problem solving by making pretty

i have one major problem area in my house and its right here – this built-in buffet in our dining room.

this area is my “drop zone” – when we get home, we come in through the back door and everything gets dropped here.  bags go on the hooks, shoes get kicked off under the gumball machine, and whatever else is in my arms gets dumped on the counter.

(that pink bag is our beach bag.  this time of year we always have it ready to grab and go.)

after days and weeks of this happening, the counter is full of who-knows-what.

i decided that if the countertop was set up pretty that dropping my piles would be less enticing.  and for the last week or so it has worked!

the plates are about 10 years old, from ikea.  i have a whole bunch of them and they are great for parties.

the yellow scale was a gift from my mom.  the handkerchief tea towels were from kmart, the martha stewart collection.

these bowls are also from ikea.

this strawberry cookie jar was a garage sale find when i first got married.  the striped thermos was also a gift  from my mom.  i know, she’s amazing.

the turquoise drink container was a garage sale find.  the cake plates were wedding gifts.

this countertop used to by just plywood until we discovered how inexpensive covering it in galvanized steel would be.

this old fruit crate was a gift from my friend nicole.  it works great as a catch-all, holding a small basket of miscellaneous things, and a pile of vintage table cloths.

but then i was thinking that the bowls and plates made it look too cluttered.

what do you think?  do you like it better without?


  1. 1

    Love it! Very refreshing!

  2. 2

    I like it both ways but leaning towards without!

  3. 3
    Valerie says:

    While I love both looks the one without the bowls and plates looks better. They seem to be kind of out of place there. Some flowers would be nice, though, on top of that wooden crate :)

  4. 4

    I’m loving it both ways, but I’d have to say without, too. You know that old saying about looking in the mirror and then taking off one accessory? I try to abide to that with my home, too. :) Our drop zones vary from place to place–right now it’s our breakfast table. So, I’m getting my butt in gear today to clean this junk up! Thanks as always for your inspiration!:)

  5. 5

    I love the arrangement of colors, definitely cute stuff! Jealous of the scale and all the lovely white plates and bowls! …but since you ask.. it kinda looks out of place on the counter. :)

  6. 6

    I think without. I have that problem of adding too much “stuff” when sometimes less is more.

  7. 7

    I like it without as well. I love that cookie jar. So cute!

  8. 8
    Suzanne says:

    Beautiful, but like the others said I liked it without. And like every busy home- a drop place there must be. And as a mom of a busy family, I would walk into your home and say, “Oh good, another mom with an area to drop stuff.”
    Have a beautiful week.

  9. 9

    i like the depth the bowls add but the question is….is it functional there – do you use the bowls – do they make it easier AND pretty? xoxo

  10. 10
    Tiffany says:

    droooooling for the turquoise drink container, can’t even believe it was a yard sale find.

  11. 11

    i love the way it looks with the bowls and plates if you’re getting ready to entertain…but if not, go for simple. i love your style. i love white with that splash of color…so summery and fun!

  12. 12

    It’s very pretty like this, but I would not be able to live with it. It would be bare or have some sort of storage container(s) within a week here.

  13. 13

    I have almost the exact same problem, except mine is a desk and I feel the same way about it…if its pretty then I won’t toss everything on it, so I am in the process this week to make it look nice. Glad to know it works!! And I like the bowls, creates less space to toss stuff on the countertop! ;) xoxo

  14. 14

    I think without and I am in love with the tea towels. How long ago did you get them?

  15. 15

    I like with out. I have a similar spot in my laundry room that drives me crazy! I am going to try prettying it up!

  16. 16

    Remember the old saying…”Less is more.” :) I vote for without.

  17. 17

    Looks SO cute! Love the way you prettied it up.

  18. 18

    I love this! The bowls and plates look great there. What a pretty display!

  19. 19

    Both are so fun! I’d say without the extra dishes. It’s so much fresher. And sheesh- if you lived out here, you’d be hosing them off three times a day! (dust and dirt are my nemasis in the desert!)

  20. 20

    I think it’s beautiful, but you’re right, the plates and bowls make it look cluttered again. you should def go without.

  21. 21

    So pretty! I like it without the dishes. I have a strawberry cookie jar very similar to yours. It was a gift to me/my mom at her baby shower for me. My mom has saved it for me all this time, hoping that I would want it in my own house. We are currently buying a house, and I already have a spot picked out for it!!

  22. 22

    It looks fabulous! I vote for without…less is more!

  23. 23

    I like the look of the layers I liked it with. I love your buffet! Your house is such an inspiration to me!

  24. 24

    I vote for doing without the plates and bowls. It looks less cluttered.

  25. 25

    I love this! You are inspiring me to replace our paper napkins with hankies just for everyday use! :)

  26. 26


  27. 27

    I prefer without, but you may prefer with as the plates and bowls add a variety of heights. All of the items you have are so fun but are about the same height so your eye isn’t focusing on any of them. If you use the plates and bowls, I’d keep them out. I leave our dining table set with chargers and centerpieces so we don’t dump on it:)

  28. 28

    i loved it when i first saw it…then when i got to the without it looked much less cluttered. think without is my preference. super cute either way!!!

  29. 29

    awww..this is adorable. i have the same problem with the table in my entry…and the one in my dining room. if i keep the surface free of decor…it gets cluttered with junk. ha.

  30. 30

    I think I like it both ways but probably prefer it with the plates and bowls. They’re so pretty all together! Either way, it’s gorgeous!

  31. 31


  32. 32

    I like it! Having a little something there that ‘belongs’ there is better than empty space to toss stuff!

  33. 33

    Did you make that awesome grey and teal bag that is hanging next to the pink one? Will you be selling any more like that? I LOVE it!!!

  34. 34

    I love it both ways! I can’t choose!

  35. 35
    Jennifer says:

    I have some of those little Ikea bowls too. I love them, wish I could get more, we use them for everything.

  36. 36

    Your blog is a lot of fun! Thank you!

    If the items are just for decoration, and are not used nearby…. I would remove them. Maybe in it’s place is a cute basket for things you DO use there. A basket for mail, sunscreen maybe, keys, etc…

    Looks great either way. I like the flower suggestions too.

  37. 37

    You have very beautiful things! And I love your blog! So when I say I’m going to be honest, I’m not trying to offend. When I first saw this post and the first picture, it looked like you had placed all your accessories on the buffet to show a “before” it was accessorized it and what you were going to be using. The way they’re placed made me think it is temporary. I love the white dishes, and all the other accessories. Why not place some of them in that beautiful bird cage, to make people stop and look. “Tell a story” of sorts with your accessories. This is all just one opinion! Do whatever makes your heart happy, there is no right or wrong. :)

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