house is gorgeous and I now get it… Peace, family and simplify – that is what the holidays are about. Thank you Nester.

  27. For a home that is in flux you sure made it look like the holidays are still an important time for the family.

  28. Love love love everything about it! Perfect. And your article in BHG Christmas Ideas is just lovely. I read the whole article last night. love!!

  29. Thank you for this wonderful post, M. Merry merry Christmas to you and yours!

  30. I love your home and more importantly, I love your attitude. Couple of questions: What does it say on the clock? and did you make the chevron area rug?

  31. I was JUST saying the same thing……I am really simplifying my decorating this year due to just too much going on. I have added a small hint of Christmas in each main room. I decorated the tree and used extra Christmas balls to fill a few bowls for the tables and for a centerpiece on the dining room…….I’m calling it done! It was stressing me out thinking of just putting it all away……well, now I don’t have to worry. :)

  32. I can only wish my home looked like that after I’m done with the decorating! There’s something so festive yet simple about this look, it makes you want to be there – thanks for the inspiration!

  33. It looks lovely but am I the ONLY one who sees the major punctuation error on that pillow?? Really!?? We all know it doesn’t have to be perfect, but some common sense (and correct grammar!) is never a bad thing! :-)

  34. I. Love. Your. Blog! It is so good for my soul. Thank you for your post today!

  35. your home is beautiful and just fine. It’s a place where real people live and real life happens. All that matters is that it feels like home and love dwells there. Thanks for sharing your home with us. I especially love the stone fireplace, that chevron rug and snowflake sheets. would love to know where you got them!

  36. So beautifully imperfectly right. I love it.

  37. Thank you so much for this post. I’m sitting here tonight watching my husband fix the lights that are out in the tree so that we can begin our decorating. Our home has been in renovation mode for over 4 years. It is coming around that corner from a mess that it seems will never end to the beautiful home we’ve been working toward. I still see the big pockets of disarray, but tonight I’m so grateful that you out into words what is real. Jesus came in spite if and because of our mess! Love the big star in the midst if the gold dot “stars” by the way. Just as the wise men saw.:) Blessing to your family in your sweet, new home…and the Merriest of Christmases to your family!

  38. I love the lesson in your gold dots. Isn’t it the same thing we do with clothes? We highlight the features we want, draw attention away from others. I also agree with not going nutso for the holidays. We do a few simple things here and there and that’s good enough. Because it’s work to set things up and take them down a month later, and I’d now rather use my time for something else. It’s not a competition, it’s Christmas!

  39. I love your perfect, average, simply decorated home. I was looking at other homes decorated for Christmas and feeling very dissatisfied with my own. You brought it all home to what is most important and that is the feeling we create in our home. It can be simple and beautiful.

  40. I don’t know if you’ll get to reading this comment because I’m days late to this party! But I just wanted to say that it is such a joy to read your heart. Every single time I show up to this place I am reminded to fully enjoy all of the blessings of “now.” You are such an inspiration! Not just in decorating, in living. :)

  41. Thanks for being real. Too often we get discouraged when looking at what other have or do. I’m not as well off as others, but can still have a warm and inviting home – at least that’s what I blog about often! Congrats on your new home – it’s so fun to have a new, ready to be worked on home! I’ve been in mine a year and have enjoyed every minute of it! Plus it gives me a lot of blog post ideas – win/win!

  42. Your home is gorgeous! You’ve done so much in such a short time and I’m in awe on how amazing it looks already! Just the right amount of decor… perfection. Even though you felt it was imperfect. ;)

  43. “Because when things aren’t perfect, which is always, you have to choose what you are going to focus on. Actually, you GET to choose what you are going to focus on.”

    Words I needed to hear. Overwhelmed is the word that I feel/use/struggle with most. Perspective is the word I need to replace it with. A wonderful reminder….Thank you!!

  44. Your home is just lovely. My husband and I have been in temporary homes for the last five years while he went back to school and we are just now getting ready to start looking into buying our first real home. We imagine it looking like yours does. He is better at looking at the bones of the house than I am, but I realize what can be done after seeing your before and after picture of your fireplace. I also wanted to mention that I love how you point out the “realness” in your home. Because what we bloggers show isn’t always the case. Sometimes I find myself kicking sippy cups to the side to take the perfect photo. ;)

  45. What a beautiful home and I love reading the story of purchasing you farmhouse. It makes it that much more special. I too have simplified my decorating this year and have enjoyed the season so much more. Love your decorations!! Happy Sunday ~

  46. This is so lovely. I was just looking at your Better Homes and Gardens Christmas spread last week. I was oo-ing and ah-ing over it all, dreaming of what I will incorporate into my Christmas decor next year. Is it possible that I like this year’s even better? This year’s decorating evokes a sense of peace and rest. There is a little less stuff, more space. The living room is so inviting. Inspiring as always.

  47. Simple, Fresh, and Edited was the name of the game over at my place this holiday too. I just wanted to appreciate simple greenery and the joy of family. I love how wonderfully your home captures that. Your new home is so beautiful and absolutely perfectly imperfect:)

  48. Hi! Such fun to make your house a home for you and your family. Thank you for sharing this joy (and your gift of making beauty) with us! My daughter really wants to know where you got the wooden-handled nutcracker? In the bowl of clementines? She particularly loved this photo, and it inspired her to do something similar in our home. You are even inspiring young teenagers to be creative and enjoy what their homes! Bless you!

  49. H! Love ALL of this!! Where did you get the garland on the mantel?? Is it real? It’s gorgeous!!

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