Downsizing is about much more than simply choosing which bits of furniture you can fit into your new home, it’s a complex emotional journey. In this blog, we share advice from Catherine Haken, of Haken Relocation Services, on how to approach this life-changing moment.
- Embrace the change
It helps greatly if you see your decision to downsize in a positive light. You are choosing to improve your quality of life by living somewhere that will enable you to enjoy the next phase of your life, so think of it as an exciting, liberating new adventure, rather than a sad farewell to your old home.
- Involve family and friends
If you are saying goodbye to what may be the family or childhood home you need to enable family and friends to adjust too. Talking will help them to understand your decision so you can enlist their help and support. If you all feel unified everyone will see that this is a positive change for the better.
- Start early
Start to declutter and re-home items you don’t want to take with you at least three, or ideally four, months before you move. If you leave it much later it simply becomes a removal exercise rather than a carefully considered fresh start.
- Gift items to family and friends
You may derive great pleasure from giving away pieces of furniture, pictures or other possessions and seeing your family and friends enjoy them. If there’s something you were planning on leaving to your children, for example, give it to them now so you can continue to enjoy it too. Don’t be offended if they reject your kind offers though, sometimes they simply don’t have the space themselves.
- Get the kids to take their stuff home!
We all end up storing things for our children, whether it’s childhood clutter or furniture they didn’t know what to do with. They need to take it to their own homes now – you simply won’t have room for it at your new place.
- Make a list of things you can’t live without
Once you’ve got your list of must-have items you can start to make decisions about the rest. Your second list should be things you’re not sure of – your ‘maybe’s, your third list should be stuff that can definitely go. Once you know what’s going, group these things into gifts, items to sell, for charity and to be thrown away. With all the recycling possibilities you shouldn’t need to send much to landfill. Charity shops, house clearance companies, freecycle, ebay and auction houses are all routes to a second life for your unwanted possessions and could be a source of additional funds for your new life.
- Start by decluttering storage areas
The garage, shed, loft, outhouses – all of these areas become dumping grounds or storage facilities. They’re a great place to start decluttering as you’re less likely to feel sentimental about boxes of stuff you’ve been meaning to sort through or get rid of anyway.
In the kitchen, be realistic about how many baking tins, mixing bowls, jugs etc you really need. Some people also decide that the beautiful china they save for best is now going to become their every day china so they can really enjoy it, rather than have it taking up valuable storage space.
With clothes, be ruthless: does it still fit? When did you last wear it? Does it still suit you? When will you wear it?
After that, be systematic and start small or you’ll feel overwhelmed. Do one room at a time and break that room down into smaller tasks that will take a couple of hours each, for example sort out two drawers, or one side of the wardrobe.
- Look at the floor plan of your new home
Try to visualise how you’re going to use each room and measure your furniture to see what will fit. You may love your seven foot sofa but if there’s nowhere to put it you need to consider its future. The same goes for your dining table; how often will you be catering for that many people? Would you be better off with a drop-leaf table that you can extend when you need it?
Bear in mind that bold colours may overwhelm a smaller space, you may want to consider buying new furniture that better suits your new home. It’s a great excuse to go shopping!
Many smaller homes don’t have a great deal of storage space so consider getting a bed with drawers underneath, perhaps you can store your winter clothes there? A foot stool with storage inside can also be useful.
- Hold on to treasured memories
There are companies that will scan photographs and store them on DVDs, others can turn photos into books which you can give to your family (along with explanations of who’s who in the pictures!).
Creating a memory box can be a good way to condense precious items you can’t bear to throw away. Snippets of fabric from a wedding dress, mementoes and treasures that help you remember holidays or special moments can all be put into a dedicated box where you keep these items safely together.
- Be kind to yourself and take days off
Moving is exhausting at the best of times but downsizing is even more so. If possible, get someone to help you make decisions. You’ll come across things you haven’t seen in a long time and this can make you feel sentimental – a good friend will help you keep a practical head.
Take days off and rest whenever you need to. You’ll wear yourself out if you spend all day every day working on your move so take plenty of breaks and entire days off.
If you find yourself having to move suddenly, there’s always the last resort option of putting things in storage until you can sort through them but it’s far better to have a clean start.
If you would like help to make the downsizing and decluttering process as stress-free as possible, contact Catherine at Haken Relocation Services on:
Tel: 01264 771322
To book your tour of the beautiful, spacious homes at Lynwood Village, call 01344 874250 or click here.