Downsizing is a retirement rite of passage. When the time comes to sell the family home and move into a retirement villa or unit, a major decluttering session is the order of the day. But just how do you decide on the household and personal items you need for the next phase of your life — and which items must go?
Nicki Kenvyn, owner of professional decluttering and home organising service Uncluttered Living understands that downsizing can be a daunting task. “All those years, all those memories, all that stuff! Deciding to move into a smaller home or retirement village can be emotional, and you need to make mindful decisions about what you love and what you don’t.”
“Downsizing means letting go of what is not serving you. If you haven’t used it in ages, if it doesn’t fit your new home and life, or if you don’t still love it, make a conscious choice to let it go.”
Nicki says there is no right or wrong way to downsize and declutter the home. “It’s about finding a way that works for you. Start with baby steps and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from decluttering even the smallest space. Start where the task is simplest and the time required is least, like a single bathroom or kitchen drawer or even your car glove box.
“You might also decide to start where the impact is greatest and you see the clutter frequently, such as the kitchen bench or a space that vexes you every day, like your wardrobe.”
Sometimes poor health or circumstances mean people have to move in a hurry, so it’s not always easy or even possible to declutter in a methodical way. But Nicki points out that it’s a job that is best not rushed.
“Start as soon as you can. Doing a good job takes time and physical and mental energy; don’t put yourself under stress by having to downsize in a hurry.”
“Start well before your moving date, do a bit every day or weekend and set yourself achievable mini goals. Consider the contents of every cupboard, drawer and box. It takes time, but you will be so grateful you made this investment in your future when it comes to unpacking in your new home.”
Nicki also says it’s essential to consider large items like beds and sofas, dressers and fridges. “There’s no point keeping what won’t fit into your new space. Don’t guess; grab a tape measure and make sure ahead of time. Remember, take only what will work in your new home.
“And don’t forget to ask for help if it’s too difficult. Family, friends, neighbours or professional support can help to share the load and make the downsizing task less stressful.”
While it’s no easy feat sorting through a lifetime of possessions, Nicki reminds seniors that downsizing and decluttering is liberating once the hard work has been done. “In a smaller home each item has to earn its place, so you find yourself surrounded only by those things you use and love,” she says.
“Less cleaning also means more time to do the things that excite you, and living with less clutter makes it mentally easier to relax. Make a conscious choice not to let your possessions own you or take up space in your home or your head.”
Click here to view the full Courier Mail Downsizing Feature, “Downsizing made simple”, by Hannah McDonald, published in the Sunday Mail on Sunday 19 March 2017.