At some point in our lives we downsize for one reason or another. It might be because your kids moved out and you no longer need that 4 bedroom, 4 bath home. It may be that you lost your job and can no longer afford the 4,000 square foot home any more. Maybe you just find all that space useless and want to find something that you will not fill with useless stuff! The question is how do you make it painless? That is where we can help.
About 4 years ago we were in the same boat. We were renting and really had no need for 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a finished basement and a garage. It was just the two of us and most of the space was left unused and simply collected things. Lots and lots of things! We wanted to buy a house, but didn’t want to purchase something where there was a ton of extra space to clean and furnish. So we went ahead and downsized. We purchased our 700 square foot home almost 4 years ago.
Once the deal was done – that is when the panic set in. What the h*ll were we thinking? How in the world would all our stuff fit? How would we even decide what to get rid of? Welcome to the downsize panic!
We came to the realization that things would have to go and set on a path to declutter our home and our lives. From that we learned the steps that we all have to go through when we decide to downsize. Following these steps made the transition to a smaller home effortless and actually enjoyable and freeing. Check out our steps below.
Accept You Have to Downsize
Say you have a 2,000 square foot home and now you will be moving into half that at 1,000 square feet (or more if you are like us and going to the extreme at 108 Sq Ft). Dropping to half the size can feel extremely overwhelming. You have SOOO much stuff and it is never all going to fit.
Now this is going to be tough, but you have to accept that you are 100% right. It is not all going to fit. You have to come to terms with the fact that not everything is going to be able to tag along on your new downsizing adventure!
How do you do that? Well it is not nice to say but you need to suck it up princess! It is time to do some adulting and I promise at the end of it you will feel lighter and happier!
Step Two: Measure Twice – Move Once
Now that we our all accepting our fate, it is time to get down to business.
First up is figuring out exactly what we have to work with. You know what you have and you know the size of your current home. Now do you know the size of your new home? I don’t mean what you think you remember, or that fantasy in your head from that one viewing you had before you took the leap. I mean do you really know the room sizes and the actual square footage?
If you have the actual square footage, that is great! Check off one of the steps! However, if you have yet to figure it out, it is time to get that sorted.
When buying a new home you usually have a few more inspections of it locked into your deal. Make an appointment and make sure to bring a measuring tape and a piece of paper to write it all down. Now if you are renting, either ask the new landlord if they have the room dimensions or ask to go in yourself and measure.
Make sure to note as well where the doors and windows are, is there a closet and how big? How many kitchen/bathroom cabinets do you have or is there some available space in the garage? You get the hint – make sure you know it all.
Now that we all have our room sizes and real dimensions in hand we can figure out what exactly is going to fit in our new home.
Step Three: Trash the Trash
Trashing the trash is the easiest part of any decluttering mission! There is no emotional or monetary attachment to trash!
You might be one of the lucky ones who truly believe that they have no trash in their home except in the garbage. Now wait a minute there – what about that junk drawer? Do you really think there is not one piece of trash in there (old napkins – unused of course, menus for closed restaurants, condiments that probably died years ago?). Oh and if you have children – there will be hidden trash. Teenagers – triple that number! Let’s get real here and again (pulling up our big girl pants) accept we likely have some trash laying around our homes.
So for this step simply grab a garbage bag and fly around your house looking in all the nooks and crannies for the trash! Then put it out to the curb.
Now that the first load is out the door – time to move on to Step Four.
Step Four: If You Don’t Use It – Lose It
There are things that have been in boxes since you moved into your current home. Admit it – there are! We all have them! The boxes that were just not that important to unpack and for the last five years we got along fabulously without them. It might be where that potato masher that you couldn’t find years ago is living. However, I bet you’ve already replaced that lost item with an even better one! No need to pull out the old when we are happy with the new.
I for one am a advocate of just grabbing those boxes and putting them in the car and directly to the Sally Ann, but I can understand why not all of you would agree. So for this I will not tell you to suck it up and do it. Who knows what hides in those boxes that you don’t want others to see! So open them up and quickly go through them, but just remember (unless its something private or beyond important) – you have not touched these things since you last moved so it is highly unlikely that you will ever touch them again.
There is no need to bring along unopened boxes for the rest of your existence! If you don’t want to part with them, or give the time and effort to go through them – why do you think your loved ones want to when you are gone? Its time to part with these lovely not so decorative decorations.
Now this step doesn’t just include the boxes that have been left unopened. What about the clothes in your closet that are waiting for you to lose 30 lbs (or gain it), that went out of style in your high school years or the ones that are brand new but you could never force yourself to wear in public (We all have those too!).
Also the kitchen is notorious for keeping hostages. The cute serving platter that you picked up for special company, but is never used as no one is special enough. Or there is always the gadget that we had to have, but could never figure out exactly how to use and probably never will.
When going through your things and thinking that one day you will use it, wear it or love it – Remember that if one day hasn’t happened in the last year or two – it most likely is never going to!
Its time to let it go – find it a better home where it will be used for its purpose or trash it if that is truly what it is.
Step Five: Do You Love, Need, or Want It
I know that some people believe that you should only keep things that you truly love. But I have never loved a cutting board or toilet bowl brush, but I certainly need them both. So for step five we are going to figure out what we love, what we need and what we must have and then get rid of the rest.
For what we love, it should be simple. These are the clothes that you put on and you feel fabulous. The ones that put you in a good mood no matter if its a work day or raining and gloomy. They brighten up your day just by wearing them. These are musts for the keep pile!
It is also that piece of furniture that you relax on after a hard day’s work and all your troubles are swept away. Keep these in your life no matter what anyone else tells you – they are part of your soul!
For the what we need list these things can include a good set of pots and pans that have served us well – but not five sets. They will include dishes and glasses and bathroom necessities – but not three toothbrush holders! It might also include that couch or bed that you HATE, but you unfortunately cannot afford to replace – you need it even if you don’t love it and so shall you keep it.
You get where I am going here. Pick what you need to meet your needs. If you have multiple – pick your favourite and donate the rest if its worthy or trash it if its not. If you hate it but need it – then keep it and start a savings account (maybe with the sale of the stuff you don’t need!! Hint-hint) to get one that fills your heart with joy.
Must Have It
Now the must haves are a little more difficult. These are the items that bring about the memories, that were a Christmas gift you hate but your aunt looks for when she visits every year or your child made 20 years ago for mother’s day. These are the hard things to go through.
One thing you can do with these items are digitize them (such as old photos, your huge VHS/DVD/CD collection, or the cute pictures your children made for you weekly). Take a photo and save it on a hard-drive. Make sure to back it up! Or take a photo and create an all in one scrapbook to keep all the items, such as artwork, photos, etc., together.
Another thing you can do is create a memory box. Make sure its cute and is something that you don’t want to hid away in your closet or basement out of sight. Make this memory box something that you have out in the open so you can fill yourself with these wonderful memories anytime you are feeling low or just want to remember the past.
Downsizing doesn’t have to be painful. If you follow these steps you will free yourself of all the clutter and junk. You’ll feel happy and ready to move on with your new adventure – no matter the size.
First step is accepting you are not going to be able to take it all. Make sure you know exactly the size of your new home and then its time to begin the declutter. Start with the trash and the things you haven’t used in an eternity. Then its onto grabbing what you love and need and digitizing the memories.
You don’t have to ditch it all, but you do have to be realistic about what you bring if you want to enjoy a calming new home worthy of the Queen you are.