How to fit a whole house into an apartment

When seniors make the decision to downsize to a retirement community or a smaller space to better fit their needs, they are left with the impossible task of fitting a life’s worth of possessions into a small space. It is not an easy process, but going through items and picking what to keep can be easier than it sounds.

– Furniture

Chances are the home that is being sold has a number of bedrooms. The home probably has a formal dining room and a living room. Maybe the home has an informal living room. With a large number of rooms to pull from, picking furniture for a smaller space could be looked at as shopping for free! Look at the furniture that is available to pick from, pick those that have a meaning to you AND will fit into the new space. More than likely, all furniture in the space will have a meaning. It is important to remember that the availability of space in an apartment does not allow for large, bulky furniture. Pick pieces that are smaller in size but still carry the style and storage that you need. If a certain large, bulky piece is something you can’t live without – take it with you! The rest of the room can be designed to fit around that big piece you can’t say good-bye to. For those pieces that are left over after your “shopping trip”, donate to family. Many family members will have memories from years spent at your house. A table or a chair from when your children grew up could turn into a piece that is passed down for generations. After family picks items with special memories, why not donate the rest to those in need? There are even some organizations that will pick up furniture that is being donated. Know that your furniture does not have to be thrown out, never to be enjoyed again. Pass on the pieces that gave you joy and know that they will be loved on again!

– Art and Photos

Hanging things on the wall and setting picture on the end tables really helps to make a home, a home. Thankfully, apartments do not lack walls. Normally, apartments will have a number of different rooms with walls to hang beloved art and family photos. The hard task comes when picking which pieces of art and which photos will make the move. In a lot of homes, there are statement pieces. Statement pieces are large picture or sculptures that make a statement in a room. Some of these statement pieces will not translate well into a smaller space. Why not leave these items with the house? The next family that moves into your old space could benefit from not having to find something to take up that 10 foot wall above the fireplace or that awkward wall placement. For those items that will translate well into a smaller space, group those by art pieces and photos. Narrow down art pieces by eliminating pieces that will not match your new color scheme. Take photos out of frames you are not crazy about and invest in a photo box for pictures. What’s left should be a good mix of decorative pictures and meaningful family photos. Involve family in hanging the photos. Not only will you have help for keeping things level, but the activity will be a bonding moment with your family in your new space.

– Clothing

Although this may be a bigger issue for women than men, clothes can multiply if you leave then in the closet too long. After  decades of enjoying life, somehow you have acquired 10 white shirts that are identical. More than likely the apartment you chose will have a number of closets and storage space. However, since space will be an issue as you transfer from 2,000 square feet to 700 square feet, why not go through clothing as you pack them away. Set up 3 different boxes and keep many on hand as you start to pack your clothing. Write on each box one category: Trash, Give away, Keep. As you sort through your clothes, keep in mind that if you have not worn it in the last year, you could do without. Look for stains and rips and make sure those clothes make it to the trash bin. For the clothing that is still in good condition, but is just not your style anymore, throw those into the give away pile. When your done sorting, you are ready to box up the items and take them to their designated areas. Your keep pile is now whittled down and can be swept off to your new pad. The give away pile could be looked through by friends and family and then the remaining items donated to Goodwill. Congratulations you have eliminated extra clothes, donated to others, and packed your belongings in one easy step!

– Chachkes

… or nicknacks, are a common trend in many homes. Filling the space between a book pile and the end of the shelf or decorating a table, chachkes are a helpful tool. When moving to a smaller home, the need to fill space is not a need. Usually, the need is for more space. Make sure the chachkes you bring, if you bring any, have some kind of value. Pick that cute elf with a bucket to sit next to the sink. He can look cute and hold your sponges. You get the idea!

– Everything else

For the extra things that you are not sure about, throw them in a box and take them with you. The easiest way to decorate is to choose once you’re in the space. For that extra pair of shoes you haven’t worn yet, but you can get yourself to let go, bring it with you and see if it fits in your closet. That extra set of plates you use just for holidays, might fit in the top cabinet above the fridge. Don’t be afraid to bring a couple of extras if you just can’t bring yourself to let go.

– “I have to give things away?!?!”

For those that just can’t let go, why not try out a storage unit for a couple of months. That way if you wake up in your new apartment and don’t like the items you chose, you have the freedom to switch them out! If you are someone who likes to mix it up a couple of times a year, keep that storage unit year around.

Moving to a smaller space is challenging in more ways than one. But, with some help and organization, downsizing can be painless.


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