How to Downsize Your Home and Still Keep What You Love
By Annie Sisk
Whether you call it downsizing, right-sizing, or simply decluttering, getting rid of stuff that’s taking up space in your home and in your life unnecessarily can be an incredibly freeing experience.
It’s also an essential step in preparing to sell your home. But it can also be a bit terrifying. After all, most of us own specific things that bring us joy and make life easier or better, even if it’s simply by providing a timeless reminder of good memories. And the process of weeding through an entire home’s worth of belongings can be incredibly stressful, particularly if you also face a home sale and a move.
Fortunately, with some planning and effort, you can quickly eliminate your excess belongings without tossing out things you love, follow these tips for downsizing strategically and relatively painlessly.
No doubt, decluttering and downsizing can trigger a lot of emotional baggage. It can also be an exhausting endeavor that’s physically draining. For those reasons, it’s understandable that you might feel less enthusiastic about the process.
Yet attitude can be everything when sorting through and tossing clutter. Adopting a better more positive mindset about the process and generating a bit of enthusiasm can work wonders for how you experience the process – even if it’s just enthusiasm at the prospect of being done! Try to come up with at least 3 good reasons to get excited about downsizing to shift your thinking and make the process of reducing a year from start to finish.
It’s easy to underestimate the time it will take to complete a complex project like downsizing. Leave yourself plenty of time to get through it, preferably in small chunks of a few hours at a time. Several weekends in a row are ideal if you can swing it, giving yourself a break between tackling separate areas of the home
Enlist all the help you can get. You might have to make the ultimate decision, but others can go through their belongings and even make preliminary toss/keep piles for your consideration.
Schedule your time around different rooms or areas of your home. Tackle the living room one weekend, a bedroom the next, and so forth. This helps you stay focused on the job without getting overwhelmed by all the other rooms you still have to sort through. If you have a full attic or storage shed, leave extra time to go through those belongings as they tend to be a bit more packed and diverse.
As you process your stuff, think about the life you want to live shortly. Does this item have a unique, valued place there? If so, hang onto it. If not, toss it. Alternatively, you can find more creative ways to part with items that aren’t precisely meaningless but still don’t belong in your new or redesigned space.
For example, consider reducing old artwork from children and grandkids to photographic form to hang onto the memory wall while eliminating the physical space. Don’t be afraid to start a new pile of “Do you want this?” (Get your kids and family involved in helping you remove their stuff). Items that you’d like to offer to friends and relatives or a pile of donations for local charity use support. However, if you gently remove unnecessary items from your life keep in mind the future life you’re dreaming of and how you can best create and support it.
For each item it’s helpful to have a standard list of questions to ask yourself while you’re trying to determine what to do with it:
- Do I use this? Have I used it in the last 12 months?
- Does this bring me joy, even if I haven’t used it? Does it brighten my mood or evoke a particular design style I love, for example?
- Is it inherently valuable? Should I consider selling it?
- If none of those things are true, with someone I love and joy or love this?
Once you’ve gone through these questions and know whether to keep, sell, or give it away, make your decisions quickly. Aim to handle each item exactly once – no do-overs or re-considerations. Be firm with yourself and place each item in the appropriate pile or container.
- Keep, donate, sell, or giveaway
- If the thing is worthless and no one wants it, throw it away immediately
- Don’t allow yourself to second-guess yourself
Reducing unnecessary stuff in your home and surroundings can be incredibly empowering and energizing. Paring down helps brighten the room and makes it feel lighter. Decluttering and downsizing are also essential if you plan to sell your home. A lack of decluttering is one of the most common reasons a house doesn’t sell.
While it can be a big undertaking, there’s no need to fear the process. Give yourself time and space to get excited about the results, and remember you’re making room for your new lifestyle!