How Clutter Goes Unnoticed

I was sitting in my car today and a lady who looks just like Martha Stewart pulled into the parking space across from me in her beige SUV. She smiled right at me, and I wasn’t sure why. So I was sitting there feeling how nice it was to have Martha smiling at me, when it occurred to me that Brenda is still in the car with me, and that’s why Martha was smiling so big.

Brenda in the carI had kind of forgotten Brenda was there. She’s this princess/wonder woman piñata in the back seat. I don’t notice her anymore.

That’s what happens to clutter. It sticks around so long that you don’t even see it.

In my home this happens in my bedroom. That’s the only room you can’t see in when you come in the front door. That’s where stuff gets dropped, piled, and stored. It’s the default home for stuff that has no home.

I’ve been decluttering more in anticipation for our move. In an ideal world, a home would always stay clutter-free. The reality is that other things are usually more important to deal with at the time. It’s not until something like a move happens that you pay attention to the stuff you could ignore before.

Bon voyage, Brenda.

(Secret note to L. — I’m sending you something in the mail.)

What is one thing you still have because you simply haven’t gotten around to decluttering it yet?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Lol, i suppose at least your clutter is making folks smile. :)

    I have a shelf full of stuff i’m not sure i need that i’ve been leaving for ages (since i moved rooms a few months back), and noticed last night when i was thinking about my lack of space. And a PC i simply cannot decide what to do with! The first i completely forgot about, the second keeps bugging me. Time to knuckle under and make some decisions i guess.

  2. Now that’s some amusing clutter!

    But I get what you mean about not seeing the clutter anymore. There are a few things that have been sitting on my kitchen counter for so long that I think I just now believe are supposed to be there. But I’m quite sure that the empty, orange cd holder doesn’t belong there. Nor does the Sesame Street cup full of pennies. I pledge to find homes for those bits of clutter today. :-)

    Kimba @ A Soft Place to Land´s last blog post..Rocking My Baby

  3. The closet in my daughter’s room just keeps filling up (with out-of-season clothes and clothing she’s outgrown) until I can no longer open and close the door without incident. It’s one of the few spots in my home where I allow this and I don’t even notice I’m doing it until something comes crashing down on my head.

    Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last blog post..TO Knit Or To Purl?

  4. I think I would have noticed a strange face peeking at me from by back seat. But don’t look at me- I have a bag of 0-3 month-hand-me-down clothing in by back seat, given to me by a friend, for my now-9-month-old…that I *never opened*.
    It’s the things that are in plain sight that are the hardest to declutter.
    Good luck with your decluttering!

    Evenshine´s last blog post..Sprechen ze American, Part Deux

  5. At least your clutter is fun!

    My clutter is piled up next to me on the desk I am supposed to be working on- always makes for difficulties working :)

    Amy´s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday: Locks of Love

  6. Brenda will be missed. Weird.. I remember her name as soon as I saw the photo!

    Clutter.. it’s everywhere! Sometimes I don’t know where to begin. Sad, eh?

    Dana @ Letters to Elijah´s last blog post..Always Proofread

  7. one thing? LOL, I wish. How about what’s the one hundred things? My big problem is children’s stuff. They aren’t little and we homeschool so I can’t just de-clutter when they’re at school and hope they won’t notice. You can’t get rid of older kid’s stuff like you can little ones. We’re working on it but it’s difficult.

    renee @ FIMBY´s last blog post..Resolutions for a life (hopefully) well lived

  8. My biggest issue area with clutter is the home office/desk stuff & books. We are blessed with lots and lots of books…but we don’t read them all. I really need to gather those up and donate the ones we don’t need/really want to keep


    and photos everywhere/not in albums…that’s another top of the list project!

  9. Erm. Now that you tell me and I look around the main room… GOSH


  10. We have this cardboard box full of other boxes and paper by our kitchen trash can. It’s been there since Christmas but for some reason every time we take the trash out, the box full of boxes gets overlooked.I even moved it out of the way to sweep the floor.

  11. One thing? LOL!

    My bedroom is in the same state as yours, but we’re not moving. I think I need to treat my clutter like that – pretend that you’re moving and what do you release?

    If I have to pick one thing, it would be my remaining Stampin’ Up stuff. I’ve sold all I can on eBay, but I have a hard time just giving the rest away.

  12. I chuckled at your topic today because this is the week I’ve chosen to declutter my bedroom. I haven’t done a flick of cleaning to it since my dad fell ill and passed away almost two years ago. Two years! My dust bunnies in there have great-great-grandchildren. My goal is to put it in such good shape that I don’t have to close the door when company comes over. (We live in a smallish house, according to HGTV standards, and you can see into the bedroom from the living room.)

    Jen in KS´s last blog post..How’d we do and what’s ahead

  13. Kim, yes! Declutter like you’re moving. It works wonders.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who still has stuff laying around.

  14. *tear* Bye Brenda :(

    Ivy´s last blog post..Banking on Laziness…

  15. one thing?!??!? haahhahah!

    i’ve got a ton of stuff i haven’t gotten around to de-cluttering yet, but the one super ridiculous one that stands out is a garbage can. it’s broken, used to be our kitchen garbage can, and we keep meaning to throw it out. we got a new one, set the old one next to the trash cans outside, and …


    it’s sat there for like a year. just waiting to be tossed out.

    seriously. a year. NEXT to the bins that go to the curb every week.

  16. I have wedding stuff everywhere, and even though I try to contain it in a central location, sometimes it creeps out on me and takes over whatever I’m working on.

    Does Lane notice that Brenda is gone?

  17. V. Higgins says:

    Thanks to my constant stream of simplicity/declutter blogs (like yours!) I’ve been decent about keeping up on clutter. I actually just finished decluttering/cleaning my desk here at work (we had a bunch of random binders that I honestly didn’t know what they’re here for so, they got boxed up and put in the warehouse) and it looks so nice!!
    I have two clutter spots right now, we have a bag of Christmas gifts that, seriously, haven’t moved since we brought them back from the in-laws on Christmas night! *chuckles* I need to find homes for them… oh and the boxes of leftover stuff that was at my parents house that they brought over… have to go through those too… dang it!
    My constant clutter struggle spot is my desk though. We don’t have a filing cabinet and I’m still getting used to organizing my finances so it’s my default ‘dump area’ for any reciepts (after they go into the checkbook), mail, catalogs, magazines, tax paperwork… and this is a *tiny* little IKEA desk from college. I almost can’t see the bottom part of my monitor anymore *sad* I guess I know what my weekend projects are! :-P

  18. I declutter like I’m starting back to school – which I’ll be doing next week! My last semester of nursing =)

    Once school starts, I spend every spare minute studying, so I always take the few weeks I have off between semesters tackling clutter that I know will just sit there for 15wks if I don’t get to it. Last night I tore through my closet which was last on my list – YAY! My big projects this time were kitchen drawers/cabinets, and downsizing my Christmas decorations. OH! And I did my nightstand drawers which were overflowing with stuff that had nowhere else to go. Also made it through the kids closets and rearranged their furniture to boot!! I need a nap! But it feels so good =)

    On another topic, I thought of a tip I had read awhile ago that I never actually put into place, but I wanted to share it anyway! If you have kids who are close-ish in age (where hand me downs may not be easily distinguishable), here’s an idea on how to tell what clothes have been passed on, and what belongs to who. Say you have a shirt that belongs to your oldest child. Make one small dot with a sharpie on the tag, signifying it belongs to child #1. When that shirt is handed down to child #2, make another dot to signify it now belongs to your second child, and so on. I thought this was such a great idea!! I don’t know why I never used it – haha – would save a lot of ‘This isn’t mine!!’

  19. Oh Rachel, you can’t banish BRENDA!! How will I find your car in the parking garage. I just spot the car that has the crazy woman always in the backseat.
    Love you, Mom

    Sarah´s last blog post..The New Me

  20. Ugh! My husband’s collection of old computer stuff and a HUGE pile of camping gear that has yet to find a home in basement. I am pretty good at the old sort and toss but I just can’t summon the gumption to handle these tasks. And the camping stuff is now partially obscured by the christmas stuff that never got really put away either. It’s definately getting worse by the day down there.

  21. oh my goodness, i say this all the time:
    That’s what happens to clutter. It sticks around so long that you don’t even see it.

    soooo true! in fact, we check up on each other since we don’t see our own clutter! i see my husband’s, he sees mine.


    nicola´s last blog post..being tested

  22. Nicola, that is such a good point. I always notice Doug’s clutter, but I am oblivious to my own. Poor Doug.

  23. I was just thinking about clutter yesterday. I had a very bad day with baby Bean, because he was sick, and I couldn’t find anything I needed. I was ready to just go around the house with trash bags and throw everything out. I wonder how we got so much useless stuff piled everywhere when we started out with one dresser, one futon and on bed when we first got married. I am looking forward to having a yard sale this summer so I can get rid of it all. I am so tired of having too too too much stuff.

  24. Oh my, our garage is a disaster area. Like you, that is where everything goes, because you can’t see it when you come in and also, because I am stressed when there is clutter in my home so it all goes into the garage. This weekend I asked, okay, begged my friends to come over and de-clutter my garage with me. I know myself, 1. if I do it alone, I will keep a lot of “stuff” and 2. if I do it alone and walk into the garage it will all seem too overwhelming to me and I will walk back out, because knitting is way more fun than decluttering!

    corinne´s last blog post..Good Things

  25. Are you sure you want to get rid of Brenda just yet? It seems like she attracts a lot of good karma!

    Julie Marr´s last blog post..cold outside, cozy inside

  26. Leighanne Crouch says:

    RIP Sweet Brenda. You will be missed. I agree Brenda is all about good karma. I just love that you have 25 comments about Brenda! I can’t wait to check the mail!

  27. Just about everywhere I look there is stuff, stuff, stuff, though we have made some excellent progress in the basement and that is encouraging!

    Vintage Mommy´s last blog post..Lucky Seven?

  28. Your post was so well-timed. I’ve been meaning to do a big clean, but you are so right to point out that long-term clutter seems to disappear from sight even when it’s right in front of you. I only tackled the laundry room and kitchen today, but I really looked at those rooms and thought “Does this belong here?” I was amazed at how many “no”s I found and put away at last!

    Jennifer´s last blog post..A few weeks of firsts

  29. What great clutter you have!!! No one thing but I seem to have gone blind to piles of washing and kids toys!!

  30. Unnoticed clutter: last August, my mom gave me a bag full of newspapers and a clothing organizer for JohnJohn. They stayed on the floorboard of the passenger side of my car for months. I finally put the newspapers in the recycling bin in December, and ended up having the clothing organizer be one of JohnJohn’s Christmas presents, LOL!
    Sent you some linky love, BTW!

    Laura Leigh´s last blog post..Meet Rachel from Small Notebook!

  31. Rachel! Leighanne sent this along to some of us fellow Brenda-lovers! She would never want to be anyone’s clutter, so I am glad she is moving on!

    Congratulations, also, on the new little one! I am so excited for you and Doug. I bet Lane will be a great older sister!

    Hope all is well with your many changes!

  32. Decluttering is an ongoing battle for any home I think. I’ve been through 3 monster decluttering periods in the last 2 and a half years prompted by two international moves – you seriously do not want to pay international shipping rates for your junk!!

    The recurring theme I’ve noticed though is that even with a concerted effort, you do accumulate “STUFF” and most homes do generally have a “zone” such as your bedroom where it all goes to hide. Mine is my study, I think I still feel overindulged having had one for the last few years and consequently don’t treat it well. Writing that makes me realise how back to front that is and adds to my new effort to say decluttered…..just have to go unpack the last 80 boxes which are containing stuff I expect can still be decluttered.

    Great blog, am an avid follower now via bloglines and have been really inspired by your writing. Keep up the great work.

    V x

    Victoria Leather´s last blog post..Summer Holidays

  33. One thing I haven’t decluttered yet? just one thing? 1?
    I think I will have to say, “my house.”

    Rachel´s last blog post..Heaven Misplaced: Christ’s Kingdom on Earth

  34. Long live Brenda!! She will always hold a special place in our hearts – good thing we didn’t let her go swimming in the Blue Hole! Hope you are doing well! Congrats on the new baby – I am thrilled for you guys!

  35. How funny! Found you through a recommendation from a friend. I know that feeling of having the junk around so long that it just becomes part of the normal background. But, I’ve never seen anything like Brenda.

  36. Did I miss something? Are you moving to a bigger house than your apartment? Just curious, though you don’t have to write about it if you don’t want.

    As for decluttering . . . it’s easy for things to start piling up on top of our microwave because it’s a “space” that has no particular function. But I’ve realized that there’s really no need for anything to be there just because it’s a space. In fact, it really does affect the flow of the room to have the space filled with odds and ends, like a receipt I pulled out of my purse, or the green plastic whatsit that goes to a toy of my son’s, etc.

    Jenni @ Life from the Roof´s last blog post..Free Tall Tea Beverage at Safeway

  37. Slackerjo says:

    Save Brenda! Saaaaaavvvveeee Brenda.

    I am ruthless when I come to clutter (current apt 550 sq feet, new apt in March, 450 sq feet) but well, Brenda seems nice.

    Brenda is the perfect friend. She’s a great listener. She does not eat messy fast food in the backseat. She’s a snappy dresser. She is filled with candy.Okay, I want to adopt Brenda!

    I think Brenda is now part of the family. She has to stay. Fast forward to the future, what if Lane likes the cute boy in math class and she’s too weirded out to talk about it with her mom, Brenda will be there to listen and not judge.

    Living with less is good but sometimes we do silly things with our stuff. My Brenda is Driving Chicken. A small chicken stuffed animal. For 15 + yrs and 3 different cars, driving chicken has been my faithful companion on short errands and road trips. I bought Driving Chicken cause he was marked down in a bargin bin for 50 cents and I FELT SORRY FOR A STUFFED ANIMAL.

    I have to say, it was 50 cents well spent.

  38. I have decluttered and decluttered. My hands have touched everything in the house more than once, and I have made the decision to keep what’s here. Lots of things have been donated, and lots of things have been sold on eBay. I want to pare down more, but I feel that I can’t see what needs to go any more. I wish I could see with wisdom through a new set of eyes.

    My surfaces are pretty clear, but the “decluttered” closets are very full and require reorganizing on a regular basis because they house so much.

    I feel stuck.

  39. Jenni, we’re moving to a bigger apartment. Our one bedroom is barely big enough for the three of us, and it’s going to be too small when there’s four. We’re hoping to move to a two bedroom apartment soon. (I don’t want anything bigger than that, and we found one we like.)

    Y’all, Brenda’s gone. I know we’ll all miss her, but she’s in a better place now.

  40. Rebekah, take a break if you’re feeling stuck. Enjoy your cleared spaces. You don’t need to declutter all the time. Wait a little while until you feel inspired again, and then it will be easier.

  41. That’s the problem with clutter is it sneaks up on you. I think you have to be vigilant to make sure it doesn’t overtake you

    Geri´s last blog post..Bisphenol-A and Pregnancy

  42. At least your clutter is interesting and quirky! I just noticed mine today… tripped on it, actually: a ladder that’s been on the floor of the bedroom for, oh, I don’t know, an entire year…

    Buh-bye ladder–that’s for the kick in the rear!

    Sara at On Simplicity´s last blog post..Giving up Sacred Cows