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If you are thinking of downsizing your property, you are probably wondering how you will fit all of your possessions into your new smaller home. All of us accumulate belongings over the years – and if the thought of sifting through it all makes you uneasy, here are my nine practical and effective steps to decluttering before you downsize:

Nine tips to help you declutter before you downsize - by Andrew Loveday

Give yourself time

Sorting through your life’s possessions can seem a daunting task and one that is easy to put off. However it takes time to do the job properly, so rather than bundle things into boxes and cart the stuff on to the next house, it is really worth going through things thoroughly. Start the process well in advance of your moving date, ideally several months, and set aside regular chunks of time to spend on it.

Picture the end result

Plan out how and where your furniture is going to be used in your new house. It might be useful to compare the floor plan of your current property with the new one – how will you lay each room out, what will fit and what won’t, which larger items of furniture can you do without and what will be the pinch points when manoeuvring the furniture into place? Plan a place for everything and make sure you are being realistic about what will fit into the space.

List, lists, lists

Take stock of your possessions, identifying the things that are actually important to you, make you happy and you can’t live without. Create a list of the things that are essential in each room of your house, this will help highlight the less important items in the room that could be donated, sold or thrown away. It is tempting to hang onto items you once loved but no longer use or items you think you might use one day. But the truth is, if you haven’t used a particular item in the last year, you’re unlikely to use it in the next year.

Start small

The idea of going through everything in your house might seem overwhelming, so start small. Pick one cupboard, cabinet or drawer and tackle them one at a time.

The boxing method

Using four boxes labelled KEEP, THROW AWAY, DONATE and RECYCLE start organising your room by putting items into each of the boxes. You must make your decision quickly and cannot change your mind once the item is placed in the box. If your instinct tells you to throw it away, don’t let sentimental value make you change your mind.

Sell, donate, recycle

It is great if things can be given a new home and used by someone who will appreciate them, so see if friends or family want any of the things you no longer need, or give them away via Freecycle. Alternatively you can make a bit of extra cash by selling things on ebay or at a good old-fashioned car boot sale – count that as your reward for all that hard work!

Paper may be the problem

We all have important documents we need to keep safe but many of us hang onto too much paper that takes up room. Buy yourself box files to keep the essentials, digitise what you can by scanning in documents so you can reduce the paper you keep, then recycle the rest, remembering to shred any confidential documents first. Put photos into albums, which will make you more likely to look through them than if they stay in boxes and make memory boxes for children to store their special keepsakes.

One in one out policy

Once you have moved house, to prevent your new home filling up too fast, be strict about not accumulating more stuff than you have space for. Whenever you buy something new, give something away to make space.

Give yourself storage options

If you are moving to a smaller home, even if you have got rid of a lot of stuff, good storage systems are key. Think about using all available space such as under beds, under stairs, extra shelving in the garage and loft space and making sure the furniture you do keep is practical and storage friendly.

Decluttering your life is hard work and it can be emotional, but it is also amazingly liberating and satisfying, allowing you to sit back and enjoy your new house and appreciate the things you do have all the more.

Countryside have a great range of new homes that are perfect for downsizers – start your search here

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Andrew Loveday,
Sales Director

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About this blog

Here you’ll find property related blog articles from the team at Countryside as well as independent experts. Expect regular tips and advice on topics such as buying a new home, interior and landscape design, setting up home, mortgages and finance, plus articles on architecture, the property market, regeneration and more.

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