Article Summary:

How to purge and down-size your clutter to fit into a smaller home or condo.

Down-Sizing Your Home is Right-Sizing

Moving From Too Large to Just Right
The traditional term used to describe moving into a smaller home is “down-sizing,” but I feel that word has negative connotations. For most people, a move like this is a positive and practical choice; it means freedom and a simpler life. It’s smart to exchange a home that feels big and empty (perhaps now that the kids have moved out) for a home with just the right amount of space. It’ll be easier and less time consuming to maintain and may also have added features such as a great location, view or amenities.

Streamline your Stuff.
You can’t expect to squeeze the contents of a 3,000 square foot house into an 800 square foot condo. As soon as you’ve made the decision to move, it’s time to start streamlining. The purge is the most daunting part of the rightsizing process, but if you break it down to just 20 minutes a day, it can ease the strain. Do one room at a time, beginning with the rooms you use least. Be ruthless and ask yourself these tough questions:

  • Do I still like it?
  • Does it add value to my life?
  • Will I use it regularly?
  • Does it work with the décor in the new home? (scale, colour, style)
  • Will I have the space for it?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions, let it go; you probably won’t miss it. The more you pare down before you move, the less you’ll have to pack, and the smoother the move will be; you’ll save time and money. Rather than trying to cram as many belongings as will fit into your new space, think instead about which ones are really important to you.

Make decisions on the big pieces first so you quickly see the progress.
Consider whether your furniture is the right scale for a smaller living space. If not, don’t go to the trouble and expense of moving it. Call a local charity and have them pick it up or sell it online or in the paper. Measure your new space to ensure your furniture will fit, and remember that you have to get it through the stairs, elevators and the front door.

Unload other people’s stuff.
Have you been storing your kids’ belongings in your house long after they’ve moved out? It’s time to ask them to collect their belongings.

Keep and display your favorites.
Give your most treasured collectibles and decorative items a place of honor in your new home but let the rest go. Consider giving inheritance items to friends and family now so you can share in their joy. Take a picture of the items if you feel you have sentimental attachment and record the story behind the item to keep with the picture. However, respect your family’s right to decide whether or not your castoffs will work in their space. They may not want or need them, in which case you can give them to charities that will appreciate your donation.

Once you are at your new place, here are some space-saving suggestions:

Select furniture and accessories that can double as storage. Use wooden trunks or wicker cubes with lids for coffee tables to store blankets or toys. Opt for pieces that have shelves and drawers. For example, a small chest of drawers can be used as an end table.

Choose furniture pieces that serve a dual purpose; for example, a hall-way table that unfolds into a dining-room table when you”re expecting dinner guests.

Utilize vertical space. When you’ve got limited floor space, look up. Replace a bulky entertainment unit with a wall-mounted flat screen TV. Free up counter space by hanging cooking utensils on a wall rack. Utilize shelves, hooks and over-the-door hangers whenever possible.

Make rooms multi-functional. Determine the preferred purpose of each room and set up zones to accommodate the different activities.

Although the process of paring down and moving into a smaller space can be stressful, it’s also a perfect chance to reevaluate your lifestyle and start with a clean slate.

Hellen Buttigieg, CPO┬«, is an award-winning Certified Professional Organizer┬«, life coach, Gemini – Nominated TV Host and President of We Organize U. For free tips on organizing your home, your office and your life, visit and sign up for her newsletter, emailed to you monthly. To contact Hellen or for information on hiring a We Organize U organizing specialist.

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