3 Things People Forget to Do While Downsizing, According to Experts

published Aug 7, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

I was watching an episode of “Love It or List It” that featured a married couple who was contemplating the purchase of a smaller home for their retirement years. The wife was thrilled about starting a new chapter in their lives, but the husband was quite nervous about what seemed to him the Herculean task of downsizing.

He’s not alone in his thinking. Many people want to live more simply, but putting it into practice can be quite another story. Marie Kondo makes it seem easy: Just get rid of things that don’t “spark joy.” But what happens when you’ve created a home and a life that’s full of things that spark joy? You simply can’t take it all with you.

I checked in with a few experts to see what kind of guidance they had for downsizers. Here’s what they say are the three biggest mistakes people make when moving in to a smaller space.

They Neglect to Consider Their New Lifestyle

“Many people assume that downsizing is going to make life simpler, but oftentimes they forget to consider the functions that are really important to their lifestyle,” says Amy Leferink, owner and principal designer at Interior Impressions

For example, if you love to entertain but are moving into a new home that doesn’t provide enough room for you to continue hosting friends and family, Leferink says downsizing becomes difficult because you’ll have to eliminate some traditions that you hold dear.

If the new home you are considering won’t allow you to do the things you most enjoy in life, it might be better to keep looking for one that can. “It is important to consider the features that are important to your lifestyle and to ensure that your new home allows you to do those things,” Leferink says.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

They Assume Their Furniture Will Fit

It’s one thing to comprehend that you can’t bring all the furniture from a five-bedroom home to, say, a two-bedroom condo. But it’s another thing entirely to assume you can get any piece of furniture into your new space.

“One thing everybody forgets to do is to measure the doorways to confirm their old furniture will fit through the door,” says Sandra Asdourian, founder of Sandra Asdourian Interiors

If you’re buying new furniture, you’ll likely be reminded by the sales associate to take measurements of entryways — including elevators and stairwells — for delivery. But if you’re keeping any furniture from your old home, take out that tape measure to ensure a smooth move-in day.

They Don’t Declutter Enough 

Donation piles and garage or estate sales are common sights for those downsizing. But what many people neglect to do is get rid of enough things so that they can organize their new space easily.

“You don’t want to fill your home with clutter,” says Christie Stewart, interior designer at Design Lines Signature. “This new space should reflect quality over quantity, so try starting with selecting that one statement piece that brings you the most joy and build your home around it.” 

Stewart says that keeping a few heirlooms or cherished pieces along with purchasing new items and especially furniture that will easily fit the smaller layout is a good way to combine the old with the new when downsizing.

Asdourian says that having too many clothes is often an issue for people. Her recommendation? If you haven’t worn something in two seasons, donate or sell it. This is especially important reminder for those moving from colder climates to more temperate climates — chances are you won’t be needing all those heavy coats if you’re moving to Florida. She suggests installing a closet system in the new place to help you get and stay organized with your clothing as soon as you move in.

Downsized, or Sized Just Right?

If downsizing is the next chapter in your happily-ever-after story, “happily” should be the operative word. While more space allows for more things, you can certainly live the life you want with less of both.“Moving to a new home shouldn’t mean that you have to completely change your lifestyle, too,” says Leferink. “It is more important to “right-size” rather than downsize. Forgo the things you don’t need but be sure to keep the features you appreciate.”