This article first appeared in the PurpleBricks blog.
Making a decision to downsize from a much loved family home to smaller, easier to manage accommodation can seem incredibly daunting, but for many people, starting afresh with fewer possessions in a space designed to comfort and nurture is both liberating and life enhancing.
It’s important to market your home to its best advantage right from the start and even before the marketing photos are taken, your PurpleBricks Property Expert will give you invaluable advice about presenting your home to appeal to your ideal purchaser. Your property listing will stand out when you consider and attract the people most likely to buy… a young family have different expectations to a family with teens or those planning multi-generational living.
Of course some people live in their home for many years and inevitably collect and inherit far more furniture, possessions, photos, gadgets, clothes and gifts than they either want or need. When I’m working with clients it’s not unusual to find boxes which haven’t been opened for decades. Often there is a sense of obligation to keep gifts or bequeathed items you never use, despite the valuable space they waste. In a large house, until it’s time to move on, unwanted belongings are absorbed without their owners realizing they have become clutter.
Clutter has many drawbacks aside from gathering dust. It builds up gradually, unnoticed, quietly impacting all areas of life and often results in poor health, challenging relationships and even money worries. When a decision is made to downsize, the thought of moving to a compact space can leave sellers overwhelmed by the thought of dealing with years of clutter. Any busy person knows the anxiety and stress of hunting for lost items in piles of paperwork or tightly packed drawers, and this is amplified by the pressure of packing up to move.
When clutter surfaces it can trigger a gamut of memories and emotions, making it difficult to handle alone. An expert Interiors Therapist or clutter coach will help you view your possessions from a different perspective and notice the feelings they generate. If anything makes you feel sad, lonely, angry or you simply don’t like it, then that’s an easy win. The more challenging items are those to which you feel a duty or strong attachment.
By being mindful of the impact of clutter on emotions it becomes much easier to part with the possessions which are not supporting us. Many baby-boomers have a ‘make do and mend’ attitude inherited from their parents, keeping things because it “might come in handy one day”. Of course that day seldom comes and in the meantime the garage, attic or cupboards fill with unused items. Please, never feel obliged to hang onto anything which exacerbates feelings of loss. A couple of happy memories outweigh boxes of unused clutter which just happen to belong to someone you loved… and take up a lot less space in your new home!
Whether you are thrilled to be downsizing, or doing it with a tinge of regret, the best way to make the process more agreeable is to imagine the lifestyle you can look forward to in your new home. Picture yourself living there, the things you will do and the people who will visit. Then ask yourself whether you will love, need or use the objects which currently surround you.
The reality is that the furniture of a large house often overpowers a smaller home… and may not even fit through the door! Choose the items you like best and measure them carefully to ensure they fit into the new space. Offer made-to-measure furnishings like curtains and large cupboards to your purchaser to save yourself the trouble of dismantling them. Leave wallpaper remnants and spare paint for them too. Once your decisions have been made and the sale is going through, you can save yourself a fortune in moving costs by letting your unnecessary possessions go well before your moving date. Your old home may feel a little empty until you move, but it will help you detach emotionally and be infinitely easier on the day itself.
I am a big fan of reusing everything possible, so in the interests of recycling there are a range of options for the bits and pieces you don’t want anymore, but might be useful to someone else; Gift to friends or family, sell directly online or via a local sales group, ask a house clearance specialist to buy them, give away via community sites like Freecycle, or donate to one of the local charities happy to collect from your home.
Make your downsizing an adventure, a fresh start overflowing with exciting new opportunities and enjoy the sense of freedom and energy moving on gives you.
Suzanne Roynon is an expert Interiors Therapist available for consultations in person in the UK and Europe and also by Skype. www.clutterfree.coach