moving to a house 1/2 the size of current home! need advice

judyr908November 26, 2012

My husband and two little girls currently live in a 2900 sq. house. We had our two adult kids here with us when we first bought it years ago. We now are relocating back to NJ from PA and the homes are much smaller for the price of the homes in PA. We probably are going to get a 1300 with hopefully 3 bedrooms, kitchen living room and one bath. Hopefully a garage and finished basement. I'm 49 and totally ready to downsize and stop cleaning such a monster of a house where we only use the kitchen family room one bathroom and sleep in the beds at night! I was wondering if you all have any tips on how to prepare for the adjustment? I don't have a lot of stuff. Only one each of pots, pans, etc. Have a few pair of sheets per bed and have been getting rid of a lot of things. I love to throw things out or give away! Tips would be wonderful!

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I have done just that and the biggest mistake I made was trying to take all my stuff with us. We went from an 1800 to a 900 sq ft house, but it was supposed to be a temporary move while we built a house. We lived in that 900 sq ft home with 2 girls for 2 years with wall to wall stuff. It was like living in a used furniture store with a trail from one room to the next.

If I had it to do over, I would have gotten rid of everything except beds and one dresser per bedroom, a loveseat, 2 chairs, and a small table and 4 chairs.

I should do the same thing now as our current house is still crowded; I just can't let go of furniture I've had for 36 years.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 9:19PM
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" it was supposed to be a temporary move ... for 2 years with wall to wall stuff."

I did that too. my 'temp' trailer was about 700 sf. Was only to be about a yr in it til I figured out the 'lay of the land' - how i wanted to situate a new DW on the land. So I packed stuff in - and up.

With getting sick and no longer able to work I ended up in that trailer for 14 yrs! I guess it was good that most of those yrs I was too sick to even care.

Anyway, I'd say get rid of what you can in advance of the move and buy a place that has a 2 car garage or a basement (or both). Have a place to stash things while you re-sort and weed out what you will be able to use in the new place. If in doubt about somethings, put them in a bin and put up high or otherwise out of the way (in the garage or basement). Mark it/them to be rechecked in 6 months. By then you should have things pretty much in place and know what you still have room for OR have needed to dig out of the bin(s). If you still don't need the stuff or have room for it, get rid of it. Have some space to store things like holiday decorations, a few extra blankets w/out using up your every day space.

And closets with room over the shelf above the clothes rod? - put up another shelf! I have 3 closets that are deep enough (and high enough) for another shelf the same width as the one already there. And there's even enough room for another shelf above that 2nd one - at half the width (maybe 8" deep). That very top shelf is good for a lot of things - like keepsakes from school, wedding, births etc. Things you want to keep but probably won't need down for a number of yrs. Or even light weight things like extra TP, paper towels, kleenex boxes. Get one of those long grabber sticks to reach them.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 11:08PM
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I think you're already halfway there. You have the mindset of wanting to simplify, so when faced with getting rid of something you'll see it not as a burden, but as a little victory each and every time.

In our last move we went from 2,600 to 2,000 (but really about 1,850 livable). We also went from a 1929 Spanish Bungalow full of antiques to an MCM home with glass walls. An MCM house with no garage, attic or basement -- only a barn/workshop that wouldn't be ideal for storage for anything upholstered. So we totally changed style as well.

I identfied what pieces would work in the new place (not much - mainly beds and a few chairs) and what new pieces needed to be purchased. The bulk of the antiques then went into a booth at an antique mall. I actually had the movers load the antiques last, make a stop at the antique mall to drop that stuff off, then continue to the new house with the rest of the household stuff. Of course some things weren't going to be booth-worthy, so I gave them to friends, or kids of friends, or donated them. A few nicer things (leather sofa, 4 parsons chairs, chair/ottoman) went on Craigslist and I feel like I gave them away, but at least they were gone and I got a little something for them.

The most important thing was to not dwell on what I paid for something, or whether I might, sometime in the future, be able to use it again.

The new house had plenty of closets. So I wasn't as pressed to get rid of the things that accumulate in closets, like serving pieces, unused wedding gifts, etc. So I still have a lot of that hanging around and I could stand to do a big round of purging now, 5 years later.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 11:24AM
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Oh you are singing my song...just another verse! I moved from a 4090 sf house...sold most of my things to the bare bones (or gave it away) at a couple of garage sales and on Craigslist. The house I am building is only 1628 sf and my old furniture was too big and too much of it. I just kept telling myself it was only "stuff" and remove is gone now so I have a good excuse to buy almost all things for a new start.

Ask yourself just how much do you use or need "stuff"..and if you don't, out it goes! Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 8:44PM
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I suggest you find a good finish carpenter and put in built-ins if the house doesn't have them. Whatever space you lose you make up in storage. It really doesn't make the room look smaller since your eyes travel up. Donaleen who often posts on the Kitchen forum has absolutely beautiful built-ins.
My friend has a utterly adorable house in Maplewood. I LOVE IT but hate the fact that is in NJ. It has stained wood trim, stained wood banister, high ceiling, tall windows in the small dining area and wood floors. It is so compact and so cosy I love to go there to hang out but b/c he lives alone he only has people over 1-2x year. Oh and the original bath has a built-in medicine chest with the orig. tile floor. The smaller older houses in NJ can be very charming. Good Luck with your move.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 10:14PM
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How DID I miss this thread! A lovely one.

I totally agree with Marti about keeping it uncluttered, and not taking with you a lot of stuff.

Especially, I like that she says LOVESEAT.
I have a 13 x 15 living room, and it is so hard to have a real sofa in this space, considering the traffic flows past the sofa to get to any other room in the house. So I moved the sofa out on the sunporch, a 10x10 room, and it is fine there. That leaves the living room nicely breezy open with currently ONE loveseat and ONE swivel rocker (upholstered). I have three lamps sitting on 3 short chests as lamp tables, and they are great for storage. I now have room for my beloved house plants, peace lilies and bougainvillea and hanging pothos and spider plants and a couple of birdnest fern and then in the bathroom a huge African violet and a single puny orchid--but I'm working on it! Plants are important to me, and they need SPACE.

I should have learned my lesson after working on boats, and living on a houseboat for 10 years. Everything is built in, nothing moves around, there is a place for EVERYTHING. When I sold the houseboat and moved off, I had a coffee table and two wicker chairs. I rattled around in my new little house, MoccasinLanding, like a beebee in a washpot.

Sort of like what they say about a gas--it expands to fill the space it has. So you gotta watch out for filling up a space and not leaving yourself room the breathe. We all need to give the FURNITURE space to BREATHE TOO.

Like EatRealFood says, BUILTINS........that's the way to go.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 8:09PM
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Mocassin has the right idea. Great idea to move the sofa to the sunporch.
You might also consider storing certain things wherever you have space as opposed to the room they "belong" in. I freed up some space in my kitchen after I renovated and now one top shelf in the kitchen holds all my extra toothpaste, homeopathic cold remedies alongside my extra boxes of tea. I travel over 1 hour to shop at a food coop so I stock up on non-perishable items whenever I'm there, buying 7 tubes of toothpaste or multiples of small items like conditioner or soap. These items are stored in groupings(so I don't forget where they are)wherever I have space on a kitchen shelf. If someone ever decides to take over my kitchen and cook me dinner(unlikely)they will get quite a shock if they go to those top cabinets. :)
I have to come clean, I also store these items in front of the books in my bookcases. Yeah I need to move them aside when I need a cookbook(I have over 100)but in my area this would not be considered abnormal.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 10:41AM
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This is how I think about houses.

You need spaciousness where you want it; this means larger kitchen, dining/eating area and sitting area. I am not going to call them LR/DR because you think about closed separate rooms. You want rooms that you use everyday to be functional and feel spacious in them.

I would make the bedrooms and bathrooms smaller, if you are building. If you are looking for a house, concentrate on the public spaces. Large bathrooms is a luxury. If you can afford it, great. Otherwise, it should be the first place to go. Same with the bedrooms.

I put built in closet systems with drawers in my kids and our bedrooms. We do NOT have dressers in our bedrooms. The bedrooms functions much better and live bigger. We also purge our clothes and do not buy a lot of clothes.

I have lots of build ins everywhere which reduces the need for furniture.

the media area seem to be the biggest clutter. In houses where the media is in the common living room, there is a sense of disorder from all that media stuff. I am not sure what to do in homes without dedicated media rooms. Any ideas?

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 8:07PM
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Kaismom asks a good question.....where do you put all that messy media stuff if not in the living room?

Thankfully, the TV has given up the throne as the most important electronic device in our homes. I grew up with it firmly ensconced on its living room throne. That meant no real visitation could go on in that space. Then there came the stereo, cassette player, 8-track player, CD and VHS and now DVD and TiVo and BluRay, and thumb drives and the biggest thing of all, which I think has finally knocked the electronics and all those WIRES out of the living room, THE COMPUTER, THE TABLET, THE E-READER, and we have a new need.

At our house, we do not have a home office. Instead, we have a STUDY. I mean, we are both retired. We do not work, except on personal projects. And we read. Holy cow, do we ever READ! And since we have no need for a second bed, unless it is a daybed, we turned our #2 bedroom into a STUDY. PERFECT place to put all our electronics. And that included the flat panel TV. The charging cords for the cell phones, the tablet, the GPS even, the DVDs, the CDs, and I figured out how to play my DVDs on the computer screen, which now doubles as a TV. They are even building the monitors these days to moonlight as a TV when the old tower or separate OS is junked.

So I'd say, move all that STUFF out of the living room. If it is possible, make the LR into your guest room. We shall do that, if it looks like we might need to have guests stay over, by mounting french doors to close it off. Usually a LR is the most spacious room in the house. And it is frequently not on the traffic pattern one uses in the mornings to get ready for work. I give myself a pat on the back for thinking about it. Talk about UNDER-UTILIZED SPACE, that is the living room if set up as a separate space.

Keep it looking pretty. I mean, you could move that "entertainment center" into the former bedroom/guest room, and move a hidden Murphy bed into the living room, yet keep the space sensational for every occasion. I'm married to an Irishman, and heaven knows, they LOVE TO TALK, so having a sitting room area which is quiet enough for meaningful conversation is a big plus. Up in MA, I furnished the real living room, which was fairly small, had a fireplace, with a simple love seat facing the fireplace, and two armed dining chairs on either side of the fireplace. Just enough table surface for us to set down a wine blass or a beer can or a Diet Coke--because this is the place which set the mood for good adult conversation.No TV, no radio.

Well, that's my take on where to put it. And that's all I've got to say about that. :)

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 9:51PM
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Ummmm, I have to put in a link here because immediately after I posted the above, I read HOUZZ and found what's going on with the Smart Phone which is making the TV smart too.

So take a look here if you want to consider leaving the TV in the living room.

Here is a link that might be useful: Smart TV in the Living Room?

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 10:34PM
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ML- That's what we did years ago. We have a small, unused BR, and we moved the electronics in there and re-named it the 'den'. One wall is all bookshelves, and the TV and associated gear is in the closet so it can be hidden if desired.

Our new house only has one BR, so we are going to finish a room in the basement to use for guests and as a an everyday den. Electronics and bookshelves and comfy furniture. I already roughed-in a bathroom in the basement so we don't have to hike the stairs every time Nature calls (more frequently as we get older). By the time we are too old for the stairs, we won't care that there is a TV in the LR, and we'll move it.

I've always disliked a TV in the LR. Our whole house is furnished with antiques, and I'm going to a lot of trouble to make our new house look authentically old. A 60" flat screen somehow doesn't fit. Plus, by having the TV in a separate room, you don't bother the rest of the household, and they don't bother YOU.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 6:42AM
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