Less is More: Downsizing your home in 5 steps

successfully downsizing your home

Downsizing can be a scary word – especially if you’re hearing it whispered around the office watercooler – but when you’re talking about home moving, it doesn’t have to be. There comes a time in most people’s lives when you realize that you’re just not using entire rooms of your house. There are too few people, and too much square footage.

It wasn’t so long ago that moving up in the world meant buying bigger and more. The average new single-family home in 1950 was 1,000 square feet – now, it comes in at over 2,600 square feet, according to the United States Census Bureau.

However, trends are changing for the smaller. You may be downsizing if you’re getting a little older and want less house to take care of, but you might decide to “go tiny” if you’re young and wanting the freedom of a low mortgage.

Even though it’s becoming trendier (thank you, HGTV), downsizing doesn’t come easy to most people. We spend a lot of time, effort and emotion building up the things we bring into our home and surround ourselves with, and it isn’t easy to part with them. But once you’re on the other side, you’ll realize that you don’t even remember most of those things anymore, and you certainly don’t miss them.

Before your upcoming home move, follow the next 5 tips to get to a place of downsizing nirvana.

Tip #1. What would you replace if it were all gone?

Disaster striking and taking away all of our earthly possessions is something we try not to imagine, but for the purposes of downsizing, give it a try. Go into a room and pack up and set aside for ‘keeping’ only what you would grab if you had 10 minutes to do it. This is a way of understanding what is important to you, and what only seems important.

After that exercise, go back into the room with this new perspective and take an honest look at the things around you. Sure, you have wonderful memories of that trip you took abroad, but it’s the memories that are important, not the tchotchkes that are taking up room on your shelves. If you give those trinkets away, those memories will still be there.

Save the things that you simply couldn’t replace in your heart if they were gone – a grandmother’s rocking chair, or a flea market find that you still love even though it’s years after you found it.

Those things are important. Those are the things you would grab – or wish you could grab – if you only had 10 minutes in a room before impending disaster washed it all away. There’s a lot that we hold onto out of obligation, light emotional ties or even laziness. If you allow yourself to remove all of those strings from your possessions, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to rid yourself of them.

Tip #2. Keep a childlike mindset when it comes to giving away

A good way to remember this tip is: of sight, out of mind. If children’s toys are taken away from them slowly, and put away out of sight, they usually forget about them. Apply this to your own items and take all of the things you’re on the fence about and put them into a giveaway box. If you don’t go back into that box to fish it out after a couple weeks, then you don’t need it.

This is a good tactic with items that no matter how long you stare at them, you’re just not sure if you need them or not. Clothing, for example, can fall into this category a lot. Maybe you don’t want to get rid of it because it still has the tags on it, or you only wore it once – even though you bought it years ago.

Put it in the box. Even if you’re sure you’ll be pulling it back out in a couple of days, put it in the box to see if that’s true, and it really is necessary to you. Once you remove these things from their normal space, you can see their true value to you – or lack thereof.

Tip #3. Don’t keep things based on ‘what ifs’  

Through life, we end up collecting a lot of ‘just in case’ items. Multiple dish sets, six hammers, three coolers, two cake stands and more can openers than we know what to do with. Pick your favorite of the duplicate items, and let the rest go.

Accept that in the unlikely scenario that one breaks, or gets lost, you will simply have to go get another one. This especially applies to items we use for hosting. Dishes, nice cutlery and wine glasses, or even those pint glasses you’ve been collecting for years – how many do you really need? Sure, it’s nice to have 12 of each, but when have you ever used all these items at once?

We hold onto a lot of things because of others. There’s that feeling that one day you might need it – what if you have that dinner party you’re always talking about hosting? What if you loan it to someone, and they never return it?

You can’t keep items that clutter up your life based on ‘what ifs.’ Keep tabs on what you use on a regular basis, and set the rest aside.

Tip #4. Identify any low-quality items you can get rid of

Downsizing isn’t all about saying goodbye to things. It’s also about welcoming new, better quality things into your life. Some items you have might be too large for your new space – like a couch, or a kitchen table and chairs.

If you sell or get rid of these things, you can buy new, higher-quality items that will help you to get excited about the downsizing process.

To help you understand what will fit comfortably in your new space, make sure that you’re measuring different rooms. This will help you to know what you might need to get rid of and replace with new, smaller items. Once you have a list of what you’ll need to replace, you can start shopping for items that will fit – just remember to always measure. And as any designer will tell you, once you’re done measuring, go back and measure again.

Tip #5. Give yourself storage options

Downsizing doesn’t have to happen all at once. There may be things that you want to keep, but you simply don’t have room for. This is absolutely fine, you just need to check your budget and look around to find a trustworthy local household goods storage service.

If you have valuable furniture, art, or other heirlooms, you’ll want to inquire as to the storage warehouse’s security. Also, you will want to ask about their options for temperature-controlled storage or climate-controlled storage. Temperature-controlled storage is the first level of extra protection during temporary storage, storage in transit or for longer periods of time. Temperature-controlled storage protects:

  • Appliances 
  • Leather furniture 
  • Many electronics 
  • Collectibles 
  • Photos  

Another option offered by storage companies is climate-controlled storage. The difference between temperature-controlled storage and climate-controlled storage is that climate-controlled also protects against humidity. Dampness can be particularly damaging to:

  • Wood furniture 
  • Musical instruments 
  • Electronics 
  • Clothing 
  • Important documents 
  • Antiques 
  • Books 
  • Fine art 

Many Suddath storage facilities offer climate-controlled storage for long-term or storage in transit. As you research storage companies, it is important to keep the difference between temperature- and climate-controlled storage in mind.

We’d love to help you plan, pack, store or move. Contact us to get more information or set up a quote. 

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