Downsizing-- it's not just for seniors anymore

My husband and me on a country-drive date in the 70s.

My husband and me on a country-drive date in the 70s.

I'm old enough now to see fashion trends come back around. Last week Express.com had a whole 70s line on their "Trending" page. Looking at the styles brings back memories of my suede fringe vest and high-rise pants. As things circle around, designers usually add a little twist that makes your original item not quite in style. So, I'm not too sorry I didn't save all those bellbottoms. 
 
My parents recently did a full circle from apartment living as newlyweds to apartment living as seniors. The twist is that this apartment provides lots of community activities and continuing care, if needed. They chose to downsize, or “rightsize” as I like to call it, paring down to the items they love, use, and need at this stage in life. 
 
I’m working with more people my age who are also choosing to rightsize. Maybe not making a move, but certainly reducing their belongings. Many have experienced clearing out a houseful of their parents’ things—inheriting not only the items of value, but stacks of magazines, closets stuffed with old blankets, etc.
 
For some, the process of rightsizing is imposed on them when it becomes compulsory. This adds a great deal of stress to an already difficult situation. Some put it off because they feel overwhelmed or a have a misconception that it means throwing out all their stuff. Whether you’re scoping out retirement communities, or simply wanting to rightsize in the home you’re in, here are some Timely Tips to help you accomplish your goal.

TIMELY TIPS - for rightsizing your home and belongings

garage.organizing

1. Clearly identify what's most important to you now. Maybe in the past you did a lot of skiing, entertaining, or your own yard work. Consider changes in your interests and abilities and identify your current priorities. Evaluate how you spend your time and which belongings are essential to you now. The items that don't fit your current lifestyle could add value to someone else's life, create space in your home, and reduce the amount of stuff you have to manage. 

2. Look around each room with a discerning eye. Is your furniture useful? Does it fit your current taste and style? Is there too much of it? Is it there because of obligation? If you’re storing Great Aunt Susie’s dining set, give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she wouldn’t want her stuff to be a burden to you. Keep the items that are most precious and useful and let the others go. If you're not hosting big dinners anymore, but taking art classes, consider transforming the formal dining room into an art studio.

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3. If you’re moving into a smaller place, get the dimensions of your new home and sketch out where the furniture will go. There are websites like PotteryBarn.com and Freshome.com that offer free online tools to help you arrange your rooms. It may be stressful to reduce, but it’s also stressful to move into a new place that’s crammed with too much furniture. Consider taking photos of your current place before you scale down to make a little memory book of your home as it was. 

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4. My parents threw a “Pick & Choose” party before their move. They spread out the items they decided not to move with them and then we all got to pick and choose the things we wanted. It’s always nice to give your children the option of saving the things that mean most to them without the obligation of taking it all.

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5. If there are sentimental items that family members aren’t taking, consider photographing them for your own memory’s sake, or keeping a portion of it. Make a pillow out of a square from your old quilt, or keep one place setting of your china. Frame a piece of your grandma’s handmade lace tablecloth if you no longer have a large dining table. Be creative in finding ways to have your cherished items visible and honored. This shadowbox (pictured) holds a page from my grandfather's notebook, a pieced quilt square, jewelry, and hair-clip belonging to my grandma, and some rocks that my grandfather polished.

 

6. For other items of value consider consigning them or selling them on Craig’s List. An estate sale is also a viable option. Some estate companies offer buyouts instead having a sale on your property. (Feel free to contact me for referrals.) Remember that whatever you’re holding on to is costing you something. Don’t let the monetary value you have in mind for your things keep you from letting go and living a rightsized life. Donating items to your favorite charity thrift store is a fast, easy, and tax deductible way to reduce.

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7. Is storing your grown kids’ stuff holding you back from having space to use for your own hobbies or rightsizing to a place more manageable? With a couple clients I photographed their adult childrens’ belongings and emailed the pics for their “yay or nay” on what they’d like sent to them or saved for next time they’re in town. If your kids are local, you can gather up their items and give them a deadline before the donation truck arrives.

 


wise words

"Right-sized living means having the right size space with the things that are most important to you, easily accessible."  --Brenda McElroy