Downsizing is easier with a guiding hand

(NC)
No matter whether you're an empty nester, a person looking to simplify your life, or someone who wants to help their ageing parents move into a more functional space, downsizing can be a stressful experience. A little guidance goes a long way however.
Designer Wendy Wilkinson of Oakville, Ontario specializes in helping people transition into smaller living spaces, so here are a few of her tips to make it easier:
Before you begin to pack: Take multiple pictures (from various angles) of every room in your house. Each photo will give you a record and act as a reference for what to get rid of and what to keep. Photos also provide good insurance information for any moving issues.
Decide ahead of time which items have sentimental value and will be making the transition with you. At the same time, if there are adult children, have them reclaim their belongings before the move. If going through sentimental items, such as photographs, is overwhelming, hire a professional organizer to help.
Place different coloured sticky notes on furnishings labelling them with an action plan like 'donate', 'new home', or 'sell'. Give yourself a few days to reconsider your decisions. Consult a designer to talk over what will work in your new space and what items should be kept to stage your home for sale. Wilkinson says that on one occasion she salvaged her client's children's furniture to create a play space that became a big selling feature.
Keep calm and carry on: Start de-cluttering in advance of your move, even if it is only one drawer or closet a day. Scale down by discarding what you don't use or wear. If you are not sure about anything, just drop it in a 'decide later' box.
Give books to your local library sale and dispose of electronic equipment. Think green and donate still-usable items to places like the ReStores of home-building organization, Habitat for Humanity. ReStores accept a wide range of household products and provide a tax receipt for the value of your donation. You can find one in your community at www.habitat.ca/restore.
Colour code rooms and corresponding boxes of the contents you'll be keeping, then colour code the doorway in the new space for an easy transition.
Draw up a floor plan and measure furniture pieces such as tables and sofas. They are often too large to go into a new downsized home.
Looking to the Future: Home-owners need to consider their furniture from an ergonomic standpoint. Is it too low or too big? Can you get in and out of it easily? It might be time to donate old furniture and invest in updated pieces that work with your new space.
Consider moving to a home that is within walking distance of stores, local library, and other favourite places. Depending on your age, think about a home with Accessibility Design Standards. This ensures that your new place will meet any possible needs in the future, such as wider doorways and additions to the bathrooms.

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