The First 3 Places to Start When Downsizing Your Home

Posted on: April 21, 2022

When you live in a space for decades, the process of downsizing and moving is a different challenge than if you move after living in a home for a few years. But fear not! Downsizing does not have to be an overwhelming burden.

The key is to start simple and to start early.

Samantha Stearns of Songbird Transitions,  a local downsizing expert in the Columbus, Ohio, area, provides downsizing tips specifically for older adults who are planning a move in the future. Here are a few of her top tips.

3 Areas to Tackle First When Downsizing

1. The Pantry & Kitchen Cabinets

Start with the pantry, as you likely won’t have items in there with any sentimental value. Look at expiration dates and toss out anything expired. (Tip: include your spice cabinet when tossing out expired goods!) 

Next, create a pile for items you want to donate to a local food pantry.

After the pantry, move on to your kitchen cabinets. Put items with any sentimental value (such as your ‘I Love Mom’ coffee mug) in a pile to tackle at a later date. Box up any utensils, pans, pots, processors, etc., that you don’t regularly use and think you may not need. Close up the boxes and leave them for a couple of weeks, or months if you have the time. If you don’t open those boxes to get something inside, then they are ready to sell or donate.

2. The Medicine Cabinet

Again, you are unlikely to find anything with sentimental value located here, making it a great place to start and progress quickly. 

First, gather up all your medical supplies into one area, as many people will have medical supplies in multiple bathrooms, cabinets or closets.

Next, create a pile for all expired medications that need to be discarded. Many medications lose their efficacy as they age or can be dangerous to keep around where a child or someone else could get to them. Be joyful that you didn’t have to use them! 

Add to the discard pile any medications in unmarked containers. If something is no longer in its original container and cannot be identified, it is not safe to keep!

Lastly, properly discard everything in the discard pile following medication disposal guidelines. Because of the potential harm to the environment, it is not recommended to simply throw out medication or flush them down the toilet. Here’s what to do:

  • Place all medication in a sealable bag. If there are solid medications, add some water so they can dissolve. Add kitty litter, coffee grounds, sawdust or any material that mixes well and makes it unappealing for people or animals to eat. Seal the bag and put it in the trash.
  • For the empty prescription bottles, remove any identifying information on the prescription bottle (like the label), clean and recycle.
  • Or, look for a local pharmacy or solid waste “take-back” program as they will properly dispose of unused and expired medications for you.

3. Your Closet

Start by removing any clothes that are stained, ripped or faded beyond recognition. Put them in two piles – donate or discard. Don’t overthink it. Just get those clothes in a pile!

Get rid of all clothes that don’t fit once and for all. Add these to a donation or for-sale pile if you intend to sell clothes via a garage sale or online rummage sale.

Next, take all of your hangers still in the closet with clothes on them and turn the hanger backward, so the hook is facing the back of the closet. Whenever you wear a piece of clothing, turn the hanger the right way. After several weeks or a season, you will be able to see all the clothes hanging the wrong way, which means they should go. Sell these items or donate! 

In no time, your closet, kitchen and medicine cabinet will be looking tidy and organized. You’ll be feeling less stressed about downsizing and more excited about your future plans for a new home.

Want More Downsizing Tips?

Whether you’re just beginning or have already started downsizing, our free online guide can help you downsize without losing your peace of mind.

View Downsizing Guide