Monday, August 7, 2017


There is a lot of buzz these days about "downsizing" and small homes.  HGTV even has a series about it.  Unfortunately I don't believe many people think through all that the concept implies.  True, moving from a 6,000 square foot home to a 5,000 square foot home is technically "downsizing", but it's hardly a sacrifice.  But what about cutting your space in half, or less?

For decades I've made a living by building BIG homes for others.  If you have a family of 4 or 5 or more, downsizing is hard to do.  For them, bigger is always better.  If you have a home stuffed with fine furniture you've bought or inherited over a lifetime, and if you're unwilling to part with any of it, downsizing is virtually impossible.  But if the kids are grown and out of your space, if you don't have a lot of overnight company, if you don't throw big parties, and if you aren't married to your "stuff", downsizing is a great way to de-clutter and live simply.

I can, and did, many years ago, and here's how it all started:  One evening (back when I was single) I noticed my closet shelves were dusty.  I took everything out, cleaned every surface, then started to put things back in.  That's when it dawned on me I had tons of stuff I never, and I mean NEVER, used or wore.  Like jeans that *ahem* must have shrunk in the dryer, and shirts that went out of style back during the Clinton administration.  And empty boxes that I kept in case the contents turned out to be defective and I had to send back, but of course never did.  When I put back in only those things I used, I realized my closet was waaaaaay bigger than I needed.

That got me to thinking about what else I might be holding on to that was just taking up space.  Soon I was like a commando on a mission.  Every closet, the linen cabinets, every chest and drawer, underneath every lavatory, everything got inspected and culled.  Then I began thinking about furniture.  Why do I need a sofa and 3 big chairs in a den when I only have one butt?  And what's the point of having bedrooms that never were used?  (I finally gave up on the Swedish Bikini Team ever paying me a surprise visit.)  Or a dining table with 2 leaves and 6 chairs...or was it 8 chairs?...and a hutch?

Then I put a pencil to what all this was costing me.  The payments for a large house that I didn't need, plus the taxes, utilities, insurance, maintenance and upkeep, that @%&# was depressing!  Eventually I met and married K and we decided (me enthusiastically, her grudgingly at first) that we could do just fine with half the space.  The "For Sale" sign went up, a deal was struck, and then it was time to put my money where my mouth was. 

By the time the movers arrived we had given some stuff away to friends and family, put some in storage (it's still there), took some with us, and sold some on Craig's List.  My moment of truth was when I was packing up my 450 +/- books.  K asked me if I ever re-read any of them, and I said no.  Then she pointed out that all I really had were 450 hardcover dust catchers.  *Hmmm, good point*  I kept a few volumes that were special to me and gave away/sold the rest.  Today I pretty much read only kindle books.

We moved into temporary quarters in a 2 bed, 2 bath apartment, but found it such easy living we decided to just stay put and let maintenance handle all those pesky old chores I so hated.  We have since downsized from even that as we still had more space than we needed.  I'm now thinking about 1000-1200 square feet, or about the size of the den and kitchen shown in the photo at the top of this post, would be perfect.

My friend who lives full-time on a 35' boat in St Pete, FL would be proud of me.  He taught me to keep only what I needed and nothing else.  That's only a slight exaggeration.  We do have to stay vigilant as it's easy to backslide and buy things that wind up stuffed in the back of the closet a few weeks later.

I would consider building a home again if I could ever find the right site to put it on.  Not to sound picky or anything, but I could probably be happy in a small, cozy little place like this, complete with a similar view, of course. 



  1. We all have a lot we can do without.

  2. Completely on board with you here. If only I could convince Mrs. C to get rid of stuff we could be downsized and have extra space. Don't even get me started on the storage unit of CRAP that I have to pay is cheaper than fighting so I learn to ignore it, sort of...Grrrrr! The boxes for returning stuff that is years old is particularly upsetting, but she is slowly improving.

  3. I could live quite nicely in the house in your picture.

  4. That is one fine house in the last pic. We try to downsize some more each Summer. Amazing we used to only keep what we could move in our car.

  5. My place is around 90 years old, a Craftsman with 10" ceilings. Three bedrooms, only one used most of the year. I find myself cramped in small spaces, even though my place is not cluttered. The 6 months I spent in a truck camper on my road trip a few years ago convinced me not to downsize.
    I realize I'm in the minority here.

  6. We recently moved into a much bigger space & we're so glad! We'd been living with one bathroom for almost 20 years. Ha! Also, we really needed a dedicated office for me. That said, I'm not wanting to go any bigger - too much to clean!

    P.S. ...back during the Clinton administration... Um, wasn't that just, like, four years ago?

  7. I'm now thinking about 1000-1200 square feet ... would be perfect. <-- I agree with you!

    I think the people who move into those really tiny spaces on HGTV are unrealistic, especially if they have kids. My first house was about 980 square feet, and my two sons and I were fine in it once my ex-husband moved out. Before that, it was too cramped.

    And I'm say you have stuff still in storage - what kind of stuff? And why?

    1. I have things in a corner of our warehouse like a chrome kitchen appliance stand, a floor fan, an art easel, some power tools, some old personal and business files (they're old enough now I can safely throw them out), 2 bar stools, a few boxes of awards I received over the years (my ego is well under control), and stuff that by now has probably reverted to some organic state.