Tips for Downsizing to a Smaller Apartment: Where Do I Put My Stuff?

Life happens while we're making other plans, and unexpected events can make it necessary to downsize for financial reasons. Without proper planning, you may find yourself with too many possessions in your new place. Being savvy when viewing apartments can save hassles later.

Essentials to Take to the Viewing

To make informed decisions, you need good tools. A 25-foot measuring tape, pencils with erasers, and a standard-sized notebook are essential. A camera is also valuable so you can see the rooms again at home.

Measure Linear Wall Spaces

When viewing the apartment, furniture placement is a priority. Windows, doors, and closets subtract from usable wall space, so a sketch of the room and placement of these elements, with measurements as to linear feet and dimensions of usable wall space is essential to decide whether your existing furniture will fit. For example, if the room has an oversized bank of windows with very little space on either side, you can designate that space for narrow shelving or to hang small pictures. It may also be a good place to hang a plant and put a low corner shelf that won't interfere with the window. Be sure there is ample space for your existing sofa as well. You don't want it living under a sunny window getting faded or blocking easy movement in the room.

Look for Storage Opportunities Other Than Closets

Some smaller apartments, especially those cut out of older homes, don't have much closet space, so look for usable storage space elsewhere. For example, kitchen cabinets with space above can store small appliances and rarely used items, such as holiday bakeware. High ceilings provide room overhead to install shelves to hold items such as bathroom supplies or boxes of holiday decorations. High ceilings accommodate loft beds with storage underneath, although with standard ceilings, a low loft or raised platform bed is an option.

Be Ready to Sacrifice

Oversized sofas, large furniture pieces, and king-sized beds are often necessary sacrifices when downsizing. If there is time, declutter in advance. When downsizing drastically, be brutal when parting with possessions. However, by measuring and planning out space properly, you will avoid problems with furniture that doesn't fit where you thought it would. Look for alternatives to what you have that will fit into your space.

When downsizing into a smaller apartment, planning furniture placement and storage is essential. While you may have to make sacrifices, it's possible to fit quite a bit into a small place. Your leasing agent may be able to offer viable creative solutions and make valuable suggestions, so don't be afraid to ask. They want you to be happy with your new place as much as you do.