Paul Norton, partner and head of residential sales at Carter Jonas inPeterborough, looks at the challenges of downsizing to a smaller property
The majority of people who downsize from a large residence to a smaller home are usually well-established on the property ladder. With years of home ownership, comes years of personal possessions and so having to consider getting rid of cherished furniture and belongings can be an emotional experience.
It’s likely that previous moves will have involved scaling up the property ladder to obtain more space as our family grows. As the years pass, we accumulate more and more stuff. We fill our homes with possessions we need and like. We also fill our lofts, garages and sheds with possessions we cherish and those we don’t think about daily. What to do with all our stuff when we are faced with less space?
First things first, before you even consider looking at properties think about the space you need in order to live comfortably. What is the minimum ceiling height you could live with? What rooms are an absolute must? Are you looking for a similar style property to the one you are in, or after a complete change?
If you have been in a property for a long time you may well be used to certain room proportions. Sacrificing space does not mean you need to change your lifestyle. If you enjoy entertaining then consider properties that still provide adequate living and dining space. If you intend to pursue hobbies in your retirement, then an office or workshop should be on your list.
Having found your new home you then need to consider your furniture and possessions. Compile a list of all the pieces of furniture you own. There will be pieces that you simply cannot bear to part with and others that you will be glad to get rid of. Make a list of the rooms in your new house and identify where the furniture you simply must keep is going to go. Overcrowding a room, upon downsizing, is a common mistake.
If you are nervous about parting with certain items, then storage is always a short-term option. Moving house is stressful enough without putting undue pressure on yourself to get rid of possessions you cherish or think you might need. Once you are settled into your new home you can always review the furniture you have stored and see what will realistically fit in the space you have left.
If you are used to a bigger home you may feel restricted if your new house has less space. There are lots of ways to make rooms feel larger. With fewer rooms available, overcluttering surfaces with ornaments and photos can be tempting. If you have several pieces that you need to display, limit the number you put out, but change them every now and then.
Lighting is very important. You can immediately open up a space by improving the light. Let natural light in by avoiding heavy curtains and use wall and table lights as well as a central light. Spotlights will open up dark corridors and hallways. In addition neutral flooring and light walls will immediately make a room feel more spacious. That is not to say colour is banned, but the best way to inject colour into a smaller room is through accessories.
Moving from your family home will always be an emotional experience. However, with the right advice it is possible to find a property that will not compromise your lifestyle. Downsizing does not have to involve sacrificing comfort or the things you enjoy doing.