We decided to downsize over five years ago from a large two-story house with a basement to a condo with less square footage. Making a move like this meant we needed to unload a lot of our possessions. Not only that, but the housing market wasn’t in good shape, so we decided we would move into our cottage once we put our house on the market. Then after our house sold, we would start looking for our new house. We had our moving company store all our belongings until we were ready to move in, and we had an estate sale to get rid of everything we weren’t storing and taking with us.
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ~William Morris
If you’ve ever tried downsizing, then you know how hard it is to decide what to keep and what to let go of. And no matter how hard you try, you will make wrong decisions and maybe even have a few regrets.
My number one regret was getting rid of the cedar chest, shown above. It was my mother’s hope chest and meant a lot to me. However, it was huge and took up a lot of space no matter where we put it. Because we were moving to a much smaller place, I really felt we wouldn’t have had room for it. It turns out we would have had plenty of room to put it at the base of our bed in the guest bedroom, as well as in another location on our lower level. If I had to do this over, I would have had it stored and moved to our new place and if it didn’t work out, only then I would have sold it or seen if any of our kids might want it.
We also sold the white table and chairs shown above. My mother bought this from Pier One and it was a great set. I knew I wanted a real dining room table that we could fit more people around and I didn’t think we would also have room in our kitchen for a table. As it turns out, I bought a refurbished table and chairs for our kitchen that are squeaky and not nearly as good a quality as the one we sold.
Then there were the items we kept and haven’t used. Like my hibiscus watercolor I painted. We spent plenty on double matting, frame and special glass so my painting wouldn’t fade. Now I’ve been stuck with it for 5 years and have nowhere to go with it. I’m hoping to sell it someday soon, or at least list it.
And my cows that looked fabulous on the wall in our previous kitchen, hasn’t found a good place to hang in our new home. I’m thinking of selling them or painting over them, not sure which.
I also moved my bench I painted above. I loved it too much to part with it, and even though it’s not perfect for the guest bedroom, I’m currently keeping it at the foot of the bed. I’m thinking about repaining the bright pink underside to another color. I’m really trying to make it work out in our new house.
I kept and wrapped every shell we have collected over the years, and they’ve all found a great place in our new home, so no regrets here.
We had a beautiful Ethan Allen bedroom set, with a triple dresser, armoire and king size bed with a brass headboard. Being very realistic, we sold it because of it’s size and I have no regret doing this. We bought a new queen size bed and used dressers I painted and fixed up that fit our new bedroom.
And as much as I loved this cabinet, not knowing what we would be moving into, I knew it had to go. It was very heavy, took up room and really wasn’t very practical for storing a lot because it had a narrow depth. Again, no regrets.
Here’s a few tips and suggestions I can give anyone who is currently downsizing or thinking about downsizing in the near future:
Note that 3-8 was mentioned in my post on 6 foolproof tips to declutter
- If possible, allow plenty of time to go through all your belongings and ask yourself if it’s useful and/or do you love it? The key here is allowing enough time and not rushing through everything.
- If you’re lucky enough to know exactly where you’re moving to, take measurements of the rooms and plan out ahead of time what would go where. This way you’ll know exactly how much room you’ll have for your belongings.
- Ask yourself, “If I were shopping now, would I buy this again?”
- If it doesn’t fit, if it’s outdated, if it’s broken, would you buy it as it is?
- If it’s broken, ask yourself if it’s worth the price to get it fixed?
- Ask yourself if you have something else that will do the same thing? Keep in mind you’re not going to have the room for duplicates!
- Did you use this in the past year?
- If you think you might need it one day, remember that replacing it (should you need to), is easier than having it take up all the space its taking up.
- Live with the fact that you may have a few regrets about what you get rid of. What’s done is done and you need to let it go.
- Remember if you’re moving from a three or four bedroom home to a two bedroom, you’re going to have to get rid of a few beds and dressers.
- Look through all your small stuff carefully. Don’t think it can all be given away or sold. You will need your dishes, silverware, cooking utensils, etc., unless you plan to buy all new once you officially downsize to your new home.
- If you’re uncertain which art, jewelry, collections, and books you want to keep and which to get rid of, ask yourself which top three items or 15 items you really love and just take those with you.
- If you get rid of computers and electronics, make sure they are wiped clean and don’t have any information left on them.
- Now is not the time to get rid of important papers, family heirlooms and photographs, especially if you’re short on time.
- Decluttering and downsizing is hard, make no mistake; selling things makes it easier because honestly, who doesn’t like money? Selling things will give you the extra cash to buy the new items you would like for your new home.
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