No Suite Delusions: How To Downsize Your Home Without Psychiatric Intervention

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Confession: I once almost called off the sale of a home because my closets were too full of junk! I told the realtor, “I’ll just die here.” Sigh. Let me introduce  Lorraine Brock, professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and President and Founder of Get Organized! in Dallas, Texas. Get Organized! is an organizing service (with an exclamation ! point!) that helps you control over-cluttered homes and lives. I have a theory that people want to organize their homes in the fall as much as they do spring — often because they have guests for the holidays. So with Labor Day around the corner, I asked Lorraine to help us de-clutter and downsize:

Downsizing and de-cluttering your home can be an emotional challenge, especially if you are considering leaving the home where you have raised your family or spent many years with a loved one. One of the best ways to turn this process into a positive event is to start dreaming about all of the exciting, new things you can create for your new space. Forget the past — forge ahead!

Organizing is really about function. Downsizing, by definition, means less space and fewer things than you had before, but there are many creative solutions to help you feel like you have not had to give up too much.

Take a lamp for instance. Everyone really needs one beside their bed but with downsizing, you have lost some of your bedroom space. In the picture shown lights were placed above the head board instead of having two bulky night stands with lamps on each side of the bed. Bright solution for a dimming problem – a lack of space.

Another trick is to keep furniture with legs to allow for usable storage underneath. Low storage baskets with covers to keep out dust can be filled with overflow items. Use this same container idea above your kitchen cabinets or consider a trunk or lidded basket at floor level. If space allows, fill trendy, stylish boxes or baskets with items you need to put away. But then, PUT THEM AWAY.  By using pretty containers, they become part of the décor of your home and also function as organizing tools. 

An often overlooked organizing system is the use of vertical space.  Although adding shelving may increase your dusting, it could give many of your treasured items a place to be seen or stored. Custom shelving can be stylish and functional, open or with attached doors, and can be designed, purchased, and even installed by The Container Store® or a hardware store such as Lowes.

One area in a new home that often requires more storage ideas is a home office. Filling an entire wall with shelving in a home office is very common. The Container Store sells the elfa® brand shelving and Lowe’s® carries ClosetMaid® brand. The Container Store will design your space by phone or in a store for free, cut the shelves to size, and for an additional cost, install them in your space. While Lowe’s will cut the shelving for you and is less costly, you have to design your space and know the sizes that you need. Be cheap trick: go to www.ClosetMaid.com and for a small fee, they’ll design the system you want, then print a supply list with measurements to take to your nearest Lowe’s. The ClosetMaid website also offers tips on doing the installation yourself.

Just like you have to break up a home, sometimes you have to break up the emotional suites.  I once had a downsizing client who, after measuring her new space, knew that we could get all her bedroom furniture in her new bedroom, except for a dresser! The client believed that she HAD to keep all of the bedroom pieces together, because they were a suite, even though the new space had an amazing closet that really took away the need for the dresser. After much debate, she opted to move to a larger apartment with a bigger bedroom that would allow her to keep the dresser.

This was clearly an emotional attachment for an item, coupled with the adjustment of letting go of so many things at one time. As you probably could guess, the rent was higher than her original choice and over the course of a year she paid dearly for the decision to keep the suite intact. 

Often, whether you are downsizing for financial reasons or just because you want less space, think about the cost of keeping unneeded items in your new space. Purging before you move will require fewer storage solutions for your new space, and hence less stress over boxes of items that have to be managed. If you take care of the decision-making before the move, you will have more time to make your new dreams come true.

Lorraine Brock is a professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and founder and owner of Get Organized!. Get Organized! is a professional organizing service in the Dallas, Texas area. Get Organized! specializes in organizing and de-cluttering homes as well as implementing systems for paper clutter, help with time management, and working with small business owners.

 

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Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for Forbes.com, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature CandysDirt.com, and SecondShelters.com, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).

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