Critter Corner: Getting Started with Downsizing and Decluttering

Dear Angel,

My sister recently retired and upsized to buy her dream home. She’s thrilled to have the space she felt her home lacked before and was glad not to have to get rid of too much stuff. (She has many collections she could never part with!) 

My husband and I have lived in what we considered to be our dream home already, or at least the perfect home to raise our family of five. Now, we are retired and empty nesters and are thinking of first decluttering the home we are in and then maybe downsizing to a smaller place in the future. Do you have any tips on where to start when it comes to decluttering?

Thanks for your help!

Liv N. Withless

Dear Liv,

Decluttering and downsizing can be an emotional experience. It can often be hard to part with certain items or decide what to keep.

Learning how to declutter your home (and, as a result, decluttering your life) doesn’t need to be as painful as some make it out to be. And the benefits are numerous. Fewer material possessions can result in a healthier life. In fact, a recent study found that household clutter can be a major source of stress for many of us, and owning fewer things can truly be beneficial for your mental health.

Decluttering Tips to Get Started

If you’re struggling and need guidance on how to declutter and eventually maybe downsize, there are things you can do to get started. There are many professional decluttering and downsizing experts you can hire. But if you want to start yourself, here are some tips:

  • Start with five minutes at a time and work your way up to more each day. 
  • Give one item away every day. This would remove 365 items every single year from your home. If you increased this to two per day, you would have given away 730 items you no longer needed. Increase this number as you wish.
  • Get a trash bag and fill it with things to donate, such as clothes you never wear. To identify them, simply hang all your clothes with hangers in the reverse direction. After wearing an item, face the hanger in the correct direction. Discard the clothes you haven’t touched after a few months.
  • View your home as a first-time visitor would. It’s easy to “forget” what your home looks like to a new visitor. Enter your home as if you’re visiting the home of a friend, and if it seems cluttered, think of what you can part with so it looks more minimalistic. 
  • Take before and after photos of a small area. Choose one part of your home, such as your kitchen counter, and take a photo of the small area. Quickly clean off the items in the photo and take an after photo. Once you see how your home could look, it becomes easier to start decluttering more of your home.
  • Get help from a friend. Have a friend or family member go through your home and suggest items to throw away or give to someone else. Try and only keep the items that you really cannot part with!
  • Get four boxes and label them: trash, give away, keep, or relocate. Enter any room in your home, and place each item into one of the boxes. Don’t skip a single item, no matter how insignificant you may think it is. This may take days, weeks, or months, but it will help you see how many items you really own and what to do with each item.

No matter which decluttering tip you choose to get started, the goal is to take your first step in decluttering your home with excitement behind it. Hope it goes well for you!


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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