Math: 1st Step in Downsizing
One of the biggest barriers to making a downsizing move is math. Some numbers come in the form of finances, independent living communities are not inexpensive, but if those calculations work for you, then your biggest math problem will come in the form of square footage. The largest floor plans tend to be cottages, topping out at around 1,600 square feet. Apartments can be far smaller, starting at a cozy 500 square feet. According to the National Builders Association, the average US home is some 2,700 square feet.
Using that 2,700 square foot average home for our example, someone downsizing would have between 1,100 and 2,200 square feet of things that won’t fit. That is a lot of stuff. No wonder the decision to downsize gets put off! But fear not.
Some of those decisions will be easy. If you are considering a 2 bedroom floor plan, you may already know that at least 1 bedroom of your current 3 bedroom house won’t be making the move. Separate dining and formal living rooms are not typically found in independent living spaces, so all that furniture will likely need a new home too.
A bit more challenging will be to determine the best use of your second bedroom in the new home. Will it be an office, hobby space, guest bedroom or serve some combination of functions?
A client of ours is in her late 80’s. She is a physically frail but mentally sharp. She is tired of taking care of a large home and property. She selected an independent living, one-bedroom apartment as her future home. Her move is months away, but she has honored her limited stamina by starting early and booking short weekly downsizing sessions with me. We designed a floor plan for her 1 bedroom apartment that uses the three-season porch as her new art studio and makes the living room pull double duty as an office in her independent apartment.
She will leave behind the furnishings from 3 bedrooms, the formal living room, the kitchen table and chairs and 90% of the office. Having those big decisions behind her makes it easier to let go of, literally thousands, of objects that will need new homes from books to knick-knacks to art to rugs to dishes to candles to linens. Her constant refrain is “I won’t need that, but somebody else will like it.” As a World War II survivor, she is loath to throw anything usable away, but delighted to give it to local charities.
Knowing the furniture that will make the move has made it easier for her to determine what to do with the many smaller items in drawers and closets. Display space will be limited too, so items on walls, shelves or tabletops will need pruning to the ones she loves the most.
If you want to get your downsizing started but aren’t quite ready to let go, try separating things you know you want to keep and sort within the spaces. Designate a shelf in a cabinet or closet, or a couple of drawers in a chest, as the place for known “keepers.” If you find yourself struggling with a decision about a particular item, keep it for now. You may find, after a few rounds of downsizing in other areas, you are more certain about whether or not it is important to you.
If getting started is still daunting, contact Smooth Transitions Delaware for a downsizing consultation and estimate at firstname.lastname@example.org (302) 273-0303.