Small-Home Transition Tips

Thinking about downsizing? This guide will help you prepare for the move and make the most of your new smaller space.

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So you've decided to make the big move—or small move, in this case. Downsizing is exciting, but it can also be a major transition. Here's everything you need to know about clearing out clutter, maximizing your new home's storage potential, and handy tricks for decorating small rooms.

The first step toward making your new small home feel cozy rather than crowded is getting rid of things you don't need. Think about which items you can donate, sell, or toss. Consider donating gently used clothes, books, toys, etc. to charity. Look to sites like Craigslist and eBay, or hold a garage sale to sell items that may still be worth something. (Plus, you can use the money from the sales toward furniture and decor that better suits your new home.) Throw away or recycle badly worn or broken items. If you have something that's broken that you've been meaning to fix, ask yourself honestly whether it's worth the time and potential cost to do so. Struggling to part with beloved objects? Ask a friend to help you go through things: They're likely to look at your stuff with a more objective eye. A few other problem areas to watch for:

Bulky Furniture

If you know your old furniture won't fit in your new abode, it's time to get rid of it. First, think about ways you could repurpose furniture–a TV stand as a bedside table or dresser, for example. If that won't work, look for slim furniture without heavy legs or armrests that offers multipurpose storage. Always measure the floor space of your new rooms—furniture can look different in a giant store warehouse.

Closet Cleaning

Here are two handy tricks for getting rid of clothes:

  • At the start of a season, flip all of your clothes hangers the wrong way. When you wear it, change it back. Whatever is left with backward hangers goes in the donation bin.
  • If you're torn on whether to get rid of something, put it in a box and store the box on a high shelf or in the attic. If you haven't worn any of those items in several months, get rid of them.

Kitchen Appliances

Clunky kitchen appliances eat up valuable cabinet and counter space. Unfortunately, they can also be difficult to justify getting rid of if they were expensive. But if that fancy blender you bought three years ago is still collecting dust, there's no use in keeping it.

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Small House Organizing

The best way to maximize organization in a small space is to shop for pieces that are vertical and multifunctional—such as an ottoman that opens up to reveal extra storage, for example. Think of ways you can get things off the floor and table surfaces. Here are some ideas to consider:

Wall-mounted storage or floating shelves free the floor and visually make a corner seem more airy because the wall shows through behind them. They double as storage and displays—perfect for preventing counter clutter. You can even build your own with reclaimed wood.

Lacking kitchen storage or an island? Rely on pieces that won't cram floors, such as rolling carts you can move out of the way or tall, narrow bookshelves. Another area of the kitchen that will have to be slimmed down is your pantry. When grocery shopping and cooking, look for all-in-one meals like Progresso soup to save space.

A folding Murphy table or bed clears floor space when not in use. In this dining nook, the slim table reveals hidden storage for books and additional decor. The aqua shelves liven things up with a pop of color without being too busy in this otherwise neutral space.

Sliding doors in bathrooms or even a larger barn door in a living area add impact and don't require the floorspace traditional swinging doors do. They also add privacy in open floor plans without having to do any major remodeling.

Small House Decorating

Downsizing your house doesn't have to mean downsizing your style. These sneaky decorating tricks will help you make small rooms look bigger and feel more open. We've rounded up practical and fun advice on how to choose colors, dress windows, and more:

Wall-mounted sconces (especially adjustable ones) free table space and swing out of the way when not in use. This bedroom takes "multifunctional" seriously: These lights were installed on the inside of the shelving unit that functions as a combination headboard/reading area/bookshelf.

Mirrors make a room appear larger, as do shiny surfaces and see-through materials like glass and acrylic. This coffee table makes the objects on it look like they're floating and allows the blue pattern on the rug to shine.

Use "zoning" when one room has to play multiple roles. (i.e., kitchen and living room, office and guest room) Arrange furniture, rugs, or folding screens to mark each area and create intimacy.

Don't over-dress windows with heavy, dark curtains. Natural light makes small rooms feel bigger, so either go bare or choose window treatments made from thinner fabrics. Run the curtains higher than the window to give the illusion of extra window height.

Light colors make a room seem more open. Stick with neutrals and avoid overly busy patterns; they tend to make an already small room feel cramped. Instead, choose one or two accent colors to make a statement and accessorize.

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