Downsizing with Style: Making the Most out of Less Space

Moving into a home of any size can be a large undertaking but if you are looking to downsize, the transition can be even more challenging.  Whether you are an empty nester requiring less space, a young professional moving to a new city for job opportunities or a family looking to save money, you’re among the many buyers in today’s real estate market are opting to downsize.

Though moving to a smaller space may involve making a few sacrifices, having less room does not mean having to scale back on style.  In fact, a homeowner with minimal square footage can maximize their home’s overall charm just by using a bit of creativity.  Here are several tips for how to downsize with style:

  • Keep, sell, donate, and trash. Although it is difficult to part with possessions, doing so is often a must for anyone planning to move into a smaller home.  Begin by dividing belongings into keep, sell, donate, and trash categories.  Post items for sale online, or hold a garage sale; offer unwanted furniture and clothes to a friend or family member or donate it to local charities.  Knowing that others will appreciate these things might make parting with the items a bit easier.
  • Scale it back. Unless you are trying to make a dramatic statement with an extra-large couch or coffee table, a small space will likely look and feel better with moderately-sized or even slightly smaller furnishings.  In fact, a room with furniture that appropriately fits the space will actually seem larger.  It is all about scale.
  • Look for multipurpose living room furniture. A piece of furniture with more than one purpose is a downsizer’s dream.  Coffee tables and ottomans that double as storage cubbies allow guests a place to rest their drinks and feet while the host’s belongings remain hidden underneath.  And who needs a guest room when the couch has a pull-out bed?
  • Don’t just dream of storage, dream on it. Platform and storage beds are ideal for storing infrequently-used items that such as seasonal clothing, spare bedding and linens.  Plus, they free up valuable space in bedroom closets, especially those that are shared!
  • “Build” a wall with a simple screen. The smaller the home, the more purposes each room serves.  But this doesn’t mean you must eat where you sleep.  If you are opting to downsize, consider putting up a screen to divide a room with more than one use into sections.  The room will still feel open but the screen will provide some much needed privacy and separation.
  • Consider hanging curtains. Just because the new home has fewer windows, doesn’t mean you have to settle for boring window treatments.  Hanging curtains on the side of the window pane can make it appear larger, and curtains that run from floor to ceiling can create the illusion of height.
  • Maximize wall space. If you have run out of floor space and need additional room, look to the walls.  Shelves that are hung on walls or above doorways will provide more space and serve as stylish room accents. Furthermore, while it sounds simple, the addition of a mirror on any wall will add depth and light to a room, making even the smallest space seem larger.  Mirrors also add elegance and charm to a home’s décor, often at a reasonable price.
  • Utilize new technology. New technology, such as flat screen televisions and laptop computers, allows for more space in the living or office areas while adding a modern touch to the home.

These are just a few ideas to get you started.  Consider reading design books and magazines, or browsing websites like www.realsimple.com, for more suggestions.  Besides providing great ideas, these resources are filled with easy, do-it-yourself  projects that are perfect for homeowners interested in saving even more money during their move.

Compromising on space doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style.  With just a few simple touches and some thoughtful planning, your cozy cottage or condo can be transformed into a warm and welcoming home with plenty of room for everyone to live comfortably and happily.

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