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A Real Christmas House an Essay

I thought I would share something fun with you today.  A couple of pictures  behind the holiday house walk.  I think sometimes we get in the habit of thinking people live in all the beauty they are photographing all of the time and start comparing and then feel bad about ourselves a bit. The thing is, magazines and blogs are like TV… All glitzy and glammed up for the viewer. I mean would you buy a Better Homes and Gardens issue for decorating ideas if pictures had dirty socks on the floor,a bunch of unfolded laundry (clean) shoved in a basket someone has been getting dressed out of for the last two weeks,  and dirty dishes in the sink? I mean that’s how we live around here and I still want to know why dirty  socks get shoved under the couch cushions and it just can’t make it into the laundry bin.

It’s 8 steps away people.

I was remembering back to when my house was shot for for  a publication years ago. I had cleaned and scrubbed the main floor to a shine thinking that was all the crew was going to see. Wouldn’t know you that the stylist ended going through every room to look for props. Well, since all of the other rooms were full of the crap we moved form the main area I was horrified. Not only were those rooms dirty, because I was getting the rest of the house ready,but things were thrown everywhere. In one room you literally had to wade through all of the piles of laundry and junk. It was a 10 x 12 space and you couldn’t see an inch of the floor. It was like a drunken frat party had happened in there. When she opened my linen closet to find  a tablecloth, things fell on her.

Sometimes I find photographing my house a challenge, because I really have to clean beforehand.Lots of times I shove the junk out of the way and only photograph the “clean area”. My house is always full of stuff. We would really like to move and get a bigger house but I  told my husband that I don’t know if we would be truly organized with a bigger house or if we would just be pigs in a bigger space.

Dresser with Christmas decor and a mirror over the top with a wreath

And for me, mirrors never lie.This is after I “cleaned”. I took these and then realized all our laundry was up in the hallway.Classy. Don’t. Go. IN. The.Bedrooms.

a decorated Christmas tree in the corner with a dresser with. a mirror over the top and a metal sled on the coffee table

And I had taken down every coat and backpack ,toy and stuffed animal and shoved it behind the couch until it was brimming over the top. And these are the ones I can show you. I was too embarrassed to show you the piles in the other room. Like behind here.

Jennifer Rizzo dining room with a table and chairs, green glassware on the table a faux fireplace with a mirror over the top and a chandelier

Oh,There is an awesome reason that there is a curtain there,and it has a little name called ” too much crap.”.

What I want to tell you is when you come on the house tour, we clean for you.We stage for you. It’s not about appearing perfect, but for me it’s about  making it nice for you,like when party guest comes over. We want you to enjoy the times you are here and get inspired… Not by dirty socks and backpacks.I actually love this angle a lot because I don’t have to clean the rest of the room, and it looks like  a whole room shot. If you look back you’ll see i use this shot a lot. I am going to have to change it up now that you know my secret. 🙂

Jennifer Rizzo's tree at home in the living room with ornaments, a silver glitter tree with greenery and a vintage sign that says Bikerdike over the dining room area

So, I guess what I am trying to say is be inspired by others, but be happy with how and where you live.Please don’t compare. We don’t really all live that way. Be happy and blessed with YOU. Because you are AMAZING. And whether we can keep a spotless house or live in a mad house with dirty socks and unfolded laundry,you’re the best and I am so happy you are here. I hope you enjoyed my take on A Real Christmas House an Essay. Thanks for being here. I am so glad to know you.

Jen signature


  1. Happy New Year Jen! Love this post and I so hear you on it. You have no idea how many times I have photographed something only to see complete chaos in the reflection of the mirror. I keep trying to get better organized, but it’s a constant struggle. 🙂

    Angela @ Number Fifty-Three

  2. How interesting… I’ve already read several other blogs that have a post just like yours today about the behind the scenes reality of the holiday house walk. Is this a coordinated effort??

  3. Love this. I needed this. I stopped looking at house tours earlier this month as I was getting so discouraged. I know the homes are not always that perfect but still it is hard sometimes. I cannot seem to “decrapify” my home on my own.

  4. When we have guests it is usually the bedroom that gets all the crap. So very glad I am not alone! Happy New Year!!

  5. What a great and freeing post, lol! That’s exactly how it is at my house –mine is probably worse with three kids and a recording studio in the master bedroom. I had to laugh at the curtain because I hung one in my hallway to hide the four china cabinets that are lined up in it. Thanks for sharing that:-)

  6. Thanks for sharing the “behind the scenes”! I get overwhelmed with how much other people seem to accomplish, and this helps to put it back in perspective! lol

  7. Love this post! It reminds me of a big Christmas party that I had once. I had piles of laundry in the master bedroom and wouldn’t you know everyone wanted a tour and my husband gave them one. I just started blogging and it is pretty easy to feel a little inferior with all of the beautiful posts out there. Thanks for reminding us that even the most beautiful of blogs have a human side.

  8. How how this makes me giggle! I was shooting photos for a Christmas post, and I called my daughter into the room to move junk out of my shot. Her response was, “Is that so people think our house is cleaner than it is?” Yep.

  9. How sweet post,like it much…I was smiling all through it…It’s really hard to be a modern woman,wife,mother and a leading blogger, but it’s in the same time so amusing,funny and give us all some sense of life…Happy holidays:)

  10. Happy New Year! Thanks for posting this information…it’s how I survived for most of my life, especially when I worked long hours away from home and my children were growing up way too fast. I’ve always thought it would be easy to break this habit when I retired…not so(I think I’m going to have to work harder at it now). Thanks again for sharing your inspirations and wonderful thoughts. It sure helps to know we’re not all alone “out there”.

  11. I put the kitchen and family room clutter in my car trunk when we have company. Works great and doesn’t get lost!

  12. My word for 2013 is simplify! I love our home and all the DIY projects that we have going on, but I now have 2 grown children with 2 teenagers at home, and I want to simplify my life, starting with my possessions. I’m cleaning out the Christmas decor as I put it away. Next is the craft room because I can’t even work in there. Then our bedroom is getting a big redo and on and on and on! At least I won’t run out of things to blog about!

  13. I hear you Jenn! I had more piles pushed out of the photos than ever this year! We don’t have enough space for storage in this house and it just tends to end up making more piles everywhere!
    Have a wonderful new year!

  14. Hi Jenn,
    What a great post. My home was on a holiday tour this year where 400 plus people came through and everyone kept saying ” wow how do you keep it so clean ? ” .i really was Amazed people thought we lived like this all the time. I wish I could keep it tour and guest ready at all times, but life happens and you just have to let it go and enjoy! Thanks for all the great posts this year !
    Have a wonderful new year

  15. All of us have our dirty little secrets….my house is full of them. I have delighted in finding you recently and look forward to all that is to be shared in the new year.

  16. Great post! It’s so easy to get caught up in the images and not realize there is a real family living in the homes you see online. I think blogs are very inspiring and it’s posts like these that keep me coming back for more! Happy New Year!


  17. Great post! Thanks for being candid and encouraging, Jennifer. I think we probably all have our “truth in the mirror” moments. One of my things is books and magazines everywhere. I love looking at certain ones time and again and they tend to stack up.

    Happy New Year!

  18. Thanks for this Jennifer! I shove all my stuff into other rooms and only “clean” certain areas for photographing 🙂 but I am also one of those that leaves other sites feeling bad that I can’t “get it together”. So ths post was perfect for me!

  19. I love your blog and your home but am happy to know that your house looks like ours and is not always ‘camera -ready’.

  20. Oh, how I can relate to this post and glad to hear I’m not the only one who moves the “stuff” from one area of a room to the other to get the shots I want. I look at other blogs knowing that this isn’t what their home looks like all the time and I just like to get inspiration from their homes and photos.

    Thanks for keeping it real!

    Happy New Year.


  21. Fun post! I have a great line that my son said when I was doing a photo shoot of my family room that I will use in an upcoming post, but it had to do with how clean everything looked! It’s good to know that most of us do this!

  22. I laughed out loud at the “druken frat party” description! And loved the person who posted that she puts all her stuff in the car trunk to get it out of sight! If you have a minivan, you can really load it up and just shove it in the garage. Perfect …..

  23. So true! I have a storage/craft/ decor room in the basement and it becomes a dumping ground! I always a home should be dirty/cluttered enough to be comfortable and clean enough to be healthy…. This make me feel so much better knowing I’m not alone with laundry madness and shoving stuff out of site!

  24. I loved your post today! The snaps of your home are always so pretty and it’s nice to know you’re just like the rest of us! Someone asked me onetime how I kept my house so clean? I was just giggling – she couldn’t see the things I poked behind the sofa! 🙂 Happy New Year!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

  25. I’ve known this was happening for years as I’ve been involved in setting up shoots. Even though I know how this process works, I’m still envious of the beautiful homes I see in magazines and online and have been trying to get a handle on the daily clutter in our home.

    This year we did a major decluttering and got rid of everything we didn’t need and streamlined the main floor of our house. It stays clean only because I have a place for everything, including using empty drawers for all the paper my husband collects. We still have to keep it up but this time around we decided that instead of being unrealistic we’d dummy proof it. So, we have one closet where the floor is always kept clear except for a couple of laundry baskets. When we have to clean up fast, we each grab one, run around the house and fill them up, then put them in the closet and shut the door. Instant clean house! Of course the hard part is putting it all back…..oh well!

  26. Me too, Jen!! Crap everywhere and the vacuum cleaner is always in the middle of some room 🙂 At our magazine shoot last month, we had to go into the junk room and I almost keeled over from embarrassment, but Esther said it was like a “treasure hunt.” Dying. You made me feel a lot better!! heehee. Happy New Year sweet girl, to you and your darling family! xoxoxo Andrea

  27. Great post! Loved your discription of the stylist rummaging around your house for extra photo props. (That would be my nightmare.) One of my biggest goals this year is to get rid of enough stuff that if someone dropped in unexpectedly, they could walk through my whole house without me being embarrassed by the clutter.

  28. Thank you for keeping it real! I try to keep my downstairs somewhat presentable, but have to keep folks from going upstairs! I try to keep it up, but then a few days go by and we are back to square one! I too am planning on taking some things to the auction house this spring or sooner. I have too much furniture! (Antique dealer that likes too many things)

    Happy New Year! 🙂

  29. So glad to see that I am not alone! Our sweeper is a member of the family. At Halloween it gets a big white sheet with eyes and greets kids at the door. I love magazines so they are everywhere and since my husband was in the military for 34 years we have things from every country. Laundry just piles up and there are only the two of us at home now. Life is to short to clean all the time.

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