The Art of Downsizing

Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse art of downsizing

Downsizing can be a blessed relief – your new home will be easier to clean, heat, get around, maintain… and it’s a new start. A blank canvas that you have fun decorating and furnishing to suit you. The benefits are simple:

  • cheaper to heat
  • less maintenance
  • a location closer to friends or family
  • easier to manage and clean
  • easier to adapt to your needs
  • release some equity

Or it can be a wrench, leaving behind your memories, no space for your stuff, your furniture is too big, and can’t find anything in your style that fits. What colours will work? No more fresh herbs from the garden..

Downsizing your belongings can be stressful and emotional, but if you break the job down into bite size chunks you will start seeing that it’s not an impossible task.

1. Tool Up!

A new notebook is always a treat, a few folders to organise paperwork, a Sharpie pen to write on boxes, easy to carry small strong cardboard boxes, packing tape, and a tape measure and plans of your new home.

2. Plan ahead, start the sorting three months before the move

Don’t Panic! Take some time every week or set aside a day a week as your sorting day. Choose a cupboard or a drawer of paperwork at a time and stick to it until its done, this makes the job achievable. Work in 25 minute bursts, then have a rest, a cup of tea and if you have enlisted help, have a chat. You will get back to it with renewed vigour and it will do wonders for your blood pressure

3. As you sort through, divide your belongings into four groups

  • New Home
  • Charity Shop
  • Rubbish
  • Value

this last one needs to be packed carefully from the start, ready to be kept, given away or assessed and sold on an auction site. Pack New Home items in small cardboard boxes to make them lighter to move around and use your Sharpie pen to mark clearly which room its going to. When you are sorting your clothes or belongings, be kind to yourself, but be honest about when you last wore that coat or used that blender. I don’t think I need to explain the rubbish bin group but plan to fill those black and recycle bags just before your bin day so they aren’t hanging around all week.

4.  Take your time, you don’t need to rush into your new home

If you are selling your home and buying a new one, be realistic and consider renting for a few months between properties, maybe with some boxes in storage. This will take the pressure off you, it will give you the freedom to look for the perfect new home suited to your needs, or give you the time to have it renovated so that you can move into a maintenance-free, adapted new home.

5. Measure up your furniture and consider your needs

Furniture. Notebook. Tape measure and a plan of the new place. In the light of day, stop and look carefully at each item , it’s not often you look at your furniture for signs of wear and tear. If it looks good, decide if you really like it or if it serves your needs. Next, measure it up and see if it fits in your new place. Disposing of furniture and large appliances can cost you money, time and effort. Offer it to friends and family, selling it on an online auction site means buyer collects. My mum sold all of her large items and appliances to her house buyers at a price that suited both of them and everyone was very happy.

Remember, stress can damage your health, give yourself space and time and with some of these tips you can convert any negative stress into a positive one. Packing up a house or flat can be liberating!

Once you are in your new home and start unpacking, give yourself the time to sort through those belongings again. It will all look different in a new light.


  • Build Mum a House January 20, 2016 at 11:31 am

    There’s a very interesting article on downsizing by Libby Purves

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