Apartment Downsizing? Here’s How.

Not too long ago I brought you the benefits of apartment downsizing, but now that I’m personally in the midst of trying to figure out how to take my spacious one bedroom apartment and turn it into a manageable living space in the upstairs area of my boyfriend’s mom’s house I know the frustration that goes along with learning how to downsize. Do you stuff everything in a storage unit? Donate or sell everything and start completely over? Sit in the floor and cry because you’ve collected way too many material items in your short lifetime? As I’ve learned these past couple of weeks, there is no one answer, just a combination of many different tricks and tips and options. Some items that are truly valuable and useful for another day can be stored away until you can upsize again and some items should definitely be given away or sold. The real challenge is figuring out what to keep and what to bid goodbye. As a personal sufferer of this downsizing dilemma, let me impart what I’ve learned so far.

Only Keep/Store What You Really Need & Love

It’s easy to want to hold on to everything you own, especially when you’ve been toting the stuff around with you for a few years, but when you downsize it is time to be truly honest with yourself about what is actually useful, what you really love, and what you need for your new, smaller space. If you really really love an item that won’t fit or be useful in your new space, store away for the future. But, storage doesn’t give you permission to be a packrat or hoarder, and it isn’t cheap, either. Although you can usually find a good sized space for around $100 a month it doesn’t mean that you just hold on to useless junk. Say goodbye to things now, bank the storage fees, and you have a perfectly awesome and legitimate reasons to use that money to shop for new things when you have more space.

tea breakGo Through Your Clothes 

When you get ready to downsize, there is no better time to go through your clothes and donate items that you no longer wear, that no longer fit, or that are just not your style anymore. To prepare for the big move, my boyfriend and I are both going through every piece of clothing we own and getting rid of anything we don’t use regularly. The thought may make you cringe, but I’m a shoe and dress lover and even I can find lots of things to donate to a local charity.

Make Your Furniture Work For Multiple Functions

Space is going to be tight in your new place when you downsize, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Smaller space really forces you to make use of the furniture you have. So instead of having a desk and a breakfast table and a craft table — make one table work for all three. Or you could buy a bed with dresser drawers underneath and eliminate the need for a dresser. The possibilities are endless.

Go Through Everything Before You Start Packing

As the end of our lease draws near, we are going through everything before we start putting things into boxes. Yes, I mean everything — books, makeup, all the junk under your bathroom counter, your kitchen supplies, etc. We don’t want to leave the packing to the last minute, when panic sets in and you will just mindlessly throw everything into boxes. The last thing you want is to have to rent storage space because you kept three sets of dishes that you don’t need or that rock collection you had as a kid. Think of downsizing as the ultimate spring cleaning.

When Storing, Pack Wisely

For many who have decided to downsize for a short amount of time (that would be me), storage is a great option. (However, if the downsizing is permanent, you should be merciless when it comes to saying no to storage units.  Get rid of everything that won’t fit in your new space.)  If you are storing, the key is to pack wisely to use the space to its utmost capacity.  Invest in sturdy, stackable storage containers and rent the smallest unit that will work for your things. And label everything clearly on the top and on all sides, so no matter which way the box ends up stored you can see what’s in it.

Set A Limit For How Much Space You’ll Designate To Certain Items

All you books won’t fit on your bookshelf? Donate to the local library or school. Too many towels for the closet? Donate to the local animal shelter. And stick to the rules. Don’t let those extra books migrate under the bed in your new place and the towels end up on the top of your coat closet.  It just guarantees that you’ll immediately feel cramped in your new space.

Get Rid Of Fixer-Uppers & Things You’ve Planned To Up-Cycle

Of this downsizing problem, I’m definitely guilty. In one closet here at my apartment, I have a whole stack of shoe box lids that I’ve planned to turn into some adorable wall decorations. Have I even touched them or thought about them in six months? Nope. They’ve just been taking up space. Now that I’m downsizing, things like this have to go. The same goes for fixer-upper furniture, picture frames, etc.  The key is to be honest with yourself. If you do think you’ll make use of these things within the first month of living in you smaller apartment, go ahead and keep them. If you haven’t done anything with them by the time that month is over, time to let them go.

Part With Things You Can Borrow Or Rent When You Need Them

Apartment downsizing means that everything you have in your space should be essential to daily living. It means that you don’t need to keep those spare folding chairs just in case you decide to have a dinner party. When the time comes for the party,  borrow the chairs.

Those are just a few of trial and error things I’ve learned so far in my apartment downsizing journey.  Please share your own downsizing tips and tricks below!

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Audra is a recent college graduate and an aspiring writer based in her home state of Georgia. She’s a lover of the sweetest Southern tea, warm weather, and decorating with lots of color, DIY projects, and shabby chic pieces. Her apartment living journey is still young, so she’s busy navigating the ups and downs and learning along the way. For more from Audra, follow her on Pinterest or check out her website shepenspretty.com.

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