Over time, we tend to accumulate lots of stuff. Drawers full of stuff, unused gifts, and furniture we don’t really need. We’re so used to having it around we don’t notice how much space it’s all actually taking up. Now is the time to get rid of all the excess and pare down to the essentials.
Assessing your Actual Needs
Is that treadmill really going to move with you because someday you might actually use it, or would a good pair of walking shoes suffice? Do you really need that chair in the corner that no one ever sits in? When was the last time you turned on your stereo? 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.
1. Go Through Every Cabinet, Shelf, and Closet
Take a walk through your house or apartment and evaluate everything. Be honest with yourself. If you think you could live well without it, out the door it should go. Only keep the things you couldn't live well without. For things you’re having difficulty deciding about, 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. Storage costs over time generally exceed way beyond the value of the items stored.
2. Measure Your Furniture
You will need to know how your furnishings will fit in your new home. You will also need to measure each room in your new home along with the locations of doors. Make a floor plan using your furniture’s measurements. Try using West Elm’s Room Planner. This will help you fit your furniture into your new space.
3. Assess Your New Storage Areas
Assessing exactly how much storage space you will have will give you an idea of the volume of items you need to dispose of before moving in. Make sure to properly assess the storage situation you’ll be inheriting. Are there fewer kitchen cupboards? How many closets will you have? Use large containers to fill storage area items and label them accordingly. Determine whether you can add storage solutions to your new space if needed.
4. Clean Out Existing Storage Areas
Go through your present storage areas first like the attic, basement and closets. You’ll probably find boxes of items that haven’t seen the light of day for years. Why? Because you don’t need them! Get rid of them at once. Call up your friends and relatives to see what they might need. Hesitating on tossing something will only melt your resolve.
5. Get Organized
Categorize your items to be moved. Items going to a storage unit should be labeled clearly. Plastic bins are great for moving and storing, come in many sizes, are stackable, and the see-through ones make them easy find what you need. Everything else that is moving to the new house should be labeled by room. You won’t remember which box is linens and which box is full of pots and pans. Come moving day, these boxes will be much easier to deal with.
6. Move the Largest Items First
Bring in large furniture and appliances first and put them into the appropriate rooms – placing them according to your new floor plan. Based on the floor plan you created, your large items should fit in nicely and start giving you a sense of your new home.
7. Put Away Storage Items
Boxes or bins with storage area items can be placed directly in their selected spaces where they will also be out of the way. Keeping these items in their spaces will save your from the stress of trying to maneuver through tiny, packed rooms during the next few days.
8. Organize Boxed Items
Your labeled boxes are now ready to be unloaded into their corresponding rooms. Once you’ve finished unloading all your boxes you’re ready to start unpacking! Begin with the bathroom since that is the room most likely to be needed immediately. Secondly, unpack the kitchen. If you have only kept the basics, unpacking these rooms will be a breeze.
9. Organize Your Space as You Unpack
Stay organized by fully utilizing closet and cupboard storage solutions as you unpack. Label small storage boxes and bins, use containers and other home organizing products to keep everything in its place and easy to find. Don’t fall back into old habits or your downsized home will quickly seem small and cluttered.
10. Relax and Enjoy!
You have now entered the world of living small. No more worries about the financial burden of space you don't need or time-draining tasks of maintaining a large home. You have simplified your life and surrounded yourself with only those things that are most important to you. Congrats!