Downsizing can be a difficult stage of life, as you come to terms with the decision to pack up and leave behind your family home for good, combined with the rush of excitement at the thought of the new adventures to come. Whether you choose to move into an apartment, retirement village or lifestyle community, you most likely won’t be able to take all of your belongings with you, which is where decluttering becomes important.
However, after decades of accumulating ‘things’, from children’s toys to clothes and accessories, to homewares and the drawer full of charger cables that almost every home seems to have, it can be extremely difficult to know where to start. Thankfully, there are experts out there who can help and one such professional has shared her pearls of wisdom with Starts at 60 in a bid to make the process as seamless and stress-free as possible for you.
Downsizing expert and author Kym Lackmann says the most common concern she hears is that people don’t know where to start when it comes to identifying which pieces of furniture and items they can take to their new home. While other clients have panicked at the thought of starting from scratch with decorating a home, particularly if they’re moving from an older, more traditional house to a brand new apartment.
Here are Kym’s top three tips for downsizing, and how to do it successfully.
As with any house move, downsizing is no small feat and the energy – both mental and physical – required to carry it out can take its toll on even the most able body. This becomes more of an issue as we age, as stress and physical exertion can both negatively impact your health. This is why Kym says it is vital to ensure you don’t make the decision too late in life.
“The longer people leave it to embark on this journey, the more intractable they become in changing their habits and recalibrating the environment they’re familiar with,” she says.
“The best way to approach this critical step is to take it as soon as the decision has been made. Put your best foot forward and take the leap as soon as you can. Not only will this make it easier practically, but on a psychological level it will be much easier to wrap your head around the concept of change the less you delay it.”
Another major issue that arises when people downsize is how to prioritise items that are important and that should make the journey to the new place with you, and those that should be left behind or sent to a new home. If you fail to do this, Kym warns that you run the risk of simply taking everything with you, which means your new residence will be cluttered and overcrowded from the get go.
While others take the opposite view, simply parting with absolutely everything and starting again from scratch. She says: “While this sounds terribly exciting, what ends up happening is essentially a theft of any of the owner’s autobiography or essence from the new space.
“I encourage my clients to hang on to a few special or sentimental pieces, because these will inform the decoration of their new space and immediately allow the new residence to elicit a sense of belonging.”
The Beatles once sang, “I get by with a little help from my friends”, and this mantra can make the world of difference when it comes to downsizing. If you’re lucky enough to have a close circle of family and friends around you, make the most of the extra pairs of hands and call in some back-up – and why not get them to help with the decisions too.
“It can be such a challenge to decide what to keep and which items will work in an entirely different environment. Having someone to help you out, whether it be a family member or a professional designer, can enable you to establish real connections between your items and determine which pieces will work together in a usually more modern habitat,” Kym says.
“Downsizing in the old days used to have such a negative connotation but now it’s really something that people can look forward to doing; it’s about updating your
lifestyle to a more luxurious one, and the freedom to ‘lock up and leave’ when going down to the beach house or when travelling.”
Kym shared these tips in collaboration with premium-tier development group Sterling Global. For more, she recently released a book titled ‘The Art of Luxury Downsizing’.