You know you want to start a new chapter of your life. Get rid of all the clutter and stuff you have accumulated over the years. Finally start living with less stuff, have fewer chores and more fun. Living the dream and doing the things that matter to you.

But you are overwhelmed with downsizing your home and keep procrastinating. There is always a reason why you can’t make a decision right now, today. I am not ready yet, I’ll do it someday, my children still have all their stuff in the family home… I can hear you. But, believe me, ‘someday’ is most likely never to come. You keep wasting precious time that is lost forever. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.

So, what are you going to do to get started?

You might be tempted to skip the hated chore of de-cluttering – hoping that your furniture will fit somehow in your new home. And accepting that you will have to spend hundreds of dollars for storage every month. You might think that your new home will come together somehow, miraculously without strategy and plan.

I can tell you now that this won’t work. You will most probably end up cramped between furniture, which is far too big for an apartment, and boxes piling up in your living area because there is not enough storage to house all your belongings. You will feel unwell because you can’t see the wood for the trees. You will feel unhappy because you can’t enjoy your home.

Starting your downsizing journey without direction is like going on a road trip in a foreign country without a map. If you don’t want to repeat the mistakes other people have made, do your research, listen to the successful stories of empty nesters, read this inspiring case study, and get advice from experts.

Here’s how to create a happy home in a smaller space

Step 1: De-clutter by Categories
Clutter builds up due to unresolved issues. Make a decision and de-cluttering a regular habit. See it as a means to establish your future lifestyle. Start with a room that is your biggest problem and begin de-cluttering by category, your clothes, for example. Empty your wardrobe completely and sort your clothes into categories: pants, shirts, jumpers, etc. then, decide for each item if you want to keep it. Only keep items that make you happy and add joy and value to your current life. Everything else, discard, donate, or sell. Collect all your clothing from other rooms in the house to finish this category completely. You will experience that this method will help you free up space in more than one area of your home at once.

Step 2: Find Your Decorating Style
Go on a self-discovery journey! Start in your home. Walk through every room and note all the things that inspire you: photographs, art, cushions, travel souvenirs, china, books, fabrics, or colours. Buy interior design magazines and start collecting tear sheets of interiors that speak to you. Once you have gathered all your inspirational images and objects, lay everything out on a table and see what pattern emerges. You will find common colours, textures and styles you prefer. Your collection is the starting point your mood board. Tip: the Downsize with Style online course includes brand new content about how to make and curate a mood board.

Step 3: Make a Mood Board
A mood board is a type of poster design including images, text, colours, textures, patterns, and inspirational objects. Anything really that inspires you and transports the mood you would like to achieve in your home. Mood boards are fantastic tools to rediscover your creativity and to visualise your abstract ideas. They will help you gain clarity about your project and communicate your ideas to others – your family, friends, or an interior designer. There is no necessity for any design knowledge to create a mood board. All you need is an open mind and the courage to embrace this creative process.

Step 4: Plan Your Space
Small spaces require clever space management and room layouts. Every square metre needs to be used. Once you have decided on the look and feel of your room, it is time to layout the space and work out if and how your furniture will fit into your new dwelling. By drawing up your rooms, you will get a better idea of the size and proportion and the overall look of your new home.  All you need is a scale ruler and grid paper. Measure your furniture and draw each piece to the same scale as your apartment floor plan. Cut the pieces out, place them on your floor plan and move them around to find the best layout for your apartment.

Step 5: Decorate from Your Heart
To inject your personality into your new apartment, be courageous and mix styles, price points, shapes, textures, colours and pieces from different origins and eras to create your unique interior. Just follow the rule that everything you use or purchase has to mean something to you, and your interior will work.

I know not everyone can afford to hire a professional organiser and interior designer to manage the process of downsizing and creating a happy home. So what should you do then?

Win Free Access to Our Downsize with Style Online Course

I have decided to run a competition to help you get started.

During the month of September, I will give away 5 x free access (valued $149 each) to my new Downsize with Style online course, a self-paced learning course based on my 5-step process to downsizing with style. What’s great about this course is that you can dip in and out whenever you prefer. You can repeat modules and watch the videos as often as you like. Practical tips, checklists, and worksheets complement the videos.

Between the 1st and the 30th of September 2016, you have the chance to participate in this competition and get all the valuable content for FREE! Yes, you don’t have to pay anything to receive this expert advice. All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog about your biggest challenge or frustration with downsizing and email me or tweet (@bettinadeda) a testimonial about the course.

The five winners will be announced on Friday, the 30th of September 2016, on this blog. I will contact the winners by email with login details for the course page.

Sounds easy?

Great, together we will manage your downsizing journey successfully.

Tell us your biggest frustration with downsizing for your chance to win! Take the first step now and type your comment below.

Images via Unsplash.

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