Downsizing is a big trend right now, especially for empty nesters. For many people, a big house just doesn’t make sense anymore without the kids to fill it. But it’s human nature to fill whatever space we have, so if the kids have been gone for a while now, chances are you’ve been using their rooms as storage space, a home office, or a gym. Now the question becomes what are you going to do without that space when you move into a smaller home?
The first thing you need to do is form three piles: one for things you’re going to take with you; one for things to put in storage; and one for things to donate or throw out. Start with the things you use every day – you’ll be taking those with you to your new home. From there go to the things you use every other day, every few days, once a week, once a month, etc. The seasonal items (such as holiday decorations) can go in storage.
Anything that’s broken goes in the trash and anything that’s still usable, but you haven’t used or worn in the past year can get donated to the Salvation Army or another organization of your choice. This not only makes those items available to those who couldn’t afford them at their retail price, but the proceeds go to help struggling families.
You’ll need a good storage space. Depending on your new home, you may or may not have storage options, such as a basement or a garage. Some condo buildings provide a designated storage space for each unit in their basements, so consider moving into a smaller home that has such an option. Otherwise, consider off-site storage options. It should be affordable, but also close enough to your new home that you won’t have to go too far out of your way when it’s time to retrieve the things you need.
We live in the Digital Age and you should take advantage of it. If you have a fully stocked library, but you’ll be moving into a home with limited shelf space, consider ditching the books you won’t get around to re-reading (or reading for the first time) and keeping the rest. For anything you really want to keep, but don’t have the space to accommodate, you can buy a kindle or tablet and load it up with digital versions of all your favorite books. The same goes for your music and movie collections.
Have loads of picture frames full of beloved family photos, but nowhere to display them in your new place? Scan all your photos, then get a digital photo frame that alternates pictures every few minutes and load it with all your favorites.
Buy Multi-Use Items
When you have limited space, it’s more important than ever to use that space effectively, and that often means buying items that can double as something else. If you’re someone who has a fully stocked kitchen with every tool ever invented, start looking at what tools can double for something else. For example, if you own a double boiler and a full set of pot and pans, consider ditching the double boiler – you can use a pot and a heat-proof bowl to perform the same job.
The same goes for furniture. For example, a dining room table can also serve as a desk when meals aren’t being served.
Living in a smaller space might take some adjustments, but it’s like anything else – once you get used to it, you’ll wonder what you ever did with all that space in your old home.