My Annual Home-Beautifying & Decluttering Plan

Arthur Sarnoff
Our homes help create the sense of a chaotic, out-of-control existence – or a sense of well-being.  

Imagine a home that is cozy, serene, and warm.  A place to worship and have family altar.  A place to teach our children.  A place to love our husbands.  A place to renew ourselves.  Like mine, your home may not be structurally beautiful.  We may not have a fireplace, French doors, crown molding, or new furniture.  Yet we can still make our homes beautiful! 

We can intentionally bring comfort, warmth, and sacred touches to our home.  We don’t have to do it all overnight – but we can be intentional over this next year (no matter what month you are reading this).

Redundabundance – an unrestricted desire and ability to obtain more of what you already have too much of   ~Harriet Schechter

Why is it so hard to conquer clutter?  Because it seems to go against our basic instincts to hoard and acquire.  I’ve written before that I moved into a heavily cluttered house, brought my own stuff, and then inherited more from 3 sets of grandparents.  Eight years ago I was overwhelmed! 

The Clutter Mutter
Ms. Schechter, who wrote “Let Go of Clutter,” defined my state well when she wrote:  “Overwhelm is a condition that causes paralysis of the decision-making muscles.  Victims tend to spin in circles repeating, ‘Where do I start? Where do I start?’ (the Clutter Mutter).  Focus diminishes.  Overwhelm increases.  Fortunately, the condition is curable.”

The Plan
Every year I begin again with this plan and remove yet another layer of what I previously thought I couldn’t live without.

Grab a binder and 12 sheets of paper.  Number each sheet down the side 1-30.  Choose any room and list up to 30 items that need to be taken care of to transform that room into a workable room and peaceful haven.

For example:  Sheet 1) Entry way, porch, front yard   2) Front room   3) Dining room   4) Master bedroom   5) Child’s room 1   6) Child’s room 2     7) Bathroom 1 and 2    8) Hallway and Closets   9) Kitchen   10) Office   11) Family room   12) Garage, patio, backyard

Don’t label the papers by month – you’ll find that you will reshuffle them several times.  You don’t even want to label the papers by number.  Because I promise you, as soon as you do, you will want to change the order of the rooms you decide to do the next month.  Just label by Room.  Behind your 30 item to do list, you can place magazine inspirations for that room type.

The Goal
The goal is to complete as much of one sheet that you can in one month – one line a day.  In the beginning you’ll be so motivated you’ll jump ahead and do two or three or five.  But don’t tear apart the room to paint, etc.  Big stuff like that might need to go on your 2nd year list!  Be realistic.

The purpose is to motivate you by making all the household projects DOABLE.  If your list only has 15 items, then jump ahead to next month’s list when complete.  Take Sundays off and double-up on another day if you can. 

The list allows you to see the problem spots, note them, spend 10 to 30 minutes a day (or whatever your goal is) to change your home environment, without feeling overwhelmed.  FlyLady used to say “Pretend you’re a realtor.  Look at the room with new eyes.  What would a prospective buyer say about your room?”  What needs fixing?  Do dirty walls need a Magic Eraser?  Does a hole in the rug need a decorative rug over it?  Do the objects in the room belong in that room?  Etc.

A Few Pointers
1) Have a give-away spot.  I have a huge basket with lots of bags in my front hall closet.  I go to Amvets monthly.

2) Remove items you can’t yet part with to a “junk room” or storage room or garage for the present – just to clear out your house.  You don’t have to deal with it now if you can’t – just get it out of your main living areas to give you breathing room and beautify your main living spaces.

3) Buy large see-through bins from Big Lots to store like items, such as outgrown children’s clothes.

4) Store monthly décor in see-through bins labeled by month (March – green towels, placemats, tablecloth, St. Patrick’s décor, books, art projects fun to do in March, etc.)  As you acquire items put them into the appropriate monthly box for next year.  This also helps you not to overbuy as you can easily see what you have.

Now Choose A Room to Begin In
Do you want to begin with the most cluttered room?  The least cluttered? The room people see the most? The bedroom that needs it most for a feeling of serenity? The room that bothers you the most? Or will you just begin at the entry?

My choice for January 2012 is the Master Bedroom. 

Your small, every day choices can change your life! 


  1. I'm definitely doing this. We just moved and there are so many little things that still need to be done I'm getting overwhelmed.

  2. I think in many ways it is always fun to move... but of course, overwhelming, too! Thanks for your comment, Kasey. I do hope you find this to be as helpful as I did. I really do accomplish more because of it. And it is a great place to keep notes & inspiring pictures, all in one place. I hope this helps you to relieve some pressure!


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