In Part Two of this five-part series Downsizing 101, I will share my tips for finding your unique decorating style. In Part One, I looked closer at living with less and why de-cluttering by categories comes naturally to us.

Many people, who are planning to downsize to an apartment, would like to embrace the opportunity to furnish and decorate their home in a different look. Why not? Downsizing, after all, is a milestone in people’s lives and a great opportunity for change. After living for many years in the family home, it is time to embrace the new, the unexpected.

However, from talking to empty nesters, I know that this is easier said than done. Looking at all the available decorating styles, furniture suppliers, and homeware shops can be quite overwhelming. The number of interior design magazines, decorating blogs, and do-it-yourself TV-shows does not make a decision easier. Information overflow, sounds familiar?

In this situation, I like to refer to the American fashion icon Iris Apfel, who said: “You have to learn who you are first.” A valuable piece of advice for any home decorator. Once you are clear about what you like, everything else will fall into place. Step back from all the mayhem in the media landscape and reflect on the things, which speak to you most.

The good news is you don’t have to travel far and wide to learn more about yourself; you can start in your home. A very easy exercise you can literally do anywhere is to take a piece of paper and write down all your favourites: colours, hobbies, things, places, movies, books, shops, and so forth. You can then go and create online pinboards, for example. Use these boards to tweak your style and taste over time. Rome was not built in a day either.

Another valuable exercise is writing a story of who you are. I found this exercise in Stephen Denning’s book A Leader’s Guide to Storytelling. And, no worries, you don’t have to be a writer to get this done. The only thing you have to do is digging deep in your childhood memories and capturing an experience that happened to you in the past. Then, you will think about your future and connect both worlds using a template. If you are interested in learning more, feel free to download the worksheet from the Toolbox Resources on the Downsize with Style website.

These exercises how to find our more about yourself and the things you like play an important part in  my upcoming workshop Downsizing 101 and are a major step on your downsizing journey to become more confident implementing your unique decorating style. In this three-hour interactive learning session, you will also discover how to use online tools to optimise your research and find inspirational images, although – I have to warn you – online interior design sites can become quite addictive. Self-discipline is the key here.

I believe that to create a happy home where you can relax and re-energise you need to surround yourself with the things you love. Instead of purchasing everything from one brand I recommend mixing and matching to combine old and new, your beloved treasures and a few new, functional pieces that suit an apartment lifestyle.  More about that in Part Five of this series.

I enjoyed attending Bettina’s Downsizing 101 workshop, as it helped me to focus on the essentials of downsizing. Her methodical presentation was most helpful and gave me ideas on how not to make costly mistakes and I now have an achievable plan of action. I was especially grateful that Bettina was willing to hold the workshop in the Castle Hill area making it more accessible. I would recommend this workshop to anyone who is considering downsizing as I believe it is a good investment.

Brenda, Castle Hill

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