The objective is clear enough. Life has changed – happily or regretfully, surprisingly or inevitably. Now the house is too big, too crammed with stuff from previous lives; gobbling way too much of your time and budget, anchoring you miles away from where you yearn to be. Time for a simpler life. Time to divest, or in the real estate vernacular, to ‘downsize’.
Critical questions around bottom-lines, such as selling versus buying, often dominate discussion, but there’s more complex questions to deal with. such as ‘What will come with me into my new life?’ ‘What do I want to take, what must I take?’ ‘What defines and ‘fits’ my new life?’
“The client ended up on the footpath with three pieces of furniture that had to be hurriedly disposed of – dropped off at the nearest second-hand store or given away for free to a willing new owner. The unrealistic goal meant the client had to wait eight weeks on a new sofa,” says Heidi.
Another client felt honor-bound to keep the antique chair she had inherited from her grandmother. “Down the track it emerged that her grandmother had given her the chair because she hated it,” says Lisa.
The quest for simplicity is, as Heidi and Lisa have learned, sheer hard work, emotionally and physically, factors many clients fail to grasp until they are overwhelmed. Every nook and cranny of the old habitat is plundered, the contents dusted off and assessed. “It is quite a difficult process,” says Heidi, “but there are some rules to follow to make it easier.”
There are the practicalities – issues like access at the new abode (can you really get a baby-grand up that stairwell?) Think about the room size in your new home, and cull accordingly.
Then there’s the design
Many down-sizers might relish the opportunity to chuck out the eclectic paraphernalia acquired through need and necessity along the way and pare back to a clean, defined aesthetic reflecting who they are now. Others might want to take precious cargo into the next phase. “There’s a real art to pulling together old and new so that they work, especially in a smaller space”, says Lisa. Looming above these are emotional considerations, which have the power to turn the most mundane detritus into cherished memorabilia.
Next thing you know you’re clawing back unloved chattels at your own garage sale. “Be kind to yourself at this point,” says Heidi. “It is a very stressful process.” Many downsizers relish the chance to pare down to a clean aesthetic reflecting who they are now
The physical toll of decluttering, of clearing and scrubbing out the old life and setting up the new, should not be underestimated, says Lisa. “Ask for help – from your family, friends, neighbors. Delegate tasks where you can – organising garage sales, transport arrangements. Clearing and scrubbing out the old life and setting up the new, should not be underestimated
“What do you do with things that don’t fit the new life, but you can’t quite part with them just yet?” says Heidi. ”We often recommend, if budget allows, storing some items for a year, and then making decisions based on how much they have been missed or needed. This often sorts out people with hoarding tendencies.” “Fear is a big factor. You’re not just changing your physical space, but your lifestyle, your neighbourhood, the comfort of familiar geography,” says Heidi. “Expectation can be overwhelming – maybe it won’t feel or look quite as you imagined immediately.”
“Give yourself time and space to adjust – and treat yourself along the way, celebrate your new compact living with new cushions, linen, towels, maybe a new dinner set and glassware. Get a professional art hanger in to make a beautiful display of your treasured art and memories in the new space. “Enjoy creating the scene for a new adventure.”Give yourself time and space to adjust – and treat yourself along the way, celebrate your new compact living with new cushions, linen, towels, maybe a new dinner set and glassware.