space planning for downsizers

How to Live Well in a Smaller Space with Space Planning for Downsizers

Planning to move to a smaller residence? Congratulations! Such a move can be the start of a new chapter, an opportunity to spend more time on hobbies and volunteer activities as well as traveling and/or visiting with friends and family. 

But living comfortably in a smaller space requires planning. As you prepare for your new life, here are some space planing for downsizers tips from Professional Organizer and space planning specialist Jeanne Fox-Alston:

Think about how you want to live going forward. By that I mean, what do you need? Space for entertaining? A bed for out-of-town guests? An area for working from home or hobbies and crafts?

Create designated areas. Whether moving to a one-bedroom apartment or a two-bedroom condo, the trick to accommodating desired activities is to decide where to eat, relax, entertain, use the computer, play music, exercise, etc. Your house probably had specific rooms for dedicated activities, such as a dining room for entertaining or a family room for watching TV. Now each room has to serve several purposes. In other words, the main living area might be used for relaxing, dining and entertaining while a bedroom may also be an office and yoga room.S

Find furniture sized right for the space and the need. The truth is, much of your current furniture probably is too big for your new space. For instance, do you currently have a large dining room table that seats six to eight with a matching cabinet?  If your new place has just a dining niche, a 36 or 48-inch round table will probably serve your needs now. The great news is that furniture retailers and manufacturers are now offering a plethora of attractive and smart offerings for small spaces, such as this West Elm coffee table that provides storage as well as a raised ledge that can be used as a work surface.

Use multi-purpose furniture. With floor space at premium, look for pieces that fulfill several needs such as this bed from Crate and Barrel with a storage drawer. Similarly, C-tables are versatile and affordable accent tables that can hold a plate or a computer while storage ottomans can be used for extra seating while storing, say, throws or party games.

Make use of your vertical space. Each room has four times as much wall space as floor space, so select tall pieces that serve your needs. No front hall closet? Try an entry-way set, such as the one pictured, from Crate and Barrel. Similarly, desks that include shelving, like the one from PB/Apartment, is a great compact workspace. And there are many attractive and decorative etageres that can be used as mini-room dividers in addition to holding books, collectibles and more.  

Use space extending tricks. Selecting “leggy” furniture that doesn’t sit directly on the floor creates a sense of openness. So does selecting furniture with glass surfaces. And mirrors always help bounce light around.

Customize your closets. It’s worth it to spend the money to maximize the space in your closets so that you’ll need less bedroom furniture. The Container Store’s Elfa system and Ikea’s Pax wardrobes both are affordable options. And even if you’re renting, there are many clever and inexpensive closet solutions that make it possible to use every inch of vertical closet space.

Last, stay safe by not crowding your space. It’s difficult to go from, say, a 2,500-square-foot house to a space that’s half or a third of that. Resist the urge to overcrowd your new space with too much furniture and too many keepsakes. You’ll live better, and safer, by having clear walkways.

Space Planning for Downsizers is contributed by Jeanne Fox-Alston, a professional organizer and the owner of Your Space Made to Order

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