How to Downsize
Some life changes call for embracing a smaller home — whether moving to a city with a higher cost of living or downsizing your home after kids leave for college.
After living comfortably in a larger space, it might seem daunting to decide what to keep and what to donate or discard, but you can live joyfully with less. Think of downsizing before moving as the ideal opportunity to check in with yourself and recommit to your why. Downsizing is a gift — it encourages you to focus deeply on building a home that sparks joy, no matter the square footage. The following tips are based on Marie’s fundamental rules of tidying and will help you navigate the process.
Commit to Tidying Before Moving
You will want to complete the process of downsizing in your current home. You deserve to enter your new home with only the items that spark joy. By completing an entire tidying festival before moving, you’ll let go of what no longer serves you and still have plenty of room in your new space for what remains — and some room for new joy-sparking items that come your way in the future!
Visualize Your New Home
Before you start downsizing, visualize your ideal layout for your new home. Consider the differences between your current space and your new one — where do you anticipate difficulties? A smaller pantry? No separate office? Next, visualize what an ideal day looks like in your new space. What are you doing? How does the space look? How does it feel? As you begin downsizing, stick to this vision — your why — to help prioritize what to keep and what to discard.
Don’t Hide Items
Marie doesn’t believe in renting storage units because they make it easy to avoid seeing — and, therefore, addressing — everything we’ve accumulated. This does us, and our homes, a great disservice. Every item deserves to be loved and appreciated, not hidden away. If you’re tempted to store items that won’t fit into your new home, remind yourself why you’ve chosen to downsize. Embrace the idea that some of your old belongings will not support your new life and home. This is a time to welcome change!
Tidy, Organize and Downsize by Category
Many downsizing guides recommend that you go room by room, but the KonMari Method™ recommends tidying instead by category: clothing first, then books and komono (miscellaneous goods including office and kitchen supplies) and sentimental items last. When tidying a subcategory, such as bathroom supplies, bring every item from separate bathrooms together to review. Gathering, discarding and packing by category will help you spot duplicates and excesses — a must if you’re going from three bathrooms to one or multiple linen closets to a few shelves — and make it easier to find things in your new space.
Downsizing is about striking a balance. Rather than focusing on how much you can fit into your new home, consider how you can hold space to move and breathe. It will take time to discover what life in this smaller home requires. By avoiding the urge to fill every countertop and corner, you’ll give yourself the space to think and listen. Notice what your home tells you over the first few months!
Thank Your Old Home
Before leaving your current space behind, express gratitude for how it supported you and your family. This chapter of your life made the next one possible! That is a joy-sparking gift.
Bonus Tips for Keeping a Small Space Tidy
Use Overlooked Spaces
Every home is unique and so are its storage requirements, so think carefully about how to make the most of every inch. You can use stacking containers or boxes and even install shelves over door frames to take advantage of underused vertical space. Don’t forget to use the areas under the sink and under the bed! Special storage solutions can also turn drawers into hidden spice racks and make use of bathroom countertop space without sacrificing aesthetics.
Fold Clothes the KonMari Way
Smaller homes often lack hanging space. Marie’s method for folding clothes ensures that you can fit more joy-sparking items in every dresser drawer — and avoid overcrowding delicate hanging items.
Create Hybrid Rooms
Different spaces in the home can serve multiple purposes, so long as you give everything a home. A playroom or nursery can also serve as an adult’s craft room after kids go to sleep. Likewise, a guest room can serve as a home office when you’re not hosting guests.
Downsizing is a beautiful opportunity to reflect on your life so far, imagine your ideal next chapter and express gratitude for the present moment. Anything is possible. Congratulations on these joy-sparking changes!