When moving from a spacious house to a smaller apartment, decluttering is the name of the game. Thinking of all the downsizing you’ll have to do, you might feel that old familiar stress creeping up your back. But not to worry: Just take it one emptied cupboard, drawer, or closet at a time, making sure to get rid of duplicates and holding on only to what you need or use often. Here are six expert hacks for decluttering, from planning in advance to keeping just the essentials.
The month before your move, commit to a decluttering challenge. “Get rid of one item on day one, two items on day two, three items on day three, etcetera,” recommends Trent Brock, a moving expert at PODS, a national moving and storage company. “You can get rid of anything. Nothing is off-limits. From a sofa to a fork — it’s all fair game.”
If you’re short on time, consider taking advantage of short-term home storage solutions along the way. “For example, you can use a PODS portable storage container to aid in the downsizing process by creating extra space right in your driveway for sorting your things,” recommends Brock. “Off-site storage is perfect for items you’re on the fence about. Moving those things out of your living space for a month or two can help you decide if you really need them in your life and in your house.”
Invest in space-saving essentials. “Downsizing is about saving space however you can,” says Brock. “Consider getting a few items that make it easy to conserve space. For example, try packing your seasonal clothes in a vacuum-sealable bag or investing in an ottoman that doubles as blanket storage.”
It’s easy to accumulate a surprising number of mementos. Brock recommends narrowing these items down to the most important keepsakes, then storing them in a labeled box so they’re easy to find. If you find yourself hesitant to let go of familiar items or treasured childhood keepsakes, cut yourself some emotional slack. After all, it took you years to accumulate all your stuff; parting with that is no easy task.
There’s no better time to evaluate whether you really like that clunky dresser than before you haul it up three flights of stairs. “See if you can acquire a floorplan of your new apartment ahead of time and map out where your largest pieces of furniture would fit,” recommends Brock. “When it comes to furniture ideas for small-space living, anything that takes up room should serve a function — and, often, more than one,” says Brock. “For instance, a kitchen cart with a butcher block top can expand your counter space, stash pots and pans, and even triple up as a bar cart.”
Do you really need a rice cooker, pressure cooker, slow cooker, toaster oven, and air fryer? Chances are you won’t have room for all of them in your new pad even if you want to. Get practical and pare down to the basics — and that goes beyond the kitchen. “Maybe you can keep three throw pillows out of your collection of a dozen and bring two sets of towels instead of ten,” says Brock. “Take stock of your belongings, from your wardrobes to your cabinets, setting aside anything you can part with. Because if it doesn’t make you happy in a larger space, it certainly won’t make you happy in a smaller space.”