People downsize their homes for many reasons, including because they’re empty-nesters ready for retirement, because they want to lead a simpler lifestyle, or because they live in an expensive area. Regardless of the reason, though, reducing your possessions and your space can be a challenge. Luckily, these four tips from organizational experts can help you fit your life into a small space without tossing everything in the trash.
Assess The New Space
The first step to downsizing your home is to assess the new space to determine what you can realistically take with you. For example, if you have particular pieces of furniture you’re attached to, will they fit in your new home? And if they do, are they the best choice? Though you don’t want to buy all new items to outfit your smaller space, it can help to outfit smaller spaces with storage solutions and your old furniture may not accommodate that.
Focus On Minimalism
Any property management company will tell you that tiny homes are trendy right now, but if you look at all the pint-sized spaces, you’ll quickly see that they all share one common trait: a minimalist sense of style. Space is at such a premium that even the smallest bit of clutter begins to look off. Spend some time thinking about how you can integrate your current sense of style into a simpler space. If you have a lot of art, for example, you might opt for a system that lets you switch out what’s displayed a few times a year. You can do the same thing with your book collection or board games – some in storage, some temporarily put away and out of use.
Before you move, it can also be beneficial to take a Marie Kondo-style approach to decluttering. Kondo’s general principle is that everything you own should “spark joy.” In other words, you need to look beyond the dichotomy of useful and not useful items and focus on the things you love. Any item on the toss pile gets a fond goodbye. It’s a powerful way to downsize your possessions before you downsize your space.
Define Your Spaces
Everyone downsizes with different goals and it’s important to define those clearly so you can divide your new home. For example, do you need an office space in your home? If so, you should carve out a place to work, even if it’s not a separate room. This might just be a desk with a small carpet dividing the area from the rest of your home or a nook under the stairs where you can keep your work supplies. Similar rules apply to any specialized space, whether it’s dividing an open plan kitchen from the dining area or the living room from the kitchen; your home should be clearly defined based on how you use the different spaces.
Consider External Storage
The hardest thing about downsizing is getting rid of things, so don’t hesitate to get a storage unit if it will help you make better decisions. Too often, in a hurry to clean out a big house, people end up throwing away things they need or want. Rather than discarding things in haste, start sorting your possessions early. If you still don’t feel like you’re done when it’s time to move, put the unsorted items in storage with a relative or in a rental unit until you can carefully consider what you want to keep.
Eventually, most people have to downsize, whether you’re moving into your first tiny apartment after living with your parents or moving into a small condo after your kids leave home and it’s time to retire. Whatever the reason, take your time and embrace your new home. Just because it’s a smaller space doesn’t mean you can’t make it fully yours.