Whether you're preparing to move to a smaller home, having a significant other move in, preparing to sell, or simply wanting to get your belongings in order, downsizing is a must. While downsizing should be as easy as "getting rid of stuff you don't need", many homeowners find it hard to part ways with belongings that are actually just taking up space.
Here are several tips for downsizing your belongings.
Decide What's Important
Instead of jumping right into getting rid of what you don't need, take inventory of things you do need. If all of your belongings were lost in a house fire, what would you replace? Take note of these items and the things that you could live without or could be replaced with a smaller version.
Make three lists for each room: must haves, could live withouts and things you could eventually replace. Your "live withouts" pile will obviously be the first to go, whether you sell or donate. Your "replacement" pile should have items that you could sell and eventually swap with a smaller version (especially if you're moving into a smaller home).
Owning vs. Money to Buy
Parting with the objects in your "live withouts" and "replacement" piles is the next step. Ask yourself if it's more important to you to hold on to that item or have the cash to use toward something else. Host a yard sale, utilize social media, and list items on Craigslist - the money you make on the sale of those items can go towards new size-appropriate options for your smaller space or towards other homeownership ventures if you're staying in the same home.
You'll also want to go through your inventory of "insurance" items, which are things you might need at some point but are collecting dust and taking up space at the moment. Think about the futon in your basement you're saving for your son or daughter for college (which is several years away) or that extra bed frame in the garage.
If you don't need it now and haven't needed it in the last few years, it can go. For items that don't sell, donate!
This rule is especially true when you are combining households. Do you really need two sets of dishes, two coffee pots, etc. Even if you're not combining households, duplicated items are a downsizing no-no. Will you ever entertain enough people to warrant the need for 20 wine glasses? If not, put them in the pile. Get out of the mindset that you need things that are really just for rare and niche occasions.
Before you head out for the Container Store, make use of the dual purpose items in your home, like that storage ottoman or under-bed containers. The best rule of storing items with limited space is to store items up, not out. Utilize walls for storage and shelving.
Don't get seduced by decorative storage containers - they will just encourage you to hold on to unnecessary items. Downsizing is an opportunity to simplify and lighten your lifestyle, not an opportunity to shove useless items into strategically displayed storage containers.
Downsizing doesn't need to be a negative task. While parting with some of your belongings may become emotional, think about the positive experience you'll have with the extra space and what you could do with the cash from the sale of items that were cluttering your home.