October 2017

Downsizing:Overcoming Decorating Dilemmas

Author: Saudah Muhammad

Downsizing can present some furnishing and decorating dilemmas. It’s often accompanied with various levels of stress and anxiety. What do I keep? What will work in my new space? How do I make some rooms multi-functional? What colors do I keep and/or change? And what about all that memorabilia? A variety of life events can lead to downsizing including retirement or an empty nest. A comfortable and stylish environment is attainable, but it is important to have a plan prior to downsizing. Start planning early. Establish goals. If others are involved in the move, bring them in on the planning to avoid hurt feelings.

Time to declutter
A good start is to ask: “If I (we) could take only one piece of furniture, one decoration, or one accessory, what would that be? Write that down, and then do the same thing in every room in the house you are leaving. You can add second choices, third, etc. for each room. What will your lifestyle needs be in your new space? Will they be the same or different? Can your new space absorb large furniture pieces?
When selecting pieces, choose quality over quantity; choose a piece that makes a statement. Think of pieces that can be used for more than one purpose. For upholstered furniture, select pieces that have durable fabric. This exercise will give you a good idea of what really made your house a home to you, what made it special, what made it you. At this point, it will help to take photos of each room.
Now try to determine if there are any commonalities among these items. Do they serve a purpose? Will they meet your lifestyle needs? Might they be items that have sentimental value? Could it be stories about how they were acquired? Is it the color or colors?

Speaking of color, are there any colors that you are tired of? Are there some colors or patterns that you would like to duplicate or perhaps introduce? When you decorated before, what came first, your choice of colors and patterns or certain pieces of furniture? In other words, what were the primary influences in your furnishings and decorating?

Throughout this brainstorming, the idea is to help you think through what it is that makes your home interior special to you; what makes you truly love your home.

Your new space
Now some questions about your new space: In what rooms will you be spending most of your time? Will you be entertaining? Do you want to make any kind of statement with your decorating?

Do you want to create memories for yourself and visiting family members? What role will electronics such as computers or a media center play in your lifestyle at home? Will one room have to serve as or double as a home office? Careful planning and a unique wall bed system enable this room to function as a home office but hide the office aspect when being used for a guest bedroom. The center shelves slide to the side to cover office materials and reveal a drop-down queen size bed.

Now, the tough part: Go back to the lists you created from the house you’re leaving. What will fit in the new spaces? What will work? What won’t?

The first decision to make is how complete you want the new space to be when you move in. If you want it totally complete, you’ll have to make painting and/or wallcovering choices and window treatment selections by considering the furniture pieces that are still at your house along with the space, lighting and flooring of the new home. And, of course, you’ll have to make choices for a few new furnishings as well.

This is a good time to consider whether you might need some help. A professional decorator could provide assistance that will help you get the results you want with the least hassle.

Whether you proceed through this project with help or on your own, you’ll want to measure pieces that you’re taking and list them. Taking photographs of these pieces will help in planning your new space. Next, you’ll want to visit the new space to measure walls and take photos of those spaces.

Back at your current home, you can start to select and plan. You can work through your new home room by room, selecting fabrics, wallcoverings, paint colors, window treatments, furniture and accessories. A professional will likely have computer design tools that can help you visualize your plan in your new space. Afterward, you can return to the new home to check selections against the colors and natural light.
With a deliberate plan and well thought through details, you can effectively downsize and move into a home that’s yours—right from the start.

Saudah Muhammad is an interior decorator and owner of Decorating Den Interiors, serving Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head Island and surrounding areas.

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