How to Downsize Without Throwing Away Important Items
Avoid downsizing disasters with our handy guide
Is your home becoming a little too cluttered for comfort? Whether you’re moving house and need to declutter or simply running out of storage space, removing old and unused items is something that every home owner should do annually.
One of the hardest parts of de-cluttering is working out which items to dispose of, which items to keep and which to put in storage. In this guide, we’ll share 10 easy decluttering tips to help you downsize without throwing away important items.
Ask yourself: How often do you really use this?
From board games to household accessories, it’s easy to suddenly feel attached to items when it’s time to throw them away. If you’re struggling to justify throwing a rarely-used item away, ask yourself a simple question:
“When was the last time I used this?”
If you haven’t used an item in several months and you don’t see yourself using it frequently in the future, add it to the “throw away” pile. The more unimportant, rarely-used items you dispose of, the most important items you can keep.
I get so weird about throwing things away I'll convince myself w piece of paper I've never written on has value :-/
— Cutest Cutie (@UrTeenDreamTbh) December 6, 2014
Don’t discard unused items – donate them instead
From books to clothing, a lot of the possessions that you own but rarely use could be worth a lot to someone else. Instead of throwing away everything you don’t use, add rarely-used but useful items to a “donate” pile.
Books can be sold to your local second-hand book store or donated to a charity like Oxfam. Clothing can be donated to the Salvation Army, which raises £8 million every year for its charitable initiatives from the sale of clothes and household items.
Clean up, organise and declutter one room at a time
Parting with hundreds of items from every room of your house at once can be tough, especially when you see them all in front of you. Soften the blow by decluttering and donating one room’s worth of items at once.
Not only does this strategy make discarding or donating your unused possessions a lot easier – it also makes the long and difficult task of organising your home a much more manageable process.
Keep large, valuable items in storage to avoid clutter
You don’t need to donate or discard items you value but rarely use. From furniture to family heirlooms, large items that are rarely used can be placed in storage to free up space in your home for more important, frequently used possessions.
Humidity and temperature controlled storage is the ideal place to keep heirlooms and other valuable items. From paintings and photos to furniture, documents and more, a small storage unit is often all it takes to keep your valuables secure.
Create three categories: keep, discard/donate and store
When you’re downsizing your personal possessions, it’s best to give yourself only three options: keep, discard/donate and store. This helps you avoid the paralysis of indecision that appears when you think an item is maybe worth keeping.
Once you spot a rarely-used item, give yourself 10 seconds to come to a conclusion about which category it belongs in. Being indecisive can turn a one-hour cleaning and decluttering job into an arduous and inefficient all-day activity.
Give away important gifts and heirlooms now, not later
Have you been storing a family heirloom for your child’s 21st birthday party? Are you waiting for the perfect moment to give a certain item to a friend, relative or loved one?
When you’re moving house, it’s important not to spend more time on possessions than you need to. Instead of waiting for the ideal birthday or holiday moment, give away gifts and other items you’ve been keeping now to enjoy the feeling of giving.
Keep clothes and other soft items in vacuum storage
Do you have a large clothing collection? From t-shirts to underwear, coats and more, vacuum storage makes it easy to compress your clothing and reduce the amount of space it takes up in your wardrobe, closet or chest of drawers.
Fold your rarely-used clothes and vacuum pack them to shrink them down to a third of their usual size profile. Vacuum storage is a great option for seasonal clothing like winter jackets and coats that are only worn for a few months every year.
Throw away anything unimportant that needs repairs
Let’s face it – you probably aren’t going to repair that VCR or microwave. Items that require extensive repairs and can be replaced at little or no cost usually aren’t worth keeping, no matter how much you may have used them in the past.
If you have several broken items in your garage or storage closet, use this clean-up as an opportunity to dispose of them. It’s often less expensive (not to mention less time consuming) to replace items than to repair them.
While you declutter, create an insurance inventory video
If your home were burgled tomorrow, how much proof of ownership would you be able to present as part of your insurance claim? While you declutter your home, it’s a great idea to film an inventory video in case you ever need to make a claim.
An inventory video is a visual walkthrough of your home’s closets, wardrobes and other storage spaces that records all of your valuable items. In the event that your home is ever burgled or damaged, it can be used to expedite your insurance claim.
Scan and store important documents on your computer
From family photos to receipts and invoices, important documents can decline due to moisture and mould when stored in closets and cupboards. While you declutter, use the opportunity to scan and digitise important documents and family photos.
Using cloud storage services like iCloud or Google Drive, you can store your photos and documents online to prevent them from becoming damaged. This solution also lets you dispose of those bulky boxes of old receipts, invoices and other papers.
How much space could you save by de-cluttering?
From donating books and clothing to keeping heirlooms, furniture and other items in a personal storage unit, decluttering your home doesn’t mean throwing away the items you care about.
Is your home starting to feel cluttered and disorganised? From your living room’s shelving to your closet and garage, how much space could you save by de-cluttering your home?
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