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Downsizing Your Home, Downsizing Your Life

The following post is from Elvie of Elvie’s Essentials:

downsizing your home
source: RowdyKittens

When situations turned and we had to move, I was faced with downsizing. We had to leave out 3-story home in the country for an apartment in the city.

Then, a couple years later we had to downsize again to a single-floor home. After 10 years we were faced with yet another move, this time to another province and a small bungalow. Again I was faced with having to downsize and simplify.

Here are 9 things I learned in those 3 moves:

1. Purge

When you are looking at moving, you have to purge. We all accumulate things that you have to reconsider when looking at the expense of moving. A huge key to purging is to do it as soon as you know you are moving. Do not wait until close to moving day; otherwise the task is overwhelming.

When purging, keep thinking about your new space and your new life. Think about having more time and less work when you purge. Positive thinking makes the job so much easier.

For example, I am passionate about sewing. When we were faced with moving, I had a huge stash of fabric that I had accumulated over the years. I kept only extra special and unusual fabric and gave away about 70% of my stockpile. I even gave away unfinished projects. Be realistic to what you can complete within 3 months or even a year, and once it goes you forget about it and feel quite free.

2. Purge Again

No, this isn’t a typo. When you enter your new home, you begin unpacking all the boxes that require the essential items. Once you are basically settled, the rest of the boxes are stored in the basement or garage until you get to them, in a month, year, or even longer. That is a clue that you should purge them. I wonder if you can just get rid of them without going through them? Hmmmm. If you can, you are amazing. I couldn’t. I only allowed myself to bring in things I knew I would need and reminded myself I lived without it and didn’t even miss it. Don’t allow the unnecessary back into your great new space.

3. Downsize Furniture

When we live in a larger home, we fill the space with stuff. When faced with moving and downsizing, it’s time to downsize your furnishings as well. You could sell your home furnished and then purchase new to fit your new location, or simply reduce what you already have.

To do this, you need to measure your new space, and then measure your existing furniture. Use this printable room & layout planner to play around with layouts for your furniture! I used to have 3 bookshelves all full with books and a U-Shaped desk. I paired it down to one desk and 2 bookshelves and purged books, and in the end, this even allowed me room for an exercising station in my family room.

4. Add Shelves

Our bungalow was built in the early 50s and I don’t know how they managed with so few — and tiny — closets. Honestly, some of the shelves are 6 inches deep! We fixed the storage problem by adding extra shelves in the closets, the pantry and cupboards, and some decorative shelves in various rooms.

creative storage5. Look “Up” For Storage

It is amazing how you can make extra storage with a little ingenuity. Our kitchen was the size of a matchbox and had very little counter space. To solve the issue, we cut a hole in the wall in our breakfast nook which went into our garage and built a cabinet to display our dishes. Years later when we were finally able to renovate our kitchen, this unit got recycled to my cousin’s. She did the same thing — cut a hole that backed to a closet — and she loves her new cupboard.

We also have a very tiny garage and had nowhere to store all of our camping and scuba gear. So we cut a hole above the garage, made a door and stairs to access this space to the attic and now have a wonderful place for this as well as seasonal clothing and my canning jars. The ladder swings up and down on a pulley, and is secured with a safety chain.

When we finally renovated our kitchen, I made use of the space above the cupboards for extra storage. Usually this space is drywalled off, or left open and everything gets dusty. I designed glass doors and lighting, and this replaces my need for a china cabinet, which I did not have room for in my tiny dining room. See the results and get more ideas for kitchens and small spaces here.

6. Look “Down” For Storage

I am not a fan of things under my bed; it feels cluttered. But when you are faced with a smaller home and live in the north where we are required to have 4 full sets of seasonal clothing and bedding, you just have to do what you have to do. I purchased bins for under the bed that have lids, and I highly recommend them. Now, I store my seasonal shoes, yarn, and gift wrap under the bed. They make great bins with wheels and lids that have hinges to keep the dust out while making everything accessible. When you purchase furniture, look for ones with hidden storage, such as coffee tables, ottomans, beds, or even chairs.

organizers7. Introduce Organizers

Keep your eyes open for organizers that will fit your space. You can fit them into little corners or below your clothes in the closet. It is amazing how much they hold.

8. Rotate

We used to run a picture framing business, so I had so many beautiful framed prints, more than I had wall space. After purging and only keep the very best, I stored half in my storage closet, and after a year or two, change-up the pictures. I also do this with my vases and accessories. You don’t have to display everything all at once. By rotating your things, you don’t feel the urge to shop as much, everything feels new and fresh.

9. Be Content With Less

I no longer have walk-in closets or a jacuzzi tub, but downsizing means simplified life. And a simplified life means more time and less stress. With less things, you have less to fix, maintain or clean, thus more time. We have learned to be content with less!

Many get stuck with the kitchen and find it the most difficult room to tackle. But you won’t feel that way anymore after reading 5 Quick And Easy Steps To Organize Your Kitchen. Download it now for FREE, my gift to you.

Have you ever downsized? What was the hardest part for your family?

Elvie Look is a professional organizing coach helping people get organized with her easy tips and suggestions. These systems help the busy mom, businessman or woman, entrepreneur or student learn the keys to organizing in simple, actionable and manageable steps. Elvie is also the author of 21 Steps From Chaos To Calm.