No matter your age, old or young, you may find yourself packing for a potential move and wondering how you managed to accumulate so much stuff. Between impulse buys, hand me downs, and late night Amazon shopping, many of us find that we are slightly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of furniture, clothes, books, and other items in our living spaces.
As you get older, you also begin to accumulate other people’s items–inherited pieces, items that grown children have no place for in their own homes, precious mementoes, and some things that you just didn’t know what to do with in the first place. Add to that holiday decorations and the incredible amount of paperwork a lifetime of bank statements and tax forms can produce, and you may start to think the answer is a (very large) storage unit.
But if you are thinking of downsizing and really ready to get rid of all of those extraneous items, we are here to help. Here are some of the best tips for getting rid of clutter and creating the clean, streamlined home of your dreams.
- Yes-No, not Maybe
When starting to tackle the years of clutter in preparation for moving to a smaller home, you have to get firm with yourself. “Maybe” is no longer part of your vocabulary. Kicking the can down the road is what got you in this mess in the first place. It’s time to make real choices. So as you go through items, you must choose to either keep them or get rid of them–there’s no waiting until later to decide. Waiting will, almost inevitably, mean that you end up keeping the item “just in case”–and that’s no way to downsize.
- Choose symbolic or representative items
Think in terms of categories and choose one item that really speaks to that category. You can’t keep all of your children’s clothes or toys. Choose one item that is meaningful and evocative. Do you have a closetful of dressy clothes you never wear but hate to part with? Keep one gorgeous item that truly brings back happy memories of a special event. Missing a loved one but can’t stand the thought of parting with the boxes of mementoes? Choose a piece of jewelry in honor of that person, or frame a picture of them and put it in a place of honor. You don’t need to keep Grandma’s whole china set if you don’t have room for it, but maybe just the gravy boat that you remember from every Thanksgiving. Find the one essential item that speaks to you, then give the rest away.
- Play favorites
Again, you don’t need multiples of everything. Just because your old flatware was good quality, you don’t need to keep it plus your current set. Just because your husband gave you that tchotchke for your anniversary one year doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever. Choose only those things that you love the most, and let the rest go. Use the KonMari method: If it doesn’t spark joy, it shouldn’t be in your home. Apply that to clothes, books, and other items that tend to accumulate and pare down to just the things you truly love.
- Make a list
Sit down and make a list of essential items. Divide either by room or by category. What does a well-functioning kitchen need? What books are completely essential? What are your favorite things in the house? Use your imagination and create a list of everything that you absolutely must have. Then use that list to ruthlessly cull those items that didn’t make the list. It will help you clarify which things have real meaning or use, and which things you’re just keeping around out of habit.
- Use the Keep, Sell, Give system
Speed up your process with three piles (or three rooms if you’re clearing out a large space)–one to keep, one to sell, and one to give away. Give yourself as little time as possible to make your choices and, if possible, have someone help who will push you to decide quickly without a lot of dithering. The items for sale might be further divided into valuable items like jewelry or art and yard sale types of items. And be sure and call around to local charities–some of them still pick up and many will even take furniture and larger items.
- Create a vision for your future self
As we get older, we sometimes find ourselves realizing that our taste has changed significantly. The mahogany, antique sleigh bed that felt essential to a 30 year old might be heavy and dated to a 50 year old. Who do you feel you are now? Who do you want to be 5 or 10 years from now? If your living space doesn’t reflect your interior self, start to make the changes that will help bring them into alignment. If you love the outdoors, you may need to start thinking about moving out of that in-town high rise condo. If you love stark minimalism, you probably need to get rid of that overly fussy, ornate furniture you thought you needed when you were decorating your place.
- When in Doubt…well, you know
We often catastrophize the results of an action and this is so true with downsizing and decluttering. “But I’ll need it.” “But it was a gift.” “But what if…?” The reality is that nothing bad is going to happen if you give away that lamp you’ve always hated or the suit that never fit quite right. And think of all that energy you wasted on hating those items that you can now turn to creating a space you’ll love.
If you are looking to downsize and need to not only sell your current home but also purchase a new, smaller home that better meets your needs, you’re in the right place! Your Eng Garcia Grant Realtor can help with both transactions, ensuring smooth coordination and seamless transactions. Sign in and let us help you get started with a Listing Presentation for your current home and a custom search setup for your dream home.