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7 Ways to Downsize Your Life

There are a lot of reasons to downsize. Perhaps you're moving into the city, retiring or living in a newly-empty nest. These tips can help you truly realize 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 only really need a bed; for a living room, a couch. 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 a week.

Evaluate Needs vs. Wants: The first thing to do is take a close inventory of your belongings and make three lists: "Must-haves," "live-withouts" and "replaceables." Ask yourself, 'If everything you owned was lost in a fire, what would you replace?' These are your must-haves.
Next, move on to your live-withouts. These consist of things that aren't used regularly, such as off-season clothes, towels and sheets, and specialty kitchenware. Having them on this list doesn't mean you'll get rid of them, but that if space becomes an issue then they're the first to either go or be placed in storage. Your replaceables are things that you could sell and buy a smaller version of, such as a TV or space-saving furniture. And think about letting go of specialty items such as holiday glasses that are rarely used.

Bring in the storage tricks: Embracing a smaller space will force you to get creative with your storage. Firstly, remember to store up, not out. Making use of wall shelving is ideal to keep things off of the floor and out of your living space. Other solutions include: keeping all bath towels hung up in the bathroom, the bed linens stored under the mattress, hanging kitchen pots, ottomans that open up and under-bed storage boxes. These tricks can really help you maximize space.

Make it look built in: When adding walled 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 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. I.e. invest in glasses that you will want year-round, and not just during the holidays or on the big game day.

Think outside the box: Putting wheels on your bed or sofa means that you can quickly adjust the room for entertaining, while 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. If an item has monetary value, host a yard sale. Craigslist and eBay are also great tools. Be sure to search the site for similar items to get an idea of what you should charge for yours, post an ad and include pictures.

With your possessions pared down and your space well-utilized you are ready to enjoy your new space.

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