As our kids grow up and move off to their own homes, many of us find that we want a little less house. Sometimes we want to save money. Sometimes we are looking for less stairs to climb. Sometimes we’re trying to lessen our environmental footprint by spending a little less money heating or cooling rooms that aren’t being used. And sometimes we are simply ready for our next adventure. Regardless of the reason, downsizing doesn’t just mean moving. It also means eliminating furniture and other items from our homes. Less space means less stuff.
Our recent blog post “Let It Go, Let It Go … Clearing Out your Home without Filling Up Your Trash” listed many organizations and companies that will accept used items. But let’s take a step back. Let’s look at how to strategically approach the downsizing process.
- Plan in advance. If you are not yet ready to downsize, even if it’s far in the future, think about it now and talk to your partner. When will you want to downsize? Where will you want to go? Be sure to check in with each other as time passes to make sure you’re on the same page. Do not wait until it’s time to move to start downsizing. Be aware of how quickly homes sell in your area so you know how far in advance you need to begin the sales process to keep to your timeline.
- Downsize before you sell. Long before you put your home on the market, begin your decluttering process. Having fewer items in your home makes the home easier to stage. It’s easier for potential buyers to picture their own furniture and families in a home that has less of someone else’s things in it.
- Start at the finish line. Before you start culling through your things, know where you plan to be. How many bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll have will influence how much furniture you need, how many sets of sheets and towels to keep, etc. If you are getting rid of a room’s worth of furniture, consider getting rid of that furniture early on to clear out a room to use as a staging area for the stuff you are culling through. But if you haven’t sold your home yet, hang on to basic pieces to keep it staged. Ask your L.W. Reedy agent for advice on what you need to keep to properly stage the home.
- Check your floor plan of your new space. Beyond the number of rooms, look at the sizes of the rooms. Do you want to keep your dressers? Or add built-in shelving? Do you have room for both the dining room table and the china cabinet? If your budget allows, consider buying new pieces that fit the new rooms instead of trying to force your old furniture into the new space.
- Consider the amount of storage place in your new home as you decide how much memorabilia you want to retain.
- Has the job of hosting big dinners been gifted to another family member? Gift all the big cooking pots and entertaining dishes too!
- How long will it take you to go through your entire house? Some experts suggest that it could take a couple of weeks to a month. We think it could take even longer. Test yourself. Do one room. How long did that take? Then schedule it out room by room, allowing a bit more time for larger rooms or rooms containing memorabilia or clutter.
- Start with an easy room. What’s an easy room? One in which the items in the room have the least emotional attachment. That’s not going to be the same for everyone. You may find your memories in the kitchen, thinking of various family dinners you’ve made over time. One of our friends found that she could not part with most of her books because those books held memories for her. Going through her bookshelves took much longer for her than going through her clothing. What are those memorable items in your home? Allow yourself to go through these for a little bit of time each day so that it does not become overwhelming.
- Have a “come and get it party” where you have each of your children come and get their boxes of memorabilia from their childhood – photo albums, school projects, toys, awards. Consider passing along some family heirlooms that you’re ready to part with. Tag items you want to get rid of and ask family members to add their names to those items if they’d like you to pass them along when you move.
- Consider the weather. If you know you’ll be moving during the heat of the summer or cold of the winter, considering hitting any weather-dependent areas (like garages, outdoor areas, sheds, and breezy attics or cold basements) before the weather changes.
- Prepare. Buy boxes, packing materials and packing tape and have it ready when you start. Have a large box of extra strong garbage bags for trash and donations.
- Move it once. Before you start, designate areas for “next steps.” For example, prepare boxes that you can pack for things you want to keep, boxes or bags in another area that you intend to take to a donation center, boxes or bags in another area for items being handed off to family members. Touch each thing once.
- Rather than keeping all your memorabilia, consider taking pictures. Make a book or frame the pictures. Or upload the pictures to a digital picture frame.
- Feeling overwhelmed? There are experts, like Pat Cerny Keplinger of Downsizing by Design, who can help.
- Once you have sorted your items, check out our”Let It Go, Let It Go … Clearing Out your Home without Filling Up Your Trash” blog post to find new homes for your unwanted items.
Are you ready to consider downsizing? Contact your L.W. Reedy agent today for information about selling your home and finding a new home just right for your next adventure.