Dear Kathi,

We are getting ready to downsize from a 3,500 square foot home to a 1500 square foot home. We obviously have too much furniture. We would welcome your professional guidelines about how to downsize.

Errol, Oceanside


Decide what activities will take place in each room within your new home in advance. For instance, will the spare guest room double as a study or crafts room? Once you have decided what purpose each room will serve, you can begin to decide which furniture should be kept, sold or donated.

Consider making a graph to scale of each room showing all doorways and windows. Another option is to simply take a walk through of your new home and make notes about what furniture you will need for each space.

Once you have a more visual understanding of your new home, you can begin to weed through your belongings. As you pack for the move, assign a room for each item and box it accordingly. This way each possession will end up in the right area after the move. Keep a master list of each room and its contents. With this method, important items won’t get lost. It will be easier to gauge if you have too many items for your new space.

I strongly recommend that you enlist the help of a friend or professional to provide insight and help you make decisions. An outside helper won’t have any vested interest in what you keep, sell or donate. They will be able to look objectively at your space and needs.

Furniture is your first and largest consideration. Once you have decided what furniture you will keep, you are ready to begin going through your knickknacks, china and other belongings. Your furniture and the storage therein will provide preset parameters about what to keep. For instance, if you have decided the buffet will not fit into your new home, this is a major indicator that you will need to part with some or all of your good china.

Consider what your new lifestyle will entail. Will you entertain on the scale that you have in the past? Will you still host sit-down dinners with good china or relax into the informality of barbeques and paper plates? Many retired folks are happy to pass the role of formal hosting to their children or a local restaurant. If you can’t part with all of your china, consider keeping a place setting for four and sell or bequest the other 8-12 settings.

Your new home gives you permission to release the old responsibilities of a garage full of tools, a bevy of pool toys and your full scale gardening collection. Eliminate the lesser-used and redundant items. Take this opportunity to redefine what you really want to do in your spare time and purge accordingly.

Books are a heavy topic, literally and figuratively. Book collectors and avid readers have a tough time releasing books while downsizing. Realize that you won’t have the same amount of bookshelves in your new space. Pre-measure your bookshelves. Preset the number of books you will move before you begin to purge your collection. Be diligent through this tough decision making process. It might take 2-3 purges to get your library to a manageable size. Remember that you can usually find most titles at the local library. Donate your discards to the public library system. Your old books will raise money for new titles and you can personally benefit from the tax deduction.

Remember that it is very difficult to purge too much. Almost every item that you own is replaceable. Space is not. Leave yourself room to grow and flourish within your new home.

Please submit your questions to: [email protected]. San Diego Professional Organizer