5 Steps to a Smooth Downsizing Experience


I recently spoke with my neighbour who was moving from their home of 20 years and downsizing into the condo next door. They told me that it took them 3 full weeks to move their belongings! They lamented the massive amount of time, energy, and effort it took to orchestrate. 

As they shared their story, I was reminded of all the tips and strategies that can make this transition easier. After all… I’ve done it myself!

That’s right — not that long ago, I loaded my belongings into a truck and moved across the country. My two wonderful kids had moved out, and I simply didn’t need a 4-bedroom home anymore. As I downsized to condo living for the first time since my 20s, I experienced the challenges of scaling back and editing my belongings. It was tough.

But here’s the silver lining…

My neighbours also shared with me how freeing it was to imagine a space just for them. Not for their kids. Not for their relatives. Just a blank canvas where they were free to express themselves. When it was my turn, I felt the same way, too!

Yes, downsizing may sound daunting, but there is a wonderful opportunity in it: the chance to create a home that looks, feels, and functions exactly how you want. And I’m here to help if you need me.

Grab your notebook and pen, and keep reading for 5 smart steps for making this transition as smooth, easy and rewarding as possible…


Step 1. Measure the Rooms in Your New Home

When moving into a new home, you often get what’s called a “Viewing Day” to take measurements of the home. You won’t want to miss out on this opportunity! Knowing the size of your spaces will help you decide which of your items can make the move with you and which you would prefer to sell or donate.  

Better yet, ask for a copy of the floor plan before your viewing day. The floor plans are not usually done to scale so take a copy with you and record your measurements right on the page so you don’t forget… or have to interpret any wonky sketches later.

In your future home, I suggest measuring:

  • The headboard wall in the master bedroom, which will help you ensure your existing bed and nightstands will fit in the space
  • The wall your sofa or sectional will sit against (if you have a sectional, this is also a good time to decide if the shape will work in the space)
  • The dining area, so you can determine if your existing pieces will fit
  • Any special larger pieces you might have, such as a dining hutch, desk, and BBQ, identify where you think they could go and be sure to measure those spaces

Other important places to measure…

  • If there is an elevator, what is the height of the ceiling? You need to be sure it can accommodate your furniture as you move in!
  • If you have a storage unit, figure out the size, and decide what you will store there BEFORE you move. 

You will eventually compare these measurements to the items you plan to keep (and start playing Tetris with the new layout), but first… 


Step 2. Determine the Purpose of Each Room 

Because you are downsizing, space is at a premium and needs to suit your lifestyle. Before you assume that a family room needs all of the essential items (sofa, end tables, floor lamp, coffee tables, bookshelf) — stop. That may or may not be true. Just because you have always done it that way doesn’t mean you have to again.

Think about the way you want to live in the future. Having a spare bedroom for someone to visit 1-2 times a year isn’t practical. Instead, you could use that room for daily enjoyment, such as an extra TV room, a library or reading room, an exercise room, or a music room.

Let your passions, hobbies, and lifestyle dictate the purpose of your rooms, and I guarantee you will be much closer to a home where you feel a sense of comfort, warmth, and belonging.


Step 3. Decide What You Want to Keep 

We’ve made it to Step 3 — editing your belongings. I know this is the hard part, but with a bit of strategy, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Before you start to pack up each room, designate a spot for “keep”, “donate”, and “sell” piles. 

Then, go through your items one by one and make a decision. This can be an emotional and cumbersome process, but I promise you will feel so much better moving only the things you need and that fit (remember your measurements!) into your new home. 

To Keep: If you’re struggling to decide what to keep, download my Collected Home Style Guide at the bottom of this page for more tips on navigating the editing process. At this time, you can also decide if this “keep” item will be coming into your new home or moving into storage — it’s better to keep them separate from the start rather than having to sort them later.

To Sell: My favourite places to sell old furnishings and belongings are Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and local consignment stores. If you have antique items, check out any local antique or second hand stores. 

To Donate: In Victoria, we have some amazing second-hand stores like Surroundings, Deja-Vu Vintage in Oak Bay, and Charmaine’s Past and Present.


Step 4. Pack & Store Wisely for Minimum Effort

When it comes to packing, I have a couple tips that I’ve learned the hard way…

First, label, label, label. There is nothing as frustrating as digging through 12 boxes to find the one, evasive item you need.

Second, pack your essentials — the items that you will use right away — in a clearly labeled box. This box should include toiletries, medications, cleaning supplies, a tape measure, PJs, and a change of clothes. Keep these items in arm’s reach… not at the back of a moving truck. Having these items easily accessible will be helpful on moving day and save a lot of stress and wasted effort.

Third, set any to-be-stored items aside and load these last. Then, your movers can unload those belongings first — right into the storage unit on moving day. Brilliant, right??


Step 5. Maximize Storage in Your New Home

From downsizing myself to designing homes for clients for years, I know how important it is to maximize the storage spaces you have, especially vertical space. Here are a few tips I’ve gathered and honed over the years:

  • Add shelving to all the closets. You can hire a professional closet organizer, but this option will cost more. If you’re on a budget, you can add extra shelving units, shoe racks, and hooks. Getting items off the floor helps you capitalize on all the vertical space you have!
  • Buy furniture that can double as storage. There are lots of options, such as storage beds, ottomans, and sofas.

Or the best solution… hire a designer! I have spent decades designing homes that maximize function while striking a beautiful harmony with your style and story. There is nothing that brings me more joy than helping you to embrace freedom and what’s most meaningful to you. 

Ready for a partner to help you create an exciting fresh start? Reach out to me here, and let’s get to know each other.



Featured Maker: Nicole Scott of Duck and Cover

Once you’ve settled into your new home, there’s nothing like the fun of adding a few colourful accessories and personalized items, such as colourful toss pillows. That’s where this month’s featured artist comes in…

Every month, I feature a maker from Vancouver Island or nearby who is bringing beauty, creativity, and craftsmanship to our homes and community. Discover more on the rest my blog!

Filed under
Share Post