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Living Small but Having It All

By Rita Wilkins September 22, 2021 Lifestyle

Downsizing is on the minds of many baby boomers right now, but with that comes the concern that if you downsize your home, you might also be downgrading your life and your lifestyle. After all, you’ve become accustomed to more space, more rooms, and more closets.

How Could You Possibly Live Without Them?

The reality is that most Americans regularly use only a small percentage of the rooms in their big homes. That means that much of the space in your home is either unused or not well used, costing you time, money, energy… and valuable resources that might be better spent traveling, spending more time with family and friends, or pursuing a new passion or business venture.

  • When you start to analyze just how many rooms you actually use,
  • When you start to pay attention to how many of those areas are being used for storing things you no longer use, need, or even want,
  • When you get tired of wasting all of that extra time, money, and energy on cleaning, organizing, and maintaining those unused or poorly used portions of your home…

downsizing not only starts to make sense, it becomes a highly desirable opportunity to live in a more compact space where you fully utilize every inch of your home, while consolidating and minimizing your possessions to only what you want, need, use, and love.

The funny thing is, once you downsize, you will likely be surprised at just how much space you actually need to live well and comfortably.

How to Make Your Small Home Look and Feel Bigger

Who said small spaces have to look and feel small?

As an interior designer for over 35 years, I’m frequently tasked to employ tools to not only maximize the space to make it work well for my clients, but also to use visual tricks that will make the space feel and look bigger.

Let me share my top 5 design tricks to make your small home look and feel bigger:

Max Out Every Inch of Space

When you don’t have the luxury of a lot of space, every inch needs to work for you and your lifestyle.

  • Built-ins, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling seamlessly integrated into the space providing display, storage, and work areas.
  • Cabinets that go to the ceiling in all areas including kitchen, bath, laundry, mudroom.
  • Outdoor space becomes another room. Make it livable. Patio, deck, balcony.

A Place for Everything

When you choose to live in a smaller home with less, you must first declutter and edit items you no longer want, need, or use. Then, carve out a “home” for those things you are keeping so you can easily locate them when you need them.

  • A cabinet or drawer for keys, wallet, glasses.
  • A place and a system for bills, mail, magazines.
  • A tray for remotes close to TV and audio equipment.

Multi-Tasking Furniture

Without the option for having many pieces of furniture as you have in the past, choose furniture that is multi-functional to help you save space and that expands and that contracts as needed.

  • Ottomans that serve as storage, cocktail table, or additional seating.
  • Tables that expand out from a credenza.
  • Murphy beds, that when closed serve as a desk, bookcase, and storage.

Make Mirrors, Glass, and Lighting Your Best Friends

Mirrors allows you to visually expand space and light, doubling the impact. Mirrored doors, mirrored closets, mirrored cabinets, mirrored walls.

Glass walls and partitions that serve to divide open spaces providing flexibility for privacy without closing the room in.

Natural light and multiple layers of ambient light serve to illuminate spaces, making them appear higher, wider, larger, and brighter.

Use Small Scale for Big Impact

Don’t waste space in your smaller home with over scaled pieces of furniture. Smaller spaces require smaller scale furnishings so as not to overwhelm or overcrowd your space. A well-chosen larger piece, however, can act as a focal point.

Living Small but Having It All…

Downsizing is not just about living in a smaller footprint. It is also about seizing the opportunity to design a new lifestyle

Once you’ve downsized and fully embraced the lifestyle of living with less space and less stuff, you begin to realize you haven’t really compromised anything at all.

As a matter of fact, you start to recognize that you’ve actually just made more room for a whole new life and lifestyle.

When you live a simple life with less, you enjoy the many benefits and opportunities that “less” provides:

1.       Less space to clutter. Your home is easier to maintain and care for.

2.       Less temptation to accumulate more, since you don’t have the space for it anyway.

3.       More time to forge and nurture relationships and create new memories together.

4.       More freedom to travel, spend time with kids and grandkids enjoying new experiences.

5.       More time and energy for self-care, health, wellness, and personal development.

As baby boomers, we’ve worked hard, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. We’ve lived in big houses, and we learned that bigger is not necessarily better. We’ve accumulated many possessions, and we’ve learned that more stuff doesn’t necessarily make us happier.

We’ve also reached the point in our lives where we realize we only need so many toilets… or shoes… or…

As baby boomers, we are known for wanting it at all and having it all.

  • When we learn to be happy and content with less space and less stuff,
  • When we learn to let go of excess space and excess stuff that no longer serves us well…

… we begin to realize that downsizing our homes is not downgrading our lives or lifestyles.

Rather, it provides us with a unique opportunity to live small but have it all!

What obstacles are you facing when you think about moving from your larger home to a smaller home? How many rooms in your current home do you actively use? Do you have too many closets full to the top?

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The Author

Rita Wilkins, known as The Downsizing Designer, is a nationally recognized interior design and lifestyle design expert, Tedx speaker and author of Downsize Your Life, Upgrade Your Lifestyle: Secrets to More Time, Money and Freedom. She challenges baby boomer audiences to reimagine, reinvent, redesign their lives to live abundantly with less. Learn more at

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