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The Art of Downsizing: Parting with Possessions is a Necessary Evil

The Art of Downsizing: Parting with Possessions is a Necessary Evil

By Paul Saitowitz - Riverside Press EnterpriseSeptember 15th 2006

The kids are grown, the house is too big to care for, the rent is too high. People decide it's time to move into a smaller place for any number of reasons.
But a smaller home means less space for that old chest Grandma handed down, the painting a child did back when he was in elementary school and a million other possessions. Unless you want to shell out extra cash for a storage unit, downsizing is in order. The only problem is where to start.


Virginia Cosper is moving from her four-bedroom home in Corona to a three-bedroom place in Salem, Oregon, and she's having a difficult time parting with things she knows have to go. "It's very difficult, especially getting rid of things my children have given me," she said. "It's really the toughest part of moving, but you can't hang on to things forever."


Barry Izsak, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers and a certified senior move manager in Austin, Texas, deals with this type of situation all the time. His hard-and-fast rule is that things worth keeping have to be beautiful or useful, or you have to love it. Anything else goes.


People have different criteria for why they keep things; sometimes it's because it's expensive, or maybe it used to belong to someone special to them. “There are many reasons," Izsak said and he should know. He has organized the moves for hundreds of clients in the Austin area and beyond. Izsak is a Certified Relocation and Transition Specialist (CRTS) and a Certified Professional Organizer® (CPO®).


 "What I've learned is that no one will get rid of anything until they are ready to. I just try to get people to think about how often they use something and how important it really is to them. Just because they have a chair that belonged to their Uncle Charlie doesn't make it special; maybe Uncle Charlie got it at a garage sale himself and would wonder why you’re holding on to it."


Paula Taylor Moore, of Riverside-based Taylor Moore Design Group, said clutter not only makes the home less comfortable; it's not in style. She said function and fashion are slowly becoming one and the same.


"Single-story homes are what's hot right now and they don't allow for a lot of clutter to take up extra space," she said. "The kitchens and the master bedrooms are places people used to store things, and nowadays there just isn't room for that. These rooms need to function, and in order for that to happen, they can't be weighed down with unnecessary items."

 An alternative to throwing away things you'd rather keep is adjusting your space to hold more items. Many homes are not equipped with enough shelves in closets to maximize what can be put in there. Hiring someone to build closet storage can be a big help. The same thing can be done in the garage.
Nelson Betancourt, of Organizers Plus in Temecula, has been helping people maximize their storage space since 1989. "A lot of empty nesters want to downsize, and they realize that they have 10,000 pounds of stuff and only 5,000 pounds' worth of space to put it in," he said. "The best option is to get rid of as much as possible, but if they have to hold onto things, a professional organizer can help them by building cabinets and extra shelves in closets and really using the garage. A lot of new houses don't have rafters to store things in anymore, so having cabinets and shelves in the garage is an orderly and clean way to store things."


Penny Lambright, of Clutter Cleaners in Huntington Beach, said that no matter how much space one has, it's a good idea to downsize when making a move. "People shouldn't feel obliged to keep things; if they feel that way, they end up with too much stuff," she said. "If something is just sitting in storage or taking up needed space, no one is benefiting from it."




Criteria for keeping something according to senior move managers and professional organizers: 



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