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Prioritising Your Own Life: A Guide to Downsizing

By Katie Harris

Downsizing is a big move that comes with a whole lot of change all at once – but it can also bring immense relief.

Whether you’re moving towards retirement, suddenly empty nested, or are just seeking a change, downsizing is an option that can reduce the day-to-day load you take on.

Katie Riddell is a Melbourne based interior decorator who is all about crafting homes to suit a person’s needs, feelings, and life. “Downsizing is quite a personal process, and when someone comes to me to help them achieve their goals, I always feel quite honoured that they trust me,” says Ms Riddell.

Downsizing can be a huge task for many, so Ms Riddell shed some light on how to approach this process.

Stop – Don’t Get Rid Of Everything!

There is a huge temptation when downsizing to just throw the whole lot to save yourself the time and energy. Some items may feel dated or like they wouldn’t suit your new home, and you may be tempted to get rid of it.

But Ms Riddell warns against this. “Clients that I’ve worked with have been going to new apartments where there is not as much character or history. Bring things that hold memories, meaning, spirit or character,” she notes.

Of course you will have to move on from a lot of items by selling or donating things, but don’t assume your knick knacks and bits and pieces don’t have value in your new home. Plus, a good decorator will be able to incorporate these items into the design in the home and give them new life.

Think About Space

If you are moving from a family home to a smaller apartment, you need to consider physical space. And this isn’t just in regards to rooms – but the size, scope, and shape of your
furniture and belongings.

“Think about the logistical things – your grand piano may not fit in through the door and neither will your family sized lounge,” says Ms Riddell.

While some furniture can be repurposed, it is a good idea to think about the physical space you will be inhabiting and making sure that the belongings you have suit the space.

Lean Into The Process – Early

Packing, sorting, and uprooting your life is no small feat. Ms Riddell recommends starting this process early.

“I think you have to be quite brutal with things. If you’re hesitating that’s a sign that the item may not have a place in your life. You’ve got to be realistic because you’re going from a really big house to a smaller place,” Ms Riddell notes.

Organising rooms and items into boxes so you know what’s what, keeping, maybe, and donating piles. Frequent tip runs and op shop donations will take the load off when it’s time
to move.

It is also a good way to make sure that belongings you’re parting with find their new homes safe and sound. Maybe you don’t need an eight-seater dining table, but maybe your niece and their growing family does. While downsizing presents a big change, it can also be an opportunity for growth and generosity.

Your Home Is For You

If you are downsizing, you need to prioritise yourself. This home no longer serves a large group of people with many needs and wants. Don’t be afraid to take up space, turn the spare room into a craft room, and have a fold out couch for guests.

“I think at the end of the day downsizing is really about honouring your time and space. It’s your time to really enjoy it,” Ms Riddell says.

After years of worrying about everyone else, it is finally time to focus on yourself.


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