Downsizing can be difficult. After years and potentially decades in the same place, you have to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. Over time, the furniture you have to think about have accumulated countless memories. Choosing what to remove from your home is not an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination.
No downsizing decision is easy. Furniture pieces that have been purchased, built, or inherited can often take up a special place in your heart. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to make these decisions just a little bit easier.
Each of the below steps is not meant to be the ultimate deciding factor. Rather, they serve as a guide designed to help you determine what to keep, what to get rid of, and what might find a better home elsewhere. The goal for each is simple: make downsizing as painless for you as it could possibly be. To make that happen, ask yourself these seven questions about bulky possessions.
1) Does Other Furniture Accomplish the Same Purpose?
Put differently, is the piece of bulky furniture you're considering already redundant because of other pieces you own? If the answer is yes, the decision may be relatively simple. Two large dressers in your bedroom, for instance, may not be necessary if you only need the storage space of one. At the same time, it's important to realize that this is a purely functional question. It does not account for sentimental value of the potentially redundant piece. Still, it's a good place to start, particularly if you can use multi-functional furniture to replace your bulky items.
2) Will the Furniture Take Up Too Much Space?
This question requires you to know exactly where you're moving into. Whether it's a condo or an assisted living apartment, chances are it's smaller than your house. One place to start when you know that space is trying to plan where each piece of furniture will go. That, unfortunately, naturally eliminates some items. That armoire or china cabinet just might not fit into your small bedroom or eat-in kitchen. The earlier you know that, the better you can plan for the items that do fit and think about other landing spots and homes for those that don't.
3) Does the Piece of Furniture Have Any Sentimental Value?
It might just be the toughest question on the list. Too often, both of the above questions seem to make a decision obvious. But they don't account for the memories and sentiments that a table or kitchen cabinet that's been in your family for decades naturally brings with it. At the same time, it's impossible to make a decision without keeping that sentimental value in mind. The best thing to do here is mentally put aside any pieces that could lead to a 'yes' for further consideration. Use a simple process of elimination: if the answer here is no, move on to less bulky items. If it's yes, keep going with the below follow-ups.
4) Will the Furniture Even Survive the Move?
This becomes relevant for two types of furniture: that cheap outlet piece you bought a few years ago, and the old heirloom pieces that just won't make it one more car ride. For the first, the decision might be simple. The others are a bit more difficult, but still important to make. How much use can the furniture be to you if it breaks during the move? Can your chest of drawers survive one more move, one more assembly, and one more chip around the edges? If you're honest with yourself and the answer is no, it might be time to move on.
5) Can You Give the Furniture to a Younger Relative?
Especially for pieces with sentimental value, this could be a great opportunity to pass on the memories to someone who matters to you. Your children, nephews, nieces, or any other younger relative could well use that dining room table or your bed's headboard. In fact, they might embrace the fact that they're carrying on a family tradition. If this opportunity exists, you will also be able to keep the piece closer in mind. If it means a lot, you can see it the next time you visit that particular relative. That's why it never hurts to ask around and see if anyone might need your bulky items.
6) Is there a Donation Opportunity?
If you cannot give the furniture away within your own family, others in need might well benefit from it. Charities like Goodwill and the Salvation Army also take some furniture pieces. Just call ahead and ask about the particular piece that's on your mind. Some charities even pick up your bulky items for you if needed. By donating these bulky pieces, you can perform a good deed while making sure that you don't have to throw away a piece that mattered a lot to you throughout your life.
7) Do You Need the Storage?
Finally, let's end with a simple question: how much will you need this piece in your home? Do you have an alternative for it in terms of storage and usage? Yes, you might not be able to fold out your large dining room anymore. But might the chairs or a folded-down version of the same table still be usable? Storage becomes especially important here. If that china cabinet can technically fit into your living room, consider how important the items you currently store in it are. If you cannot throw them out, it might be worth having it instead of that extra reclining chair.
Making the Tough Decision as You Downsize Your Home
Downsizing is never easy. It involves not just leaving a home you've come to love, but also leaving behind a number of items that just don't fit into the new space. Especially when that furniture is bulky, the decisions you have to make can be tough. While the above questions don't make that difficulty disappear entirely, they do help you prioritize your furniture and make the right decision for yourself and your future.