What we need from a home changes over the course of our lives. A larger home offers more space for family and friends, but once the kids are grown and move away, you might find yourself looking for less home… and less responsibility! From cleaning to maintenance, a smaller home offers many benefits to a family that’s ready to downsize. Once you’ve decided that it’s time to “right size”, you might just find yourself with no idea what to do with all the stuff you’ve collected over the years! While you won’t need permanent bedrooms for the kids once they move out, and you probably won’t need a home office once you retire, there’s plenty of stuff that’ll be there to take up space.

The question then becomes: what can I do to make the most of a downsized space?

  • Sort through what you have – Chances are, you probably don’t need to keep everything you own. Go through each room in your current home and decide if you want to keep an item or not. Trash items that are worn out, and donate or sell those that have been lightly used. This can apply to everything from clothing to knick-knacks to furniture. Carefully consider the utility of large items, and if they’ll fit well into a smaller space. Some furniture, like a couch, may be too large for a downsized space.
  • Find space efficient furniture – Not all furniture is created equal, when it comes to utilizing space efficiently. Search for furniture that offers hidden storage, such as a coffee table or ottoman with storage compartments built in. Items such as these are great for keeping track of smaller items such as pillows, books, or games that you want to keep, but otherwise may not have a dedicated storage space for. Ditch bulky furniture that takes up more space than needed. While buying new furniture can be an additional financial investment, moving your old furniture to a place it doesn’t fit doesn’t make the best sense either.
  • Stay organized – Baskets and cubes can be used to keep items organized on a shelf or in a drawer, and can help you maximize your smaller space. Utilize space under your bed for out-of-season clothing or bedding storage. Use space-saving hangers in your closet to accommodate more. Kitchen cabinets are one area that can become cluttered, between foods, spices, pots and pans, etc. Nesting and stacking can help you always know where your Tupperware is, and without it taking up an entire cabinet.
  • Don’t be afraid to go digital – One benefit of the modern world is that almost everything can be made available digitally, from films and photos to books and important documentation. While it can be nice to keep old family scrapbooks, they can take up a lot of space and fall into disrepair. Scanning photos and documents is an option, and even if you keep the hard copy, can still help provide a backup should the original be damaged in some way. Streaming services have made large DVD or CD collections obsolete. An E-Book reader or App for your phone can take the place of a large library.
  • Repurpose – Furniture can have more than one purpose! Looking online can help give you ideas on new ways to utilize an item. Converting and old bookshelf into a headboard could give you extra storage space without taking up as much space as the shelf being used alone.

When it comes down to it, a smaller space doesn’t mean going minimalist. By taking a hard look at what matters in your life and what you actually use, you can trim the excess and find yourself with more usable space- even in a smaller home!