Downsizing: Tips for Transitioning to a Smaller Space

by Maggie Kirkwood

Downsizing from a single family home or townhouse to an urban condo or loft? When moving to a smaller place, scaling back your belongings requires a bit of planning and smart decision making. If you’re not sure how to pare down all of your extra stuff, here are some tips for transitioning from a larger home to a smaller space.

  • Start early. Give yourself at least a month to get organized. Put a downsizing game plan in place so you can avoid the mad rush of eliminating things on moving day.
  • Measure! If possible, scope out your new condo and figure out how much you can really fit in your smaller space. Measure rooms, closets, windows, and even the patio or balcony. If you can only view the floor plan, measure your existing furniture and compare all dimensions to gauge what will fit.
  • Create a “yes” list. Decide which items are your must-haves or non-negotiables. What do you absolutely love? What is too sentimental to give up? What will work best in your new place? Add these to your list.
  • Pare down the clutter. Focus on obvious items first, like non-essentials, duplicates and unused items. Evaluate everything, from clothes you haven’t worn in years to seasonal dinnerware. Go through extra rooms typically used for storage, like the attic, basement or spare room. Decide what’s indispensable and purge stuff that’s collecting too much dust.
  • Organize with categories. Sort out your remaining belongings into categories, like sell, donate and recycle. Think about where to send items you want to donate to charity, pass on to family members, or give away to friends. Save yourself some sanity and don’t try to perfect the sorting process—you’ll probably find yourself shedding more stuff after you move in.
  • Invest in storage. Maximize your small space with new furniture that doubles as functional storage. Before moving in, set up your storage, which will make unpacking your remaining stuff a breeze. Focus on horizontal and vertical storage pieces. Think storage benches, nesting tables, built-in cabinets and closet organizers.
  • Sell big items. Bulky furniture is too big for condos and lofts. Why not make some extra cash for purchasing smaller versions that will fit your space better? Sell your items to a local consignment shop, or advertise them on Craigslist or eBay. Another option: throw a huge yard sale and invite your neighbors to participate. Neighborhood-wide sales draw in more buyers.
  • Get inspired. Create a file for small space decorating and organizing ideas. Sites like Pinterest and Houzz are chock-full of inspiring imagery and helpful tips.
  • Pack essentials last. Moving day is here! After a long day of transitioning to your new space, the last thing you want to do is spend energy sifting through boxes to find toiletries and kitchen basics. Keep these items handy and pack them in see-through containers so they’re easily identifiable.

Now It’s Your Turn

Getting ready to downsize your stuff? Have you recently made the transition from house to condo? Share your moving day prep tips in the comments below.

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