Maybe it’s the call of the outdoors, and too much housework to actually get out there. Maybe it’s the ticking of the clock, and home projects getting in the way of a travel bucket list. Whatever it is, it’s causing us to turn our thoughts to downsizing out of our larger homes and into smaller ones. But how?
So. Much. Stuff!
For Jennifer Star, it was a tiered process. Star, a personal and leadership development coach, began her story in a 2,800 square foot home on Lake Washington (near Seattle) where she and her husband entertained guests frequently. When they divorced, Star fully believed she was experiencing a dramatic downsizing when she moved into a 3 bedroom, 2 bath condo. Entertaining was still her passion and she had to have the space and furnishings to do that with pride.
In retrospect she sees that the shift to a mindset of shedding excess stuff began when she realized how often the rooms reserved for guests went unused. And then a financial crisis resulted in a move to a 750 square foot apartment and a storage unit for the items that couldn’t fit.
“After two years, I found that I hadn’t used any of the stored items in the unit,” says Star. “I either donated or sold everything in it and I’ve never looked back.”
Star now lives in a 950 square foot condo in NE Bend. She has dedicated space for creating her paintings—and not her guests—which are shown around town regularly. She has a regular practice of assessing items and only allowing them to stay if they are useful, used regularly and/or meaningful. Once a week, Star sells or donates her surplus items.
On the other hand, for CJ Neumann, entertaining is her artistry so she chose a floor plan that maximized living/dining/kitchen space to accomplish her goal in a smaller SE Bend home.
“I realize now that what once looked abundant actually felt scarce,” explains Star. “Lack of stuff allows for more abundance and positivity.”
- The first major purging is the hardest. It gets easier and more freeing each time.
- Keep only the most sentimental of collection items. You don’t need it all.
- Follow Marie Kondo’s TidyingUp.com.
A Ruthless Purge
Cathy Freyberg thought about downsizing for a long time, but her actions were fairly abrupt. Leaving a 2,400 square foot home in NorthWest Crossing, Freyberg went straight to a 200 square foot tiny home on property between Bend and Redmond.
“You must be ruthless when making a move like that,” says Freyberg. “You must both love AND need each item and everything has to serve dual purposes. This skirt I’m wearing? The material and style is good for going on hikes or for going to work and it will last forever.”
Shedding the excess has allowed Freyberg, a mentor for intellectually and developmentally disabled clients and the owner/operator of Bright Star Equine Massage, to consider her home to be her sanctuary; simple, easy to clean, and easy to find things. And nothing comes in to stay without something going out. Both Freyberg and Star are adamant about this.
- Digitize as many items as possible and immediately shred and recycle mail, envelopes and papers.
- If you have less wall space, cycle your few chosen pictures and paintings for a fresh look.
- Follow Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus’s TheMinimalists.com.
A Slow Change
Not all downsizing is as dramatic as these women have experienced. Scott and Kari Johnson will soon move from a 2,800 square foot home on ¾ of an acre to a brand-new 2,020 square foot home. Scott, a chaplain at St. Charles, was ready. A recent knee injury and lengthy recuperation made it very clear that the yard was just too much to keep up without the help of their four now-grown kids. For Kari, a self-titled shop girl at a local retail establishment and a daycare provider, the walls contained too many memories and the closets held too many cherished treasures; and this was just going to be a painful process.
But they dedicated themselves to their goal of a new home, a new phase. First to go was any large furniture. The payoff was new, sleek furniture that they could enjoy in their existing house even prior to the move.
Scott and Kari’s Tips:
- Make a goal to get rid of 50% of the excess first and take another pass at it later.
- Allow yourself time.
- Get to know the folks at Bend Upcycle. Trading the old furniture for new is energizing!