Once I made the decision to go tiny I was excited and terrified! There was so much to accomplish and so much to do to get ready to move. I was completely overwhelmed by the prospect of getting rid of everything and at the same time I was excited to be moving forward with my Tiny House plan.
I want you to have a process you can use as you make your transition. Here are the five steps I recommend.
1. Create a Tiny Living List
The first step is creating a list of things you know you want in your new space. Walk through each room and look around. What do you really use? What has sentimental value that you know you need to keep? What things do you find to be useful and beautiful? Start your list with those things. I made lists for the following rooms/categories, which might help you get started.
· Living Room
· Rocket’s stuff (my Australian Shepherd)
By breaking down my possessions in these categories I was able to make a list of the things I knew I used all the time and that I wanted to take with me.
As you walk through each room be brutally honest about what you really use and want. Don’t make a list of all the things you’d “like to have,” you just won’t have room. You will have to make some hard choices, but keep the end goal in mind. Remind yourself why you are going Tiny, and keep that in mind as you look at what you want to keep. Changing your mindset will make it seem less like you are losing things and more like you are accomplishing your goal.
Creating this list also makes it much easier to part with stuff as you actually start to downsize. If it isn’t on the list, then you know you should put it in the donate or sale pile. There were a few things I added to my list as I actually started getting rid of things that I realized I had missed the first time through, but more often than not I took stuff off my list as I really thought about what I used and loved. As I downsized, it got easier and easier to part with my things. I think you will find the same thing.
2. Plan your Storage
As you create your list of things you want to keep think about your new space. It helps if you have a rough idea of what space you will have in your Tiny House or new living accommodations. Use this as your mental guide when you are making your list of things to keep.
Once you have an idea what you want to keep, then use that list as a guide to help you plan your storage in your new space. For instance, I added an extra shelf in my Tiny House for my dishes, because I realized it was important to me to keep a whole set (even though logically I knew I couldn’t host too many people inside) so I could entertain on my porch when I got settled. I also added extra storage in the loft so I could store some of my clothes and I added a desk space in my “office” and extended my closet in my Tiny House. These changes in my Tiny House design were based on my list of things I wanted to keep. You may find that your list will help you define your storage requirements in your new home.
Remember, this is an iterative process. As you finalize the details of your Tiny Home or smaller space take the time to measure your storage space. I took measurements of every drawer, cabinet and shelf, I used those measurements to further refine my list of things to keep. You may even want to tape out your new floor plan in your current space to see how much room you will really have.
Make sure your list matches the storage you are actually going to have, otherwise the actual transition will take longer and require another round of simplifying. For instance, I knew I would use one of the stairs for Rocket’s stuff, one for my running clothes and one for a pantry. Knowing where I was going to put my stuff helped me stay on track during the downsizing process.
3. Get Rid of your Furniture
The next step is to get rid of the furniture. You will probably find, like I did, that most of your furniture will not fit in your new space if you are downsizing significantly. I realized the only furniture I was going to keep for my Tiny House was my oversized chair and ottoman and my queen size mattress. The rest had to go.
Make a list of ways you can get rid of your furniture. Don’t rule out family members and friends, but make sure they really need it, don’t just dump it on them! See if any of your friends or co-workers need things or have children who are going to college who might jump at some furniture.
If you want to make money on some of your nicer or larger items, consider selling your big stuff on Craigslist or on Facebook garage sale pages (most places have local garage sale page). I sold some of my furniture to family members, I let a friend borrow my bedroom set (the idea being if I ever need it again, I’ll have it) and I listed the rest on Craigslist and on online garage sale pages. I only ended up with once piece of furniture that I had to donate.
To help make the process more fun, I kept all the money I made from the sale of these items in a separate account so I could use it to get my patio furniture for my Tiny House (something I knew I wanted). This helped the process feel more exciting. After all, I was getting closer to my goal of getting my patio furniture. You might be a good way to help you stay motivated as you move forward with your transition.
4. Get Rid of the Easy Stuff
Next, get rid of the easy stuff. The easy stuff is all the odds and ends you have accumulated over the years, the extra office supplies, the kitchen gadgets you’ve never really used and the old clothes that are out of style or don’t really fit anymore.
You can include your friends and family in your de-cluttering process if you want by having an “open house” where you let them come pick out items they might want or need. I was able to pass on quite a few useful tools, and seasonal decorations to friends that really wanted them and were excited to have them. Again just remember don’t dump your unwanted items on others during this process. You are downsizing because you see the value in it, don’t complicated someone else’s life with your things if they can’t really use them.
You may also be able to sell some of your valuable items on Craigslist or at a garage sale. My rule of thumb was if I thought I get $20 or more for something with relatively little stress I listed it for sale, if not I donated it.
Come up with what works for you and your family. Maybe you have a charity you want to support or you might hear about a local family that has suffered a loss due to a fire or other natural disaster. I tried to find charities that could really use the items I wanted to get rid of when possible. The rest I donated to Salvation Army.
5. Tackle the Hard Stuff
Once you have you figured out what you can’t live without and you’ve gotten rid of all the easy stuff, chances are you will still have stuff left. I know I did. This stuff falls into the “hard” category. My hard category included books, my 72 gallon salt water aquarium, and luggage (I have a weird obsession with it).
Be gentle with yourself as you go through this stuff. Try and find ways to get rid of it that are meaningful to you. Give yourself time to tackle this stuff, but make sure you are moving forward. Remember to keep your end goal in mind, that alone will help you part with your things more easily.
I’d love to hear about your downsizing journey! What tips and tactics did you use to help you eliminate the extra?