polka dot skirt

The Cupboard Under the Stairs


full polka dot skirt with turtleneck sweater and shoe boots

polka dot skirt and black tights
winter outfit featuring polka dot skirt and black sweater

I have this cupboard under the stairs that I’m scared to go into. 

No, seriously: that thing is such a mess that the only way I can deal with it is by pretending it doesn’t exist. When I have to take something out of it, I do it as quickly as possible, and without looking around, and when I close the door, I put it out of my mind.

I’m not telling you this because I want you to think I’m the kind of person who just sweeps everything under the surface, and pretends problems don’t exist. No, I’m telling you because I sometimes worry that when I publish posts like yesterday’s one on decluttering, they give you the wrong idea: that they make you think I’m some kind of some kind of crazed neat freak – the kind of person who will freak out if she sees a spot of mud on the floor or a object out of place.

I know a lot of people think that about me in real life, too, and I know WHY they think it, obviously: it’s because of posts like the one I wrote yesterday, or the way I always clean my house from top to bottom if know someone’s coming over. And it’s true to say that I like things neat, that I get a kick out of organising things, and that I start to get anxious and uncomfortable when the house is in chaos. It’s not the WHOLE truth, though, and sometimes that troubles me a little: like when people come over, and make a huge fuss about removing their shoes and keeping their children in line, clearly terrified that they’ll mess up the house, and I won’t be able to handle it. It makes me sad to think they don’t feel comfortable in my house, because I’m actually not like that at all.

Yes, I’ll tidy the house before someone comes round, but I personally feel really uncomfortable when I’m expected to pad around barefoot in someone else’s home (Yes, Canadians/Japanese, I know that’s the “norm” for you!), so I’d never want a guest in my home to feel like they have to follow certain “rules” or walk around on tiptoe just so they don’t mess up my house. What’s more, my floors are all low-maintenance: if they get dirty, I can clean them. If your child messes up my perfectly arranged cushions, I’ll just replace them when you’re gone: it’s really not a big deal to me, and it makes me a bit sad that my love of organising things, and of minimal design, seems to encourage people to think I require a totally sterile environment at all times. I don’t.

I’m telling you this because what you see on a blog – and often what you see in REAL life, too – isn’t the whole story. I don’t intentionally set out to deceive people, obviously, but, well, you’ll never see a photo of the cupboard under the stairs, let’s put it that way. Instead, I take most of my blog photos in my bedroom or dressing room, both of which have white walls and floors: they’re the only rooms in my entire house that look like that, but I get lots of comments about how my “entire house is white!” and how people just can’t understand how I keep that entirely white house as spotlessly clean as it looks in those photos.

Well, I don’t have a completely white house, and it’s not always spotlessly clean, either. And as for the bedroom, well, I don’t know what it is that other people do in their bedrooms (er, that came out a bit weird: sorry), or to their walls, but ours is on the 3rd floor of the house, and we’re the only people who use it, so as long as we avoid rolling in mud and then pressing ourselves against the walls, it’s actually pretty easy to keep clean, you know?

With that said, as I write this, the bedroom floor could do with a vacuum, the laundry basket is full, and Rubin’s toys are scattered all over the office floor. So when people praise me for being organised (or turn their nose up at me for having different taste from them), I feel a bit guilty: almost like I’ve tricked them into thinking I’m something I know I’m not, and that if they could just see that cupboard under the stairs, they’d find out the truth.

And, of course, they WOULD find out the truth, but it wouldn’t be the WHOLE truth. No one is as one-dimensional as that. And I guess we all have our version of the cupboard under the stairs…

Skirt c/o Choies; Vero Moda sweater; French connection boots



  • AT the moment my whole flat looks like some kind of bombsite, and it *is* freaking me out, but it’s been one of those ridiculously busy, crazy weeks, I haven’t been home in days and other things are taking precedence, so I’m trying hard not to lose too much sleep over it. Argh.

    February 19, 2016
  • Myra


    That is SOOOO Monica in Friends. She has a cupboard that she keeps locked and in one episode it was opened and a mountain of stuff fell out lol. I think everyone has a cupboard under the stairs, except for me as I now live in a bungalow, but you should see our garage.
    You know everyone, well me, wants to see a photo of the cupboard under the stairs now.

    February 19, 2016
  • YES. As transparent as we might try to be as bloggers, some things we just don’t show…

    Also you look super cute!

    February 19, 2016
  • Grasshopper


    I love your outfit as well! And, I really appreciate your honesty. We all have those areas in our home that collect things, because sometimes you just don’t know where to put something (the vacuum when you don’t have a broom closet or even light bulbs, for instance). It is very easy for us to see only one side of someone through the pictures they post and then possibly berate ourselves for feeling in some way inferior. Our current house has very little in the way of storage and we are in the process of packing to move as well, so things are just everywhere and it’s driving me out of my mind!

    February 19, 2016
  • It’s drawers for us – we just have so many drawers full of crap (excuse my language) but it always seems like SUCH a chore to clear them out. I’m rarely at home on my own without the kids, if I am the last thing I want to do is wade through the drawers of doom! So they just stay full of stuff and I ignore them as best I can… Anyway I know you probably didn’t take these pictures yesterday but I can’t believe you’ve got / had yet more snow! It makes a very lovely backdrop for the outfit though 🙂

    February 19, 2016
  • Brenda


    I am exactly the same way. People have accused me of being “perfect”, which I almost find insulting. I like things to be tidy and put away but I am not a perfectionist. I have come to hate the word, “perfect”. Having kids and a dog has helped me relax a little though. When someone says something to me about how neat and tidy our home is, I invite them to see our garage or our storage room. Everyone has their “spot”…

    February 19, 2016
  • On the flipside of this my whole house looks like your cupboard under the stairs and people are always surprised when it’s neat and orderly when they come over verses when they just randomly pop in without warning.

    I mean yes my dishes could be washed as soon as they hit the sink, and there is dog hair all over my floor. But you try having a very fluffy black dog with very beige carpet and see if your carpet doesn’t look fuzzy. And keeping anything organized when you have a 9 yr old boy is a joke. I don’t know where half the crap comes from.

    But I do clean my house, regularly so I’m always a bit hurt when people are surprised it’s clean.


    February 19, 2016
  • Katalin


    Add Hungarians to that “removing shoes when entering a house/flat” list 😉 We are all weird in different ways!

    February 19, 2016
  • Kris Hodgson


    Hi Amber;

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for a couple of months now. First found Fashion Police over a year ago, and it’s wonderful! Like, maybe the only sane voice in the ‘fashion universe’? (OK, not sure else to call it…). Anyway, I love your writing, your way with language, and your taste in clothes! Also, I like it that you keep the blog’s focus reasonably tight. As you say, you’re a fashion blogger; doesn’t mean that you aren’t concerned about other things….you just choose not to write about them. The de-cluttering post was nice. I like taking pleasure in the small things -even if it’s just a cupboard the looks a bit better than it did before- so I like it when someone else does too. I get it about worrying that you’ll be perceived as the ‘crazed neat-freak’, or for that matter that loving shoes has some connection to intelligence. Hope you don’t experience too many comments about that, but then if you write about it I suppose you do. Sorry! Anyway, keep up the great work! And I hope you have a lovely lovely holiday!

    February 20, 2016