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Downsizing — Terrific Tips on Dealing with Your Stuff!

Woman-cleaning out closetDownsizing to a smaller place?  Chances are – like most of us — you have accumulated lots of stuff, and now you have to pare down.  Here are some tips for downsizing:

  1. Assess your actual needs. Vow to get rid of what you don’t use or need. Period.
  2.  Go through your home, clear every cabinet, shelf and closet. Only put back the things you can’t live well without. Put the items you don’t need in boxes, crates or bags in a garage or other storage area.
  3. Measure your furniture. You will need to know how your furniture will (or won’t) fit into your new space – particularly large items such as your sofa and your bed — so measure everything.  You will also need the room measurements of your new space. Ask if you can take measurements or if there is a floor plan available. Make sure to note the location of doors and windows. Then make a floor plan. Try using Better Homes and Gardens’ Arrange-A-Room online software (requires registration but is free).
  4. Assess your new storage areas.  Make sure to properly assess the storage situation of your new place. Will you have fewer kitchen cupboards? How many closets will you have? If you are moving into an apartment, does it have a storage locker and, if so, what are its dimensions?  This will also give you an idea of the volume of items you need to dispose of before moving in.
  5. Ransack your old storage areas. Go through your storage areas first (attics, basements, closets, etc.). You will be surprised to find out what you’ve stored and don’t need. Get rid of them at once. Don’t forget to go through your bathroom cabinets, kitchen and “junk” drawers. Be merciless.   How do you dispose of these unnecessary items?  You can load them up on a truck and drop them off at the nearest thrift shop, join a Freecycle group (, see if your friends are interested in any of your stuff.
  6. Sell your stuff.  For a large number of items, have a yard sale or consider a service to take care of it for you.  If you have time before the move, use sites such as Craigslist and eBay to sell off the best stuff.  Craigslist is good for selling larger items such as furniture, appliances and home decor items to people living in your area. Craigslist is also good for giving things away.  Use eBay to sell collectibles such as old albums, comic books, and figurines. Make sure to take good quality photos of the items and write good descriptions.  Used designer clothing can be resold in consignment shops, which are listed in your local business directory.
  7. Get organized.  You can do this as you pack. Place your storage items in boxes that can be moved and easily placed in the new storage areas. See-through plastic bins are best.  Label all other boxes with the room they go in and the general contents.  This is crucial.
  8. Move large items first. Move your furniture into your new home first. You will have the most energy for this task at the beginning of the move and it will also give you a better indication of where the smaller things will go. Place furniture in the rooms as you go, according to the plan you made earlier.
  9. Put away storage items. Contained items that are meant for storage can be placed directly in their allotted spaces where they will be out of the way.
  10. Organize boxed items.  Your labeled boxes can now be put into their respective rooms and the unpacking can begin. Begin with the bathroom, as that is the room most likely to be needed first. If you have only kept the basics, unpacking this room will be a breeze.
  11. Organize your space as you unpack. Utilize closet and cupboard storage solutions as you unpack. This way, more can be stored in these tight spaces and you will be setting a precedent for how your new, smaller space will be used. Don’t fall back into lazy habits or your downsized place will get you down.
  12. Relax and enjoy! You have now entered the realm of living small. You no longer have to worry about the financial burden or time draining tasks of maintaining a home too big for your needs and you have simplified your life by surrounding yourself with only those things that are most important to you. Rejoice!

Downsizing?  We can help with listing your present home or buying your new one.  We can also put you in touch with people who can help you organize and deal with your stuff.  Call us at 703.628.9360.

About The Author

Mafalda Marrocco