Many people will find themselves wondering how to stay organized when moving to a small home. As it is unlikely that you stumbled upon a house that is bigger on the inside (akin to something out of Doctor Who), here are some small space organization hacks with tips for downsizing to a smaller home.
Part 1: Before the Move
Make a “downsizing home checklist”
This will ensure you don’t forget to do anything and help you avoid that last-minute panic. Remember to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back as you tick off each task!
Decluttering means getting rid of “stuff”. This includes clothes, furniture, utensils, half-empty paint cans and that unused treadmill sitting in the garage. If there are double of an item, only keep your favorite. As a general rule, if you haven’t used it in the past year and it isn’t of high sentimental value, toss it.
Donating or passing on items to a lucky friend or family member is always a satisfying option. It can make letting go of sentimental items that much more bearable, such as a portrait of an ancestor that is too big for your new home. This is also a great opportunity to make some extra cash by holding a garage sale or listing items on Craigslist.
Plan your new space
A new home is a fresh slate; you can always acquire new furniture, fresh and inspiring art or a new bread maker if required – once you have moved in and know if you have room.
Exactly how much space will you have? Measure each room in your new home, as well as the dimensions of your existing furniture. Downsizing your possessions is often required, such as converting to a smaller sofa and kitchen table or fewer beds. If you are feeling artistic, making a scale drawing of your new home will help to help plan the layout of larger items and the storage space available.
Box up your home room by room…
Those items you have decided to keep need to be packed safely in such a way so that you know where they are. Room by room is often easiest.
Valuables including jewelry and electronics all need to be stored safely. The original packaging is best, but it is worthwhile to invest in large rolls of bubble wrap and tissue paper to ensure these items are not damaged during the move.
…and label each box!
Design a labelling system that works for you and label each box on the top and on at least two sides. Feeling creative? Color-code your boxes by room, purpose, or owner (if you live with multiple people).
Creating an inventory – a list of your possessions and what is in each box – is extremely useful to both find things quickly and tell if anything is missing. This inventory can guide your labeling system, so you know exactly what is in box “Kitchen 3”.
Digitize and file important documents
Make digital and backup copies of any important documents such as passports and bank statements, cherished art, prints and portraits. Any documents related to the big move also need to be kept in an organized file, including contact details for the real estate agent and the moving company.
Remember to leave out last minute items
Set aside a pile of basic living items, especially kitchen and bathroom supplies. What are you going to eat for dinner the night before your move? Do you have enough toilet paper? Have you left out some cleaning products for that final clean?
This is also the time to create an emergency kit with first aid supplies, medications, toiletries, toilet paper and some food (granola bars, dried fruit and chocolate are ideal for when you need an energy boost). Keep this kit, last-minute items and essential documents in one obvious and easily accessible place, so it doesn’t get accidentally packed!
Part 2: After the move
Unpack as soon as possible
When unpacking, it is important to give everything a home, such as in a drawer or on a shelf. This will help you to a) figure out how much space you actually have b) clean and stay organized in the long term and c) settle in and feel at home.
Add extra storage
You may need to install more shelves, bookcases or cupboards to exploit unused vertical space. Hiring a shipping container or storage space to temporarily house extra items may be useful, and it will also make moving much less of a challenge on the day. And if you find you don’t miss any of the items in storage? Great! Get rid of it.
Create new routines
Obviously, you want to keep your new home tidy and organized. This is best achieved by setting up routines and forming good habits right from the start. Immediately setting up new systems for doing laundry, dishes, and taking out the trash and recycling is well worth the time and effort in the long run!
Finally, it is worth mentioning that no matter how organized you may be, something will inevitably not go according to plan. If this happens, try to relax, stay positive and enjoy the excitement of moving into a cozy new home!