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Downsizing Before a Move: A Room-by-Room Guide

Author Image Written by Shane Sentelle Updated 04/03/2024

Downsizing before a move can help you transition to a smaller space, save on professional moving costs, and eliminate stuff you no longer need. If you’re ready to clear out your home but don’t know where to start, we can help. In this article, we’ll cover practical strategies to declutter every room to make your move a smoother experience.

Importance of Downsizing Before a Move

Downsizing before a move might seem tedious, but it’s worth the effort. Here are a few compelling reasons to make downsizing a priority before your move:

  • Enables a fresh start: Downsizing allows you to reimagine your living space, allowing you to curate a home filled with things that truly matter and that reflect your ideal lifestyle.
  • Makes moving easier: After decluttering, you will have less to pack, unpack, and organize in your new space. Even if you aren’t moving into a smaller house, downsizing will make your move easier and quicker, particularly for long distance moves where you are using international and interstate moving companies.
  • Maximizes storage space: By downsizing, you can maximize the available storage space in your new home and ensure that everything you own has a designated place.
  • Reduces maintenance: A smaller or less cluttered space requires less maintenance and upkeep, freeing up time and energy for homeowners to spend on activities they enjoy.
  • Reduces stress: Moving is inherently stressful, and downsizing can be uncomfortable initially. However, less clutter often translates into less stress and a more relaxing environment.
  • Saves money:  Moving costs can quickly add up, especially if you have many belongings. Reducing the number of items you need to transport can save money on moving services and supplies.
  • Simplifies your lifestyle: Downsizing allows you to simplify your life. Letting go of things you no longer need or want can create a more organized and serene environment in your new home.

How to Downsize Your Home

Before we walk you through downsizing each room, there are some basic strategies to take as you declutter your home. Keep the following tips in mind as you organize your belongings:

  • Create a plan for your new home: Measure your new space and then take inventory of your furniture. If you realize something won’t fit after determining the room’s layout in your new house, donate it, sell it, or throw it away.
  • Determine what to do with unwanted items: If they’re in good condition, you can sell things you no longer need or want at a garage sale or online or donate them to a charity organization or community group.
  • Give yourself enough time: Don’t plan on downsizing every room all in one day, but instead, create a timeline based on the size of your home and how much stuff you have. For example, if you live in a large house and haven’t had time to organize your belongings, set aside at least an entire weekend to sort through your items.

Continue reading for room-by-room tips on downsizing your home. The dropdown tabs in each section contain in-depth information on simplifying your move.

How To Downsize Your Living Room

The living room is often one of a home’s largest and most clutter-prone areas. However, with some strategic planning, you can transform it into a functional and cozy space.

Research minimalist design principles. Use them to pare down the decorative items in your living room, including artwork, knickknacks, and accent pieces. 

If you have a large collection of home videos or photos in your living room, consider digitizing them. Reevaluate your DVD or CD collection, too. You may be able to sell your physical copies in favor of Spotify, Netflix, and other streaming services.

Write down the measurements of your new living room and sketch the layout. Then, measure your existing furniture to make sure it will fit. Sell or donate items in good condition but too big for your new house.

Consider swapping out your existing furniture for pieces that serve multiple purposes, save space, or have built-in storage.

Assess your electronic devices and determine which are essential for your home entertainment setup. Consolidate devices where possible, such as swapping your TV and streaming device for a smart TV.

How To Downsize Your Kitchen

Given the numerous appliances, cookware, and gadgets, kitchens can be one of the more difficult rooms to declutter and pack. Here are some tips for downsizing your kitchen effectively:

Sort through your food storage containers and eliminate mismatched or worn-out items, such as extra lids or containers with no lids.

For most kitchen items, one is enough. Donate or sell any duplicate items as you go through your kitchen gadgets and cookware.

Consider purchasing food storage and preparation containers that nest or stack neatly to take up less space. You can also find nesting coffee mugs, cookware sets, and bowls.

Evaluate your collection of gadgets and small appliances. Sell or donate those that perform a single function, especially if you rarely use them, and look for multipurpose alternatives.

Take stock of your pots, pans, utensils, and other cookware. Keep the most versatile pieces and eliminate those you rarely use—especially those that take up much space.

How To Downsize Your Bathroom

You can downsize your bathroom with strategic choices and smart storage solutions without sacrificing comfort or functionality. Follow these tips as you declutter:

Invest in practical and visually appealing accessories rather than filling space with purely decorative items.

Toss cleaners you no longer use, and opt for multipurpose cleaners when possible. Consolidate first-aid supplies into a single compact case.

Keep only the towels and linens you need, such as one set per family member, plus a couple of extra sets for guests.

Be ruthless as you sort through your hair products, skincare, and makeup. Get rid of items you use infrequently, including any travel-size containers you probably won’t use again.

Check the expiration dates on all of your bathroom products and medications. Throw away any that are expired or that you don’t use.

How To Downsize Your Bedroom

You can transform your bedroom into a cozy and clutter-free sanctuary by carefully evaluating your belongings and optimizing storage solutions. Here are some tips to help you downsize:

If your current bed frame lacks storage space, upgrade to one with built-in drawers or that is high enough to slide boxes underneath.

Purge your wardrobe of any clothes that no longer fit or that you rarely wear. If your moving budget allows, consider storing off-season clothes in a storage unit to save space. Alternatively, you could save space by switching to a capsule wardrobe.

Compare your current space to the floor plan of your new bedroom. Then, measure your furniture and determine which pieces will fit.

Embrace a minimalist approach when considering bedroom decor. Prioritize functional decor that promotes calm, brings joy, or holds sentimental value. Light, neutral colors will help a small space feel larger.

Add additional closet shelves or drawer organizers to maximize vertical storage space. Use slim hangers and store out-of-season clothes in vacuum-sealed bags.

How To Downsize Your Home Office

Whether you use the space for remote work or personal projects, downsizing your home office requires thoughtful organization and optimization. Follow these tips to create a streamlined workspace:

Evaluate your setup—including furniture and electronic devices—and determine what is essential for your work. Keep only the items that you use regularly.

Scan and store digital copies of important documents, then shred or recycle unnecessary papers. Keep physical documents organized and accessible.

As you declutter, focus on removing items or decor that may divert your attention from work. 

Use shelves, cabinets, or storage bins to maximize your office space. If you run a small business, consider storing inventory and files in a storage unit.

Discard dried-out pens, outdated stationery, and excess supplies. Opt for multipurpose supplies or use digital tools when possible.

How To Downsize Your Garage or Shed

Garages and sheds tend to accumulate a wide array of items over time, which makes them a challenging but essential target for your downsizing efforts. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you tackle these spaces:

Before your move, dispose of combustible and highly flammable household items, such as aerosol cans and paint thinner. Movers will not move these items anyway.

Organize a garage or yard sale to earn extra cash. Price items reasonably and advertise your sale using signs or classified ads to attract buyers.

Consider letting go of sentimental items that you don’t have space for. If you aren’t comfortable donating or selling them, gift them to family members who would appreciate them.

Larger items may be easier to sell online. Post them on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace with clear photos, accurate descriptions, and fair prices.

Group similar items together, then sort through one category of items at a time. Get rid of unused, broken, or duplicate items.

Our Conclusion

Whether you hire professional movers or go the DIY route, downsizing can save you money and hassle. However, the decluttering process can be tedious, so give yourself plenty of time to sort through each room thoughtfully. As you consider what to keep, prioritize multipurpose items and clever storage solutions. Let go of items that no longer serve a purpose, and embrace the opportunity to create a clutter-free living space.

FAQ About Downsizing Before a Move

When should you start decluttering before moving?

You should start decluttering as soon as possible before moving—ideally, several weeks or even months before your local or long-distance move.

At what age do most people downsize their homes?

Downsizing is a personal choice not tied to a certain age range. However, certain life events may influence the decision to downsize. Many people downsize after retirement or when they become empty nesters. Others downsize when they experience a change in health or income.

What should you do if you’re not ready to downsize?

If you are not ready to downsize, you should look for other ways to achieve your goals. For instance, you could cut costs by bringing on a roommate or renting a storage unit to save space.

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