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Downsizing 101: Making lists and plans

First off, I should note that making lists is one of my favorite sorts of things to do. It feels like work, you see, even though you aren't truly accomplishing anything concrete besides taking ephemera that's clogging up your brain and putting it on paper for the world to see. Or, you know, anyone who wants to be bothered finding your notebook and deciphering your writing. But I digress.

There are several sorts of lists/plans that need to be made. Here's a list. (Yeah, a list of lists. Go me!)

1. You need to get or create a floor plan for the house/apartment/space you are moving into.

This assumes that you know what/where it is, or what sort of thing you'd like it to be, and really, if you don't know precisely, you have some idea. Maybe you're going to cut a bedroom, or get a place without a separate study/office. Usually you have some idea. And since I have read this tip in something like 100% of every article on moving/downsizing that I've read, I figure there must be something to it.

And it makes sense. I am moving from a 3 bedroom, 2-1/2 bathroom house to a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house. Doesn't sound like that big of a deal, right? Not until you figure that I have both a family room and a living room and a half-finished basement (all of which contain furniture, computer, and entertainment equipment) and there's only one living room at the new place. And I have a full dining room and eat-in kitchen (read two tables with chairs, plus several pieces of additional furniture including a bookcase, two dining room storage pieces and an antique tea cart), but the new house has a rather tight dining area that can't fit my dining room table, let alone any other pieces.

Oh. And the house I'm moving into is already fully furnished. Which brings me to the next list.

2. Once you've figured out exactly how big your target space is, you need to come up with a "must have" list.

This is a list of the things that you need in order for the space to function. (I got this suggestion from the e-book by Lisa Patriquin that I recommended in the last post.) This is limited to the items necessary for each space to function as you intend it to.

For instance, my sweetheart and I agree that the master bedroom needs the following items: 1) a bed; 2) side tables/nightstands; 3) lamps; 4) an alarm clock; 5) 2 sets of sheets (min.); 6) a blanket/bedspread; 7) pillows. It doesn't, strictly speaking, need dressers, since there's a massive closet, but it has one anyhow. It also doesn't need the TV that's in there, although we're likely keeping it there.

For bathrooms, you should list things like towels, trash cans, shower curtain, etc. For the kitchen, it gets really crazy (and I haven't yet tried it), but you need to create a list containing only the things you actually need to have a functional kitchen. Not your ideal kitchen. Not a fully-outfitted, wants-for-nothing kitchen. Just a functional one. How many place settings of dishes. How many sauce and frying pans (and what sizes), baking dishes, wooden spoons, dish towels, etc. I am positive that the answer is that I need a lot less than what I have, although a bit more than what my sweetheart has. I'm sure you can see why I haven't undertaken this one yet.

3. You need to come up with a list of what is going into your new space.

Once you know what's on your "must have" list (or, if you prefer, "need to have" list, but I don't prefer that terminology, because it's too easy to say "But I need three sets of every day dishes so they can match my every mood", for instance), you have to "shop" for the items that will fill that list. Shopping can involve actual shopping, of course - maybe you want to start new, or you are getting rid of one sized bed and replacing it with another (moving up or down, either for yourself or another bedroom), for instance. But shopping can also involve "shopping" from the available items that you already own (in our case, that's stuff in two houses).

In the case of the aforementioned master bedroom, not all that much is going to change. We will likely swap alarm clocks, since I really like my iHome and my sweetheart doesn't really care what sort of clock we have as long as it works (and he can read it without his glasses on). I may swap one of my pillows for one of his, too, but that's pretty much it from the "must have" list.

4. You need to come up with a list of projects that need to be done.

In my case, this includes things at both houses, and I suspect that's the case for many people. A friend of mine is moving soon, and needs new floors and some interior painting done at her new place, as well as clearing out and fixing up at her current one.

This includes a list of things to be cleaned, painted, repaired, replaced, or disposed of, as well as things to be given away, sold, or purchased.

5. When it comes to purging/clearing activities, it pays to have a plan.

Figure out what areas you plan on starting with first. Calculate how many rooms/areas you have to deal with, and how much time you have in which to work, and map out a specific plan to allow you to move through those spaces in an orderly (and, if possible, not too rushed of a) fashion.

In the case of my house, we've decided to tackle my basement first.* It's a mess, yo. And because it holds a daybed and trundle, it is sometimes called into use as a guest room, which seems likely in June when Maggie graduates and the house fills up with family.

What I've done is to think of it in four sections: 1) the walk-in storage closet; 2) the main room (where the daybed is); 3) the craft area (which never really got set up properly, exactly, and is full of stored items); and 4) the laundry area. For each area, there's a list of tasks of the items and areas to be addressed. (Each of the sections ends with "sweep and mop the floor".) The plan was to complete the closet last week, then move to the main room this week, the craft area next week, and the laundry area the week after that. It involves clearing out a lot of unused stuff, figuring out what to keep and what to get rid of (and then how to get rid of it), some organization, some packing, and a lot of cleaning.

So far, we're on target - in fact, we moved to the main room a good two days ahead of schedule. The goal is to spend 20-30 minutes each day on the project, which is a good goal. Practically speaking, it usually turns out to be more like 30-60 minutes, but the commitment is only for 20, so it's doable on a daily basis. Because, as I stated last time, momentum is your friend, so getting a bit done every day is a Very Good Thing. I'll keep you posted on how it's going. And on some of the things I'm figuring out/learning along the way.

*I have to consult with my sweetheart and figure out what the rest of the plan is - whether we go to the attic or garage next, or start tackling rooms and closets and cupboards inside the house. But for now, getting the basement all the way done before Maggie's high school graduation next month will be enough. The rest will still be there afterwards.

See you next Tuesday with another downsizing post. Meanwhile, the blog will still be here, doing its usual thing.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 22nd, 2013 03:22 pm (UTC)
I'll offer just a few tips from my own experiences in this area -- one, might be to pick one special thing from each room you're eliminating -- it's easy to get caught up in the freeing aspect of letting lots of stuff go (which does feel amazing) and forget to save a few meaningful items; kitchen -- you might not want to let go of all the infrequent/holiday cooking/ etc paraphernalia, but it doesn't all have to live in the kitchen; a few well-labeled boxes/totes can keep it out of the way until the one day a year you need it. It's very frustrating to run out the day before a holiday and discover that you can't replace that perfect-sized pan ...
good luck on your moving adventures!

May. 22nd, 2013 09:04 pm (UTC)
Re: downsizing...
Thanks for those tips, Jen - I don't plan on getting rid of all that much kitchen stuff, but it's still a point well-taken. (Mostly, we'll liberate duplicates - two sets of nonstick frying pans is one set too many, for instance.) But I have a brand-new, never-been-used ice cream maker that will probably be given to a kid or otherwise liberated - it's now technically 13 years old, and brand new!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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