Your downsized home: what makes the cut?

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Decided to downsize to a new home? Good for you, and welcome to the world of living smaller.

I would love to say that the hardest decision is behind you, but that would be to dismiss the difficulty of deciding what belongings to keep and what to get rid of. Naturally, not everything you own in a mansion will fit into a tiny apartment or smaller square-foot house.  So you face the decision of what to bring to your new downsized home. Let the fun begin. 🙂

As much as our family concentrates on not clinging too tightly to material things, trinkets tell our story in a way.  After all, that enormous Starbucks City mug collection testifies to your visiting the foreign stores. Friends of mine wouldn’t have their plethora of Polish pottery if they hadn’t lived in Europe for years. Since these pieces remind us of amazing experiences, it’s difficult to know which items have a place in your life now, and which ones have served their purpose. It’s hard to let go of things that have grown an emotional bridge to a past season of life.

So, how do you decide what makes the cut to come with you to your new place? Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself in sorting through your stuff:

When was the last time I used this?

Be honest with yourself. If that juicer hasn’t seen the counter top in over a year, Goodwill it.

Will I have a use for this at my new home?

Is it important enough to take up precious space? Take the baby bathtub for instance— they’re ugly and annoying to store. Sure, we could just give the children baths in the sink. There’s only one problem. Since the Shoebox doesn’t have a dishwasher, more often than we’d like to admit the sink is full of dishes. Both sides. So unless we want to scrub the infant inside the crock pot bowl crusted with pork remains (I guess we could just scrub them both at the same time and hit two birds with one stone…), it relieves a little bit of stress to be able to do the baby-washing in the bathroom. So we took the bathtub.

How high is the sentimental value of this item?

If displaying that drum you bought in Cambodia makes a strong enough statement about who you are today, keep it! You’ll want a few signature things to make your new place feel like your home. But remember, space is a hot commodity. You might need to choose just one large item to describe your taste.  We chose to bring five framed snapshots of places around the world that are special to Caveman and me. Oh, and I brought my wedding dress for two reasons: 1) I didn’t like the idea of it spending a year or more in a storage unit and 2) I put it on every year for our anniversary. Read more about that here.

Are there special quirks of your new home that you’ll have to take into consideration?

We didn’t have a microwave for the first six months of living in the Shoebox.   Because all our food was slow oven cooked or stove top heated for those early months, we took a selection of our ancient stoneware (hello, ovenproof ceramic!) instead of the trendy plastic plates and bowls we had been using daily in the house.

 Is the downsize temporary?

If so, of course you might want to keep some of your belongings for later.  We rented a small storage unit because we planned on our Shoebox season being a couple years at the most. If your downsize isn’t temporary, you’ll want to sell or giveaway the stuff you decide to part with.

Can this item(s) serve a double purpose?

We’re big fans of multitasking things. For example, we used to own a blender and a food processor. Sure, the two appliances are meant for different purposes—but those purposes are really similar. I mean, leave the food processor going for a little longer and wah-lah! It can blend with the best of ’em. So I only brought the food processor to the Shoebox. It makes a mean milkshake.

 Would this thing mean more to someone else than it does to me?

Has your niece been begging you for that vintage stove top popcorn popper for the past three years? The time has come to make her day. Also, why not look into local charities to see if they have a need for that old futon or the “I’ll fit back into that someday” pile of clothes in the back of your closet.

Does this item “spark joy?”

You have the Kon Mari method of decluttering to thank for this question. 😉 But seriously. Hold the item in your hands and ask yourself if you have a teeny rush when encountering it. You might be surprised with your answer!

Good luck on the simplifying process. I hope you discover a certain freedom in living smaller, purposely with less.

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  • Meyli
    June 6, 2016

    Stumbled on this older post while looking for stuff on downsizing. I think those are a handful of great questions to ask to determine if something is worth keeping!
    My husband and I re downsizing very soon. Our roommate is moving for his new job, and my husband is starting new work too, so we’re moving to a smaller place. A studio apartment (I’m a little scared).
    I like that you brought up your issue with the baby bath. Seeing it from both sides is so smart! I often overlook that; I’m too focused on purging, I forget that some things might actually make our lives easier if they stay.

    • Evelyn
      June 10, 2016

      Hi Meyli! A studio apartment sounds fun. 🙂 Thanks so much for popping on and commenting again. Love hearing from you!

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