Creative Downsizing

Thinking of downsizing can be overwhelming. Decisions about what to keep, what to let go of, and how to maximize space are daunting. Although downsizing is never easy, with a little thoughtful planning you can optimize a smaller space with creative solutions that serve your needs.

Our professional organizer, Carol Bausch, recently helped a client move from a 3000 sq foot home to a 2000 sq foot home. In the downsize, this family with 4 young children was losing an office, playroom, dining room, and laundry/mudroom so they had to be creative to make the new space work for their family. Through careful planning and out-of-the-box thinking, Carol helped Restoring Order client Michelle successfully navigate this challenge.

Preparation is Key

The key to success in managing this process is to be very methodical prior to the move.

  1. Establish priorities. With any move, taking time to think through your priorities for your new space will make the decision-making process easier.

Michelle had a few clear-cut goals for her new home. One main goal was to have her garage function well for her busy family. She wanted to be able to park her vehicle inside the garage and to have storage space for her children’s backpacks, shoes, coats, and sports gear that was outside the home.

  1. Measure and Plan. If you have the opportunity, measure the new space! Or at least review the home’s blueprints to derive basic measurements. It’s always best to rely on real numbers over your “feel” for a space. This will allow you to plan and to come to terms with what will and will NOT fit in your new space. Save yourself the trouble (and cost) of moving too much to the new place only to find that it won’t work in the space.

Carol toured both Michelle’s existing and new home. She helped Michelle measure spaces and furniture prior to the move to determine what would go to the new home. Having a clear, thought-out plan reduces confusion and chaos in the moving process.

  1. Smart Packing. Read more helpful strategies on the packing stage of preparing for a move here.


Getting Creative

One reason downsizing is so difficult is because it is often accompanied with the idea that something is being lost – space, belongings, perhaps privacy, certain conveniences and comforts that you’ve grown accustomed to. In a downsize, shedding a “loss” frame of mind can free you up to be creative and discover solutions that actually IMPROVE your quality of life! Remember, our perspective determines our reality! Read more about the power you have to create your life here.

So, if you are facing a downsize, take a moment to recreate the new space for yourself. Think through the positives of the change. Bring to mind the ways that the move can bring freedom. If you are having a particularly difficult time, perhaps reevaluate what you are holding onto and why. Maybe you can recreate this connection in another meaningful way, or perhaps it is time to let go.

Now that you see this new space as a land of opportunity rather than a loss, it’s time to get creative.

As we mentioned, Michelle’s family would no longer have an office, playroom, or downstairs laundry/mudroom in their new home. Here are the creative solutions they came up with that made the new home work for their family:

Office – An office is a pretty important space to do without. However, if you don’t have a designated space for an office you can still carve out a functional space that will allow you to effectively manage your household.

Creative Downsizing - Office in Previous Home

Michelle’s office in her previous home.

In Michelle’s home, Carol bridged two spaces to serve the function of an office. Less-used reference items were placed in a file cabinet in the garage, with easy access to the kitchen. They are convenient to access, but not taking up valuable indoor space. Each child also has a memory box in the garage so Michelle now has an easy place to put special memorabilia for her children.

Creative Downsizing - Filing Cabinet

Filing cabinets and memory boxes located in garage.

In addition to file space, every home office needs a space for actionable items like incoming mail and projects. In Michelle’s home, Carol established a Household Hub for these “hot” items, using a few cabinets in the kitchen, keeping timely items close at hand but behind doors. Michelle’s counters are now clutter-free, but all necessary items are right at her fingertips.

Creative Downsizing - Household Hub

Michelle’s Household Hub in her kitchen.

Creating a household hub in the kitchen is a great solution when downsizing. Learn more about creating a household hub here.

Playroom – When your priorities for a space are clear, creativity can blossom. With four children and no playroom, Michelle and Carol got creative. The new home had a large coat closet under the stairs with storage space in the back. Because they were thinking according to the needs of the family rather than the predetermined layout of the home, Michelle was able to create a playroom “hideout” for her girls in this huge closet. This “storage” space was reclaimed for play!

Creative Downsizing - Playroom in Previous Home

Playroom in previous home.

Creative Downsizing - Hideout

Hideout playroom in new home.








Laundry Room – In her former home, Michelle had a downstairs laundry room. This provided an in-and-out mud room for the family to drop their shoes and gear. The new home only offered a garage for this purpose. Carol helped Michelle research options and they came up with fantastic, affordable storage cabinets for her family’s gear! Now each child has a designated grab-and-go space for their backpacks, sporting gear, coats, and shoes in the garage. Kids can easily grab their items when leaving for school and sports, and – equally as important – can easily put them away upon arriving home.

Creative Downsizing Garage Storage Solution

Whether you are downsizing or just determined to make the most of your spaces, we hope that sharing this real-world project has brought you simple tactics and fresh inspiration. With clear priorities, thoughtful planning, and some creativity you can make any space serve your needs.

Watch how Carol helped Michelle successfully downsize in a way that honored her family’s needs:




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