How to Declutter and Downsize to a Smaller Home – Empty Nesters Edition

Kris HargroveLifestyle, Moving Tips

declutter and downsize

Over the years, it’s been easy to collect items from trips, children’s keepsakes, special holiday items, and such. When it’s time to downsize, it can feel like “Where did all this stuff come from?” It’s from years of memories and special occasions, which means you’ve lived a full and happy life. But you don’t have to carry all of this stuff with you forever. It’s time to declutter and downsize to a smaller home.

Going through your things is also a great time to reminisce on good memories. It can also be an emotional time. When it is time for you to downsize, you can look at this as an opportunity to start over in a space that is most comfortable for you.

The process to declutter and downsize can become overwhelming if you aren’t prepared for it. As a professional home organizer, I have created a list of the best tips to complete this process in a smoother way. The next chapter of your life is here.

7 Tips to Declutter and Downsize

Take time to consider how you can declutter and downsize with minimal stress. Follow the tips listed below for the best outcome.

Plan Ahead

There is nothing worse than having to pack and move at the last minute. It’s frustrating and overwhelming, making it a less than pleasurable experience. As soon as you decide that you want to downsize into a smaller home, start planning how you are going to let go of things in your home that won’t follow you to the next.

Make a goal to go through a certain amount of rooms in ‘X’ amount of days or weeks. You can also make a goal of donating a certain number of boxes or bags each week to prevent yourself from keeping more in your house. The sooner you can get things out of your home that you won’t need, the easier the process can become. Plan ahead to make this work for you.

Start Small

There are some people who get the “declutter bug” in them and start purging their whole house in one day. You don’t have to be like that; take it slowly by starting small. This could be cleaning out one cabinet per day or one bedroom over a weekend. Starting small helps you feel accomplished and also makes less work for the future when moving day comes.

Consider Your New Home and Lifestyle

If you haven’t already purchased or leased a smaller home for this new chapter in your life, start thinking about what you want in the new home. Consider your desires for the size of the home, how many bedrooms, etc. This will give you an idea of how much space you won’t have to take all of the items in your possession with you. If there’s no space for it, then it can’t come.

Additionally, consider the type of lifestyle you want in this new home. Are you going to continue certain hobbies, host large gatherings, or require additional guest space? If your lifestyle is going to slow down, then items surrounding things you used to do will no longer be needed.

Make Firm Rules

You will have to be firm with yourself as you go through your belongings about what qualifies an item to keep. Set rules to follow as you begin downsizing. Remember to keep in mind your new space and new lifestyle. You will be surprised how freeing it can feel to let go of items big and small.

Separate Sentimental Items

This is always a tough one for people to go through. There are sentimental items you’ve kept over the years that hold a special place in your heart. You can keep these items by separating them out from things you aren’t going to keep.

However, this isn’t an excuse to keep anything and everything. You will need to follow your rules and keep true sentimental items like specialized holiday ornaments, your child(ren)’s first trophy, a family heirloom, etc.


Donating can feel really good internally when you know you are giving to someone else in need. Take items you no longer need and pass them to someone who can continue making memories with your treasures. This step can make the downsizing easier when you consider someone else can enjoy your items as well as you have.

Don’t feel like you have to keep something just because someone gave it to you. I promise they don’t expect you to keep it forever. And if they do, they are being unreasonable. Pass it on.

Get Your Family Involved

There is nothing like a sweet get-together to say goodbye to items that have been around your family. Ask your child(ren) or other family members if they want any of your items before you donate them. Your child(ren) might want to keep their childhood items and mementos. This is an opportunity for your belongings to still stay in your family, but not in your new home.

The Declutter and Downsize Process Can Be Fun

Moving is usually a topic of dread. But you don’t have to feel that way about the process to declutter and downsize. It can be an exciting and fun process if you think of it as a new journey, a new opportunity, a new adventure. You get to control this next chapter to the fullest and that starts with deciding what to let go of and what to take with you.

Plan ahead, make rules for yourself and get your family involved to really maximize this process to work for you. It is a bittersweet closing of one chapter, but an exciting beginning to a new chapter. Start your journey to declutter and downsize to a smaller house that is perfect for this next step in life.

If you need hands-on guidance on how to declutter and get ready for this new home, let’s chat! Schedule your complimentary consultation with me and let’s make a plan of action together.