How to downsize from a 4000 to 500 square feet home
Last year we left Rochester, New York to move to Los Angeles. It was time to move back to the city I left twenty-five years ago, where family is. My 85-year-old Mom needed the company and I missed the company of my 4 siblings and their families.
We opted to rent rather than buy a house. Renting provided flexibility and less commitment than owning. My mother owns a home in Atwater Village and in the back of her house are two duplex units. We convinced her to rent one of the units to us.
We moved from a 4,000 square feet house in Rochester, New York to an apartment unit that was barely 500 square feet! We wanted to downsize; we just did not plan it to be this dramatic!
How does one downsize from 4000 to 500 square feet?
In a nutshell: Let go!
In practice, it meant having a pragmatic mindset. The less one packs, the less things get transported. The moving cost is less and there is less work unpacking in the new destination!
Easier said than done. Here’s how we did it:
Kept it simple: we only kept one if we had multiples of the same item. Examples: plate sets, coats, vacuum cleaners (we had 3!), etc.
Said goodbye to winter: we donated boots, heavy coats, hats, shovel, and many more.
Kept memories in digital format: we scanned photos that were meaningful to us. We recycled over a dozen physical albums.
Live life now: Grandma’s china and sterling silverware that had never been used became our everyday dinnerware. Why not!
Gifted to friends things that were personal and too precious to donate or sell but we did not have room to keep. Examples: paintings, nice decorative items, clothes.
Sold on Craigslist: Quite effective. It’s the modern-day garage sale.
Donated: furniture, paintings, kitchenware to Rochester’s ROCovery. The pieces made their way in their facility and veterans’ homes.
A simple rule of downsizing: Let go! It’s just stuff.
Living Large in a Small Space
To live large in a small space meant doing the best of what we got. It meant being creative. Finding possibilities.
In practice, this meant creating visual spaces and opening traffic flow. It also meant investing in a few but good appliances, and making the place comfortable.
Here’s a few tricks we learned:
Open up walls. This creates a visual flow.
Re-purpose a dead space with cabinets that can hold many things!
Create multi-purpose spaces. For example, the washer/dryer space triples as a charging station, printer station and a desk! The kitchen bar area is the new dining area!
Stack! Amazing how efficient small storage spaces could be when one stacks.
Make small spaces special spaces. Re-do the bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom.
Every work you see here, we did ourselves. The new abode is not quite ready for primetime HGTV, but hey! check out the “transformation.”
Hallway to Bedroom
Living a simpler life
We may not have a big house anymore, but what we have gained is simplicity. Owning less stuff can be liberating. Less things to clean, keep or worry about. We received the gift of Time. More time for personal pursuits rather house cleaning or yard work.
We have also gained the company of family. We have communal family dinners and barbecues more often. At times, the jokes can be corny but the laughter is guaranteed.
Sometimes, I do think of how life was in our big house in Rochester NY - the get-togethers, the parties, the great neighbors we had! Then I realize that it is not the house I miss. What I miss are our friends and the lively energy of their company.
Hey friends! If ever you are in Los Angeles, I may not have an extra room to offer you. But what you’ll have is the exclusive use of a nice comfortable couch. Breakfast would be served 5 steps away from your bed. And if you can stand corny jokes, you are always invited to the family dinners!