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The calm in the camera and the chaos beyond

I know you’ve come to expect lighthearted decorating talk here at View Along the Way, but today we’re taking a dark turn…

…down a forbidden path…

…to expose dark secrets.

A inside look at the hidden underbelly of…



Every now and then I get the sweetest emails from other mamas of little ones asking something along the lines of: “How do you manage everything – the kids, DIY projects AND keeping your house clean?”

Which always sends me into hysterical fits of laughter. You know who NEVER asks me questions like that? Anyone who knows me in real life. I shared my real (embarrassing) secret for a “clean house” in our Q&A video here, but this weekend I had the perfect opportunity to gather the evidence. To write the exposé. To pull back the curtain on just what goes on around here.

I have a fun event coming up which I’ll be telling you about soon, but as part of the event, I needed to take some new “pretty pictures” of my house, starting with the office.

First thing we did was clear the office of the piles of paperwork, stray dresser that needs refinishing, and train table. You know, to give the appearance of a calm, clean workspace without Thomas the Train chugging along under the desk chair.

Ahhh look! A well-kept home!
Office with built-in bookshelves and DIY capiz chandelier at View Along the Way

But JUST BETWEEN US, you can know that FOUR INCHES outside of the camera lens, everything we’d removed from the office had gathered, and this was happening.
chaos beyond the camera lens: secrets of a home blogger
Seriously: four inches.

Don’t tell anybody.

On to the living room! This photo happened…
Living Room: striped curtains and white sofas at View Along the Way

In the midst of this:
I took that one with my phone so you can see… ALL of my decorations from that side of the room and from the mantle got recruited for this photo, so that side of the room is empty of decor, and the camera tripod barely fits around the jumper and other toys.

The crazy thing is, it’s not like my house looks like the house tour page sometimes, and other times looks like a tornado hit it. Sometimes, it looks like BOTH at the SAME time.

Here’s the spiffed-up half of my master bedroom.
Master Bedroom: DIY upholstered bed and DIY curtains at View Along the Wa

And here’s the wall opposite the bed, the portion of the room officially designated for the storage of clean laundry that we haven’t put away yet.
(Once you make it official, it’s not messy anymore. It’s just everything in its place.)

I forgot to take a pic of the other half of the room, where my spare decorations live while they anxiously await their turn to be called into duty. But it’s there, friends. It’s there.

As soon as Andy came to bed that night, he removed EVERYTHING I’d put on his nightstand “to make it functional again.”
Styled nightstand, DIY upholstered bed and DIY curtains at View Along the Way

I’d like to conclude by saying that when you see beautiful photos of homes in magazines and blogs, you can know that all is not as it appears.

But I’m not going to conclude like that, because it might just be me. Maybe everyone else maintains perfect homes where the sofa has never seen a goldfish crumb, and toys are stored in their designated cabinets when not in active play. Where dishes are returned at once to the dishwasher and toilet paper holders never sit empty.

But not here. And that’s okay with me, because we really live here. We really use the ottoman, and not just for storing heavy coffee table books between reads. We really use the sofas, and not just for storing snuggies-masquerading-as-throw-blankets-which-appear-to-be-casually-draped-but-are-actually-painstakingly-arranged.

Please tell me I’m not alone!

P.S.: I can’t wait to tell you about the thing I was taking these photos for.

P.P.S.: I like putting my kids in dressy clothes for Easter. The weather was bad and we were late for church, so we just quickly snapped a couple pics in bad lighting. I might need to put them in their clothes again and take more.
IMG_1436 copy (Custom)

Let's connect


  1. Your kids are beautiful! So cute!
    Loved this post! I have rooms in the house where I shove everything into and that you better not open. That’s my dark secret!!

  2. well ain’t this the truth! 🙂 i think we all have that one area in our rooms that serves as the place to stand for photo-taking, so who really cares. 😉

  3. Oh, get out of my head! I love it! I always tell people that they never see what is on the other side of the that camera! Thanks for keeping it real and showing us your dark side 😉 xo Kristin

  4. Hahaha , this made my life. Thank you. This is how we do it too! Just move it out of the way and It didn’t happen… though before I get back to take the picture the dogs have usually thrown a toy on the floor again…

  5. I love this :). Whenever I post pictures of my living room on the blog I always get asked “how do you have a white couch with 4 pets” to which my response is “the retouch tool on photoshop” 🙂

  6. So true. I always seem to be moving crap out of the way to get a photo of something in our house. Excited to see what you were taking the photos for!

  7. This looks very, very familiar 🙂

  8. Hilarious. I have actually been taking pictures of all of the disasters just outside of the shot for a few months now. I think it’s only fair to show that pictures aren’t always reality. The worst is when you have to photograph a mirror though – that means you have to clean everything BEHIND you too! I am on strike against mirrors at the moment….

  9. Oh. You should see the other side of my craft room. Mwah hahaha.

    Cute kids. 🙂

  10. Oh yes, I’m there with you! There is always a little pile…and more often than not, a big pile…in the corner of a room of clutter I had to move out of the way to take the picture 🙂

  11. You a absolutely not alone Kelly! I can completely relate and it’s always what’s behind the camera that is the “real”. Love your boldness for showing your reality. I’m thinking of doing the same. xo Jenna

  12. I feel like I say this all the time to you, but I LOVE this post. Thanks for being real!! I love that you steal decorations from other parts of the house. Sometimes I wonder how people can afford to have THAT MANY perfect decorations throughout their house….

  13. LOVED this post! You are not alone!!!

  14. I knew it! I knew that no one could have two kids under the age of 4 and not have at least a little carefully controlled chaos going on! Thanks for being real! 🙂 It makes the rest of us feel normal!

  15. I love it! Such is real life! 🙂

  16. Have you been to my house? You have, haven’t you? I have been known to have that 90 degree angle of clutter behind my shoot… Maybe… just maybe… That’s all I’m saying! 🙂

  17. Jennifer Pacheco says:

    I. Love. You!!!!!!! This post made my week! Sometimes I get sucked in to thinking, “why can’t I keep my house looking like that?” and it’s posts like these that bring everything back to reality. Thank you:)

  18. OMG I’m normal!

  19. Love this post!! I have been trying to take pictures of my home for my blog to file under Home Tour for oh at least a month now..key word trying..My house is way too “lived in”…a house full of boys..need I say more lol? Its spring break for the kiddos this week so its gonna have wait even longer..oh well..I wouldn’t trade my boys for nothing, if only I had a magic wand to train them to pick up after themselves, that would be the best thing ever! It s so refreshing to see I am not the only one living in a non “picture” perfect home!

  20. I love this post! It’s all about the staging…and we do have to really live there! Your children are cutie patooties!

  21. Yup, I can relate. It’s a little thing called life getting in the way of all our good design and blogging right? I always have the memories of me all by myself in my little city pad and it was always spotless. No kids or dogs or husband making messes. But then, that’s boring:)

  22. If you stopped today I could say my house is in order. That is rare, very rare, and as a treat I am sitting in each room and admiring it. I better get the camera out, I didn’t think of that!


  23. When all else fails, I go for the tight shot and no one sees the paint cans, Modpodge jar and dishes piled in the sink. If I waited to clean the whole room up, I’d never get the post done. I don’t even have the excuse of teeny kids in the house! Then, it’s on to the next project and more mess is made.

  24. You know the funny thing? Since I started blogging my house has become MESSIER! I didn’t think that could even be possible!!!!

    And I love the kids in their Easter best — my mom did that to us when I grew up. And I so looked forward to getting my new Easter outfit each year!

    🙂 Linda

  25. I love that you posted this. You are not alone. I hide all of husband’s nerd things and my dog’s toys then lock them both in a different room to get good pictures 🙂

  26. You’re definitely not alone! I should show you pictures of my guest room some time AKA the room where decorations go to die. Not really, but kind of. It’s like my own little HomeGoods in there haha

  27. I LOVE THIS. I do the same thing. 🙂 Your kids are soooo adorable!

  28. This is SO me too! I was laughing to myself while taking pictures of my son’s new art station the other day because it looked so nice and organized while the other half of the room was a total disaster. You are not alone! And you have incredibly adorable children! <3 Have a wonderful day!

    ~Abby =)

  29. I think everybody does this, even Martha Stewart… I love that you were bold enough and not shy about showing what’s behind the cameras. I take pictures of my food, and there is just enough cleaning around the plate or bowl to take the picture, while the rest of the counter and sink are overflowing with dirty dishes and food splatters!

    • Have seen a non-mobile mobile home with a sign casually driven into its yard. It stated the obvious, “Martha Stewart does not live here.”


    • Your calm in the camera shots remind me of visiting a relative’s house. And nightstands are to be functional — even in the dark


  30. Mila’s expression just slays me!! Lol — oh how I remember those days! I so often put off photographing my house because it’s a disaster… now you’ve inspired me to just shuffle the junk outta the way and snap away! 🙂
    xo Heidi
    PS — your house is still lovely, even in it’s messiness!

  31. Bless you Kelly! It’s good to know I’m not alone in the behind the scenes chaos!

  32. Britt @ Creating Space for Five says:

    your babies are adorable! Love the real life mess photos. Our house is the same!

  33. Ha ha, this is great! I’ve actually been thinking lately that I need to take photos of the spaces I’m NOT showing in pics because of how hilariously awful it looks. I’m always shoving furniture in weird places, using random surfaces to photograph on, pressing myself against a wall to try to capture a photo. Thanks for giving us this glimpse. Clearly, I’m not alone in my chaos behind the scenes!

  34. I won’t tell anyone ; ) And now I have to go home and officially claim areas as storage for clean laundry and other useful things so I don’t have to stress about them anymore : ) Thanks for that tip! haha

  35. All I have to say is AMEN! and THIS IS SO TRUE! My house is a disaster right now, and while I wish it was more like the pretty pictures you showed, that’s just not reality right now (sigh). Thanks for your honesty and willingness to show off what’s “behind the camera”!

  36. This is way awesome. Thank you for pulling back the curtain!

  37. I loved this post. I have had my house up for sale. The realtor asked for pictures with a little less clutter. He actually was being nice and wanted lots less clutter. I wish I could show you the pictures I got. One side of the room was picture perfect with not a sign of clutter. Behind the camera was total chaos. LOL Even your cluttered half is magazine worthy. Thanks again.

  38. the kiddos looks adorable on Easter!
    Thanks for sharing this…makes me feel better!! Now I want your office, and your bedroom curtains…

  39. This is awesome. I love looking into people’s decorated homes, but I might love to see their mess even more. Ha ha. Thanks for being real with us.

  40. Thanks for keeping it real! You’re babies are absolutely precious!!!~~Angela

  41. oh thanks for this post…i do this too! but it works (at least you fooled ME!) because i thought you were a tidy tidy house keeper, blogger, and momma all in one!

    ps my better homes & gardens april mag came in the mail this weekend and i flipped through it like a crazy lady when i took it out of the mailbox but did not find you!! i hope you are in next months!

  42. Jackie Hardy says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, for being REAL!

  43. Love this post! Thanks for being real. Your kids are so cute in their Easter finery!

  44. Girl!! I love this post! This is just what my house looks like too. Whewww! I am liking you even more. 🙂 Sharon

  45. Ohhhh, I can’t wait to hear your big news!!! And love the pic of the kids!!

  46. LOVE IT! Thank you so much for sharing!! 🙂

  47. This is the best post ever!!! LOVE it…and have done it myself (with a 9 month old in the background!) This was fabulous!

    Love your house regardless and you’ve done a great job. Just became aware of your blog via another last week and love, love, love what you’ve done with the house and blog. I love getting your new blog updates! Keep up the awesome work!


  48. Yay for keepin’ it real! Love this Kelly. 😉

  49. One more for keepin’ it real girl!! Why do you think I’ve never done a video tour of my home? Because there’s never a time when the whole house is perfect all at once!! And of course, my dreaded guest bedroom which has turned into a storeroom. Thank goodness we don’t get too many overnight guests, they’d have to find the bed underneath lampshades, old curtains, discarded furniture and piles of paperwork. This is most definitely real life! Love it! xxx

    P.S. I always wondered how many accessories people must have to fill a space to the brim with them to make the pictures look amazing. As soon as I move one thing to another spot, I have a new hole to fill somewhere else. I need more accessories, clearly. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

  50. I can totally relate to this post. My husband was laughing at me last week when I was taking some photos because this one tiny section of my kitchen was lovely while the rest of it was a disaster. He said, “show them the other side, hun.” I can also totally relate to your husband removing everything from his night stand. A lamp and a clock is all my hubby will tolerate. The picture of your kids is totally adorable! I love their facial expressions. xxoo

  51. Way to keep it real, girl!!! I can absolutely relate, especially to the “I’ve officially designated this spot for X, so it technically counts as being put away now” theory, haha! I can’t wait to see what big surprise you have in store!!

  52. This is not true in my case – my home is always immaculate and perfect. Psych!

    This post totally cracked me up. It’s my story to a T. My husband always gives me a hard time about my “staging” for photos. And “stuff” on coffee tables and end tables – never stay there. I also make the humans move from their comfy perches on sofas and tables. Such a great wife and mom.

  53. This post is amazing! As a photographer, I always chuckle at remembering how chaotic the scene on the edges of the final picture can be. And while a styled and staged room certainly does look better for a gorgeous home tour photograph, it’s important to remember that those rooms HAVE been edited–we don’t need to live up to that level of perfection every day!

  54. I am SO glad that I am not the only one who pushes all the bad things out of view!! Not to mention, I don’t even have any kids to blame it on. But seriously, even your chaos looks pretty! And speaking of pretty, your kids are pretty darn adorable. Love those Easter outfits!

  55. I love this post! It is so true and funny. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  56. LOL! Yes, yes, and yes. Guilty as charged. I love this post! I wanna see the other side of the half finished mistletoe kissing ball.

  57. So, so true! I was taking pictures last summer of our pool and ended up weeding the flower beds — but only in the parts that were seen by the cameras! Didn’t feel guilty at all! 🙂

  58. BA HA HA HA!! My house, projects, life is so the same, if people only knew! GREAT post!

  59. LOVE that you “fessed up” about this, lol! We all do it! I too get caught up in “oh, so and so’s pictures look so nice”…if we only knew! THANK YOU!

  60. I’ve happy to know I’m not the only one who does this! I had to take pictures of my entire house the other day and I shoved it all in my boys bedroom! By the time I was done staging the house I was just throwing stuff in there. There was no room to walk anymore!

  61. You are not alone. Sometimes I will think I have a really great picture and when I look at it closely my mess (that I carefully removed from the room) is staring at me in the mirror reflecting it.

  62. Your kiddo’s are the cutest !! Absolutely LOVE your blog and this post thank you for keeping it real and showing us behind the scene so we all can take a exhale and know it’s normal and it’s all okay love that !!! God Bless you BTW gorg. home !!

  63. Thanks for sharing! I have always wondered! I have a hard time getting around to taking any photos because I always have stuff everywhere. Thanks for the honesty:)

  64. It all looks wonderful to me 🙂 Seriously…our toilet paper rolls don’t hang empty. Someone just sets the new roll on tip instead of putting it on the bar. Sigh. And my official place for folded laundry on it’s way to where it belongs is my bed, which means my husband puts it on the floor at bedtime anyway. I should just put it on the floor and then he won’t have to move it again! 😉
    Loved the ‘keeping it real’ post and I’m still in love with your home decor…even if you move it all to get the perfect shot. Can’t wait to hear your news !!!

  65. Dude. When I realized this was the norm, I felt like the weight of the world was off my shoulders and I could start a home tour!

    I feel you… in the depths of my blogging soul.

  66. You should have seen me trying to take photos of a dresser I repainted. In my five year old’s room. I still have to photoshop a plastic orange bell pepper out of the image and I’ve been known to photoshop crumbs off my kitchen floor. It’s much easier than actually cleaning said floor 😉

  67. Ha! I love it girl! I can 100% confirm, yes….same thing goin’ on over here! 🙂

  68. Oh am I glad it’s not just me that does that!!! Love this!

  69. I wish I had an award to give you! Thanks a million for keeping it real and also making me laugh. I’m thrilled that I’m normal!

    Your children are totally adorable. They cannot live in a sterile environment and be happy. Your home is gorgeous as well as real ~ love it!


  70. I do this all the time…sometimes the need to photograph a room gives me incentive to clean it but usually not!! Your kids are adorable by the way. Can’t wait to hear what you have up your sleeve!

  71. hahaha looks like my house, glad to know that I am not the only one

  72. I love this post! Thanks for showing us a peek into your life 🙂 I love your home, it’s so chick and cozy at the same time.

  73. Don’t’cha just hate open concept? Currently the tide of STUFF is flowing from the LR into the DR and (eeeeee!) lapping up against the kitchen cabinets–all your fault, too, since much of the flotsam (or is it jetsam?) is sewing paraphanalia. Yes! I am making “your” curtains!!! In my spare time!!! Which doesn’t exist!!!

  74. I LOVE this post because it’s SO TRUE!! And, I especially laughed at Andy putting his beside table back to normal. I styled our bedroom a couple weeks ago to shoot some photos and Chris was so confused when he went to bed that night! 🙂

  75. Such a great post, Kelly! Of course we’re not going to be throwing up the crazy photos all the time – part of us blogging about home is about how to make it function and look better. But then I do think some people feel like – how do people get their house to stay beautiful and perfect all the time and as we both know, that ain’t ever gonna happen – ‘specially with munchkins living in the abode. LOVE your glimpse of real life – that part is beautiful in it’s own right!

  76. This is HILARIOUS!!!!! And so totally true! I can’t tell you how many times I have tripped over something on the way to take the “perfect” shot! Thanks for keeping it real. 🙂

    Have an awesome day!

  77. So very true! What a fun post!

    I post recipes on my blog sometimes and I often find myself scooting dirty dishes on down the counter, so I can get a photo of the prepared food! 🙂

    Your kiddos are so darling! I love dressy clothes.

  78. This is the story of my life!! I love that you showed these photos. My house is always filled with my daughters toys scattered everywhere. Thanks for sharing! We should all do this every year and start a movement! As moms of little kids its good to show the reality of life!!!

  79. You are definitely not alone. My master bedroom, (which is tiny) is the only craft room I’ve got and its cluttered with projects, but you can’t see them from the door way!

  80. I saw this post linked up at Tatertots & Jello, and I just had to read it because I always see all these blogs with their pretty rooms and gorgeous house pictures, and I’m thinking, ‘This cannot be what their house looks like on a daily basis! Is this normal??’ Haha! Thanks you for this post! It’s awesome! 🙂

  81. yes, yes, aaaaand yes! that is exactly how I take my pictures as well.

  82. Haha this makes me feel so much better! Your house is sooo beautiful, though 🙂

  83. This post is AMAZING!!! As is your house. I love everything, right down to the “everything in its place” mess. 😉 My great grandpa called that messy organization. It’s nice to see that everything isn’t always as it seems. As I venture into my own home-based virtual assistant business I wonder how I will handle the kids, house, dogs, wife duties and business all at the same time. Good to know I won’t be alone when things get “messy”. 😉

  84. Love the comment of your husband, that he removed everything from his nighttable 😉
    And love your comment about the blanket on the couch!

    • Love your post! I’m sooo glad to see that I’m not alone. Just taking a pic of my home for my blog can be an adventure as you mentioned because of all the transformer effects that need to take place to make it look pretty! 🙂

  85. HA! I don’t even try to hide the clutter. lol What you see is what you get. 6 kids, one on the way, home business, homeschool, constant DIYing our fixer-upper, horrible photographer, and you get to see it in all its glory. 😉

  86. THANK YOU for this post. I think part of the beauty of a good blogger is being real. I’m relieved to know that others also have crazy things going on outside of their camera lens. Many times I’m just hoping I got a shot that will work, because I know I won’t ever have the opportunity to get another!

  87. Julie Spear says:

    Had to comment on this – I thought I had read this post previously, but apparently I must not have read the whole thing? because I NEVER saw that photo of those gorgeous babies at the end!!! who cares what kinda mess is going on outside of that camera shot, if these cuties are the ones making it? They are “officially” allowed to mess as much as they want, cause LOOK at those faces!! baby girl’s flower hairband is killing me!
    P.s. I have the same situation at my house with picturesque-ly decorated areas – right next to small dumping ground areas – only I can’t even blame it on little kids…. just all of us big people (and dogs). My fav part was also that your hubs went ahead and made his area “functional” again….

  88. Good for you for posting this! Far more credible and people totally appreciate it!

  89. Thanks for keepin it real.

  90. Melissa Anderson says:

    Your children are absolutely adorable! I think you should coat the wall to the right of your desk with drawitpaint clear whiteboard paint. That way you can map out your ideas and go from there. My kids love that stuff in their play room.

  91. Oh Kelly, once again, you totally made me laugh out loud and made my day. Thank you for making us all feel better about our daily messes!

  92. Perfect timing for me to find this on pinterest! I just took some pictures of my son helping me bake last night, and I painstakingly placed him in front of the closed blinds to the patio so that my messy, tiny kitchen counter wasn’t in the background! In such a tiny area, it doesn’t take much for it to look like a disaster, so it’s easier to point the camera in one direction and place the dirty dishes we just used on the counter behind me and out of the frame!

  93. Ha! I love seeing these pictures, Kelly! 🙂
    I kept thinking, “ain’t it the truth!”
    I shared some pics like this in a post after my Christmas home tour because I wanted people to see what my house “really” looked like. My readers ate it up! Way to keep it real! xoxo

  94. Oh my gosh! I’m so glad I’m not alone on this. I’m always moving things around to get that perfect shot. Your kids are just adorable. Thanks for the truth

    • Thank you for this post. Love love love to know my house is not the only one that doesn’t look pinterest perfect. Beutiful kids!!!

  95. As a new blogger, this was so wonderful to see! Sheer magic! Thank you!

  96. LOL, I absolutely loved this post. Thank you for sharing your “deep dark secret truth” with us. I love that you are as human as the rest of us. Completely delightful. 🙂

  97. I have putting off photographiny my newly furnished and painted office for months! Thank you for allowing a Giant Lightbulb TO FLASH in my head. ROFL 🙂


  98. Ha! Yes this is sooo relatable! I never really post photos of my house, but when it’s time to photograph the Christmas tree, you can guarantee that the other side of the room will be topsy turvy with crap. Thanks for keeping it real!


  1. […] 4.  The lovely and very funny Kelly from View Along the Way shared what most of us home interior bloggers already knew.  That behind that gorgeous interiors shot, life isn’t always perfect outside of the view of the… […]

  2. […] Find new nightstands, lamps, dressers (The lamps and accessories in that photo were stolen from the guest room for this inside exposé of home blogging.) […]

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