Now that the post-holiday dust has settled, the pine needles are vacuumed up, and the decorations safely stowed for another year, I find the restored space in our home leads to one thing – a critical eye. Without the distraction of glitzy ornaments and color coordinated wrapping, the smell of fresh garland and baked goods, and the hectic pace of holiday shopping and parties, I find I have the time to notice—for the first time in months—just how disorganized our home has become.

January is typically the time of year for organizing, and I find in our home we too seize the slower pace and frigid temperatures to tackle a few projects that have been on the backburner. Over the last few weeks, both Alex and I have both begun commenting to each other just how jam packed our closets feel, how disorganized our cabinets have become, and how generally we can’t find what we’re looking for. (Well, more so my other half on this one, but then again, he can’t find his way out of our disorganized basement.)

Take our kitchen cabinets, for example. It’s a lucky day if we open the cabinets without a shower of cupcake wrappers or canned goods taking a leap of faith. 

We just cross our fingers it’s the former. Canned goods showering down on you as well as the countertops and floor is never a good time.

Today I decided I’ve had it, and I need to get started on a mission to organize. Room by room, beginning with the kitchen, I’m going to clean out the drawers, cabinets, and closets in our home, donating what someone else can use, throwing away broken or damaged items, and reorganizing what we have. I’ve also decided I’m going to do so without spending a single cent. This won’t be one of those max-out-your-credit-card-at-the-Container-Store efforts, nor will it be an impractical effort of making every drawer look beautiful with matching hand calligraphied labels, all carefully organized in salvaged baby food jars. I’m setting out to use what we have, get rid of what we don’t need, maximize the way we use the space in our 15’ wide home, and to restore the delicate balance that is my sanity.

In fact, I’m challenging myself to undertake and complete this effort in the next two weeks. So who’s with me? We can make it a Clean and Purge Challenge. I’ll report back on my progress with before and afters, and if you’d like to share your progress for inclusion in a future post, please send it to me at I’d love to know I’m not the only one knee deep in torn gift-wrap bags and stale Halloween marshmallows. 

Comments 32


1/28/2014 at 12:00 PM

Ha, excellent timing! I'm doing a cleanout of my sewing/craft room ... planning to rip up the evil pink carpet next month, clean up the hardwood floor, and put down an area rug that's now waiting in the basement. This rug is a tighter weave than the carpet, so less likely to hide the pins that I drop, and invariably find with my bare feet. Reorganizing that space is going to take a lot more than 2 weeks, but will be well worth it.


Good luck, Jan! It sounds like you have a great plan in place!

1/28/2014 at 12:06 PM

What a timely post. I'm with you Wendy. I've already spent the last few days shredding two paper boxes of old financial documents (which I have been stepping over in my closet for about a year). I'm determined to clean out our tax files which I find date back to 1984 -yikes! Good luck.


1984?? Good for you for tackling the project. I'm sure it's a bit daunting, but it will be so rewarding once it's done.Alt smile

1/28/2014 at 12:20 PM

Good luck! I love that post-organization feeling. Over MLK I went through all of our closets and purged and donated. Felt sooo good. We've been looking at your master bedroom closet reno as inspiration for our future one! Cleaning that sucker out was the first step.


Good for you, Kate! I'm so impressed you've already gone through your closets. And thanks for letting us know our bedroom closets have been a source of inspiration.Alt smile

1/28/2014 at 12:56 PM

You're not going to hand-calligraphy labels because you're actually going to hand-cut small pieces of reclaimed farm beams and then hand-laser the labels onto them after doing some brass inlay edges, right?Alt smile

I'm all for the basic, get-the-guts-straight organizing. Rock on.


LOL! Farm beams are for wimps. I'm going to dredge the ocean looking for sunken British shipping vessels. They make the best reclaimed wood. ;)

1/28/2014 at 1:03 PM

I love this time of year - I'm more motivated than any other time to clean out and organize! I've already tackled our laundry room closet, and next on the chopping block is underneath the bathroom sink.

I WILL be buying way too expensive stuff from Solutions (our version of the Container Store) because I heart it and I don't even care, haha.


I hope you'll be posting pictures of the finished tricked out cabinets! I'm sure they'll be beautiful.

1/28/2014 at 1:21 PM

This is exactly what we're doing in our home right now too. We've filled up our guest room as a "staging area" for things we're donating, and we've already filled multiple recycling and trash bins several times over. Who knew a house could hold so much junk? Yikes! Feels so great to get rid of it all.


I'm so impressed! I've started using the guest room as a staging area as well. The problem though is that it's also housing items for the master bathroom, so it's turned into a total disaster. It always gets worse before it gets better, right? ;)

1/28/2014 at 1:28 PM

I wish I'd have taken photos of the "before" as I am halfway through the 'Great Kitchen Purge of 2014'! LOL. So far, I've donated two copy paper boxes of unloved small kitchen appliances and usable plasticware (I recently moved to taking only glass in my lunchbox and have stopped microwaving in plastic.) I've also recycled a bunch of unusable plastic (bottom with no lid, lid with no bottom, random drink bottles etc).

I have purchased some drawer dividers and some of those shelf units to divide deep shelves in half. But that was an excellent use for the Christmas gift cards from office gift exchanges and so forth. The only labels I'm making are for my drygood containers - the other day I wasn't paying attention and ended up with lentil soup instead of split pea - still tasted good, but not what I was aiming for!


Wow, it sounds like you're on a roll! I'm still working on the kitchen, but am making progress. It sounds like I need some of your drive though.Alt smile

1/28/2014 at 1:43 PM

I love you! I made the same resolution last night, especially the 'not spending a cent' part. Old houses with their inherent lack of storage do make things challenging, but I'm excited to read about any tips/tricks/motivational tools that you share!


Thank you!Alt smile I'm glad I'm not alone in my resolution to clean up my house! Good luck with your efforts and I'll report back soon!.

1/28/2014 at 3:41 PM

I happen to like stale marshmallows. I will take donations.


:) Too funny. You might change your mind about this batch, though. They had congealed into one solid, hard mass. Gross!

1/28/2014 at 3:43 PM

Recently, on a single afternoon, our shed went from me being a total disaster (I could barely step inside of it ... and it is 12x22) to a very usable workspace that I have been thankful for the last two weekends! Now, I just need to get power run to it, some windows added, a little rotten wood replaced, and my beer fridge setup ...


Nicely done! I love what you have planned for the shed. Let us know when the beer fridge is set up. We'll be over to "lend you a hand with a project." ;)

1/28/2014 at 5:49 PM

Started in the basement. 6 boxes of kids crafts down to 2, and boxes of textbooks and files (former HS teacher) purged. Slowly finding things in our utility space again! If I can only get hubby to part with the boxes to all of our PC games. Yes empty boxes!!


Well done! We struggle with a similar issue -- not PC games but our DVD collection. We don't ever watch them, and if we do, chances are we'll use Netflix. It's just too hard to part with them...yet.

1/28/2014 at 9:52 PM

You go, girl! I need to do this as well. First, I need to find the time to do this. I will watch your progress and pray for motivation.


I know exactly what you mean. I've been having a hard time making the time in the last week, but I need to get this done!

1/29/2014 at 7:48 AM

Every hurricane season we tend to overstock on canned items. As a result, the cabinets usually end up looking like yours by the end of summer. We go through everything at the first of the year and separate everything that's going to expire before the summer and set it on the counter. We then make all of our meals out of this group of food until it is gone.

Now we just need a plan to tackle cleaning out our garage...


What a smart way to tackle your canned goods! Ooh, the garage. If it's anything like our basement, I understand why it hasn't been cleaned out yet. ;)

1/29/2014 at 7:51 PM

Our main Christmas tree (and most of the pine needles) is gone but I still have an artificial tree to un-decorate and lots of stuff to put away. Unfortunately, and unlike Ashley, I find this time of the year completely depressing and unmotivating; finding it hard to rouse myself to do much more than go to work, eat, sleep, and sit by the fire and watch TV. Oh my! And as soon as it warms up a bit I'll be jumping for joy and running outside to work in the garden with boundless energy (there will be a lot to do after this nasty winter).

Will keep up with your and others' progress though and hope for a spark of inspiration!


This may be a crazy idea, but do you have to un-decorate your tree before you put it away? My mother in law has artificial trees she displays in her kitchen and back room, and she leaves them decorated and stored in the basement. It seems like a more manageable way to handle seasonal decorating. (And it's something I would do if we had artificial trees!)

Good luck!

1/30/2014 at 12:30 PM

I am about to complete the January Cure on Apartment Therapy, but I still have drawers and files to organize/purge so I'm totally in :D


Good for you! I hadn't heard of the January Cure, so I looked it up and think it's such a great idea. Good luck with your organizing.Alt smile

2/4/2014 at 9:41 AM

I'm terrible with purging things from my place and general maintenance, but I find UFYH (UnF* Your Habitat) to be a good motivation. You don't need to be really untidy to use it, or neat enough to read it. Everyone has a different starting point and it works.

Basically 20/10 (20 mins of cleaning with 10 mins of rest) or 45/15 works for me because otherwise I get too tired and annoyed and cross if I work non-stop and then I stop doing stuff and everything goes in a mess.


What a genius approach!

Since you've not signed in yet, you will need to fill in your name and email below. If you have a Facebook account, save yourself a step and use Connect to login.

Denotes a required field.

Please enter full URL, including http://

You can use Markdown syntax in your comment. And you can also use lots of Emoji!
  • Search

  • Login
  • Follow
  • Advertising

If you're looking for information on advertising and sponsorships, head on over to our sponsorships page. You can purchase site sponsorships in a few easy clicks. 

Toolbox Tuesday
Open Housing
  • We're Featured!

Old Town Home has been featured in the following places and publications:

The Washington Post
Washingtonian Magazine
Old House Journal
Apartment Therapy House Tour
Washington Post Express Feature
Home & Garden Blogs
© 2024 - Privacy Policy
Login Below
Sign in with Facebook

Unexpected Error

Your submission caused an unexpected error. You can try your request again, but if you continue to experience problems, please contact the administrator.