Keeping It Real Home Tour

A couple weeks ago on Facebook I touched on how the blogging world has changed quite a bit since I kicked off this adventure 6 years ago.

Back when I started, acceptable blog photos looked like this:


Now photos have to look like this, or better:


As bloggers, we’ve upped the game on ourselves so much that we feel the need to spend 15 minutes staging an Instagram photo of a damn bowl. Because a picture of only the bowl won’t suffice anymore. It needs to be on top of a marble backdrop with at least 4 other objects in the photo with said bowl, and the objects need to look well-placed but not entirely intentional– like you meant to put it there, but you didn’t. I get it, people want to see pretty photos, but OMGitisexhausting.

Now, when it comes to our homes, I can’t speak for all bloggers, but I know the majority of us don’t keep our houses in immaculate, Pinterest-worthy condition all the time. But who wants to look at and pin a photo of a kitchen island with a bunch of random crap on top of it? So we scoot all of our junk just outside the camera frame and snap away.

With all of that said, the time has come to keep it real and share what our house typically looks like. And I’ve teamed up with 5 other bloggers to show how our houses really look.

Let’s start in my office.

I know, it’s a lot to take in.

I usually have a mini photo shoot set up in front of the window, that’s currently without curtains. There’s almost always some sort of shipping box or boxes on the floor. And I tend to have at least four wreaths I’ve made in my office at any given time. You probably notice the wreaths hanging on my closet doors from some of my snaps (chelsea221blog).


This is fairly clean for my desk. I recently had enough and cleaned it up a bit. Partly because Owen keep sneaking in here, grabbing pencils, and writing on any piece of paper he could get his hands on.

But as you can see, it’s not very blog-worthy. I doubt anyone would want to pin a photo of a desk with a post-it note on the computer with the reminder “pay taxes” written on it, let alone a Bounty coupon hanging out on top of a pile of random papers.


Our kitchen is up next.

Notice my barren kitchen island shelves. This is what low-lying shelving looks like when you have a two-year-old. Enjoy the non-mobile stage, new moms. I only place things on the shelves for blog photos before quickly moving them to higher ground.

I hate going through my mail. HATE IT. I know, I know. It’s such a silly thing, but I’d rather be forced to watch an episode of House Hunters than go through random mailings from local insurance agents who want my business and car dealerships urging me to trade in my 9 year old SUV. And I feel like I’m wasting time nowadays if I sit down to flip through a magazine. While we’re on the subject, who signed me up for so many damn magazines??? Cosmopolitan started showing up a couple years ago. I haven’t picked up one of those in a decade. I have started putting the mail and magazines in that clear bin so I’m getting somewhere.

I almost always hang my purse on that chair and toss my keys and sunglasses on the counter. The blue tote is on the chair as a reminder that I need to take it back out to my car, where it usually lives.


Yep, those are dishes in the sink and on both sides of the sink. There’s also two yogurt containers I rinsed out. They’re air-drying before I toss them in the recycling.

The peanut butter is almost always there because we use it to give our dog, Jack, his medicine twice a day. And my daily doses of biotin and fish oil usually hang out out on that vintage scale.


Here we have my broken sunglasses (I don’t allow myself to spend more than $25 on a pair of sunglasses because most end up busted), some of Owen’s birthday gifts we’re withholding from him, a box of tile samples a company sent me, and groceries from Trader Joe’s that I need to put away. The(non-perishable) groceries may or may not have sat there for a couple days.


Ahhh, the gem of our house: the living room.

If you aren’t well-versed in our house, it’s 1600 square feet– 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms. We don’t have the luxury of having a playroom so my kid’s stuff has taken over our living room. The day before I took this photo, Owen took the liberty of dragging a bunch of toys out of his bedroom closet and brought all of them into the living room. I’m guessing because he felt like he didn’t have enough toys in the living room to begin with.

I will say that when we work together, after our tiny redecorator goes to bed, Brad and I can have all of Owen’s cleaned up in 5 minutes or less.

In case you’re wondering, the loveseat is littered with towels that need to be folded. I’m not a fan of our loveseat or couch. It’s a lonnnnng story, but we originally bought a gray fabric set that were defective and after going back and forth with the furniture store 500 times, I gave in and got those because I just wanted somewhere to sit in my living room.


I’m not going to lie, this is how Owen’s room usually looks. It’s one of the positives of his desire to play in the living room 99% of the time (see photo of above).

He will come in here once in a while and play with his cars on the window sill. And sometimes I’ll make a mess piling up his clothes that need to be sorted and put into storage. But other than that, and a small section on top of his dresser, the room stays pretty organized.

I wish we had somewhere to put the glider/recliner so I could squeeze a little play area out of that corner. But we don’t, and I’m not going to sell the glider.


The guest bathroom has been taken over by Owen and all of his toiletries, bath toys, and medicines. A nasty upper respiratory infection hit our house last weekend (and is still lingering), which explains the two boxes of tissues, humidifier, and overabundance of meds.

You can also see we’re super classy and set the toilet paper on the vanity. That’s because if the toilet paper is on the dispenser, Owen will bat it like a cat until the entire length of toilet paper is no longer on the roll. But if we set it on the vanity, he leaves it alone. Toddlers are weird creatures.


When I shared photos of our master bedroom a few months ago, people commented about how there wasn’t a bunch of crap in there. Maybe we’re just weird, tidy bedroom people. But yeah, we don’t store a bunch of stuff in our bedroom. That’s what our two-car garage is for!

We don’t make our bed everyday. I usually just pull the duvet up and call it a day. That mound of pillows is all of our decorative pillows. You know, Euro shams and what not– i.e. pillows people don’t actually sleep with.

I will say that I feel better when I make our bed. Maybe I’ll time myself and see how long it takes me. Usually when I time myself doing a task and it ends up being under 5 minutes, I can guilt myself into doing it regularly.


There’s usually a basket (or two) of laundry of my clothes that needs to be put away. Like the mail, I hate putting away clothes. I’m totally cool with the act of doing laundry. But putting away my clean clothes? Nope, no thank you.


There you go. My living room is almost always littered with toys, and I suck at putting away my clothes.

It’s not always peonies in KitchenAid mixers around here, my friends.

By the way, I’m waiting for peonies in KitchenAid mixers to catch on. It’s only a matter of time– just you wait and see.


I’ve teamed up with 5 other bloggers to share how our houses usually look. It’s like the Real Housewives of Blogging, only we build or paint tables instead of physically flipping them over in a fit of rage. So take some time to stop by their blogs!

Jenna from Rain on a Tin Roof

Chelsea from Making Home Base

Taryn from Design, Dining, & Diapers

Charlotte from Ciburbanity

Katie from Bower Power

Note: I took these photos over the course of a couple days. This explains why my kid is in different clothes or you saw objects move from room to room.

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  1. Hi Chelsea
    This is hilarious! I just wrote a post about how i took 80 pictures of a sandwich to share my new favorite plates.
    My kids think I am losing it!

    Thanks for the laugh! laura

    1. Hah! Only 80??? I’ll be taking photos of food, and Brad will say, “Are you done yet so I can eat?” Such impatience. 😛

  2. This post makes my week. I hate a pinterest perfect house, I can’t handle my inadequacy.

  3. I love the reality check – keep it real – that my friends is life!! Thanks for sharing your home as always – wether it is perfect today or not – it is perfectly lived in.

  4. Thank you for keeping it real! Love your article! Thanks again!

  5. The concept looks familiar but I don’t have a toddler to add decorating finesse!

  6. carol plant says:

    You certainly have a lovely home Chelsea – everything looks lovely to me – so often in life we feel the need to be perfect and have a perfectly clean and organized home when really we should spend that energy on spending time with our children while they are young – i dont have children at home anymore (m son is grown up with his own chlldren and accompaying messes) but i have a kitty who – like a small child feels the need to leave toys and/or cat hair everywhere – i’ve just learned to stop worrying about it so much – you would think a toddler lived here there are so many toys in the living room – i really enjoy your blogs and am quite impressed that you even have the time or energy to do this – regards carol

    1. Thanks so much, Carol! I remember reading somewhere how someone said they didn’t do anything fun with their mom/parents on Saturdays because that was ‘cleaning day’ growing up. And it really made me think because I’d rather spend time doing something fun with Owen than cleaning on a weekend. You’re right– we have to stop worrying about it so much.

  7. Thank you all. I really needed this. I’ve been so depressed and unmotivated about the condition of my house for a while now.

    1. I hear ya. But trust me, most bloggers live like everyone else. A lot of us joke about pushing our junk just outside of the shots.

  8. I feel like this may be my new calling… the “real” blogger. I’ll just share pictures of the underwear on the stairs and the roll of twine wrapped around the dollhouse. Don’t worry… I’ll still speak to you when I’m rich and famous.

    1. Hahaha! I want in on that gravy train too. Just think, it’ll be so much less work. We can call it ‘organic home blogging’.

  9. “feel the need to spend 15 minutes staging an Instagram photo of a damn bowl.” Seriously laughed out loud at this! Love it all. Thanks for keeping it real!

  10. Way to keep it real, Son!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for keeping it real! Life is not perfect asks its great to see what your real life looks like!

  12. THANK YOU for posting this! Can I tell you 5 years ago when I 1st got married the Pinterest life was fun and exciting?! Now 5 years into marriage with working all the time, and having a 2 1/2-year-old it has become exhausting. The thing about it is I’m so used to trying to keep up that its hard for me to stop trying to be that Pinterest person. Seeing this post was inspiring for me. It’s crazy how things change! Thank you for being honest!

    1. I agree. But it’s gotten to the point where I think it’s spiraling out of control. Pinterest is the new keeping up with the Joneses.

  13. Thank you, thank you for your honesty! It’s soooo hard trying to keep up with other bloggers who post “perfect” photos. In fact, it’s impossible so I don’t bother. Real life may be less pretty than a Pinterest-worthy photo, but it’s definitely more interesting. 🙂

    1. I totally understand. I feel like things have really ramped up within the last 2 years. Hah! ‘Definitely more interesting’ is right. 😉

  14. “I’d rather be forced to watch an episode of House Hunters.” LOL!!!! You’re my new fave.

  15. Life is messy with a toddler, no way around it. Love that you keep it real! I hate putting laundry away too 🙂

  16. Jessica S says:

    Thanks for keeping it real! I’m with you on the mail and laundry. After 3 years in our home we FINALLY got office furniture and moved the mail off the kitchen counter. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to have it out of the kitchen, even if it’s just piled up in another room! And if I don’t put my laundry away immediately, there is a high likelihood everything will just get worn straight out of the laundry basket or drying rack until it’s time to do laundry again.

    1. Haha! We’re kindred spirits! I always end up digging clean clothes out of my laundry basket. Having an office/somewhere to put mail sounds so good. I’m jealous!

  17. Love this!
    Can I ask where you got the train table platform that’s in your living room picture?

  18. Cindy Greenleaf says:

    I was raised with four siblings. My mom used to say. , “I’ve got kids. The house is not dirty. It may be messy because I’ve got five kids but that’s okay. They’re making memories.”. When company would call to say theater e stopping by, she would yell, “Cindy, grab the vacuum. Just get the big hunks! Make it look like it’s been vacuumed.” So now if I’m doing a quick pickup, I call it getting the big hunks!!

  19. Same. All of it – I was thinking same same same!! I love Owen and his adorable love of cars! Thanks for organizing this home tour – it’s been so fun and completely refreshing to see some REAL home tours!

  20. I love this so SO much! I try and post pretty photos on my blog (definitely not as good as yours!) but sometimes, it’s so refreshing to see what someone’s house actually looks like, especially when there’s kids around. I have always loved your blog, but this post makes me want to be your friend 🙂

  21. Yesterday I brought home some new finds from Goodwill… Dishes in fact. They looked so nice sitting together on my countertop that I paused to admire them and realized what a pretty picture they would make. So I quickly shoved all the excess crap on the counter out of the way, brought in another item to help stage the scene, and yes, took 27 photos to get a favorite. 🙂 It is seriously important for women today to realize that EVERY blogger and Pinner has a mess at home 95 percent of the time. Or at least, let’s pretend they do! Please? TELL ME THEY DO!

  22. I am in love with this post and think we could possibly be soul mates. Thank you so much for sharing – hilarious and refreshing… and still beautiful!

  23. Kui hew len says:

    Thank you so much for doing this post and collaborating with the other ladies. I have been searching for other blogs to read and follow for awhile but a lot of the ones I have found seemed to unrealistic to me. A lot of mansions with expensive furniture and decor something I knew I could never strive to achieve. I’ve been gaving a hard time fining blogs about real life with real family’s and real homes. So again thank you. I just added 5 new blogs to my reading list.

  24. Love the towels on the sofa, that’s how our playroom looks and surprisingly our kids rooms (with the exception of my daughters) are spotless most of the time too. And I seriously laughed at the IG staging comment, it’s gotten ridiculous. Nice to have a post filled with real life. Thanks for inviting me to share!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing in on the fun! I know it was stepping out of your comfort zone, but I bet it felt somewhat liberating. 🙂

  25. I love your home Chelsea and thank you for sharing. I often share mine in our private Facebook group but I completely understand the shove the pile over action only too well.

    Since we have decided to make my blogging an actual financial endeavor I even invested in a backdrop and have begun editing my photos. The best part is I always refer to the colors and brightness of your shots when I am trying to explain to hubby (the camera guy) just what kinda of light and perfection I am looking for.

    This post was definitely inspiring thank you for sharing.

    1. Tina! Sorry it’s taken me 5 years to reply to your comment. Thank you so much for your sweet words! I’m honored that you use my photos for reference. That’s awesome that you’ve started editing your photos. I always say shooting the photos is 50% and editing is 50%. Best of luck with your blog endeavor!

  26. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!! I use to blog and then when things started changing to being “Pinterest Perfect”, I just lost all motivation. I don’t have time to keep everything perfect! I too, don’t mind doing laundry, I just hate folding and putting it away! Just as much as I loath unloading the dish washer. Currently my kitchen table is covered with a laundry basket of folded clothes, and a bunch of crap that the husband brought in the house that needs to go back to the garage. It drives me nuts. And then the dog sheds so much I never feel like the house is clean!

  27. “we feel the need to spend 15 minutes staging an Instagram photo of a damn bowl” lol, ok so I’m not the only one. Thanks for this post and keeping it real. I have 6 and 8 year old boys. The action figures and legoe seem to multiply by the day. I’ve learned to stop stressing over it!

  28. I just want to say that I’m loving all of these posts – I just came from Chelsea’s and can I just say that all of you are giving me #FamilyGoals and #DecorGoals. Even with the so-called messes, you have an absolutely beautiful home and very happy children which is the most important thing, I believe. Also, I’m off to find a picture of your office to pin…unless you don’t mind me using the one shown?

  29. First, your description of “staging a picture of a damn bowl for Instagram” was spot on!!! Hilarious! And the whole toilet paper roll thing and toddlers – SERIOUSLY! When BHG came to photograph the kitchen at my old house, I had just gotten it cleaned and the rest of the house and then my kid took a roll of toilet paper and basically rolled my entire kitchen, dining room and living area while I was in the back of the house. WTF.

  30. Thanks for sharing! Your house is still gorgeous though :). I just wanted to say that I hate putting away clothes too! My husband thinks I’m crazy – and I will even go so far as to FOLD them and pile them up – but they will still sit in a basket in our room until they’re 90% gone to the dirty laundry again. I’m just glad I’m not the only one lol.

  31. Wow! Thanks for this. I always read your blog and look at your projects and think… I wish I could keep my house like that,but working a full time job and being a mother of two active (football and soccer) children I just can’t find the time. This made my day! Thanks for keeping it real!

  32. Jen from Ottawa says:

    I loooooooooooove this! This makes me feel less inadequate for having a “lived-in” house. Thank you for doing this++++++++

  33. Best. Post. Ever. I needed this today! Thanks to all of you who let us know that all mom’s share the same day to day house cleaning chaos!!

  34. You don’t have to be a young mom to have a house like this, lol. I’m 73 and sometimes the house just gets away from me and I just take a nap (it’s one of those things age permits you to do) and start over!

    I love that you shared this, makes my day a little better!

  35. The Real House Wives of Blogging had me cracking up. Your house is still beautiful. I’m in love with your office area. Thanks for keeping it real.

  36. LOVE that you posted this and encouraged other bloggers to do the same! My husband keeps talking about friends’ homes that we go to, and how uncluttered and non-messy they are. I have to continuously remind him that they cleaned up for company, just like we would. I also have to remind him that several of those homes are visited by housekeepers, or they have a parent or two that either don’t work or are part-time, or that they don’t have pets, or… I am a full-time working wife and mother, have 2 school-aged kids, an infant, and two dogs. I value sleep. I do just enough to get by. It’s really all that I can do, and I am okay with it.

    1. PREACH. My husband does the whole comparison thing too. And I always point out that none of our friends are bloggers, which is just a nicer way of saying ‘hoarder’. What I wouldn’t give to have a cleaning lady. Or even better, someone to follow me and my kid around the house and pick up after us. You’re totally entitled to sleep over cleaning.

  37. Barbara Million says:

    The drapes in your bedroom are exactly what I want. Did you buy them on line or where can I find them?

  38. Your home is beautiful!! I can’t get over how clean and nice looking everything is! My home is orderly and presentable, but there’s no way I could have that much white in my home.

  39. It certainly looks better than mine usually does, but it’s nice to know other people have messes, too! Thanks for sharing!

  40. So true! We have raised the game since I started blogging only 3 years ago. I shudder about some of my early photos and back then wouldn’t dare snap a pic in my home! I have learned to slid all the clutter just out of the frame, LoL. Love this so much! So glad you shared with us at Merry Monday.

  41. I feel you on the toilet paper and toddlers!

  42. Love the living room. We have a 26 month old and an 8 month old and our living room is the toy room. I’d rather have it there than in their rooms, as I can keep an eye on them and they can sleep in their rooms and not play with toys.

    Love your purse. What is it?

    Thanks for the real life photos!

  43. Started on Google Images looking for fridge organization tips…stumbled across a picture of your fridge…and have spent the past hour on your blog. All this to say – I like! You are very good at what you do and you come across as someone I would actually like to know 🙂

    I have a son who was born in July 2014, so I know the struggle of space/toys etc. Just a thought (which I’m sure you’ve probably already had and dismissed for good reason). It appears your office space is bigger than Owen’s room? Have you considered swapping – moving your office into the smaller space and giving him the bigger room so that he has more “play” area?

    Like you we have a small-ish house (1800sq.ft, 4 bedrooms) and we swapped rooms when he turned 2yrs old for this very reason. The smaller room was an just an in-home office and nothing fancy like yours. The bigger room persuaded him to spend more time there with his toys!

    1. Hi, Kay! I’m glad you found me! I was just saying last night how I’ll do a Google search for something, and it’ll lead me on a 2 hour-long journey of internet randomness.

      That’s a great idea, and we did think about it. The main reason why we didn’t go that route was because we like the idea of him knowing his room is only for sleeping. I think that methodology has helped in him being a good sleeper. Plus, I think if we switched he wouldn’t even want to play alone in his room. He still drags toys from his bedroom closet out into the living room so he can play near us. Plus, if I downsize my office space, it would affect my taxes since I’m self-employed and work out of our home.

      I hope you’ll stick around and become a regular! 🙂

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