What My Home Really Looks Like On a Normal Day

I was so inspired by Justina’s post last year showing her home in everyday use and I wanted to share mine as well. I will admit it felt a little weird to me. I am so used to cleaning and staging rooms before a shoot. The messiness of our home changes constantly. I feel like the mess moves from one room to another, actually. In part because of my work and and in part because it’s on the larger side and we don’t have a house cleaner currently, so we have to clean it in batches during Nova’s nap times on the weekend.

(If anyone asks if I am pregnant, I will be so annoyed—it’s just an angle.)

Anyway! For better or for worse, here’s my unstaged, real life home tour!

The living room. This is accurate—haha. I always rush to fix these pillows when someone is coming over.

The kitchen. It can be worse, but we do clean it every night so this is pretty much what it is. I usually remove the air fryer and a bunch of things from the counters when we do photos.

My office. This is where our messes tend to “land” and I am always trying to change that. I clean it about once a month and the rest of the time I just work in it like this and try to ignore the mess.

Other side.

The living room. This room actually looks pretty good.

Yeah, I’m proud of this room.

Except for this half-dead plant that I’m not sure what to do with … hmm.

Our entryway is typically decent unless there’s a million boxes.

But today the boxes are here. It is what it is.

The sunroom is beautiful no matter what. Yes, there are a few dead plants and some stuff from blogging that needs to be put away. But still pretty.

Our nieces stayed in this room a few weeks ago and added those tassels to the chair. This is a guest room so whether it is styled or unstyled it usually stays that way until a guest is coming—a good thing when it is clean. But this year it took me from Christmastime until summer to clean it because it got so bad. We had Collin store all our packages in here when we were gone to China for two weeks. Then when we got home we had just adopted Nova and my mind was other places. So, a month or two later, I opened all the packages from December and a bunch of them were food gifts (that were now rotten). Nice.

Not a bad guest room. But I can tell who made the bed (Jeremy—lol).

Nova’s playroom goes back and forth. At first, I would clean it once a month and let it get REALLY bad, but now I clean it every week (sometimes every night after we play) because it’s just easier.

Little known fact: Our dogs also sleep in Nova’s playroom. It’s been weird finding the right place for their kennel (they share one). I tried switching them to a dog bed, but they really prefer the kennel. I’m thinking when we adopt our second child that their kennel will have to go in one of the guest room closets. Not sure, but we’ll make it work.

Definitely my favorite room in the house, though.

The laundry room for sure goes back and forth. This was at the height of laundry procrastination. After we did these pics, I spent the whole weekend doing laundry.

The potty training lifestyle is our current phase in life.

Nova’s room is all over the place. I am actually about to rearrange it. It’s really tough to keep up with all her little clothes. I am still figuring out storage and what to do with clothes that are too small and too big.

I definitely think kids rooms are magical feeling even when they are messy.

Our dogs have been sleeping on all this extra bedding in our hallway for about two weeks.

Our bedroom is pretty quick to clean up, it takes less than 10 minutes. But why is it SO easy to mess up? As long as it’s clean and made up part of the week, I am fine with it. It can’t be perfect every day.

(By the way, I was in a book photoshoot a couple days before this, so that’s why I have so many amazing flowers in our bedroom—that is not typical.)

Last thing … I always use this tub to throw clothes in when I am cleaning out my closet. It’s a bad habit but this tub has clothes in it so often. I am almost done cleaning my closet now, so hopefully I can stop doing this. It’s weird how little habits like that start and then it feels normal after you have lived with it a little while.

Ok! Well, I hope you enjoyed this. This isn’t the worst our home ever looks and it’s not the best. It’s a regular day though.

As someone who stages photos often for my job, I never want to portray that our home is *always* as organized or styled as it is in photos. Obviously it isn’t and no one’s is. We both work from home and we have a toddler. It gets messy and that is just part of it. I honestly think it is awkward to take photos of your messes and you shouldn’t have to do that to somehow prove you are normal. That said, for the purpose of this post, I had fun doing it!

Now let’s have a group hug and a glass of wine. I love you! xx – Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer.

  • Love this! Also LOL at using your master bedroom tub for clothes. When I was in high school, my parents said I had to clean my room before I went out, so I threw everything in my bathroom tub and told them I was finished. My mom came to check my room and was so impressed….until she WHIPPED the shower curtain open and saw everything piled up. She was not happy, but it’s a hilarious story now. 🙂 In hindsight, I should’ve taken a bit longer so she wasn’t so skeptical…

  • I should say only that its awesome! The blog is informational and always produce amazing things.

  • PS I love++ your entrance hall and the cabinet with the coloured glasses. Gorgeous!

  • Thank you. Your home is still lovely, yet you’ve made me feel more normal!

  • Hey, Elsie! Two of your rooms (living room + bedroom) include fairly large prints that I love. Where do you get frames from? Are they custom framed? I’ve considered throwing down for that (a friend of mine got hers done at Blick), but don’t want to jump immediately to that if a ready-to-go option already exists.

  • Elsie, you are always amazing & inspiring. Love this post. Your home looks pretty fab to me though – especially considering that you have a tiny person in the house & no cleaner. Thanx for sharing. xxx

  • Wondering where you go the small sputnik light fixture in the first living room photo, above the couch/sideboard. Thanks!

  • Hi! I’m Lisa, from Alberta, Canada. This may be one of my FAVE posts I’ve seen here – I love that a regular day looks beautifully disheveled in some areas of the house. Mostly it makes me want to create so much more beauty and magic because that shines through the everyday-ness mess. Love love love this blog and seeing the whole house in one post, too! Thanks, Elsie!!!

  • OMG I’m glad I’m not the only one guilty of the mess moving from room to room. We have a small 3 bedroom rancher and the mess is always either in my craft room or our guest bedroom. My partner knows me too well though because he casually said the other day “I think we should tackle renovating the laundry room once the guest bedroom and craft room are done” so he’s lit a fire under me since I’ve been dying to renovate our laundry room for three years! Thanks for sharing your mess! It definitely makes us feel a lot more human when the spaces we covet are shown in a more natural state.

  • Love your home!!! I must know, where did you buy that gorgeous table in the piano room? I love that natural wood !

  • For kids’ clothing storage, I recently read a post on a friend’s blog about Joanna Gaines’s method of storing outgrown clothes and thought it was fantastic – a perfect mix of practical and sentimental! Hope it’s okay to drop the link here. It’s not my blog so I don’t feel like it’s spammy to do it:

  • I loved this so much. It is comforting to see that there are styled homes and that they are the same as the messy ones! Nobody can live in minimal bliss – at least I can’t!
    I’d love to see other tours like this. Clothes in the bathtub was my favorite quirk! So random!

  • Thank you for posting this! Although you inspire a lot of “I want to be/do that!,” it’s also nice to be able to relate to you in the “I can get messy too!” kind of way. Love you guys!

  • Thank you for sharing! This has been one of my favorite posts since y’all stopped the casual friday posts.

  • This post means so much to me! I think it’s so easy to get caught up in bloggers having the perfect life/space and sometimes I can feel inadequate in comparison. Keeping reality in check is super helpful so thank you so much for this!

  • I’m so glad I discovered your blog. As someone who works a lot, has a messy partner and a few animals I look at images of beautifully curated homes online and feel like it’s always out of my reach. Thanks you for showing that homes aren’t always perfect, even when they are wonderful.

  • Loved this, thanks for sharing. I am not naturally tidy so our house is often messier than I’d like- something that drives my mother crazy- but I’ve learned to accept it about myself and I feel less anxious generally rather then when I was trying to force myself to be something that I wasn’t.

  • The lighting and filters (?) on these photos make them so magical I don’t even see the messes 😀 It all looks very cosy. Except maybe that laundry, but c’mon that’s what it looks like in every home, doesn’t it? *anxiously awaiting a “no” answer XD*

  • YES! LOVE seeing a touch of mom-realness! Your home is fabulous staged and lived in too. Thanks for all of the inspiration!

  • I just wanted to thank you for being willing to open up, be vulnerable, and share this with us. I’ve been following this blog for years, and I love it and have learned so much! Ever since Nova came into your life, I’ve been complaining to my husband, “How is it that her house always looks so perfect?! I need to know her secret!” (We have a 19 year old, a 4 year old, and an 18 month old!) It’s easy to forget that staging photos of your home is *literally* what you do for a living! Anyway, you and your family are amazing, and I enjoy following your adventures. And I really appreciate this post!

  • This post is a big WOW! Thanks for sharing the interiors of your house, I am in love with the choices of color and how beautifully everything compliments the surrounding, be it the furniture, mattress or anything else -(minus) the mess obviously.

  • Oh Joy has a great post about storing kid’s clothes that are too small/big that you could check out. I’m loosely following it for my toddler’s clothes and it seems to work well!

    Thanks for sharing your home on an everyday basis. I think it is super hard to keep up tidying with a whirlwind toddler blazing through, and my apartment is pretty small!

  • My office is exactly the same! It’s where piles of stuff just GO. BTW question about your couch (which is beautiful) – how does the leather feel in hot weather? I want one like it but my husband is always complaining about heat and I fear the leather will feel sticky?

  • I can’t get past the fact that y’all have a pink dog crate!!! That’s so awesome!

  • Thanks for sharing the lived in look! It’s cool to see how the beautiful spaces function

  • Omg thank you for posting this!!! I’m one of those people that gets majorly stressed looking through Instagram and seeing everyone’s perfect homes. They’re gorgeous, and I love it, but it’s so calming to see that beautiful homes aren’t perfectly styled at all times!

  • I’m impressed with how clean it still is even on messy days with a toddler! I know you briefly mentioned Nova isn’t at home all day and I can say that helps with a clean house. My toddler follows and undoes everything I do! Minimalism has really helped me stay more tidy though.
    And I love what you said that you don’t have to show your mess to prove you are normal I totally get that !!!

  • This post was amazing, honest, and hilarious (not to mention makes me feel better as a clean-freak and perfectionist). I loved it – thank you for sharing!!

  • I loved scrolling through this and the clothes in the tub were hilarious but my favorite part was “…the food presents were all rotten. Nice.” HAHA!

  • Thank you. Thank you. One reason I have never started a blog is that my house isn’t perfect like other bloggers’ homes. My life isn’t perfect. My husband isn’t perfect. I’m not perfect. Thank you for helping me see that I might be good enough. I’m sending you a hug.

  • I absolutely love this post! You’re so right that we shouldn’t HAVE to show the messes- but at the same time, it’s really nice to see photographic proof that someone else’s beautiful home is just as lived-in and loved as my own. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Awesome post, the half dead cactus is not having enough light and you can tell by how it is growing thinner and thinner. I would cut the brown dead one, the tiny regrowth and change its place in your house. If he doesn’t make it, throw it in the compost 😉

  • I loved this post! Probably my favorite one so far. Thanks for sharing this with us! I never realized I tried so hard to live up to the perfect magazine ideal until my husband pointed out that I was being crazy about our home being perfect everyday. Love that you shared this so much. 🙂

  • Love this post and thanks for keeping it real. I can always tell when my husband makes the bed too – haha! A certain level of messy is normal, especially when you’re busy making things happen, which we know you are!

    Eva | www.shessobright.com

  • Seeing clothes (clean and dirty) strewn about is the most refreshing! I always wonder if other people spend most of the time surrounded by clothes the way I do…

  • why not do a crate that also acts as a piece of furniture instead of putting the dogs in a closet? There are some lovely options that make beautiful side tables, coffee tables, etc. I’m sure you guys could come up with something.

    Honestly I’d be worried about them in a spare room closet if there was a fire or some other emergency.

    Just a thought!

  • ahahah I love this!! Thank you for showing us that life is not always perfect and staged! Love seeing sneek peeks into what really goes on in the background.


  • Still looked tidier than my apartment 😀

    I see the cactus’ leaves are wrinkled, maybe it needs more water. I know it’s a sign in succulents (the guy I bought it from taught me), so give it more water or/and spray water on it. Now that autumn is your way, it should need less water.

  • Echoing everyone else to say how much I love this post! I agree – you are under no obligation to prove that you’re normal, but us non-blogging folks appreciate it!
    Not going to lie – the first couple of pictures I was like “Really….THIS is messy?” – but your bedroom pic genuinely made me smile – I thought “That’s more like it!” Especially in contrast to yesterday’s bedroom tour post. Also, I’m amazed that Nova doesn’t have more toys elsewhere in the house.
    Our kitchen table and island are magnets for junk…I would be mortified to have to share a picture right now. I blame the US Postal service for constantly delivering clutter, lol. I really need to commit to a 20 min/night cleanup that both my husband and I do…


    Ugh, my couch cushions always do that and I kept thinking I was sitting wrong/weird as they never appear that way in photos.
    I’m happy to know my couch sitting tactic isn’t alien.

  • Thank you for this post! I really enjoed reading it.
    Aaaaaand I am happy to see you still have your dogs. I was actually a little concerned as I haven’t seen them on your instagram for soooo long (not even in the background). I thought maybe Nova didn’t get along with them and you had to make a hard decision and find them a new home. Glad I was wrong!!!

  • We got these cool toilet seats with a built-in kid seat and LOVE them! It makes the bathroom feel so much cleaner and tidy. They are also-soft close so no pinched fingers. We got the NextStep ones from Home Depot. Thanks for sharing “real life”! My craft room is always a complete disaster!

  • i am one of those people that truly appreciates the honesty of these kinds of posts. the blogs that i love the most are the ones that feel the most honest & you pull that off very well!

    speaking of habits. we have “donate” pile habit too. as someone who constantly lives in a state of purging… it can get a little crazy. it started with a small box we always kept on the kitchen counter that we’d toss things into but i got sick of looking at it so i move it into our “guest room” (it’s really just the dogs room) & put it on top of the dog crates (we have 75lb dogs so they’re huge!). the box is under the pile somewhere… it takes me months & months to go through it & figure out what needs to truly be donated or trashed. anyway, it gets to a point that my dogs will start to get scared going into their crates because the pile on top is so out of control. oops.

  • I totally love that you did this, and it doesn’t look toooo messy in my opinion! And no one’s perfect 🙂

  • I love this post! I always wonder what homes look like on a typical day for people and guilt myself over not having a perfectly kempt place. Pics like these bring me back to reality. That homes are for living in, making memories in. And so messes and delayed tidying happens.

    For a home as large as yours, I really want to say You and Jeremy are doing a fantastic job keeping it up yourselves! Especially with a little one and two mostly home-based careers! <3 <3 <3

  • LOVE LOVE LOVE this. I live on a farm and my little 2/1 place can turn from perfect to a disaster so fast. One rainy day and my entry tile is covered in muddy boots and paw prints, my dogs shed all over my office rug, and the clean laundry piles up in my living room chair. Your place is just as gorgeous lived-in! We’re all human. Messes are part of life

  • Love this!! I live by myself… I have a bad habit of stacking stuff on my dining room table. I’ve been making myself clean it off every night before bed. 🙂

  • Well I loved this alternative home tour. It was refreshing to see your everyday reality.

    I think it is more than normal to want to show a perfect side in public – whether that is online or simply when guests visit – its what many adverts thrive on after all. A human nature to appear somehow worthy through perfection – though the opposite is more true.

    Life displayed in public is never going to be normal + we all need to make peace with that. You’re fine. Keep doing what you do – inspiring us to aspire in being our whole selves, messes or otherwise. Its all beautiful after all 😉

  • I love a clean house as much as the rest of us. And sometimes it takes a photo of my piles thative started to ignore to make me realize that I don’t actually like it there. One side of my bedroom is always clean, but we have a little armchair in there thatis always covered with clothes, clean towels, and, inexplicably, a light fixture in a box. I’m making a goal to spend 20 minutes a day organizing these kinds of little piles. They aren’t very big, wont take long, and I definitely have 20 min a day. In a month my house will feel so much better!

  • Every time I see pictures of your house (in whatever state it’s in) I’m so inspired by all of the rainbow shelves…. I love that one with all the glass dishes! Stunning!

  • Your mess really is beautiful, like your site title 😀 Nice share, as always thanks for the peek into your gorgeous home.

  • Thank you for always being authentic. You shouldn’t have to prove anything. What you do is share your home, life, family and struggles…and we are better for it.

  • The kitchen photo makes me so happy. I’ve always felt like that certain looks/styles were not achievable for me because I ALWAYS have things on my kitchen counter :). Seeing your lived in pictures makes me realize that I already got it!

    Also, I can totally relate with laundry. I have a two year old and I am still amazed at how much MORE laundry I have now due to this tiny little human than I ever had before she came along.

  • I appreciate your sharing but I still want to know…how do you keep the toys just in the playroom? I have an almost 2.5 year old boy and his toys migrate the house. Partially I let it happen because then I can actually cook dinner or eat….

  • I love this so, so much. Whilst mess is usually a stressful thing, seeing that other people have the same habits as I do makes me feel far more relaxed about how I’m living my life. Isn’t it funny how we can be so good at some things, and bad at others? Our bathroom usually quite tidy, but the kitchen is something I really struggle with as we don’t have a dishwasher or much bench space, so it always seems really messy.

    But, as good as it is to stay on top of chores such as cleaning, it’s also important to remember that at the end of our lives we’re not going to remember the messes we made, but more so the fun we have while we were making them. Thank you for posting this!

  • Thank you soooo much for this post! Makes us all feel more normal. And transparency is my fave! ????????♥️

  • Love this post!! Bloggers…they’re just like us, haha!
    I was wondering…I noticed the chairs in your breakfast nook are different from the ones in your room tour…can you tell me where these new ones are from?


  • I so love everything about this post! I couldn’t agree more that kid rooms/playrooms are delightful even when “messy”! Potty training comment made me laugh out loud. I’ve found with our 3yo who has WAY too many clothes, that hanging clothes we haven’t grown into in the closet, and stashing outgrown stuff in underbed boxes, has helped keep the drawers/front of the closet to only the stuff that currently works!

  • I’m so glad that you shared these photos! I struggle with messes all the time and I often feel like my house should just “stay nice” but of course it never does! Thank you for bravely sharing real life versions of the everyday 🙂

  • Thanks so much for sharing Elsie! Even though most of us know that Instagram and blog photography don’t tell the full story, we still end up comparing our own messy lives with the beautifully staged ones we see every day. This was so refreshing! Your house looks even more gorgeous with all the signs of life and love in it. Thank you!

  • I just love your house so much! Refreshing to see the everyday – I can relate to the laundry!!


  • Wow, I loved this! I feel so much better whenever I see that I’m not the only one with a bit of a laundry issue!
    Your house is beautiful anyway, of course we all enjoy drooling over pristine rooms and countertops, but it’s nice to see the daily behind-the-scene situation too!
    As a small apartment dweller with light gray floors and a pretty big dog who is a heavy shedder, there’s no way my house can look picture-perfect on the daily… I’ve taught myself to always load the dishwasher, make the bed, keep the house tidy, etc, but those super modern tiles will be the death of me! I would really appreciate it if you girls, as influential lifestyle bloggers, could make dog hair-coverer floors a thing! 🙂

  • I wish I felt the way you do about kids’ rooms being magical no matter what. Haha. 🙂 Some nights, when it’s a mess in my daughter’s room, and she’s refusing to go to sleep, and I’m running low on patience, I just cannot stand being in there. Ugh. Haha. I don’t like feeling that way, but her room is small, and while we’re minimal in what we have in there, between the books, shoes, clothes, and cloth diapering stuff, it gets so cluttered – and so quickly, too! It is a quick clean up, though, and that always helps me feel better about it.

    Managing the toddler clothes is a STRUGGLE! I have a bin I keep on her closet shelf for ‘too small’ items, and a tupperware tub in the basement for still-too-big things. I throw the too-small items in the bin as I find out she’s outgrown them (::sob sob:: Haha.). Once a season I rummage through the too-big tub and bring up what will fit – and go through the too-small box to save/donate those items. So far, it’s worked out pretty well!

    • I have a similar approach. Too-small clothes to sell or donate are taken out of circulation with a bin on top of the dresser. When it’s full, I deal with it (usually). Clothes to grow into are stored in the bottom drawer of the dresser, so they are not so much out of mind that I forget about them. And as I put clothes away I can check in there and see if something needs to be added into rotation.

  • I have been following you and Justina for years, and I loved Justina’s post showing her home on a “normal” day. I was literally just reading your blog yesterday and thinking that I wish you would do one too, and voila!! I know it is awkward taking pictures of “messes” but we all have them. Sometimes I get overwhelemed by the perfect house photos on blogs and feel like I’m such a slump. This is a great reminder that no one is “perfect” all of the time. Thank you!!

  • I really appreciate the honesty behind this post! It’s so easy to fall into the trap of believing everything we see on social media. At the end of the day, we’re all ordinary people. 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • First, you don’t look pregnant at all!

    Second, I love this post. Makes me feel better about my messes. I’m pretty OCD.

    I recently bought a new home in March and am trying to embrace more color. Your website has really been an inspiration to me!

    • That’s because she isn’t pregnant? What a weird thing to comment on. The post clearly says “when we ADOPT our second child”.

      • She said that because at the top of the post, Elsie wrote “if anyone asks if I’m pregnant, I’ll be so annoyed.” because of the angle of the photo…

        And I agree with Stephanie, you totally don’t! I loved this post!

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