Downsizing Your Home

August 3, 2015

The thought of having to decide what to keep and what to get rid of may keep some people from considering moving to a smaller, more manageable residence in retirement. Lisa Daily, of Arange, will talk about proven ways to make downsizing manageable at a presentation at Lake Prince Woods on Friday, Aug. 14 at 2:00 p.m.

Below are a few suggestions as you begin to think about the process.

Deciding what you really need requires a good long look at how you live your life daily and prioritizing the activities and items that are already a part of your actual lifestyle--not those activities or items that you want to be part of your lifestyle, but haven't gotten around to yet. Someday, you may take up exercising, but the treadmill/Stairmaster/Bowflex has been gathering dust for some time. Wouldn't a good pair of walking/running shoes be more useful and take up significantly less space?

Take a walk through your house or apartment and evaluate everything you come across (furniture, books, food, etc.). Ask yourself if you've used it in the past year and, if so, how often? Be honest with yourself. If you think you could live well without it, out the door it should go. Make a note of it.
Go through your home; every cabinet, shelf and closet should be cleared. Only put back the things you couldn't live well without. That means that if you use a whisk every other day it stays but the melon-baller when you don't even like melon... Out it goes. Put these items in boxes, crates or bags in a garage or other storage area.

For stuff that you really have a hard time getting rid of, make this agreement with yourself: Put the items in storage. If you don't need or use them within 6 months, give, sell or throw them away.

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 to get the room measurements of your new space. Ask if you can take measurements or if there is a floor plan available to you. Don't forget about the location of doors and windows as this will be a factor in furniture placement. Once you have these measurements, make a floor plan using your furniture's measurements. Try using Better Homes and Gardens' Arrange-A-Room online software to simplify the process (requires registration but is free). This will give you a much better idea on what you can keep and what will have to go.

Assess your new storage areas. How many times have you moved into a new place only to realize - too late - that you have overestimated the amount of storage space? While you're getting room measurements, make sure to properly assess the storage situation you'll be inheriting. 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?

Assessing exactly how much of the new space is dedicated to storage will give you an idea of the volume of items you need to dispose of before moving in. Don't forget hidden storage areas you currently use in your old place. If you place a lot of items above the kitchen cabinets in your current home, for example, find out if the cupboards in the new place have storage in that area as well.

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 put away instead of gotten rid of. If you're like most of us, you will find boxes of items that haven't seen the light of day for years and there's a reason for this: you don't need them. Get rid of them at once. Hesitation will only melt your resolve.

Once you decide what you no longer need, the easiest thing to do is to load those things and drop them off at the nearest thrift shop. Join a Freecycle group to give stuff away (

Call your friends and relatives and see what they need. You may be able to enlist their help in the move for a promised dresser/bed/armchair!

Contact Kaye Albin, 757-923-5504, [email protected], or Trish Alt, 757-923-5559, by Aug. 12  to reserve your seat at the Downsizing presentation.