When downsizing, choose multipurpose or hidden furniture, such as a Murphy bed (above), to save space. Photo courtesy of California Closets

How to downsize furniture

When you shrink your square footage, your furniture needs to follow suit

You’ve decided to sell your current home and move into a smaller house or perhaps a modest-sized condominium.

That means making some decisions, including how to downsize your furniture.

Liz Nandee, owner and head designer at Basic Black Designs, says as North Americans we tend to have a lot of possessions and “we like to keep everything.”

But Nandee says some of your current furniture may just be too big for your new place, and you don’t want to start downsizing after the mover has unloaded your possessions into a jammed-packed new home.

“I tell my clients start thinking about what you’re going to do, as soon as possible,” said Nandee, who adds that it also helps to walk through your home with a design professional, or even a friend or family member.

“There’s always someone in your family who can tell you, ‘Give that up, you don’t need that, you don’t use it.’ ”

Start planning ASAP
Once you know you’ll be moving to a smaller place, start planning. Nandee says ideally you would have about three months time to get organized before the move in date. Create a rough sketch of the floorplan of your new place to determine how current furniture might fit, or not fit. She says people often don’t realize how much square footage something like a large sectional sofa requires.

Pick your favourites
“Make a list of things that you absolutely cannot live without,” said Nandee, such as a few favourite furniture pieces or some heirloom items handed down in your family. In some cases you can repurpose an antique item to be used as a wardrobe, bar, or for storage, which makes it more useful than just a sentimental show piece. If you can’t bear to sell or give away some of your treasured furniture to strangers, pass it along to other family members.

There’s always someone in your family who can tell you, ‘Give that up, you don’t need that, you don’t use it.’

Choose multipurpose or hidden furniture
Nandee says when buying any new furniture, choose items that serve two or more purposes. A classic example is an Ottoman that can be used for storage, as a coffee table, or for seating. She says stores like IKEA, Revolve and others have dining tables that extend for big gatherings like Thanksgiving dinner, then retract into a compact unit. A coffee table with a raise-up top can serve as a temporary laptop desk, while a Murphy bed or sofa bed for guests won’t take up valuable space until it’s needed. Check out websites like vurni.com/multifunctional-furniture-ideas for other unique examples.

Use design ideas for small spaces
Choose storage furniture with a reduced footprint, such as a tall shelf rather than wide cabinet.

Also, look for mirrors or glass table tops.

“Anything with a reflective surface helps to make a room feel larger,” said Nandee.

She adds painting a feature wall is always a nice design touch, but unlike a large home, paint it a lighter colour than other walls, to visually open the room up.

Downsize other possessions too
Nandee says simply downsizing your furniture won’t work if you keep all your other possessions. She says during the planning stage, go through your current home room by room and decide what should be donated, sold or recycled, and what will be kept.

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