23 June 2013

Downsizing: the transition from commodious to bijou needn't feel too much like hard work - if you are able to do some planning.

Interior spaces can be encouraged to appear larger than they are:
  • Link each room directly with the next, saving space-wasting corridors. Or use corridors - perhaps putting a desk or small reading area.
  • Architrave-free doorways which stretch from floor to ceiling help generate space and brightness in a small property
  • Minimise the need to move through it, such as interconnecting door.
  • Decluttering is essential.  Have nothing you do not know to be useful - or believe to be beautiful. 
  • Plan decluttering well in advance of the event.  Simple, but difficult to part with once-beloved belongings can be tough.
  • Perform a detailed audit or your possessions.  Actually writing it down will make you consider whether you're being sensible. 
  • The challenge can be finding space for items which you know you want to keep.  Gadgets and devices with multi-functions - otherwise known as convergence - is one way to think.  When it comes to technology, this is now comparatively easy to achieve - such as storing music and film digitally, eliminating the need to extra storage units.
Outdoor areas:
  • When it comes to a small garden - think big!  Particularly small plots can be made to look larger if their design is rotated by 45 degrees.  This has the effect of creating a more interesting shape for the eye to wander over and gives a feeling of dynamism that belies the limited dimensions of the area.
  • Incorporating different levels into a design can make the area more interesting to look at. Gentle, regular steps of about 6"-7" high - complemented by walls and raised beds in multiples of these heights.  The elevated portions  then stand in proportion to the rest of the layout and provide the perfect place to sit and enjoy the view.  
  • Large paving slabs and decking give an impression of roominess, ditto generously proportioned furniture and plants.  Groupings of planters look more spacious than being dotted about.
  • Make extra space by building on to your property - basement/conservatory/ garden room.  This can help improve the layout for your family's needs, whilst retaining the benefits of a downsizing way of life.
The benefits of downsizing speak for themselves: reduced cost; better value for money; a chance to take advantage of the latest technology and innovation.

So downsizing needn't be something to dread - it can be exciting, fulfilling and change your life for the better.   

Try and have bold ideas about making the best use of available space, that way the size of your property or garden may diminish but your thinking will almost certainly be enlarged.

Other ideas

  • Write a list of items you love and can't live without.
  • Is there anything which you don't need to own, perhaps you could share with someone else?
  • Start thinning your belongings at least three months before the move (to give you chance to change your mind?!). 
  • Get a feel of the size of your new rooms by comparing them to rooms of similar dimensions in your present home.
  • Heavily edit areas with items which don't have much sentimental value.
  • Try not to throw away: (1) sell (if necessary, get an expert opinion); (2) donate (family, friends, charity); or (3) give away(freecycle?).  
  • Have three bags or bins: keep, sell, give. 
  • Use floor plans to prearrange your furniture before the move.
  • When packing, use colour coding for your boxes.

And for seniors who're thinking about downsizing: 
Not everyone needs or wants to downsize, and there are some pitfalls to avoid for those who decide to make the move. Here are some basic tips I've observed -- from both my personal and professional downsizing experience -- that can help make the decision-making process successful.

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