Hot Trends / Downsizing
Tips and trends that will get you on the right track
Downsizing can mean empty nesters moving into a smaller place that's less work and less money. It can also mean embracing simplicity and the tiny house movement, or giving up a lot of space in the suburbs for the convenience of the city. For some, it’s all about being greener. No matter the reason, downsizing is more than just a fad. If you’re thinking about it, these tips and trends will get you on the right track.
The idea of a smaller space—less to clean, a lower mortgage, etc.—might be appealing, but it takes some getting used to when you’re accustomed to room to spread out. As you imagine your smaller place, start imagining less space to store, display, and just have. Think ahead when purchasing, particularly furniture. If you think you might be moving, don’t buy huge or expensive pieces that might not work in your new home.
Determine what activities take up the bulk of your day, and where you spend time doing them. Make a list of your activities for a week, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you need in a smaller home, and what would just be infrequently used excess.
Experts in decluttering, organizing, and getting rid of things not only help with preparing for the change in lifestyle, but also assist with making the most of space in the new home. The trend in downsizing has made this a growing career field.
In choosing the perfect smaller space, thinking about how you need a big dining room for resale isn’t part of the equation. Families and couples are getting what they need to suit their lives, right now.
Scaling Down Possessions
Once you’ve come to terms with the idea of a smaller space, you’ll realize that not everything you own is going to fit in it. That will make it easier to decide what you need to start getting rid of—now. As your possessions decrease, the idea of downsizing will seem more natural.
There are so many ways to use less. Do you really need a desktop computer, or will a laptop do? Printers that use WiFi instead of cables mean every electronic device in the house can share one printer, sans any messy cables. If you’ve still got a TV on a stand, find out if it can be wall mounted, or sell it and buy another.
Furniture that is functional in every way is ideal for small spaces. Ottomans should open up to store blankets and pillows, nightstands should always have drawers, and bathroom sinks should have cabinetry. Tables can double as desks. Choose quality pieces that will make a statement in your home, but serve practical purposes.
Compact versions of necessities are hitting the market to accommodate reduced spaces. For example, all-in-one kitchen units have a sink, storage, refrigerator, and two burners that take up fewer than three feet wide. Micro washer/dryer combos are just as plentiful.
One-wall kitchens: This set-up allows all the appliances to be lined up against one wall, while the other side of the kitchen has a table that can be used for dining or working, and that serves to separate the kitchen from a sitting/television area. This can save a lot of floor space.
No hallways: they take up square footage when it’s just as easy to have bedrooms entered from doors right off the main living space.
Window seats make use of awkward space and serve to streamline a sitting area into the least amount of space. Built-in bookshelves, too, hug the walls and take up as little space as possible.
Moving it outside: In the right climate, tankless hot water heaters can make outdoor showers a space-saving reality.
Flexible floor plans: With a downstairs full bath, a dining room might someday become the master bedroom to make a suite. An open area can be big enough to entertain, but be separated by furniture for family coziness.
Walkable areas: For many, smaller homes mean living near villages or urban centers that make activities accessible, and eliminate the need for two cars—or even one.
Smaller new builds: As millennials prove to be more interested in experiences over things, and boomers want quality in their new spaces, the average square footage of new builds is dropping.
Donna Hoke is the editor of Spree Home.