Downsizing? How to live large in a small space

Looking around my in-laws’ family home, it was hard to know where to start. Decisions as to whether to keep, throw or consign to storage had to be made on every single treasured item collected over the past forty years.

With three empty bedrooms and an unruly garden on their hands, their decision to downsize made perfect sense. Yet the reality of squeezing the contents of an entire family home into a lovely (but far smaller) bungalow was starting to hit.

It did give us some comfort to know that we were not the only ones in this predicament. Downsizing is driving the property market at the moment, with property aggregator Rightmove recently discovering that it was the reason most property buyers were giving for selling.

It’s not just downsizers who may find themselves having to move into smaller properties. First-time buyers often have to leave large rental houses to move into smaller properties with affordable mortgages.

But smaller properties can have their upsides – lower energy bills, lower council tax and less clutter. Perhaps my in-laws will finally be able to find an umbrella without sending out a search party.

And if you’re clever, small in space can also be big on style. So here are some top tips on downsizing. And just remember that if you are looking for your new place, you will need to work out how much you can afford on your mortgage. Using a mortgage calculator can be helpful.

Cut out all the unnecessary items before you move
Downsizing is a fantastic opportunity to edit your possessions and focus on the things you actually need. It’s also a great way to make some extra cash – you can sell valuable items online or at boot fairs, or even offer your buyer things you won’t need at your new property, such as those made-to-measure blinds or white goods.

Are you moving somewhere seriously small? You may need a bit of inspiration before you feel able to start throwing everything away. Perhaps it’s time to start reading up on the 100 Thing Challenge – a movement of people shedding their worldly goods to live on just a handful of items.

Consider self-storage

Hard-line declutterers would consider this cheating, but self-storage could be the answer if there are things you must keep that simply will not fit in your new home. Storage units make great wine cellars, for example, as they are often kept just at the right temperature. They could also be the perfect home for a collection of heirlooms or antiques you may want to hand down.

Scale is everything

Trying to cram a chintzy three-piece suite into a swish new apartment is never going to work, and is only going to make your living space seem smaller. Consider getting custom-made furniture to help you make the most of the space you’ve got.

Small on space, big on style

A great design trick when decorating a small space is to try to match your colour palettes to the view you can see from the window. That way, the outside comes in to become part of the room, making it seem more spacious.

Find flexible furniture

As space is tight, all items of furniture need to do two jobs to really earn their place in your home. Try to find coffee tables with hidden storage, sofas that double as beds and dining chairs on wheels so that you can move them to where you need them.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

This article has been written for information and interest purposes only and should not be construed as advice or used to make financial decisions. Expert financial advice should always be sought and any links contained within this article are included for information purposes only. Links to third party websites are not an endorsement by us of products and services on such websites. You have entered a website owned and operated by and will be subject to their website’s terms and conditions.

Issued by Barclays Bank PLC. Registered in England. Barclays Bank PLC is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Registered No 1026167. Registered Office: 1 Churchill Place, London, E14 5HP.

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Written by Harriet Meyer on behalf of Barclay’s Bank

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