If you’re less than excited to downsize, it may be because you feel you’ll have to sacrifice the decor you love. 5 unexpected secrets will change your mind!
For more background on our story, read this:
The Simple Life You Crave: The Benefits of Downsizing Now
Excited to Downsize
The minute we drove past our little rental home, I knew it was the one. I call it our “Love Cottage”. A 3-bedroom bungalow style with just enough space for my husband and I.
Once both kids flew the nest, we got busy staging our home to sell. To our surprise, we had an offer in six days! Our friends kept asking “What kind of home will you buy next?” And, “Are you going to build?”
We’ve been renting nearly a year now and we still don’t have an answer, and that’s ok with us! For almost 15 years we spent much of our spare time updating and maintaining a “McMansion”, now we were excited to downsize.
Don’t get me wrong, we loved having plenty of room to host holiday shindigs, graduation parties, and Halloween scavenger hunts. But we felt the time had come to simplify drastically.
I knew I’d be making many trips to the donation center, since our square footage was shrinking by more than half. Not only did we have less space, the layout of our new place was an open concept versus the more traditional style we were use to.
5 Unexpected Decor Secrets
Even though reducing our possessions was a challenge, I felt energized by this new adventure. Here are some of the tricks and simple projects I used to make the most of our Love Nest.
If you’re thinking of downsizing or have already done it, please comment below and let me know your favorite tips and tricks! What gets you excited to downsize?
One: Choose a Unifying Color
A tried and true decor trick to make a space appear larger: simplify your color scheme. Higher-end decorators often choose neutrals in shades of white, gray, taupe or tan. You may have used many different color schemes in a larger home without feeling distracted. The same idea in a smaller floorplan will swallow up the space.
Not only does this trick unify and enlarge your space, it will also dramatically simplify your decor process. Since we chose to rent when we downsized, the neutral tan wall color had already been chosen for me.
I bought an inexpensive chair cover for our recliner and matching neutral throw pillows. Now, when I choose to add pops of color, they really make an impact.
Two: Craft a Focal Point
The thought of downsizing a formal dining room, eat in kitchen, family room and office to just one open room was, at first, quite daunting. Our Love Cottage main floor desperately needed a focal point to keep the space from seeming cluttered.
I decided not to invest in new furniture for this temporary space. Instead, I chose to up the style of some bookshelves we already owned. A shorter, solid wood piece became a console for our television. Two, very inexpensive pressed-wood bookcases fit perfectly on either side.
None of these pieces were special by themselves, but together they fit the space perfectly and tied together to create a wonderful focal point for the room.
Using my chalk paint recipe, I painted the three pieces a matching shade of gray. Next, I accented the middle piece with inexpensive, vinyl floor planks. I popped out the backs of the two tall bookshelves and lined them with leftover drapery fabric in irridescent gray.
All together, I spent about $30 updating these 3 pieces with materials I had lying around. Conquering these pieces was the biggest element that got me excited to downsize.
This unified focal point gives maximum space for storage and provides just the look I was hoping for. My family teases me about turning the books backward, but I’m liking the visual peace of the neutral shades for now.
Three: Rethink What You Have
One of the goals of our move was to save money. As tempted as I was to outfit our Love Cottage with cozy, new furniture, I chose instead to give new life to some pieces we already had.
Have you been furniture shopping lately? I dare you to find quality, solid-wood pieces that will stand the test of time. We bought our coffee and end tables during the first years of our marriage. Back then, they were built to last.
The lines and sizes of the pieces still appealed to me, but the finish and pulls were definitely dated and worn. I opted to lightly sand, chalk paint and seal these pieces and install new, updated pulls.
A black corner shelf we’d owned for years fit perfectly in the new entry corner. It looks great with a fresh coat of chalk paint.
After refinishing these pieces, I now prefer them over anything new I’ve seen on the market. Eventually, I will have a 1/4 inch glass topper made for the coffee and end tables. That will extend the life of this paint job even more.
Four: Frame Your Windows
Perhaps the most outstanding feature when we chose this property was the expansive light from floor to ceiling windows on the main floor. Natural light made this small room appear much more open. My husband and I have loved watching the backyard birds as we sip our coffee in the morning.
Since the only window covering provided was pull down shades, I quickly decided we needed some kind of drapes. Have you priced a picture window curtain rod lately? They easily run in the hundreds of dollars.
A trusty decor trick came to my rescue and saved our budget. Instead of paying for a pricey, made to order rod, I had some PVC pipe cut at our local hardware store. At a fraction of the cost, this hollow pipe was easy to spray paint and hang on matching sconces.
This was a no-sew project! I bought 3 extra long twin sheets from Walmart for under $4.99/each. Then, I simply cut an opening on the top edge and fed the rod through.
The final step of this project has been delayed for a very unique reason. The finials I’d like to add to the ends of the pole are tennis balls covered in fabric. Unfortunately, my furry friend (pictured above) is crazy for tennis balls. I mean, obsessive!
I need to schedule a time when he’s at the groomer to put these up, but just haven’t gotten to it yet.
Five: Make a Hideaway
Don’t forget to maximize nooks and crannies and create a personal retreat. This may mean transforming a bedroom into an office while the kids are away.
Or you may decide to transform a coat closet into an adorable office space, like I did. A space this small is not for everyone, but I love it! Be creative in your downsized home and you’ll find a spot you can retreat to do your hobbies, read, garden, or work.
BONUS: A Place For Your Pets
You may be excited to downsize, but try seeing things from your pets’ perspective.
…dogs are very sensitive and may have a strong reaction to the news of moving to a new home because they love the safety and comfort of their familiar surroundings and will not welcome easily abrupt changes in their set routines.The Ultimate Guide to Moving with Dogs to a New Home
The sooner you designate a special place for your furry friends, the quicker they will feel safe and comfortable. Our Love Cottage came with a storm shelter room attached to the walk-in pantry.
This was a creative use of the space under the stairway which is closed off in many homes. Once I introduced our dogs to their new cave, they immediately settled in. Tiger and Franklin are best of friends, so I created a space that feels like home and is easy to keep clean.
Years from now, I’m sure we’ll be settled into a new home living a new chapter of our family’s life. The Love Cottage will be a sweet memory. I’m doing my best to cherish this time as a reprieve from the responsibilities of home ownership. A time to reconnect with my husband, have smaller but no less fun parties, and remember what’s truly important.