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Originally published Friday, January 24, 2014 at 8:02 PM

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Downsizing? Here are tips on how to live small | HomeWork

There are a lot of reasons to downsize, such as moving into the city, or out of a newly empty nest. Maybe you just want to lighten your load and lessen your “footprint.” Whatever the reason, these tips can help you live the adage, “Less is more.”


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Q: I want to downsize, but where do I start?

A: There are a lot of reasons to downsize. Perhaps you’re moving into the city, or out of a newly empty nest. Maybe you just want to lighten your load and lessen your “footprint.”

Whatever the reason, these tips can help you live the adage, “Less is more.”

Be realistic. Evaluate your space and decide which furniture and items are the most necessary pieces in each room.

In a bedroom, you really only need a bed; for a living room, a couch. Then go from there. Also, be realistic with your time.

It is much more daunting to try to do everything at once. Make a goal of tackling one room per week.

Evaluate needs versus wants. Start by taking a close inventory of your belongings and make three lists: “Must-haves,” “live-withouts” and “replaceables.”

Ask yourself, “If everything I own was lost in a fire, what would I replace?” These are your must-haves.

Next, move on to your live-withouts. These are the things that aren’t used regularly, such as offseason clothes, towels, sheets and specialty kitchenware.

Adding them to this list doesn’t mean you’ll get rid of them, but if space becomes an issue, they’re the first to either go or be placed in storage.

Your replaceables are things that you could sell and replace with a smaller version, such as a TV or space-saving furniture. Think about letting go of specialty items that are rarely used, such as holiday glasses.

Employ some storage tricks. Embracing a smaller space will force you to get creative with your storage.

Whenever possible, try to store up, not out. Making use of wall shelving keeps things off the floor and out of your living space.

Other solutions include hanging all bath towels in the bathroom, storing bed linens under the mattress, hanging kitchen pots and using under-bed storage boxes. These tricks can really help you maximize space.

Make it look built in. When adding storage solutions such as bookshelves, the space will look less crowded if it appears to be a part of the original room.

An easy way to make these pieces appear built-in is to paint them the same color as the wall.

Never duplicate. If you’re moving into a smaller space with someone else, go through your inventories together and discuss beforehand who will bring what to the new living space.

If you’re going solo, try to get out of the mindset that you need certain things for special circumstances. For instance, invest in glasses that you will want to use year-round — not just during the holidays or the day of the big game.

Think outside the box. Putting wheels on your bed or sofa means that you can quickly rearrange a room for entertaining.

Using your table as a hybrid of dining-room table, desk and cooking island will save space for other things.

Donate or sell. Items that you decide aren’t worth keeping should be placed in one of three categories: trash, donate or sell.

HomeWork is the weekly column by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to homework@mbaks.com.



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