We’re downsizing our home

SoldMy wife and I have sold our home and are now in the market for a smaller one. When people asked us why we were selling, we responded by saying, “This house is just too big for us.” Then, the most common response to our reason was, “You don’t hear that too often.” I’m not exactly sure why we found our current home so enticing. Yes, it has tons of Victorian character that most early 20th century homes have, but the sheer size of the home was double of what we lived in prior to this house.

The houses we are currently looking at cut our living space by one-third. That is just about right in the middle of our first home and our current home. A recent post by Erin highlights the practice of “trading up.” I think my wife and I got caught up in the process of wanting to trade up, and we learned a valuable lesson. After living in this house for four-plus years, we realized that it wasn’t what we wanted at all. Luckily, we were able to sell our home for a reasonable profit and now we are in a position to downsize.

Now comes the fun part of getting rid of most of our furniture. We are going to replace beds with sleeper sofas and maybe a futon. We often have visitors and they need a place to sleep. Now, they won’t have their very own room, but I’m sure they’ll get over it.

This move will also be a great time to go through our belongings and create another opportunity for a yard sale. Our last one was a great success and was a key to uncluttering our home prior to showing it to prospective buyers. We are most likely going to list the large furniture items on Craigslist. That’s probably the easiest way for us to get rid of the now displaced furniture. I’ll continue to write about the process of downsizing as we make our way to our new home.

41 Comments for “We’re downsizing our home”

  1. posted by Arjun Muralidharan on

    Hey Matt,

    I thought I needed to comment on the fact that you’re planning on switching to sleeper sofas.

    I suggest you test them out thoroughly as in my experience, they’re not very comfortable and not good for your back.

    If it’s one place I wouldn’t declutter, it’s my bed. It’s sacred. Just a note of caution.

    Besides, are you really in for opening and closing those things twice a day?

  2. posted by J on

    I tried to sell my 3bdr/2bath home so I could downsize – to a one room apartment – but no one bought my house! I guess I fall in between “starter home” and “mcMansion” so no one wanted it, even after I slashed $50,000 off the asking price!
    BUT, I had so much fun getting rid of stuff in the meantime! I created a special area of the garage for good stuff I wouldn’t need and invited relatives to go through it for free. What was left was sold at a yard sale.
    I also went through the house and put sticky notes on other items that I would need to use until I moved. Relatives went through and wrote their names on what they wanted.
    Then I ruthlessly went through my files, books, electronic equipment, and nephew’s toys. I shredded, and threw/gave stuff away with glee.
    When I realized I was keeping my house, I made good on most of the sticky note requests. I’d been ready to give them up to move so I was ready to give them up, period. Some things, like my love seat, needed to stay so people would have some place to sit (I hadn’t planned to entertain in the apartment but to take friends out for dinner instead.)
    Now I have the same house with about 1/4 of the stuff. My attic and basement are EMPTY. I own 2 recliners, one loveseat, a dining room table with chairs, a bed in the master bedroom (gave away the dresser and realized I could use the closet shelf for that stuff!) a murphy bed that looks like a sideboard in one guest room and a futon in the other. Oh, one end table in the living room, and one in the futon room.
    My nephew is here almost every day and he’s fine with having just 3 boot-sized shoe boxes of toys. I have one 19″ tv with a VCR/DVD combo. I gave away my stereo and stream the music through my laptop.
    Several cabinets and drawers in my kitchen are empty (gave away 90% of the gadgets.) My linen closet is nearly empty (each bed has one set of sheets that I store ON the bed, ready made.) All of my CD’s and DVD’s are in 8 of those 3 ring binders and take up about 2 square feet of space.
    I could go on but let’s just say that it’s Heaven. The space is so inspiring now that it’s so streamlined. I’m actually glad that the house didn’t sell. My stress level is much lower and I’m enjoying going out with friends and saying, “nah, I don’t need to buy anything – I have everything I need.”
    Good luck with your move. Be ruthless when paring down. The end result is bliss.

  3. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Arjun — The sleeper sofa is for the family room since they’re getting rid of their guest rooms … not their bedrooms.

  4. posted by L on

    Matt – your plan to downsize sounds great! My husband and I live in a 1200 sq.ft. townhouse that’s perfect for the two of us. I’m always a bit bothered by the constant comments from friends and family asking when we’re going to move to a bigger house. Why would we need to move? We like our house, we love our neighborhood and our neighbors, and we have easy commutes. Unbelievable.

    You may want to look into the Hemnes daybed from Ikea, if you’re in range of one of their stores. It has a trundle that expands into a king-size bed. We got one for our guest room and it’s been great – gives us a sofa during the day, but guests have a comfortable bed to sleep on at night. An added bonus – the trundle has three drawers for storing sheets and such.

    Another alternative for guests that we’ve found to be more comfortable than sleeper sofas (and certainly easier to move) are the inflatable beds.

  5. posted by ChzPlz on

    Hey Matt – for those of us who don’t know the history, it’d be interesting to know a bit more about how many people are going to be living in this house, what number/type of rooms you’re looking for, and what square footage.

    I’m solo + dog in a 900 ft urban townhouse in a city where real estate is relatively cheap. I’d love the same square footage, but rearranged. Smaller 2nd bedroom (it’s huge and unused), bigger kitchen, dining and bathroom.

    If I didn’t have a dog and a penchant for gardening, I’d go for a luxe 1 br condo…

  6. posted by Gumnos (Tim Chase) on

    Nothing tells guests “go away” like a sleeper-sofa 🙂

    For younger/sprier guests, an air-mattress on the floor works well for an affordable price (though quality can vary). An air-mattress on a sleeper-sofa can make it more tolerable.

    For your more mature guests, a quality futon can serve well, but can set you back a pretty penny.

  7. posted by Mary on

    We purchased a love seat from Ethan Allen that converts to a sleeper with a comfortable inflatable bed for our grandson’s visits … the bed doesn’t have the metal bar one normally feels when sleeping … It has held up well.

  8. posted by Jenny on

    Out of curiosity, what is the square footage of your current and your first house?

  9. posted by Tanna on

    We are trying to do the same thing. Only if our house would sell! We are trying to knock off about 1,200 sq. ft. from our living space and get a larger yard. We only use half the space we own as it is. It will be nice to let some stuff go with the next move.

  10. posted by Sarah on

    What you describe is my dream: a smaller house or condo (lots of them in the Los Angeles area), yard sales and gifting of stuff, stuff, stuff accumulated during 40 years in southern California. I dream of living in a smallish, streamlined place with a few prized possession, a few comfortable clothes, a reliable car and my beloved dog. Too much to ask, I suppose, but a woman can dream, can’t she?

  11. posted by Hayden Tompkins on

    The PERFECT Unclutterer item for guests who stay over is a double high, queen sized, kickass blow up bed!

    My husband and I have one for guests and it takes up much less room than a ‘real’ bed.

    We slept on one for the first two years of our marriage! (We were really serious about saving money.)

  12. posted by Kirsten on

    We did exactly this about a year ago and haven’t looked back once.

    Many people thought we were nuts though. We went from a 3,500 sq. ft. home in the suburbs to a 1,600 sq. ft. home in a downtown area. We drive half as much (at least) as we used to, we’re supporting local independent stores more and as we now have a tiny front yard, and no grass in the backyard, we’ve got more time to spend on the weekends enjoying our time instead of mowing the lawn and dealing with landscaping.

    We don’t have a guest room. We’ve got a comfy couch in the living room and three B&B’s within two blocks!

    I do have to carefully watch our space though. We freecycled and donated tons of stuff I didn’t even know we had before we moved. I’ve started book swaps, clothes swaps and a regular questioning of “do I really need this” before buying something.

    It’ll change your life–for the better!

  13. posted by RP on

    My wife and I are wrestling with whether or not to upsize to a larger home. I wish we didn’t have to, but we’re in a 1800 sq. ft. condo and want some privacy and a yard. So, do we go to a 2400 sq ft little house, or a 3400 sq. ft. behemoth? Not sure, not sure…

  14. posted by H... on

    i have a 1300 house on somewhat large lot. I love the house but it is a bit too big for a single person. I plan to downsize it in a few years.

  15. posted by Michelle on

    “My husband and I live in a 1200 sq.ft. townhouse that’s perfect for the two of us. I’m always a bit bothered by the constant comments from friends and family asking when we’re going to move to a bigger house.”

    we get this all the time!! our home is small, but has plenty of space for what we need. i just don’t get it. why would i want to move to a house that costs more to heat and cool, takes longer to clean, and has more space to collect more stuff? i don’t!!

  16. posted by MB on

    My husband, two daughters and I are relocating and were resolved to not up-size. We happily found another house the same size, about 1600 sq ft. The only thing holding us back from downsizing was wanting a space for the girls to have their friends over. Our only ‘up-grade’ is having more than one bathroom! We have been happy and content in our smaller home.

  17. posted by Gina on

    I recently stayed with friends on their IKEA sleeper sofa and had a better night’s rest than on my $2000 mattress. I couldn’t feel the bar and the mattress was uniformly firm and comfortable. Don’t discount sleeper sofas as comfortable options for guests just because of your past experiences. I never expected to fall asleep when they pulled it out but was pleasantly surprised.

  18. posted by Michele on

    What an inspiring post. I look forward to reading more about this as it happens. DH and I briefly talked about adding on to our house when we first bought it, but have decided against it. There is no reason we can’t live in the space we have now. More space would just mean more stuff and maintenance.

  19. posted by Jenny on

    Also, with out a guest bedroom they don’t stay as long 🙂

    I live in a 1 bedroom in Mpls and have an airmatress (which was a hand me down from my grandparents.) It work great when I have people over. But since they don’t have their own room my guests only want to stay a night or two.

  20. posted by Sue on

    We have been considered this for our guest room:


  21. posted by Meg on

    “The only thing holding us back from downsizing was wanting a space for the girls to have their friends over.”

    My husband, 2 daughters and I live in a 1025 sq ft house, and I love it. We CAN’T buy things we don’t need. But we really wanted our kids to have someplace to hang out with friends. . .so we’ve been saving up to buy a little playhouse for the backyard. We’re getting one that’s about 7×7 feet – enough that they can even sleep out there with a friend for a sleepover when it’s warm enough. More sq footage w/o more house to heat/clean/fill up/etc. I’m so excited!

  22. posted by PJK on

    “So, do we go to a 2400 sq ft little house, or a 3400 sq. ft. behemoth? Not sure, not sure…”

    Let’s revisit the definition of “little,” shall we? My house is 888 square feet. That could be considered little. A 2400 sq ft house? Not so much. Large, if you ask me. You could make a case for it being “medium sized,” but little?????? Come on!

  23. posted by MB on

    Meg… I truly applaud you for your living arrangement, and carry a little guilt that we are not doing the same. I am guessing you have younger children, I could be wrong. I have one young teenager and one close behind. I want their friends to want to be at our house which I know means not always being in the same room as mom and dad. Plus while I want the girls to be outside a lot, Indiana weather limits the amount of time that is spent outside comfortably during the winter. Could we have gone smaller? Yes! Should we have gone smaller? Maybe. Are we going large? By American standards, no.

  24. posted by Andrew on

    RP, I’d suggest looking at what you wrote, particularly the line in which you say “…want some privacy and a yard.” You don’t have to buy a bigger home to have these things. Find a home of similar size to what you have now and just make sure you have a yard; privacy comes in many forms but a bigger home doesn’t necessarily guarantee it.

    We just downsized our home by 33%, moving from a home of about 1800 to one of 1200 s.f.; it’s just two of us and our dogs but we’re now within walking distance of the business we own, and we have a bigger yard for the dogs. Though there are some challenges in doing this, we’re very happy with what we now have!

  25. posted by Meg on

    MB – no guilt! I think the important thing is to be considering these issues, grappling with them, and making the best decision for our families. That looks different for all of us!

  26. posted by BH on

    “The PERFECT Unclutterer item for guests who stay over is a double high, queen sized, kickass blow up bed!”

    I couldn’t agree more. We had a rather persnickety elderly couple test ours several months ago, and it got rave reviews. Best thing about it? When the guests are gone, it goes into a hug-sized bag that we store in the garage, and we get to reclaim our spare room for yoga and such.

  27. posted by Leigh-Anne on

    I’ve found air mattresses to be terrible in my experience. I’m still a student so I go back home to work for ~4 months in the summer and air mattresses make so much noise and are way too soft. I spent 3/4 months last summer sleeping on the floor and got a much better sleep that way.

  28. posted by haslin hj on

    @ Hayden Tompkins, yeah…i like the idea of that space saving bed, just wondering where to ‘buy’ or did you custom-made it?, i’ve never seen any (in my country) 🙁

  29. posted by Petar on

    My wife and I also “traded up” recently, into a smaller apartment… but I say “traded up” because even though we moved into a smaller place that costs more than our last apartment, the location is much better… and that’s made a HUGE (positive) difference on our quality of life!

    Bigger isn’t always better (and it’s harder to clean). 🙂

  30. posted by partgypsy on

    Don’t count out the sleeper sofa! There are some good one’s out there, but you have to pay for them. We got one from Workbench and upgraded the mattress that came with it, and have had no complaints from even older folks. Granted, it cost $1200. On the other hand, stay away from Jennifer convertibles.

  31. posted by jason on

    Craigslist is awesome for big items that require local pick-up. Be careful though face-to-face transactions always bring a bit more of a safety risk than electronic/mail transactions.

  32. posted by praise_in_ohio on

    Contgratulations on this wise move. I did it myself in February. Cut my electric bill in half! I would encourage you with he bed situation to stick with the futons instead of the hide a beds they are much more comfortable,even a daybed with an extra mattress underneath if possible. I also slid a mattress under the twin bed in my grown son’s room. I need to have places for my 8 grandbabies to lite when they come visit so tucking beds here and there was a necessary challenge to my creativity! Just keep on organizeing yourself and you can make what you need to fit and simplify, simplify, simplify…

  33. posted by Megan @ Disorder2Order on

    Thanks for this post Matt. We are trying to sell our home and have been looking for a new one. With two small growing boys, I kept thinking we needed more space. The more I look, the more I have come to realize is that we really don’t need a bigger home at all. It’s amazing how our society keeps dictating the need for big giant homes… not for me! Thanks for sharing… best wishes on your transition!

  34. posted by Brooks on

    My wife and I did something similar. We sold our 3000 square foot house and moved into a 1600 foot townhouse. Everyone of course thought we were nuts, but we have never been happier. The reduced space has not been a problem in the least.

  35. posted by Melisa on

    My husband and I have a larger older home, but many of the rooms are not very big and separated from one another by many doors, we opted for a Murphy bed in one of our guest rooms. It was both cost effective and a practical solution, considering I was able to put a treadmill in the room as well.
    We made our purchase from Old Creek Wall Bed Factory. Their staff was great and our bed was here before our guests arrived!


  36. posted by Michael on

    You don’t even want to hear my story. Just recently moved from a 5500 sq ft home to a 2800 sq ft home. Tough to get used to but also thinking how ridiculously big the last home was. It was abnormally big. I understand people do it but it was excessive. Electric bill hit $1000/mth. I know…I smartened up (or down 😉 ) Now I get the sad look from my friends as if something tragic happened. Too bad for them I guess…or maybe I should have given them my electric bill so they could have helped. I haven’t yet been able to feel the financial relief since it is so current but I am imagining it will be a nice load off. Great blog.

  37. posted by tammy on

    we moved into a condo with slightly less than 1000 square feet about 3 years ago. it’s me, my husband, and our youngest child who is still living with us while finishing college. it’s plenty of space, and we even have friends over all the time. it’s not the number of square feet, as much as the layout, that makes it a great place.

    there’s 2 bedrooms, a large bathroom, and the rest is all one room – combined kitchen, dining, living space. we can comfortably have 8-9 people here for an evening.

    and our heating bill is rarely over 100 a month, even in cold ohio winters.

  38. posted by Brynn on

    we’re in a smallish 200-year-old city rowhome at 1200 sq ft, 600 sq ft of which totally goes to waste. love the neighborhood, and i have renovated SO much. this home probably cost me less than a new place half as big in the same neighborhood. therefore, though it’s more than we need, we’re probably staying put.

    recently i did start selling off stuff we don’t use – i unplugged my laptop and took it on a tour of the house, listing stuff on amazon.com as i went along. i’ve already made a hundred bucks off odds and ends i haven’t touched in years! highly recommend this method.

  39. posted by Worker Bee on

    I think this is a wonderful exercise even for people who aren’t planning to move.

  40. posted by Mar on

    Two nights before we are “downsizing” from a 3,000+ home to a 2,000 something home. Man, the stuff we’ve gotten rid of!! Took probably 90% of it to thrift shops rather than toss. I think I’m lighter by a third but we still have to maintain two full offices for a home business. One of the three bedrooms will be one office, and mine is going to be in the unfinished basement. That’s a downgrade for me, but the rest of the house is beautiful and charming and everything we’ve wanted in a house – it just came in a smaller package.

  41. posted by JoeJoh on

    Check out this 330 square foot elegantly designed Craftsman Bungalow. It’s gorgeous. I’ve got my plans
    and can’t wait to build.

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