Declutter and Downsize with Style
Today’s topic comes from a reader named Lorna who reached out to me with this dilemma: “We are planning to downsize and want to make this home sleek and easy to clean and well organized. No clutter! Wondering if you might consider sharing ideas on how we can declutter and downsize without sacrificing style.”
Even if you’re not moving to a different home or physically changing spaces, decluttering and downsizing is always helpful to keep in mind in your current home. Less is more! (Can you tell that I’m more of a minimalist than a maximalist?) Here’s how to declutter and downsize – with style.
- Decide what you want to keep
- Take advantage of vertical storage space
- Get creative with storage
- Have fun with surfaces
- Buy the best you can afford
- Choose accessories as large as your head
1. Decide what you want to keep.
Usually, when downsizing or decluttering, we look at our belongings and decide what we’re ready to let go of. But I’m going to flip things around for you Marie Kondo-style and suggest you that decide what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of.
When you’re moving from a 3000 square-foot home to a 1200 square-foot home, that’s a big change! And a lot of stuff from your 3000 square-foot life has got to go because, quite frankly, it’s not all going to fit. So instead of looking at your existing items (whether it’s kitchenware or decor or furniture) and choosing a few for the chopping block, envision the new space and decide what you want to include there.
What chair is your favorite to sit in? What rug just makes you happy every time you see it? Which coffee mug is your favorite to drink from? This morning my husband and I were having coffee like we do every morning, and it occurred to me that I use the same stainless steel travel mug every day, and he uses the same handmade ceramic mug every single day too. We have a cupboard full of mugs, but those are our clear favorites and the others hardly see any action. If I were downsizing, I know exactly which mugs I’d keep and I’d be happy to give the rest away to a good home. (FYI, Marie Kondo has a great resource on her website with ideas on how and where to best donate or discard your household items.)
2. Take advantage of vertical storage space.
A smaller space is (obviously) going to have a smaller footprint so you’ll likely not have nearly as much storage readily available. The secret is to go up! Take advantage of the height of your walls with tall bookcases, wall-mounted shelves, armoires. Even if your square footage has gone down, your walls can still provide practical (and beautiful) storage opportunities.
3. Get creative with storage.
Office storage pieces can work in the kitchen. Kitchen storage pieces can work in the bathroom. There are so many little organizers and dividers and cubbies and caddies out there that are very single task-oriented, but if you can look at them with fresh eyes, you will see the versatility. Don’t think that you’re locked into fancy-schmancy expensive matching single-purpose containers! Be creative, check out other sections of the store, and tap into your creativity. You’re going to find things that can meet really great needs in places that you might not expect.
…And add style!
1. Have fun with your surfaces.
Now that you’ve heard a few basics on downsizing and decluttering, I want to make your new downsized space look and feel amazing as well! So in a smaller space, have fun with your surfaces. Instead of a lot of things (aka. clutter) everywhere, focus on decorating and adorning the surfaces themselves. Think wallpaper, painted ceilings, area rugs…
What about a wallpapered ceiling in your new bedroom? Or a funky accent stripe on your dining room wall? How about a kickass area rug for your living room that was a total splurge but you adore it? Make a statement in your new smaller space to make it feel absolutely extraordinary.
2. Buy the best you can afford.
With a smaller space you need fewer things, so please – you have my permission to splurge! Invest in that amazing coffee table you love; buy the original art you’ve always wanted for above your sofa; go big and spend. This is not the season in life to be discount shopping for cheap and cheerful pieces. Buy the best you can afford and buy things you truly love.
3. Choose accessories as large as your head.
If you’ve ever seen a beautifully styled room in a magazine, you’ll notice there aren’t usually little tchotchkes or figurines or teeny-tiny accessories around. Nope! You’re going to see great big bowls and vases and branches and plants and thick stacks of hardcover books. What do these items have in common? They’re almost always as large – or larger – than your head.
Now, not everything has to be as large as your noggin, but it’s a good rule of thumb when you’re decorating (especially if the goal is a decluttered, fresh look). Invest in a couple of really big awesome accessories instead of a whole bunch of tiny trinkets that make the whole space feel cluttered.
I love the topic of “declutter and downsize” because while I’m not super minimalist, I do really believe in only having things in your home that you use or you love. You don’t have to live in a small space to do that! There’s a quote by interior designer William Morris that perfectly sums up this idea: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
I’d love to help you create a home that’s both useful and beautiful. Here’s how we can work together on your design (or downsizing!) project.