Downsizing without Compromising by David Brian Sanders
How To

How To | Downsizing Without Compromising

Downsizing.  Such a seemingly ugly word.  In this day and age no one wants to hear the word “downsizing” (especially in the workplace).  Let’s just be honest, if you look at the synonyms for the word downsizing, you see words like “dwindle,” “deplete,” “reduce,” none of them all that positive or exciting.

But I challenge you to think about the flipside of downsizing, especially when we apply it to our personal living spaces.  Downsizing in this context can be freeing, liberating — a veritable relief actually.  Because every now and again we all look around our homes and the spaces we’ve created for ourselves and think, “Where did all this stuff come from?”

What if I told you that you could downsize without compromising.  Meaning you could keep that awesome objet d’art you picked up at the local flea market for $25 (that only you love – yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder) and still have a functional and comfortable living space.  The key to it all is EDITING.

The art of editing comes down to being in touch with the things we own and/or collect in our home and knowing what items we use and enjoy and what we stuff in a drawer, closet or just collects dust.

The rules are simple –

Don’t wait 30 years to clean out your attic or garage.  If you haven’t ridden a bicycle in 9 years chances are you aren’t going to pick it up in the next 6 months.  It may seem daunting, but setting small goals to work through things stored in an attic or garage is quite doable.  If that’s not your cup of tea, hire an organizer to help you organize the attic or garage.  Be realistic about your hobbies and needs.  If the kids have moved out, then there is no need to save their baby clothes or childhood toys.

No, not everyone has a junk drawer.  Coupons, pens, paperclips, gum, batteries, menus, old Christmas cards, etc.  You think I don’t know what’s in your junk drawer?  I’m an interior designer — I’ve seen lots of junk drawers.  It really should be called a drawer of shame.  Honestly, there is a place for the things we dump in our “junk drawer.”  The drawer gets so scary, we clearly don’t need anything in it because either we can’t find anything in there or we don’t even want to look!  Dump it.  Dump it all.

Downsizing without Compromising by David Brian Sanders

Are your bookshelves so overloaded that it’s like playing a game of Jenga to remove one?  Keep the classics, the first editions, or any book that is dedicated to you (even if it’s not by the author).  Everything else is now available online.  Clean up those shelves.  If you can clear off the bookshelves, then that leaves room to display mementos or photos.  The same practice can be applied to magazines.  If you see something you want to save from a magazine, clip it out, and recycle the rest.

Donate. Donate. Donate.  Really take the time to evaluate items such as kid’s toys, clothing, used furniture, or exercise equipment.   If the kids have outgrown the toys, then it’s time to donate them.  If you haven’t worn certain clothes or shoes in a year, then it’s time to donate them.  If you’ve been covering an unsightly chair with your clothing (you’ve probably forgotten it’s there because you can’t see it) OR maybe you’re using the exercise equipment as a hanger for your clothing? You know what to do.  Donate them.  Yeah, you got it.

Knick-knacks and mementos are some of the most difficult things to part with because of the emotional attachment that we place on these items.  I once had a client, who literally had a story for every item she had in her loft.  At one point, I thought to myself does she have a story for the frying pan?  (Yep, she did).  But what I explained to her is that it is not the item that carries the emotion, it is the memory.  We carry the memories in our minds, not the items.  You can part with the item and still have the memories.  So do yourself a favor, unless the item came from some remote part Mount Kilimanjaro that you actually climbed or it was part of your inheritance (you get the picture), it might be time donate, throw out or sell the item.

Downsizing without Compromising by David Brian Sanders

If anything in your home is broken and you can’t fix it or it can’t be fixed, it’s time for it to leave the premises of your home.

Some of us love to collect things.  Collections range from stamps, stuffed animals, vintage items or dishes.  Sometimes we do not even realize we’re collecting.  However, a collection can get out of hand and needs to be edited from time to time.  If you’re sleeping or eating next to your collection because it’s leaked into your bedroom or onto your kitchen table, respectively, that doesn’t make for comfortable or functional living.

These may all seem like wildly exaggerated examples, but we all lead busy hectic lives and as a result we tend to bring more into our homes than we take out.  For some, it’s a natural inclination to amass more and not take a moment to see what we no longer need or use.  When you’re not using something for years or it’s no longer functional for your lifestyle then it is really not a compromise to downsize

Lastly, when you think you have edited enough, EDIT AGAIN.   Trust me.

Downsizing without Compromising by David Brian Sanders

For those of you who are really sneaky and resistant to downsizing, it does not mean putting the things you’ve decided to edit out of your home into a storage unit.  Nope.  That is definitely not downsizing, that’s called hoarding and that, my friends, is an even uglier word than downsizing.

David Brian Sanders

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David Brian Sanders

One of the most sought after interior designers in Los Angeles and Nationwide, David Brian Sanders’ work has been published in RENOVATION STYLE, TRADITIONAL HOME and THE LOS ANGELES TIMES. Prior to founding David Brian Sanders Interiors in 1998, Sanders spent several years managing and re-branding the famed luxury linen purveyor Peacock Alley. Sanders holds a dual degree in sociology and psychology from The University of Miami and is also a trained chef. He has appeared on several national television shows including Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker as the resident interior designer and a special home makeover edition of Fox's America's Most Wanted.

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