Whether you are looking to move into a smaller house or simply want to declutter, downsizing your home can be a great way to enhance your living space. By focusing on what items matter to you most and benefit your lifestyle, you can eliminate any extra clutter.
Downsizing may seem daunting, but thankfully some tips can help you along the way, making the process easier.
Read on for 16 tips on downsizing your home, both successfully and stress-free!
1. Be Practical
If you are moving or changing up your lifestyle, consider what will practically fit into those perimeters. For example, if you move from a house with a yard into a condo, you can safely get rid of your lawnmower.
Only keep the things that will continue to have practical applications in your new life. This will also make it easier for you to get rid of items that served a previous purpose but have now become obsolete.
2. Consider Your Lifestyle Goals
Chances are, if you are downsizing, you will also be changing up your lifestyle. Consider the bigger picture of what downsizing can help you achieve—more time outdoors, more savings, or an easier home routine?
Set your intentions and lifestyle goals ahead of time for a clearer view and an easier time deciding what items will fit and what must go. Envision your new life and determine if the object in question truly has a crucial place in it. The likely answer is “no.”
3. Digitize and Purge Paperwork
Avoid an ever-accumulating mass of paperwork that can take up a surprisingly large amount of space. When downsizing, scan the most important documents and recycle the rest. Get rid of tax returns over seven years old and paper bank statements that are now digital.
If you have old cassette tapes, CDs, or photo drives, digitize them to the cloud for posterity and free up some space in your home. Most important documents can be scanned and stored digitally, leaving you with birth certificates, SSNs, and licenses tucked in a small folder.
4. Don’t Hesitate
The downfall of many downsizers is hesitating—whether it’s in starting the entire process or deciding to keep an item. Get started on your downsizing right away to avoid feeling overwhelmed and possibly putting it off. The sooner, the better!
Additionally, if you have a moment of pause when deciding the necessity of an item during the process, you should likely get rid of it. Things you love will instantly jump out to you, but hesitation probably means they are not essential or sentimental.
5. Don’t Over-Save for Others
It’s an excellent idea to keep some items for the next generation of your family but don’t over-save. If you have a family heirloom or a treasured object, you can preserve it to pass on later. Don’t keep too many “just in case” items, though.
6. Get an Objective Outside Opinion
It can be beneficial to have an outside opinion when you simply are not sure whether to keep or let go of an item. Invite a friend over to lend an objective eye to the item in question to assist you in the decision.
7. Keep Your Favorites
Consider what items and objects in your house make you happy or have deep sentimental value—these should likely be kept. Get rid of extra, damaged, or unimportant items instead, as they won’t have the same emotional attachment to you.
If you keep collections of a particular item, you likely have quite a few. In that case, select your favorite ones and let the rest go. Even if these collections bring you joy, you don’t need multiples to achieve that feeling—just your absolute favorites.
8. Label and Sort Photographs
When sorting through sentimental items such as photographs, it can be easy to lump them all into the “keep” pile. However, you should scrutinize even your photos when downsizing.
Take time to collect your photos and make notes on the back about the occasion and who is in them. And if you don’t know the people featured in the photo, you can likely get rid of it. Don’t keep pictures of other people or trivial occasions!
9. Take It One Room at a Time
Because downsizing and decluttering can be a daunting task, make sure not to overwhelm yourself. Break an entire house down into manageable portions and take it one room at a time. Create a plan or schedule to help you stick to it.
Even if you only have fifteen minutes one day, focus on a single drawer, closet, or cupboard, instead of trying to rush through a larger area. Be meticulous, methodical, and try to remain calm—downsizing is difficult, but you’ll feel better for it in the end!
10. Pace Yourself
Don’t exhaust yourself by trying to downsize too fast. A general rule is to start downsizing about three months before a move to give yourself enough time. Use organization methods for balanced workflow and measured pace, including:
11. Prioritize Multifunctional Furniture
Instead of having furniture with only one use take up a good deal of space in your house, stick to pieces with many functions. You can safely downsize a guest room by getting rid of the large and unwieldy bed in favor of a futon or fold-out couch.
In general, the smaller space, the more functions you want your furniture to serve. Plus, by combining the effectiveness of furniture items, you can save money. Instead of having a couch and a bed, opt for a multifunctional piece that functions as both!
12. Sell, Donate, or Dispose?
You’re all set to get rid of excess stuff in your home, but what are you going to do with it? There are various options, but the most expeditious methods are generally to sell, donate, or throw away any items that you no longer need.
Make some extra cash by listing things on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Craigslist. But keep in mind that such services do not guarantee immediate sales, so you need to store the items.
Donating things to your local women’s shelter, thrift store, or charity shop is another great way to eliminate items you no longer need while helping others. Check first with these stores to ensure they accept the types of things you have to donate.
13. Set Solid Rules
Downsizing, while important, is not an easy task. It can be tempting to make a variety of exceptions here and there. So, being stringent and establishing solid guidelines for your decluttering and downsizing is crucial.
Have strict sorting options to prevent simply moving items you don’t need from one location to another. Keep it only if necessary or meaningful. Then donate, recycle, or memorialize other things through a photo.
Try to avoid a “maybe” category that can quickly accumulate items you truly don’t need. Consider if you have used it in the past six months, its usefulness or sentimentality, and whether or not it fits into your new arrangement and lifestyle.
14. Snap Some “Before” Photos
Take some photos of your space before the downsizing starts. Experts recommend this practice for two reasons—first, so you can see how effective your downsizing adventure was.
The second reason is to see what items your eye immediately goes to in the photos. This will assist you in selecting what to get rid of during your downsizing. Things you are drawn to in the photos will likely be items of importance that you should keep.
15. Stop Shopping
As you work on downsizing your home, it’s a good idea to stop bringing new things into your space. Put a moratorium on shopping sprees for the time being, at least until your downsizing project is complete to prevent overlap.
Not only will you avoid filling your home right back up again with new goods, but you will also save money. Save shopping for the essentials and anything that downsizing might have highlighted as an item you truly need.
Experts recommend that you follow a “one for one” ratio rule after downsizing. When you bring one new thing into the house, you need to let go of one thing that is already there to prevent over-accumulation.
16. Utilize Vertical Space
One commonly overlooked area is the space above you. If you don’t have a lot of horizontal space, think upwards! Consider hanging storage instead of big, boxy storage units, or suspend your bicycle from the wall to keep the floor clear.
Downsizing, no matter the reason, is a daunting task no one wants to do. But pushing it off for a later date only adds to the unneeded stress. So before you start sorting through items, consider the 16 tips above and get started downsizing early!