How to Downsize Your Home for the Next Stage of Your Life
This morning, your last child moved out of your home. You knew this day was coming for a while, but it wasn’t until just now that the bittersweet reality really hit you: While your children will always know that they are welcome in your house, they now have homes of their own.
It’s time to figure out how to downsize your home and create the perfect place for you, regardless of whether you decide to stay in the same space and update it to meet your needs or sell and start fresh by moving into a smaller space or building your dream home.
Wondering how to downsize your home in a way that works for you? Here’s what you need to know.
Why Should I Downsize My Home?
Before we answer the question of how to downsize your home, let’s talk about why you should consider doing it in the first place. After all, downsizing shouldn’t feel like a compulsory act–it should feel like a worthwhile investment in yourself and your future that it truly is.
There are many reasons to downsize your home. The Motley Fool explains that, by downsizing, “You could reduce or eliminate your mortgage…you could reduce other housing costs…[and] you could pick a more strategic location.”
No matter your age, another important advantage of downsizing is that it allows you to look out for your future self by considering struggles you may encounter in your current home in your later years. Flights of stairs, necessary bathroom renovations, hard-to-reach cabinets, and other accessibility issues are just some of the many issues that may become critical as you get older. By moving, for example, from a two-floor home into a one-floor home, you can eliminate some stress by ensuring you can navigate your entire home safely for the foreseeable future.
What’s more, when you downsize your home, you have the opportunity to reimagine the layout of your current home as well. Perhaps by sorting through all your current belongings and paring down everything you own, you can establish a sense of order and cleanliness that enables you to access everything you need to, say, set up that art studio you’ve always wanted so you can paint on weeknights.
Where Do I Start?
When the time comes to downsize your home, remember that it’s good to take it slow and not to pressure yourself. If you prefer, invite a friend or family member over to go through your items with you, or, if you have a partner or spouse, ask them to join you in going through your more sentimental items.
As you go through your belongings, remind yourself that this exercise is not meant to be stressful or forced. Decluttering and downsizing are designed to have the end goal of clearing your home and destressing you, leaving you room to breathe and feel free and appreciate the things you own that make you happiest.
You can absolutely keep the things that make your spirit soar, as long as they serve a purpose to you or truly make you happy. And if an object has sentimental value but no longer truly brings you joy–such as a child’s favorite blanket–you can get creative with it: photograph such items, label the photos, and create a scrapbook that can serve as a coffee table book once complete. Or, if you’re feeling attached to fabric items, cut a square of material that you can use to create a quilt.
Ready to get started? Here are some tips:
Take Photos of Your Home
In an interview for Business Insider, Karen Shinn, cofounder of Downsizing Diva, advises people to take photos of their home before they begin downsizing. Not only does this make for a fun “before” photo to view after all your hard work is complete, but it’s also a good tool for identifying the items worth keeping. “‘Look through the photos [and] see what your eye goes to’ — those are the things to keep.”
Start With Your Most Sentimental Belongings
Think of the things that are the most special and important to you–but that you never, ever use or touch or look at. These are things that you’ll want to share with special people in your life at some point. Now could be a great time to consider gently packaging these items and gifting them to other people in your family or beloved friends who you know would appreciate them. If the items are special to you and you don’t plan to use them in the future, be sure to snap a photograph you can save for the future.
Sift Through Items by Category
At this point, you’ve probably acquired extra items for all the holidays, celebrations, and other occasions that life has to offer. You can–and should–keep some of these things! But it’s likely that at this point you won’t need all 25 strings of those Jack-O-Lantern lights. Sort through your items one category at a time and decide on your favorite items in each category. Package up the rest and donate them to a local organization such as the Salvation Army.
Keep Your Eyes on the Horizon
When you’re downsizing your home, it’s easy to get stuck in the past. If you find your mind wandering, take a moment to envision your future life–whether it’s in this house, or a smaller, future home.
What do you see? A vegetable garden, lush with summer squash? A music studio? Perhaps an exercise room overlooking a beautiful ocean? Will you work with an interior designer to redecorate? When you cut out extra stuff, you create space for new parts of yourself to emerge, and you make room to explore your passions.
If you’re wondering how to downsize your home, there’s really no right answer. What matters most is that you take this important step when (and only when) it feels right to you, so that you can fully embrace this new chapter of your life. Look forward to making new memories with your children and family in all your homes, and in sharing your newfound joy with those you hold most dear.
I’m Ingrid Porter. As a designer with 30+ years of experience serving Northeastern Ohio, I specialize in personal and detail-driven design for families building or transforming the home of their dreams. If you’re ready to take “home” to the next level, we can’t wait to work with you.