Chances are, you’ve spent most of your adult life accumulating things. Your aunt’s antique cuckoo clock, various holiday decorations, your children’s baby teeth. The glory days of your family life are filled legos and leftovers. Ten or twenty years later, you’ve got lots and lots of STUFF. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of that STUFF. Full shelves of knickknacks in the basement, stacks of books, and single-use kitchen appliances can quickly amount to an out-of-control mess. When your keepsakes devolve into clutter, it’s time to downsize. Here’s how:
Consider moving to a smaller home. If the four bedroom home plus garage and basement becomes more pain than gain to upkeep, it might be time to put your square footage on a strict diet. Have an honest conversation about the need for a guest bedroom, large yard, or a housekeeper. Reducing the amount of home you have to manage can translate into a much higher quality of life. Less time for maintenance, more time for mahjong!
Clear out the clutter. Somewhere between your daughter’s kindergarten report card and three years of West Elm catalogs lies your life. If you’re lost in piles of paper, mismatched tupperware, and clothes you haven’t worn in a decade, it’s time to purge. Resist the temptation to keep things “just in case” and you’ll be well on your way to banishing your inner pack rat.
Donate unloved furniture and housewares. Holding on to end tables and easy chairs that don’t do much for your ideal design aesthetic can really upset your feng shui. If you’re having a hard time letting go of things you’ve had for most of your adult life (or belonged to someone you love) give it to someone who needs it. Clearing out a large home can furnish a small apartment for someone down on his luck or just starting out. Charity organizations can help you manage your donations, or just start asking around with your friends, co-workers, and family. Plenty of folks would be thrilled to receive your hand-me-downs, and you’ll know you made a difference.
Use the “does-it-make-you-happy” test. Downsizers know the agony of sorting things into the “keep” and “no keep” piles. Nostalgia and “what if’s” often sabotage our best efforts to clear the clutter. By applying a simple “does-it-make-you-happy” test, tough decisions get a lot easier. Hold the thing in your hand and ask yourself if it truly makes you happy. The first answer is the right answer. “Yesses” make the cut “Nos” get recycled without regret.
Downsizing is a big reality for homeowners 55 and better. In The NEXTadventure™ Home, we’re installing oodles of storage solutions and clever design to help families start their next chapter – without the burden of clutter. See our plans in action at The NEXTadventure™ Home, opening January 2017.