Moving home can be stressful. If you’ve made the decision to downsize, you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to declutter and downsize. “Preparation is the key to success” Alexander Graham Bell once said, so don’t rush. Plan ahead and prepare to sort through each room methodically (even the loft and the garage!).
Downsize the Big Stuff
If you’re downsizing on space but not bedrooms, you may still need the same amount of bedroom furniture but you may not be able to fit everything in. Look carefully at the floor plan of your new space. Ideally, walk-through with a tape measure to really get a feel for where you can place your larger items of furniture such as tables, sofas and beds.
If you’re downsizing on bedrooms, there’s absolutely no reason for you to move extra beds, dressers and wardrobes to your new place. It’s better to make these big decisions before your move. You don’t want to end up paying to haul or store the excess furniture. Charities such as The British Heart Foundation and Sue Ryder offer free furniture collection services for your bigger household items.
Take the Small Stuff with You
When decluttering for a move, it is tempting to give away or sell a lot of your smaller items such as clothing, knick-knacks, décor and kitchen items. However, take this step slowly; it’s a good idea to go through your stuff to get rid of the general junk that accumulates in a home. Don’t start getting rid of items you regularly use or enjoy just yet!
Instead, keep any items that you currently use or use seasonally, as well as items with sentimental value or a practical purpose, even if you don’t use them regularly. For instance, if you’re through with having children, a move is a great time to get rid of baby clothes, old toys or maternity wear. No doubt there will be sentimental pangs with some of these items. Hold onto those particular items for now and sell or give away any that no longer have a purpose in your life. Little Village is a great charity which collects good quality clothes, toys and kit for children aged 0-5 years, and passes them on to families in need; perfect for when you’re decluttering the children’s rooms.
Go Through Every Box
Now this one may seem super logical, but it is often overlooked. How many boxes do you have full of ‘keepsakes’ that you haven’t looked through in years? Avoid moving these boxes from place-to-place unnecessarily and go through the contents. Boxes full of children’s art projects, photographs, cards and scrapbooks can be pared down and digitised. This will save you valuable and practical space in your new home. Chances are, if you haven’t looked in the boxes for a while, then they are full of stuff that you don’t really know exists and will never miss.
There’s so much stuff that lands on shelves and gets tucked away in storage because ‘it might be useful someday’. Sometimes it’s just because you simply don’t know what to do with it. The biggest culprit tends to be old tech gear, wires and computers! Wipe hard drives clean and separate useful wires from outdated junk. Free up more space by recycling electrical items, for Apple products you can trade them in at Apple (online or in-store) and they also take other electrical items for recycling or Currys PC World (check store availability beforehand).
The One-Year Rule
I know how tempting it is to hang onto your items you once loved but no longer use. Particularly, items you think you may use someday. The truth is if you haven’t used an item in the last year, you’re unlikely to use it in the next year. This means it may be time to give up your pre-baby skinny jeans, your paints from old craft projects and your workout equipment. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. If an item serves a specific purpose, holds sentimental value or is particularly valuable, use caution before giving it away.
The point is to be a realist when separating the stuff you keep from the stuff you don’t. Ask yourself what you use and what you need, both now and in the future. Don’t hold onto something ‘just in case’ as it may take up valuable space in your new home.
Re-home Special Items
When clearing out your home, you may discover items from your past that have no specific purpose other than holding value and memories. You don’t want to give them away, but at the same time you have no use for them and they are just taking up space. How you rehome your items is a personal decision. However, if the item holds meaning to you, try to keep it in the family or with friends who understand the meaning behind the item before you downsize.
Digitise Whatever You Can
Did you know that important documents can all be digitised and saved to a cloud or hard drive to free up important space? There are some documents you will want to keep hard copies of such as birth certificates. Other personal or financial documents, you can scan and save. Most documents can be scanned and saved as a PDF file, or uploaded to the cloud using services like DropBox or Google Drive. Just don’t forget to shred any documents that include personal details after you’ve digitised them.
Plan Your Storage Before Downsizing Further
Once you’ve let go of items you no longer need or use, you may still be left with more stuff than you have room to store in your new home. This is the point where it’s tempting to start giving away items in an effort to free up space. However, before you start giving away things you actually use, need, or want, assess and plan your storage.
Decide where and how you are going to organise your items in your new home. Plan your storage first when you downsize. Then fit your must-haves into storage second, to make sure you keep the most important things. If you do need to pare down further, you can easily select the least important or least used items from what is remaining. You can also determine how you can make space go further by implementing more effective storage solutions. These could be simple, for example, hanging additional shelves and hooks. Or it could be using organisational tools that expand your storage in closets and cabinets. For example, wire racks, behind-the-door shoe storage, drawer dividers, or under-bed storage boxes.
As you pack your belongings and prepare to downsize, be sure to clean as you go. You’ll feel invigorated with each room that is complete and be ready to move on to your new home. When moving day arrives, have a team of helpers on hand to give your new home a deep clean before you begin to unpack.
Once you’ve settled into your smaller home, it’s essential to keep your clutter under wraps. It’s amazing how quickly things can accumulate, which makes a smaller space feel even smaller. Try using the one-in-one-out system for items of clothing, shoes and accessories. When you receive a new item, give away an item you already own to accommodate the new item’s space.
So there you have it; a few of my tips for decluttering in preparation for when you downsize your home. You can read more tips on decluttering before a house move here. Hopefully these tips help you to prepare and only take with you what you really need. If you still feel stuck with packing (or unpacking) boxes, find out how I can help you here.