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How to Move into a Smaller Space Without Feeling Cramped

Many people downsize to a smaller living space when they retire, and because this often involves leaving lots of belongings behind, it can be an emotional experience. But, you don’t need to feel like you’re losing anything. As well as gaining a beautiful new home, you’ll experience more freedom as you let go of unnecessary burdens and clutter. Embrace this fresh start and all the exciting changes that come with it. Our tips will show you how you can transform your smaller home into an airy space, while still having all the things you require for a comfortable life.

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What Will You Need Now?

You may have amassed many possessions, but it is unlikely that they are all true necessities. Try to imagine what would happen if all your belongings were gone. Which of them would you replace? Which ones would you let go because you did not use them much anyway?

This is a good starting point for evaluating how to downsize your home. Fortunately, in this scenario, you get to choose which items will work in your new space, which you will get rid of, and which you can replace with options that are better suited to your new home.

Take Stock of Your New Space

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Before you make any other decisions, determine how much space you will have in your new home. Knowing the square footage and layout will make it easier to visualize what will be most comfortable. Sketch out different furniture layouts according to the floor plans so you can see how things will fit – and if they will fit. By finding out the physical limitations of the space, you’ll be able to make sensible decisions more easily.

Ask about the amenities that are included with your new home, such as kitchen appliances and outdoor facilities provided by the condo complex. This may mean you don’t have to take bulky kitchen and garden equipment with you, which would definitely take up a lot of valuable space.

Eliminate What You Don’t Need

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If you’re moving from a place with colder winters to somewhere warmer, you will no longer need heavy winter clothing, electric blankets, and other cold weather equipment. While you’re sorting out your winter clothes, set aside other clothing items that you no longer wear so they can be donated, or discarded if they are worn out.

Think about duplicate items you own. You probably have more linens and dishes than your new home will require. Do you have both a large dining table and a smaller breakfast table, or more beds than you will have bedrooms in your new condo? You can unload all these extra items as well.

Most people collect a large number of documents during their lives, which fill huge filing cabinets and form messy piles of papers. The good news is that you probably don’t need to keep hard copies of most of them. Certain papers are obviously needed, such as birth certificates, passports, ownership papers for property and vehicles, warranties, and legal documents. You may also want to keep tax records for the past few years if you think you may need them, but many papers can be scanned and saved on a computer's hard drive or in cloud storage.

Heirlooms and antiques are often the hardest items to let go, but large items may not fit well in your new space. Talk to family members who will appreciate your piano or antique china cabinet and bring it into their home.

Maximize Your Space

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Once you know which belongings you plan to keep and which you will eliminate, look at everything else to determine which items can be replaced with more efficient versions. Compact and versatile items will serve you best in a small space, giving you room to breathe and relax. If one item could take the place of several, choose the multitasker. This is especially helpful with kitchen equipment and gadgets.

If your existing furniture is bulky, or includes seating for more people than you will need in your new home, you should replace it. Choose furniture that is efficient in size and shape, and which fits your new layout. Whenever possible, choose furniture that includes storage or serves multiple purposes. A variety of organizational tools and techniques are available to help you maximize storage space and make things easier to find inside closets and drawers as well. Staying organized is extremely helpful when transitioning to a smaller space with fewer belongings, and helps keep you from feeling cramped.

Sell as many of the items you don’t want to take with you as possible. You can use the proceeds to go towards replacing these bulkier, less efficient items with ones that are more suitable for your new home.

Decorate to Emphasize Openness

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Beyond having space-saving furnishings, there are decorative techniques you can use to make a small space feel larger.

Start by arranging your furniture in an efficient way. Position large pieces away from doorways to give your home a more open feel and a smoother traffic flow. Use simple window treatments with blinds, shades, or curtains mounted inside the window frame instead of spilling out into the room.

Keep surfaces clear so they retain their versatility, are easy to clean, and do not create a sense of visual clutter. If you usually display many framed photos, consider switching to digital picture frames, which rotate through a number of images like a slideshow. This allows you to display more photos while using less space.

Still Need More Space?

If you’re unable to let go of some items that simply won’t fit into your new home, do not fret. You always have the option of renting storage space. This is a great solution for things you want to keep around, but do not need access to all of the time. Climate-controlled storage units are widely available across the country and are a secure location for your belongings for a reasonable price.

Have you moved to a smaller home? Do you have any tips for downsizing your living space?

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