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

Whether you are transitioning to a smaller space, want to save on professional moving costs, or simply have too much stuff, downsizing before a move is always a good idea. In this article, we’ll guide you through decluttering each room in your home. Our practical tips and strategies will help you let go of your excess stuff and make your move a smoother experience.

Importance of Downsizing Before a Move

Downsizing before a move might seem like a tedious task, but it’s well worth the effort. Here are a few compelling reasons why you should make downsizing a priority before your move:

  • Enables a fresh start: Downsizing makes it possible to reimagine your living space, allowing you to curate a home that is filled with things that truly matter and that reflects 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. This is particularly true for international and interstate moves.
  • 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. This frees up time and energy for homeowners to spend on activities they enjoy.
  • Reduces stress: Moving is inherently stressful, and the process of downsizing can be uncomfortable at first. 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 a large volume of belongings. By reducing the number of items you need to transport, you can save money on moving services and supplies.
  • Simplifies your lifestyle: Downsizing gives you an opportunity 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 Living Room

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

  • Adopt a minimalist style: Research minimalist design principles. Use them to pare down the decorative items in your living room, including artwork, knickknacks, and accent pieces. 
  • Digitize media: 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.
  • Measure your new space: 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 that are in good condition but too big for your new house.
  • Prioritize versatility: Consider swapping out your existing furniture for pieces that serve more than one purpose, save space, or have built-in storage.
  • Rethink your devices: 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

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

  • Declutter food storage containers: Sort through your food storage containers and eliminate any mismatched or worn-out items, such as extra lids or containers with no lids.
  • Give away duplicates: For most kitchen items, one is enough. As you go through your kitchen gadgets and cookware, donate or sell any duplicate items.
  • Invest in space-saving sets: 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.
  • Replace single-use gadgets: 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.
  • Streamline your cookware: Take stock of your pots, pans, utensils, and other cookware. Keep the most versatile pieces and get rid of those you rarely use—especially those that take up a lot of space.

How To Downsize Your Bathroom

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

  • Choose functional decor: Rather than filling space with purely decorative items, invest in accessories that are both practical and visually appealing. 
  • Condense cleaning and first-aid supplies: Toss cleaners you no longer use, and opt for multipurpose cleaners when possible. Consolidate first-aid supplies into a single compact case.
  • Limit your towels: Keep only the number of towels and linens you need. This could be as little as one set of towels per family member, plus a couple of extra sets for guests.
  • Simplify your personal care routine: Be ruthless as you sort through all of your hair products, skincare, and makeup. Get rid of items that you use infrequently, including any travel-size containers you probably won’t use again.
  • Throw away expired or unused items: 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

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

  • Choose a bed with built-in storage: If your current bed frame does not have storage space, upgrade to one that has built-in drawers or is high enough to slide boxes underneath.
  • Declutter your closet: 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.
  • Measure your furniture: Compare your current space to the floor plan of your new bedroom. Then, measure your furniture and determine which pieces will fit.
  • Minimize decor: Embrace a minimalist approach as you consider bedroom decor. Prioritize decor that is functional, promotes calm, brings joy, or holds sentimental value. Light, neutral colors will help a small space feel larger. 
  • Optimize closet space: Install additional shelves or drawer organizers in your closet 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:

  • Assess your needs: Evaluate your setup—including furniture and electronic devices—and determine what is essential for your work. Keep only the items that you use regularly.
  • Digitize and declutter paperwork: Scan and store digital copies of important documents, then shred or recycle unnecessary papers. Keep physical documents organized and accessible.
  • Minimize distractions: As you declutter, focus on removing items or decor that may divert your attention from work. 
  • Optimize storage: Use shelves, cabinets, or storage bins to make the most of your office space. If you run a small business, consider storing inventory and files in a storage unit.
  • Streamline office supplies: 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:

  • Dispose of hazardous materials: Dispose of combustible and highly flammable household items, such as aerosol cans and paint thinner, prior to your move. These are items movers will not move, anyway.
  • Hold a garage sale: Organize a garage sale or a yard sale to earn some extra cash. Price items reasonably and advertise your sale using signs or classified ads to attract buyers.
  • Pass on family heirlooms: 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.
  • Sell large items online: Larger items may be easier to sell online. Post them on platforms like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace with clear photos, accurate descriptions, and fair prices.
  • Sort and categorize: 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 both money and hassle. However, the decluttering process can be time-consuming, so give yourself plenty of time to thoughtfully sort through each room. 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 that is 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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