Downsizing Tips for Moving to a Smaller Home
While downsizing is exciting, it can also be a major adjustment. Use these tips to help with your transition — from purging to organizing to maximizing space.
Prepare for Hidden Costs
While there are many reasons to downsize, one of the most popular ones is the possibility of reducing mortgage payments and utility costs. If you’re downsizing to save money, be aware of the potential hidden costs involved before you make your move. For instance, the cost of moving and furnishing a new home are two of the most common budgetary burdens. You’ll also want to plan on spending some money to fix and prep your existing home to get it ready to sell. Other potential costs include higher property taxes, homeowner’s association fees, and the need for storage rental.
Declutter Your Current Home First
When you make the move to your new small home, you want it to feel cozy — not crowded. That’s why it’s a good idea to get rid of things you don’t need before you actually downsize. Generally, this means thinking about which of your possessions you can donate, sell or throw away. A good way to start is to take inventory of your belongings so that you can see any redundancies or inefficiencies. By doing so, it’s likely you’ll find things you currently have no use for and items that can be replaced with smaller or multi-use versions. These are also good ideas for cutting clutter:
- Use a Decluttering Method — There are many methods available to guide you through downsizing, each with its own unique way of breaking this task down into smaller, more manageable steps. The key is finding the one that will work for you.
- Use Apps to Sell Stuff Online — For those looking to cash in on some of your outcast items, there are several options for selling your stuff online. Any money from the sales can be put toward furnishings that better suit your new home. Consider looking into apps like Nextdoor, Letgo, and OfferUp where shipping isn’t an obstacle because you are virtually selling to your neighbors. To reach a larger audience, try Facebook Marketplace or CPlus for Craigslist. Any big-ticket items might best be sold on eBay, Poshmark or Tradesy, depending on the item.
- Throw Away Broken Items — Toss or recycle anything that is badly worn or broken. For items you’ve been meaning to fix, reassess whether it’s worth the time and cost to do so. If you’re having a hard time getting rid of sentimental objects, consider asking a friend to help you go through things. They can give you some much-needed objectivity.
- Reassess Your Furniture — It’s time to get rid of any old furniture that won’t fit in your new home. But before you do that, think about ways furniture can be repurposed, like turning a TV stand into a bedside table or dresser. If the furniture still won’t work in your new space, look for slim-line furniture (without heavy legs or armrests) that offers multipurpose storage. Be sure to measure the floor space of the rooms in your new home before committing to new pieces.
- Wardrobe Clean-Out — Purging clothing can be a daunting task. Although time-consuming, one easy trick is to turn all of the hangers in your closet the wrong way at the beginning of a season. When the season changes, whatever clothing items are left with backward hangers go in the donation pile.
- Purge Any Unnecessary Kitchen Appliances — Bulky and awkward, kitchen appliances take up valuable counter and cabinet space. The tricky part is that sometimes they can be hard to get rid of because they were expensive. The simple truth, however, is that there’s no use in keeping that fancy blender if it just sits and collects dust — especially in a home with limited space. Sell it or donate it before lugging it your new home.
Maximize Space in a Small Home
Investing in household accessories and furniture that are vertical and multifunctional is the best way to maximize organization in a small space. For example, an ottoman that opens up and allows for extra storage. Don’t be afraid of getting creative when thinking up ways to get things off the floor and table surfaces. Here are a few ideas:
- Make Use of Wall-Mounted Storage — Floating shelves free up floor space and help make a small room feel more airy. They also are great for storage and display. You can even custom-build your own using lumber and basic hardware store supplies.
- Increase Kitchen Storage Space — Rolling carts and tall, narrow bookshelves are simple storage solutions that go a long way in a small kitchen. Other ideas include adding hooks to the bottoms of your cabinets to hang mugs, or using magnetic strips to make your own floating spice rack. Also, don’t forget about valuable areas like the top of your cabinets, the space above the refrigerator, and the inside of cabinet doors.
- Seek Out Multifunctional Furniture — Finding the perfect furniture for a small home can prove challenging. To optimize your available space, you might have to invest in multifunctional furniture. Good options include a lift-top coffee table that can be used as a desk, and also to store magazines and other living room essentials; a folding Murphy table or bed; and a compact chair that can easily be moved and used in several different scenarios.
- Install Sliding Doors — Utilizing sliding doors in small bathrooms or bedrooms add impact without taking up valuable floor space needed by traditional swinging doors. They also bring privacy to open floor plans without requiring major remodeling.
Make Small Rooms Appear Larger
Just because you’re downsizing your home doesn’t mean you have to downsize your style. Here are some clever decorating tricks to help you make small rooms look larger and feel more open, as well as some practical tips on choosing colors, dressing windows, and more in a small space.
- Install Multipurpose Lighting — Wall-mounted sconces (particularly ones that adjust) not only free up table space, but swing out of the way when not being used. In addition, consider installing lights on the inside of shelving units that function as a combination bookshelf, reading area and headboard.
- Use Mirrors and Shiny Surfaces — Mirrors, shiny surfaces and see-through materials like glass and acrylic all serve to make a room appear larger by bouncing light around to help visually expand its footprint. Mirrored tables create the illusion of space by making objects look like they’re floating, and also allow nearby patterns to take center stage.
- Create Divisions in a Multipurpose Room — When one room is used for multiple purposes, arrange the furnishings to mark each area and create an intimate setting.
- Keep Window Dressings Minimal — Try not to over-dress windows with dark, heavy curtains. Natural lighting makes smaller rooms feel larger, so either use window treatments made from thinner fabrics or go bare. Hang the curtains well above the window to create an illusion of extra height.
- Choose a Light Color Palette — Light colors will make a room seem more open — try to stick with neutrals if you can. Also, avoid patterns that are overly busy, as they tend to make smaller rooms feel cramped. Instead, pick an accent color or two to make a statement and use them to accessorize.