Whether you’re an empty nester looking to move on, or a family looking for a less materialistic life, there are many great reasons to downsize. Smaller homes require less energy to keep warm and require less time to clean. On top of that, they’re generally less expensive.
Regardless of the benefits however, downsizing can be a daunting task, and the chore of going through all your worldly possessions can be arduous. Fortunately, we’ve come up with our top 10 tips to help make your downsizing endeavors a pleasure rather than a nightmare.
Know What You’re Working With
Rule number one with any move, but particularly relevant when downsizing, is never guess, always calculate. This means taking out your measuring tape and getting a solid idea of the space and furniture you’re working with. It helps to draw out a scale plan, which lets you see exactly how everything will fit in your new space, and what won’t work.
Plan Ahead and Take Your Time
Taking your time with downsizing makes the task so much more approachable. It takes a long time to pare down your worldly possessions, so be sure to give yourself a few months to get the job done if you can. In this way, you can avoid the mad rush of trying to get rid of excess furniture in the last few days, paying for storage, and panic throwing things you might actually need.
Make a List
Writing down an itemized list of everything you own allows you to see exactly what you’re working with. This list can then be separated into 3 categories; keep, give away, unsure. It’s easier to go room by room, rather than tackling one huge list all at once, so start with the smaller rooms and less personal items, such as the pantry and laundry room. Anything that falls into the unsure category can be re-evaluated once you’ve seen how much you’ve managed to get rid of.
With a smaller space, you’ll generally need to be more thoughtful about where you’ll store everything. One great tip is to use as many multi-purpose items as possible, from beds with underneath storage, to fold up tables that can act as a countertop while storing fold up chairs inside. In the kitchen, it’s a good idea to hang as many pots, pans, and utensils as you can on the wall. In this way, you save valuable cabinet space, and your things can drip-dry after washing.
While it’s important to plan ahead, it’s also essential that you remain flexible. There’s only so much you can anticipate about how your new, smaller home will flow before you’ve lived there for a few weeks. Stick to your plan, at least initially, but be prepared to make changes as and when they become necessary.
Work Out What You Actually Use
If you’re struggling to pare down your possessions, one handy tip is to take tools and utensils out of their usual place and keep them in a box. As you use them, return them to their normal storage place. Anything that is still in the box after a month isn’t something you use regularly, and you can make an easier decision about throwing it out or not. The same principle works with furniture, using sticky labels which are removed after use.
Don’t Save the Best For Later
Rather than holding onto your best tableware for those special occasions, why not use and enjoy them daily. This way, you can donate your ‘everyday’ tableware, and save space with just one set of plates, bowls, and cutlery. In fact, it’s best to minimize any duplicate items you have throughout the home, keeping just one set of everything that you’ll actually use.
Sell, Give Away & Donate
Sell what you can. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You can carry out a yard sale, or for more expensive items, try selling online. Charity shops are always on the lookout for donations, so find out what’s in your area and ask what they need. This is typically a great way to get rid of books, clothes, and other smaller items. If there’s anything you can’t seem to give away to friends or family, leave it in the front yard with a sign saying ‘FREE’ on it — you’ll normally find they’ve been claimed after a few days.
Ask for Help
Having a helping hand is always useful, be it on moving day, or in the run-up to moving to a smaller place. Sometimes you just need a gentle shove in the right direction to help you decide what you can live without.
Embrace This New Lifestyle
Once you’re in your new, smaller space, try not to fall into old habits and fill it with clutter again. It can be enormously liberating to purge your unnecessary items, and you might find that this less materialistic life suits you well.