Post image for Where Is All The Clutter? Where Are The Toys?

Where Is All The Clutter? Where Are The Toys?

by SomeGirl on September 26, 2010 · 26 comments

So, my last post spurred a couple of questions from a good blogging friend, Laura at Common Grounds. She writes:

“I recently read How Do You Decorate for Fall? on SomeGirlsWebsite. The post displayed pictures of Michelle’s home beautifully decorated for Fall (my favorite season, by the way). In looking at the pictures, I found myself in awe. Where was the clutter? Where are the toys? Michelle has two children around my son’s age. There should be toys!!! Nope. No clutter either. What’s up with that? How is that even possible?” (read more of her post here)

And I thought I’d take a minute (or an hour ;) ) to answer her questions here. :)

First, the clutter is there it’s just been camouflaged… it’s been Pottery-Barn-ed, so to speak.

See for yourself:

Here’s our front living room… See all those baskets? They’re hiding the boys’ stash of toys…

Here in that front stack of baskets that acts as a side coffee table are some reading books and a wooden train set.

Over by the mirror (which I love, from IKEA) is a basket of building blocks.

Back in the right hand corner is a picnic basket of musical instruments.

…and there, tucked behind the sofa, is a fun ride on toy.

And in the Family Room…

See that big chest? It holds a TON of Geo Trax train pieces and a few bigger toys that don’t fit in the baskets I have tucked in a bookshelf on the other side of the room.

I thought the shelf with baskets looked nicer than this picture makes it look. Hmm…. (I do have some chalkboard tags I plan to add to Pottery Barn-ify the baskets. Can you tell I like the Pottery Barn look? ;) I like to look through their catalog and copy the style with thrift store and garage sale items. )

The clutter and toys are tucked almost-neatly inside.

Behind the sofa, there’s a hockey table with buckets of dress up clothes, building bricks, and what-not stored below.

And, for the record, here’s how that room looked before I took the picture Friday… I  shut the TV cabinet doors, pushed the VCR basket under the entertainment center, moved the blue rocking chair to its place on the wall, folded and put away the blankets/pillows and cleaned the coffee table/toy chest. See, I have clutter. ;)

And here’s one of my favorite pieces… an old, ugly white dresser with stickers all over it and a broken top drawer that I found for $9 at a thrift store. I Potter Barn-ed it (of course) ;) with a little plywood, red paint and new handles. It makes a great storage cabinet!

Here’s a look inside:

And just in-case you’re still not convinced there’s clutter, I’ll show you my sore spot (and this means we’re REALLY good friends!). My desk area in the kitchen… it gets cleared off before every social event, but otherwise is my landing spot for everything that comes into this house. Don’t faint!

Fortunately we have an old house with lots of closets and cabinets, that helps a lot. And we have a housekeeper that comes every other week, so I make myself straighten the entire house every other Friday so that she can clean every other Saturday. It’s SO worth it!

Oh, btw, I read a GREAT idea last week in Better Homes and Garden (an older issue). It’s called The Penalty Box. You make sure your children know that anything left out after bedtime…

(that was supposed to be a picture showing the games in a basket on the counter and how my Den looked today, but it works well to illustrate this new idea I found)

will be picked up and put in a box (the penalty box).

In order to get an item back out of the penalty box a chore of some kind must be done.

For each chore completed a toy/item can be retrieved.

I like that idea! We’ve been doing it for a week now and it seems to be working… Friday’s straightening time before the housekeeper came was MUCH easier this week (but now I have 2 penalty boxes full of toys that needs to go somewhere). ;)

Hope that answered the questions!

What about you? What de-cluttering techniques do you use? Any suggestions for my sore-spot? I’d LOVE to hear from you! ♥



Your home still looks beautiful to me! I like to “Pottery barn” things too! :)
Where did you get the cute vacuum your little boy is using?? And does it really work? I think we need something like that at our house!
Have a great week!


Thanks, Jessica! I got it at Walmart last Christmas for $9. It’s a little hand vac with a telescoping handle. It works as well as any other hand vac I’ve had, but it’s mostly just something I let my little one use to feel like he’s helping. :)

Hope you have a GREAT week, too!


My whole house looks like your desk but I am sure you are not surprised! Four children and a dog are hard to keep organized! I am very impressed Michelle. :)


LOL! Suddenly I had a flashback to college (and your dark green carpet)! Four children and a dog would do me in! I’m impressed you’re still sane. ;) Thanks for the comment! :)


If only my clutter area looked like your kitchen desk! And if I was to share my clutter area pic – I don’t know that I actually could do it! You are well organized and know just how to have the perfect place for everything! Add me to the list of those that love Pottery Barn. (I however am not always good about finding a less expensive version of what I like – need to improve on that!)

Can I ask what style home you have? Is it a colonial?


Hopefully the Goodbye Junk area will help us both! :) As far as finding a good deal goes, someone once shared the 80/50 rule with me… find something you like 80% as much as the original item you like (ie Potter Barn item) for 50% of the cost. That has helped me find good deals (and regularly visiting thrift stores as a hobby has helped, too). ;)

Ok, so I did a little researching and it looks like my home style falls more closely with Cape Cod than anything else, but it isn’t fully a cape cod… I’ll have to share a picture of the outside someday and see if anyone knows what style it is. :) It was built in the early 60’s when Cape Cod would have been popular, but being free spirited was popular, too. So, it might be a free spirited take on that style. ;)


The 80/50 rule is a good one! Yes, you definitely should share a picture someday of the outside. I’d love that!


Just wanted to say that I agree…that shelf with the baskets looks much better in person. Not sure why it looks less cute in the pic.

You are very well organized! (And I can say that because I’ve been there when you consider it ‘messy’)… :)


Thank you, Shell! That makes me feel better about the baskets! :) And thank you for the compliment! xoxo


Okay. Wow. First of all, thanks for the mention – and for sharing your “clutter.” Reading this post this morning totally made me smile, and laugh out loud! ;-) I second many of the comments above: My entire house looks like your kitchen desk. Cluttered. LOL!

Second of all, your home is beautiful! I love all the baskets and containers you use to hide the “clutter.” I started out that way. I really did, and I even tried the basket idea with baskets under our TV to store books, CDs, videos, and that large basket in the corner to store toys, and the set of nine storage bins for toys. And yet? It still looks cluttered. I’ve added two more containers (albeit not cute ones), and there’s still not enough room for all the clutter!!!

Okay…enough about me. I’ve decided that the first thing I need to do, is check out the Pottery Barn catalogs. I’ve typically stayed away from them for fear of falling prey to their alluring charm. But, I like the idea of trying to “Pottery-Barn” things using less-expensive methods. Great idea!

Thanks again for sharing – and for the mention/quote! ;-)


Hehe… glad you asked the questions and glad this post made you smile and laugh! :)

I just shared an idea that has helped me with a friend in a comment above… the 80/50 rule. When you see something you like in the super cute, but outrageously priced PB catalog, look for something that you like 80% as much for 50% of the price. That way you know what style you want, and you get very close to the look, but pay a lot less. You’d also be surprised at how many PB things get donated to your local thrift stores (you have to frequent them to find them, but I like to call that a fun “treasure hunt.”) :)

Btw, notice I didn’t share pictures of my garage or backyard full of toys! ;)

Thanks for the sweet words! {HUGS}


Awesome organization, friend!! I use lots of baskets too!! Otherwise our decor would be in Primary colors!! =)


Thanks, Rachel! Yeah, gotta love baskets and their natural colors! I have to say I strongly dislike primary colors! Truly, as weird as it is, that was one of my biggest fears when thinking about becoming a mom! lol (now the upcoming tween/teen years are my biggest fear.) ;)

Cranberry Morning

What great ideas! And it all looks so beautiful! Can you think of a way I could camouflage a big, old piano?

Love the pic of your son vacuuming. So cute!

I usually found lost Legos by accidentally kneeling on them.


Hmmm…. a big, old piano… I’m sure their a way to Pottery Barn that! Hey, that’s what someone needs to make: a Potter-Barn That! app for the iPhone… you take a picture of what you have and the app shows you how to camouflage/PB it! I’d buy it! ;)

And can I say, “OUCH!” to the kneeling on Legos…. OUCH! ;)


LOVE IT…………..I feel so at home cuz my house is a clutter mess too. I do the same thing. I clean for the cleaner as my hubby says! Thank you for being Real and sharing. Now I just need you to come help me get looking like the Pottery Barn. I love that look! Have a blessed day!


Thanks, Karen! Yeah, my husband doesn’t understand the need to “clean before the cleaners come” as he likes to say. ;)

Btw, I have a huge stack of PB catalogs stuck away in my desk drawer and probably a few lying in the pile to the right of me (which you can now picture) if you ever need one… hey, that could help me declutter my sore spot a bit! Send my extra clutter to you guys! ;) lol

Hope you have a blessed day, too! ♥


Just have to say …i love containers ..anything that’s cute and hides stuff!! your pictures look beautiful. everything looks organized and relaxing!!



Thank you, Jaime!! ♥

Deb Chitwood @ Living Montessori Now

You’ve done a beautiful job with your home, Michelle! Great “Pottery Barn” technique! I’m a lover of baskets as well – I’ve especially used a lot of baskets to hold Montessori activities. I always liked those bamboo paper plate holders as trays for educational materials (attractive and kept the primary colors from overwhelming the environment). And I love that child-sized vacuum (adorable photo, by the way)! :)


That’s a GREAT idea to use those paper plate holders as trays! I’ll have to remember that! Thank you! :)


Smiling and laughing over here, too!! Your desk looks like something out of a magazine compared to mine! It got so piled up now I have taken over the bar in the kitchen!! The funny things is that people think I’m organized :)….shhhh…..

LOVED the Penalty Box idea!!!!!


That’s funny!! Now, for some reason, I’m dying to see a picture of your desk/piles!! ;) lol


Be careful what you ask for!!


Your home is beautiful and cozy! I love that penalty box idea! I am going to try to use it. Thanks :)


Thanks, Natalie! Hope the penalty box works well for you! :)

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: