1. You can no longer wear any item of clothing from the GAP with any degree of dignity.
2. You notice old movies being remade and you remember seeing the originals in movie theaters when they first came out.
3. The word “downsize” crops into your conversations.
Downsizing – people my age (53 if you must know) talk about it but seldom actually do it. It only seems to really happen when the kids drag us kicking and screaming into the retirement home. I’ve just completed the final round of two episodes of downsizing so I feel I’m now a self-proclaimed expert in such matters. I’ve just moved to New York City to open a branch of our office. A few years ago, with this goal in mind, I began the process of shedding worldly ballast. First, my family and I moved from a 5,500 square foot house into a 1,500 square foot loft in Montgomery, Alabama. We just moved from that loft into our 1,051 square foot apartment in Manhattan. I’ve always heard that goldfish grow proportionately to the size of the bowl, and I can assure you, the larger the house you have, the more stuff you accumulate. Like dieting, editing one’s belongings is painful and difficult but so worth the effort. Now that I’m on the other side of weight loss, I can offer some pointers on how to pull it off gracefully:
1. Create a scaled furniture plan of your new place. I know that’s easy for me to say since that’s part of what I do for a living but this is a crucial step. By having said plan, you’ll know what to take and what not to take into your new digs. There’s no reason to haul a bunch of things into your new nest and just “see what fits.” If you can’t draw a plan, hire someone to help you. Poor planning will end up wasting time, effort and money.
2. After you’ve drawn a plan, identify your most treasured items. These are the if-the-house-was-on-fire-I’d-grab-this-first items. Work to fit those into your plan. If something just doesn’t work, let it go. No time to start banging square pegs into round holes here. If that lamp that belonged to Aunt Sadie cannot find a home in your new home, give it to a relative that will board it for you. After you’ve gone through your first-tier goods, move into the next.
3. Go through this process with everything – accessories, clothing, kitchen things, etc. If you have a Kitchenmaid mixer you only use once a blue moon, don’t take it. Anything that doesn’t have a distinct place in your plan should not follow you into your new home. Trust me, life will go on.
4. When it actually comes time to move, do another round of editing. I know you’ve done this already but the tendency is to be greedy and ambitious during the first attempt. Strip some more fat off. It gets easier the more you do it.
That’s it – an easy (well not really – there’s lots of mental distress found amidst all these steps) way to downsize your home life. Do try to step back and be logical in the process. After all, you don’t want to look like one of those emotional wrecks on “Hoarders” tearily digging through the dumpster. Nobody wants that scene.
The following are a few snapshots of our old big house, our loft and, finally, the plan of our new NYC apartment. I can’t wait to show the results of the Manhattan pad (which is all done), but that will have to wait…
Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley
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