So you’re looking to cut down on rent by moving to a smaller apartment, or maybe your in-laws are remodeling and need to stay with you for a while. Whatever the reason, you’re going to need to downsize to create extra space in your humble abode. Downsizing often feels overwhelming and distressing, but it doesn’t have to be a necessary evil.
You may have to rid your space of bulky appliances, oversized furniture, or your DVD collection from 2003, but did you really need any of those things?
Believe it or not, downsizing and decluttering can be positive experiences. You might even find it liberating to look around and realize you have more space than you thought. Here are six tips for downsizing your home successfully and channeling your inner Marie Kondo.
Sort your belongings
The first step in any successful downsizing operation is to consider what you have versus what you need. To do this, you should create four piles:
From there, nothing beats Marie Kondo’s famous “KonMari” method for tidying up. The KonMari process suggests going through everything in your home, starting with clothes, then books, papers, miscellaneous items, and finally, sentimental objects.
Decide what you’re keeping, donating, selling, or trashing by asking how the item makes you feel. Is it something that provides value in your life or, in Marie Kondo’s words, “sparks joy”? Picture yourself in your new, downsized space. Does the item you’re considering have a place there? If so, you should keep it. If not, you should let it go.
Uncluttering your space is a shortcut to cleaning out the cobwebs in your creativity. You just might find that flushing out your unused belongings leaves you feeling lighter.
Make the switch to space-saving appliances
Tiny kitchens and tight corners can leave you bubbling over with resentment for your gargantuan appliances. Whether it’s a deep freezer or an old washer-dryer combo, ditch the horizontal and make use of your vertical space by switching to downsize-friendly machines.
You can free up valuable countertop space by stacking your ovens or switching to an oven-microwave stacked combination. Keeping in the kitchen, upright refrigerators with freezer compartments leave you much more legroom than bulky deep freezers. Lastly, your washer and dryer might be hiding more than your lost left socks. If you’re struggling to shove your washer-dryer into a closet or mudroom, you can make the switch to more efficient, space-saving laundry appliances.
Digitize as much as possible
Receipts from your first dinner date, pictures of kids and grandparents, and old financial records are all vital parts of your story, but they don’t have to take up extra space in your dwelling. If you’re a regular paper pusher, consider digitizing your photos and records. They’ll take up much less space on a hard drive than they would in physical form, and it’s more fire-safe to boot.
Seek out multipurpose furniture
Buying new furniture might not be in the budget when you downsize, but you can still get creative even if it isn’t. There are many multipurpose furniture pieces available that can help you create a compact but functional space. Even if you can’t afford to buy new, you can prowl budget shops and garage sales for DIY solutions.
Futons can quickly turn a living room into a guest room, and space-saving wall benches transform into dining room tables. Mounted desks can fold flat to the wall when not in use, and the right bed frame can create under-the-bed storage for clothes and shoes. If you’re doing it yourself, try stacking your bed onto cube organizers to create a mini-loft.
Don’t add to the collection
The temptation to buy this or that cute decor piece is intense. New place, new things, right? If you’re downsizing, you should be careful not to defeat your own purpose. You don’t have to become a monk, but ideally, you’ll avoid buying anything unless it’s necessary.
Buying a new piece of artwork or knick-knack for your new home is enticing to be sure, but everything you purchase adds to your collection of clutter. That doesn’t mean that you have to purge your personality along with your old possessions. Just be mindful that anything you buy is something that you genuinely want for years to come.
If you run into something that you think will look great in your new home, put it on a wishlist until you ultimately move in. If you’re still thinking about it after you’ve moved into your new digs, go ahead and get it, but if not, leave it in the cart.
Remember, downsizing is a process
No one gets downsizing right on the first attempt. Because people change and grow constantly, you should think of downsizing as a process rather than a one-and-done thing.
You might do an initial sort and find you’re still left with too much brick-a-brack to take with you. You may run into some possessions that make you feel wishy-washy about keeping them. Maybe you’ll need a freestanding fan in your new space, but then again, perhaps you won’t.
That’s why it’s essential to revisit the decluttering process regularly. Make a habit of regularly going through your things and weeding out the extra. This way, you can keep the clarity of being decluttered, and you’ll feel less overwhelmed the next time you need to make a significant change in your lifestyle.
Whether you’re an empty nester or a young professional looking for a cheap place, downsizing is something that occasionally fits our stage in life. Though it can be a stressful and emotional experience, by using these tips, you’ll find yourself less down about downsizing.