Five Days to a Fresh Start

By Kate Riley December 26, 2009

I don’t know about you, but after the fun and festivities of Christmas, I start to look to the calendar, and think of ways to improve the balance in my life by decluttering my home.  Come January, I can’t help but focus on simplifying everything.  After all of the rushing, decorating, baking and eating that comes with the holidays, I want nothing more than to clean, get rid of clutter, and get organized !

I want to live by the words of William Morris:  “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

So I’ve decided before I start up on any more home improvement projects next year, I’m going to dedicate five days in January to achieving some sense of order at home. 

five days

It’s ambitious.  I’m not sure if I can even accomplish it, but I’m sure going to give it a try.  

Tackle a closet, a room, or your entire house !  Won’t you join me in this grand attempt to declutter, organize, and start fresh  ?


  1. Sounds like fun – we’ll still have some home projects going on at my home at that time, but I’ll try to keep up.

  2. I’m so with you! My husband and I spent some time rethinking the organization in both the kids’ bedrooms this morning. The day after Christmas clutter is just crazy around here. Starting tomorrow we are off to buy containers and start sorting through old toys. The tree will come down next weekend.

  3. I’ve already got it on the agenda! At the grocery today I picked up one of those organizing magazines. And I’ve been planning since before Xmas what all I’m gonna do. Must be something that hits us right before a new year begins! Wonderful idea!

  4. Hope you are feeling much, much Better !!! Nasty Flu bugs. I always keep these products on hand :
    Nature’s Way UMCKA ColdCare Cherry Syrup (find it at and read all of the positive reviews, mine is there too. It has been a lifesaver for me, my family and friends.
    Also, Nature’s Way Bio-Certified Sambucus Black Elderberry Original Syrup (virologist tested)
    One more Essential: NewChapter Immunity Take Care Losenges ! I keep them here at home, in the car, at my mother’s , my husband’s office. Good when taking a flight also.

    Stay Well and Happy New Year to All !!!

  5. I’ve already started on this project!! I woke up today feeling the need to purge out all the stuff I didn’t need. My husband and I already re-organized our office, cleaned and decluttered our living room, and my husband is…as we speak…cleaning out our garage so I can get my car in. Yay!

  6. Love the plan! hate the full-time job that gets in the way!

    But I have 3 areas that need to be super-streamlined and organized: grad program, blog, diet/workouts.

    The rest can take care of itself!

  7. Oh, I’m going to join in, too….not sure I can keep exactly your schedule but I already started in my kitchen on the 21st…yep, before my guests arrived. I totally switched out my pantry and my dishes cabinets, and I love it! I cleaned out lots of junk!


  8. Are you sure this shouldn’t be called 5 Weeks to a Fresh Start? It will seriously take me longer than 5 days…anyone have a great babysitter to keep the little ones out of my way for decluttering?

  9. I’ll do it if you do it! ;)

    I will be starting Monday though since school (i.e. work) starts Jan. 3rd and I may take a week on each topic so I won’t feel the time crunch. I’m psyched, this is SO overdue!

  10. Count me in and HELP!!! I need all that I can get with 4 kids and all of their new things and old ones too! I might just be happy with being able to clean out our garage and master closet!

  11. I always feel the same way when it is spring time or fall. Something about opening the windows when the weather warms up and then when my son starts back to school signals something in me that wants to clean out. I am not the type to keep a lot of ‘stuff’ so I never have a lot to get rid of. But it does feel good to donate things that I don’t use anymore. Since we just moved from Florida to northern Kentucky, I donated a lot of things and threw away a lot of things so I don’t have any organizing to do but I wish you all luck getting it done.

  12. Count me in on the five-week program. I finally banned new projects until I finish the ones I’ve started; that’s sort of progress, isn’t it?

  13. Oh I so need this! I was putting away baby laundry today and can’t get the drawers to shut because her newborn 0-3 month stuff is still in there. She’s 5 months old! I may cry the day those go into storage. My baby is getting bigger :(

    Maybe a support team will make it better.

  14. Count me in! But I am starting tomorrow. 27th – 31st. Then I can start the New Year feeling, New!

  15. I could not agree more! I just reorganized my entire third floor today so my girls can use it as a play area. I felt so accomplished. My list looks a bit like yours. However the difference is I see if I can sell my unusable on ebay before I donate. Every little bit helps! Good luck! Tammy

  16. Good luck with your decluttering/organizing! You will do great, and i’m sure find some fun along the way. I would love to join you, but i’m already such an anti-pack rat that clutter has never seen my house ha. I guess that’s a good and bad thing!? Can’t wait to hear how it goes.

  17. I {heart} you. Thanks for planning this…it will give me a great start. I am already soooo ready to take Christmas down. The clutter in the house is making my skin crawl…please don’t hate me. :s I’m ready for a fresh, clean look. I’ll probably leave everything up and take it all down on New Years Day so my girls can enjoy it for a few more days. :) Hope you had a wonderful wonderful Christmas!!!

  18. I already have a trunk full of stuff to take to Goodwill – especially kids toys to make space for the new things

  19. I’m with you! I’ve already started to go through my closet, then the boys’ and then the rest of the house – eek!

  20. I’m SOOOO excited you posted this! I’ve been trying to do a little bit of this the last few months (maybe it’s a pre-nesting phase or something). I have a couple more rooms to go. WOO HOO! Start fresh, get organized, etc. Can’t wait!

  21. I am in. I am ready to start fresh this year. This past year has been tough on all of us and I am so ready to move on and start new.

  22. I have done this for quite a few years. The best thing – the very best thing – I have found is a scheduled monthly donation to a charity that picks it up! I make myself fill a box or two each month and it is on the porch bright and early each pick-up day. Books we have finished reading, and won’t read again, clothing that we won’t wear anymore, fabric from my stash that I realize I will never use, etc. It is such a great feeling, and I know this group will use what I can not.

    Filing is my worst thing. How funny that you mention that. It is my goal of the year to get my files in a better working order. I am reading about the different methodology, and didn’t know there was such a science to this. I am at once excited and appalled at the job ahead.

    However, first comes our thawing out time in Florida, which begins tomorrow. When we get home, then the filing journey begins! Well, after we deholiday the inside of the house.

    Oh, we have a pick-up tomorrow, and guess what I am putting in? A couple crates of decorations that are in excellent shape, but that we no longer use. I checked before Christmas, and the charity can use them next year!

    Oh, and if you have a ReStore nearby, they can always use unopened cans of paint, any hardwear, even cabinets and old light fixtures. Check with the store and they will give you a list. It benefits Habitat for Humanity.

  23. Guuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrllllllllllllllllllll!!!!!

    I am definitely IN on this one!!!!
    We have this old farmhouse with like ZERO closets so things are starting to run amuck!!!!
    I feel ya!!!

    I will be there!!!

  24. Day two and still at it. My husband and I are overhauling our office and cleaning up the whole house.
    we have the donate pile getting a little higher each day and are looking forward to a fresh start to the new year!

  25. I’m so with you! I’m not sure 5 days is enough for me though. :-) My paperwork & filing is my nemesis. I really want to get this under control for the new year. A clean slate and time saved sounds delightful!

  26. I”ll start tomorrow but it will take me more than 5 days! I have little piles of ‘stuff’ in every room in the house and need to clean out and clean up! Thanks for the push and good luck!

  27. You’ve inspired me!! I’m going to start decluttering as soon as January starts. It helps knowing others are making a go of it as well.

  28. The garage is on my hit list. My husband is taking some time off so we have some grand plans to FINALLY unpack all the boxes that have been sitting in there for 1.5 years.

  29. So far I have cleaned all of the light fixtures and the baseboards. I am taking today off to enjoy the 3rd day of Christmas with Mrs. Miniver and The Little Shop Around the Corner. Nothing like a 1940’s film to get you inspired in creating a lovely home.

  30. This is such a great post! We are in the middle of packing our house to move, so the house is in chaos! But I have to remember this for next year. After the week is over I can only imagine how good it feels to start the new year off fresh!

  31. Oh my gosh…I am soooo with you on this project! I downsized in October 2008, thus I rented a 20 x 20 storage unit so I could go through all of the things and use the pieces I really wanted and give away, etc. the rest. Six weeks after I moved I broke my shoulder whcih took three months to heal. The year goes on……difficulty finding a couple of strong fellows to help with the lefting rathr than paying an arm and a leg to get movers to come to the storage unit just to take boxes out so I could go through them….this past October (09) I found a place I really liked…a little more room… in a building in the Historic District of our town….found some high school guys who could work after foorball season was over….they started helping…kinda long and drawn out over two months…yes, they nee someone to keep the momentum going as they work…frustration, I am paying them well…finally the end is in sight! This upcoming Tuesday (12-29-09) IS going to be the last day even if it takes until midnight to get eveything left at the stoage unit (boxes & furniture) moved here to my place. This is not what I wanted – would have been so much better to hav been able to go through the boxes at the storage unit and disperse of things to the appropriate places – but, I couldn’t keep the boys working while I went through boxes so I gave up on that. I just hope I’ll have a pathway to walk through after Tuesday! So your invitation to join in this project couldn’t have come at a better time…after this – the fun stuff – putting some of your great ideas and how-to’s to work in my new place!

  32. It’s not going to surprise anyone when I say I’m wholeheartedly in! It feels so great to start the year off clean and uncluttered.

  33. I really can’t wait to see you do this project! I’m going to join you a little later in the month, hopefully after learning from all your hints and tips. I moved back home after 3 years of undergrad, from a full house to one room and bathroom. Didn’t realized I’d collected so much stuff in art school. Now I’m through my MFA and most of the way through my PhD and I’ve gotten slews more! It’s absolutely overwhelming. I can’t just say I’m going to clean my room or closet today because they’re trying such large tasks that they’ll take several days full time on their own. And it’s even more daunting because I’ll hopefully be moving in a few months to an even smaller 400sq foot apartment. MEEP!

    What I’m trying to say is HELP (and thanks).

  34. I’ll hop on that train with you! I’m more excited than usual about a new year and a new beginning! Thanks for outlining the days for me! It’s a great starting point for everyone.

  35. I so started this immediately on Saturday…. who could wait till the New Year! But it felt greatttt!!!
    Maybe I have more to add to the donating section!

  36. I’ll join in! My busy season at work will have just ended and my apartment will need a nice refresher after months of neglect.

  37. When you clean out the closets and donate can you please add your goodies to the Etsy Shop! I check all the time for updates but would love some new adds!!!!
    ps- I hope you are feeling better from your flu….hopefully in time for christmas morning with the kiddos!

  38. Hi there. Saw us linked together over at BlogHer and came over for a peek. I’ve already begun – and it feels so good. My kids are learning the art of letting go, too!

    Happy New Year. Love, Sandy

  39. I had bookmarked your site back sometime ago and am just now getting around to reading some of your back posts. This one really got my attention, as I was making a list today of things I want to accomplish in the near future and do a post about my “good” intentions, in hopes of it motivating me. I am bad about making “to do” lists and just adding more to the list instead of marking things off that have been done. Hope to get more done in the near future.
    Happy New Year!

  40. I LOVE this. I am so wishing we had great weather for a smashing yard sale. We just moved and as things come out of the boxes there are items that don’t have a home in this new house. Might just have to take you up on this spring cleaning offer. Thanks for the gentle nudge

  41. count me in! i made a reminder for my fridge to keep me focused. i tend to get to one room and want to do it all then run out of steam…

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