Be smart about downsizing
A fisherman's cottage on the West Coast
Downsizing to a smaller home is a financial or health necessity for some people — and for others it is simply the need to be free of high-maintenance houses and gardens.

Whatever your reason for downsizing, you may find it difficult to make the transition from the larger property to a smaller space.

As a result, you need to think smarter, not harder, about your new living situation and keep the philosophy of ‘quality over quantity’ in mind, says Dr Piet Botha, chairperson of the Nationlink estate agency group.

Ease the move...

So what can you do to ease the move? For one, plan ahead where you will place your furniture and other belongings and pare down your possessions to those for which you know there will be a specific space in your new home.

“Don’t move things on the off-chance that you will find room for them, and don’t rent a storage facility for any overflow. If you have been keeping possessions for grown children, now’s the time for them to claim them, and if you find it difficult to part with treasures, try donating them to a good cause, or selling them to a second hand shop for extra cash,” Botha says.

For photos and papers that you want to keep, try scanning them and saving them to CDs for you to look at in future.

Triple duty

The next step is to make the most of the space you have. For example, why not make a seldom-used formal dining room do double and even triple duty as an office or as a playroom for occasional visits from grandchildren?

Botha says, “If you use the dining room table as a desk, you can even make a few modifications and add drawers underneath to create space for your stationery.

“Other instant space-savers are to opt for a flat screen TV monitor as opposed to a conventional television set and to get rid of a bulky music system and use CDs in your DVD player instead. You should also check out new lines of furniture specially designed for smaller homes.”


Finally, you need to explore ways to keep your new space uncluttered. Usually it's the little things — papers, books, CDs, DVDs, dishes and clothes — that pose the biggest challenge here, but the key is innovative storage.

“Good ideas in this regard are to install new cupboard space above your existing cupboards in the kitchen or behind the bathroom door, install two rails in one cupboard for additional hanging space, take CDs out of their covers and place them in compact holders, and convert a china cabinet to a bookcase.”

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