Every new chapter in life is a daunting yet exciting experience and downsizing from a large, cluttered home into a compact, modern one is no different. It’s important to remember there are major benefits to making that transition to a much more hassle-free lifestyle.
“Although the idea of having to get rid of excess material objects can be somewhat overwhelming for many people, there is much to be gained in the process,” explained Phillip Barker, managing director of Renishaw Property Developments.
“Through downsizing, which is often quite a cathartic experience, we tend to lessen the everyday irritations as well as many unwanted expenses that accompany day-to-day living. This includes a decrease in costs linked to home insurance, security, full-time domestic help as well as home and garden maintenance.”
Some useful tips that will come in handy with the downsizing transition:
1. Write up your wish list
Once you’ve made the decision to downsize, sit down and write a list of the furniture or precious items you feel you cannot live without. This allows you to think carefully and realistically about what items you will have to donate or throw away.
2. Target recipients for special items
For the pieces of antique furniture or valuable family heirlooms that just won’t fit into the new place but you can’t bear to sell or donate, think of family members or close friends who might like to give these treasured pieces a new home.
3. Start clearing out three months before
Take some time every day to go through cupboards and drawers and clear out what you won’t be taking with you. This will make the process a lot less daunting and gives you time to assess every item.
4. Target storage areas first
Attics, basements, garages and old cupboards will yield a mammoth number of discarded items for which you probably have no need. Start clearing out these jam-packed areas first as this is usually the most time-consuming process.
5. No room for ‘maybes’
As tempting as it is to create a ‘maybe’ pile, the reality is that you probably don’t need the items and are just delaying a decision. This pile is also taking up room unnecessarily so rather make the hard choices now.
6. Get an objective opinion
If you have a tendency to hoard items because of sentimental value or because they ‘might be useful later’, then call in someone who can give an honest, sometimes brutal, outside opinion. Often it takes another person’s perspective to get you to realise that you don’t actually need 10 hosepipes, especially when you won’t be tending to the lawn yourself.
7. Divide objects into categories
A good idea is to label three boxes ‘To Keep’, ‘To Sell’ or ‘To Donate’ with a black bag for all items to be tossed. As you go through each room, place items in the correct boxes and try to get rid of the items for sale or to be donated as often as you can, so as to make room. Keep in mind that charities do not want broken or damaged goods, rather only donate items that have some resale value.
8. Focus on the most-used items
You may have the most exquisite selection of red wine glasses yet you really only drink white wine. Think about how often you use the item and then decide whether it’s worth taking up space in your new place. If you haven’t used them in the last year, then they definitely don’t need to make the move.
9. Get an appraiser
If you have several high-value items you are looking to sell, consider getting an appraiser in to give you a valuation. Remember auction houses aim to sell items at the best price whereas antique dealers aim to get items for the lowest price.
10. Get measurements
To ensure the furniture you’re keeping will fit into your new home, get accurate room measurements as well as a floor plan if possible. This will allow you to arrange your furniture ahead of time without any special surprises. Remember to take into account the location of doors and windows when deciding on furniture placement.
11. Assess storage areas
Don’t overestimate the storage space in your new home. Check how many kitchen and bedroom cupboards are available before you start clearing. If there is a garage, decide whether you will be using it for parking or as a storage space and take measurements.
12. Label everything carefully
Don’t assume that you will remember what is in the large brown box near the door. Clearly label what is in the box and which room it is destined for in your new home so as to not create pandemonium on moving day.
“There is very little chance that you will arrive at your new place and discover that you don’t have enough stuff,” said Barker. “Although it can be tough, you have to be quite ruthless in your decision-making. This will allow you to start afresh in your new home.”