Whether you’re looking to save some money on your rent or just obsessed with the idea of living a simpler life with less clutter, downsizing takes some serious dedication. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the average American has about 300,000 items in their home. This astounding number is enough to make anyone want to do a major purge and make a serious commitment to getting rid of their unneeded things.
When you’re finally ready to take the plunge, here are some tips on downsizing and living tiny.
Think About What Matters Most
Imagine if everything you owned was lost in a fire or natural disaster. What would you really miss? It’s unlikely that you immediately thought about anything like your stacks of old college papers, the basically useless DVDs piled up in your entertainment center, or that faded company retreat t-shirt you would never be caught dead in outside your apartment. The point is that you probably thought more about things like the quilts your grandmother made you when you were a kid, your Jane Austen book collection, or maybe even a couch that’s perfectly and completely comfortable.
The hard truth is that we all probably own way too many things. Too much clutter inside your living space can contribute to stress and anxiety and turn into a constant battle to keep everything clean. When you’re thinking about downsizing, it’s a good idea to determine which of your possessions matter most. Of course, it’s important to have necessities like cookware, bath towels, blankets, etc., but you’d be amazed at how much you can cut out and not even miss.
Before you start packing for your life in a newer, smaller apartment, you’ll definitely want to get rid of as many things as possible. Start by going through each room, closet, and storage area and ask yourself the following questions: “How often do I use this item?,” “Can I live without it?,” and “Will I miss it when it’s gone?” If the item doesn’t get used often and won’t be missed, put it into a pile of things to sell, things to donate, or things to recycle.
As you go through your apartment, remember that the goal of purging and downsizing to really only keep the things that will be useful to you and that won’t contribute to cluttering your small space. It’s perfectly okay to be sentimental about certain items that aren’t technically super functional (such as notes that you passed to friends in middle school, your old diaries, etc.), but don’t go overboard and hold onto things that will just create clutter.
Rethink Your Furniture
When you move into a smaller space, it’s critical that your furniture not be so large that it overwhelms the apartment. It’s also good to think about whether or not your furniture can serve multiple functions (such as an ottoman with a built-in storage component).
Consider purchasing a bed with built-in drawers so that you can store things in what would otherwise be a dead area. Although your bookshelves might look lovely with all of your books and knickknacks on them, they are still taking up precious floor space. When it comes to small space storage, try to go vertical if at all possible.
If you have space above your kitchen cabinets, buy a few baskets and hang them there to store the things that you don’t need access to every day, including board games, photographs, etc. Your goal should be to make use of every single space in an organized fashion. Luckily, there are plenty of small space storage solutions that you can purchase at stores like The Container Store or Target, but don’t get too carried away — only buy what you know will fit and what you need.
Be Absolutely Ruthless When Purchasing New Things
At a certain point after moving into your newer, smaller space, you’ll need to go shopping. Things get old and worn out, and there’s no shame in replacing them. However, when you are really trying to make an effort to not live in a cluttered space, always ask yourself when you’re out, “Do I need this? Can I live without it? What would I be willing to give up in exchange for this item?”
Although there’s no shame in loving beautiful things, it’s essential to prevent those things from overtaking your space. Next time you spot a really great new pair of jeans, think about getting rid of an older pair that needs to be repaired or that’s completely out of style.