Tips from a Professional Organizer who has downsized over 200 homes

As a Professional Organizer who spends the majority of my days helping clients plan and prepare for a move to a smaller space, I can usually assess during a first meeting how smoothly a downsizing transition will go.

It doesn’t matter if someone is in their home of 10, 20 or 50+ years, our most successful downsizers have really grasped the need to be goal oriented when sorting through, giving away, and discarding a lifetime of collected possessions.

Start Decluttering Early

Long before you feel ready to put an offer on that smaller condo or home, you can begin to review your possessions and consider what items are no longer useful or loved. The decisions can be tough and emotional, but most items that have been temporarily forgotten aren’t so necessary that they need to be held on to.

Recognize that downsizing is an opportunity to live more simply, with all the things you really need within easy reach. As you discard items, you will begin to envision how you can live happily in a much smaller space.

Work from the bottom to the top

Often, things that land in the basement of a house don’t come back up — it’s gravity! Furniture and books relegated to the basement typically aren’t the best or favourite things, so there is often less attachment. You can hone your decluttering mindset in the basement, followed by spare bedrooms, before moving into the principal areas of your home.

Don’t leave a single drawer unreviewed. When you contemplate an item, ask yourself, have I used this in the last two years? Would my quality of life suffer without this? Keep only the very best and favourite of sentimental items collected from vacations or received as gifts.

See the Opportunity

Downsizing is a chance for a fresh start. Tired furniture pieces can be reupholstered, refinished, or cleaned to give them a brighter new life. There may be key pieces that need to be purchased new. Art will always look refreshed when hung in a new space. Your belongings will be combined in new, exciting ways that help you to love your new smaller, simpler home.

Invest in Good Quality Storage

Don’t underestimate the usefulness of an extra cabinet or chest of drawers, and make sure closets in your new space are well suited to the items you want to store. A hanging rod for clothing in the second bedroom can be converted to shelving that holds lots of small items. Inevitably, living in a smaller space means you need to be conservative about storage. Make sure closets and cabinetry are set up to work to their maximum efficiency.

Ask for Help

Moving at any age or stage is challenging. Downsizing in particular comes with its own unique set of challenges, which may be compounded by decreased mobility or energy, or emotional trauma such as the loss of a lifetime partner.

Enlisting the help of a Professional Organizer will ease the process in many ways. A move professional will become your ally, guiding you through important decisions. Your organizer will also do the active work of hauling and removing the items you no longer want, reaching out to charitable organizations that can help your things find another life.

When move day finally arrives, we suggest that our clients spend the day doing something enjoyable. They can then come home to find their new residence set up with the bed made, closets organized, kitchen set up, and coffee pot plugged in – ready for a restful first night in their new home!

Let it happen in phases

Once the process is underway, all of the steps in downsizing to a condo or smaller home have a way of cascading out and getting completed in the time available. If you move and find you’ve brought too much, you continue to edit once you’ve landed in your new home. It can take some time to adjust to your new living situation, but once your downsize is behind you, you can embrace the freedom and pleasure of a simpler life.

Special thanks to Heather Shute at Moving On Organizing, for writing this article. No matter where you are in your downsizing process, downsizing specialists Heather and Diana can help ease your transition, so you can settle in quickly and beautifully to a new home.

Heather Shute
Move Manager, Designer, Professional Organizer
T: 416.877.7622

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