Photo by Fraher Architects
For many people, the prospect of downsizing from a larger home to a smaller one can be quite the challenge. Sorting through possessions takes time. It can be emotionally taxing. It can be liberating.
We asked Houzz readers to share their best downsizing advice, and share they did. We gathered some of the best tips below.
Step 1: Get into the right mindset. Many acknowledged that shedding belongings can be stressful, and several had thoughts on the benefit of doing so. “Even if you’ve made careful measurements and found new homes for the furniture that clearly wasn’t going to fit in your new place, you may not realize until you move in that what you’ve brought just isn’t going to work,” writes Joanna Tovia of the Houzz Australia editorial team. The upside: “You have the perfect excuse to go shopping for new furniture,” Tovia says. Houzz reader Lynn B agrees: “Downsizing is a wonderful time to change to a more minimal style and change your style and interior colors.”
Keep in mind that you may have a few regrets when your sorting is through, advises Houzz reader connieay. “There will be some things that you wish you had kept, but the rewards of having less stuff will be worth it!”
Step 2: Decide what to get rid of. Often the most difficult part of downsizing is deciding what to let go of. “Holding on to our past, whether in the form of corporate work clothes or hefty grad school books, can be tempting because it feels comfortable,” writes Houzz contributor Laura Gaskill. She advises spending time gaining clarity on your vision and goals for the next few years. “What are you still holding on to that doesn’t mesh with that vision?” she asks.
In the kitchen, it’s wise to keep appliances that are multipurpose and frequently used, says Houzz reader Anthony Perez. “If you entertain at all, don’t scrimp on the table and chairs,” adds bonniedale22. Downsizing is also an opportunity to adopt a minimalist mindset with your wardrobe, according to Houzz reader andrealew, who recommends keeping on hand only enough clothes for a three-week vacation or, if you will be living in a place with seasons, three weeks per season. Some readers advised not burdening family members with discarded possessions, while others noted the wisdom of at least asking your family members if they would like any of the belongings before you toss them.
Step 3: Make the process as easy as possible for yourself. Given the mental work involved in deciding what to keep and what to pass along, you might as well take steps that will make the process easier for you. Having a place to sort through possessions is key, according to Houzz contributor Jeanne Taylor. “To keep your job organized, you might want to create as much empty space as possible,” she writes. “I recommend picking a category, perhaps holiday decor, and then pulling every item from that category out of hiding and placing it in the staging area.”
It can also be helpful to involve an organized friend, someone you can trust to help you decide what to keep and what to let go. For seniors who would be comforted by a sense of familiarity in their new surroundings, take a photo of the furniture layout and replicate it as best as possible in the new place, advises simplynancy. And on that note, taking photos of prized possessions, whether parts of a collection or simply something with a lot of memories, can make the letting go a little easier.
Houzz reader AJ advises something unexpected: waiting until after the move to see what won’t fit and getting rid of items then. “This is counter-intuitive and goes against everything you’re always taught, but I wish I had done it,” AJ says.
Step 4: Maintain a lifestyle of less stuff. “When you’re living in small quarters, excess items will stick out like a sore thumb,” notes Houzz writer Melissa Cowan. “Use smart solutions, such as underbed storage and built-in wardrobes,” she advises. And just because you’re downsizing doesn’t mean that there won’t be upkeep. “[A] smaller house does not mean less work,” Ann Haller writes. “It gets dirtier fast because you are using the same room over and over. Buy better quality furniture because it is the only thing you sit on.”
A final word: Go easy on yourself, and be proud that you’re tackling a downsize. It will take some effort, for sure, but you’ll get through it, with a reward of a lighter lifestyle on the other side.