Downsizing has become increasingly prevalent for numerous reasons, including financial constraints, empty nests and a desire for a lower maintenance lifestyle, but this trend is likely to increase exponentially as a direct result of economic pressures caused by the pandemic.
“The unfortunate reality is that many people will be forced to cut costs in the coming months – even years – and, whilst downsizing does have advantages like a more simplified life, moving to a smaller home is anything but simple with storage being one of the biggest headaches,” says Chris Cilliers, CEO and Co-Principal of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Winelands.
“Downsizing a home can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, especially for people who are very attached to their belongings but hate living in clutter.
“However, with a little planning and out-the-box thinking, it’s very possible to create a comfortable home and keep your most prized - and necessary - items handy without tripping over them at every turn.”
Cilliers offers the following innovative and functional storage solutions:
Maximise existing closet space
- Add drawer space - if you have a high hanging rail, place a small chest of drawers underneath the hanging clothes;
- Double up - add a second hanging rail to double up on hanging space;
- Accessible accessories - door racks and hooks on the inside of closet doors are great for accessories like scarves and belts and even shoes;
- Hidden hooks – a few adhesive hooks behind the hanging space are perfect for belts, scarves and bags that are used less often.
Optimise wall space
- Perimeter shelving – install shelves along the perimeter of your bedroom walls above head height – it’s usually the least-used space in a room and will add a good couple of metres of storage space;
- Install a square floating shelf nightstand – you will have two surfaces on which to place things and you can store other goods in attractive baskets or boxes with lids on the floor underneath;
- Mount colourful hat boxes – great in bathrooms for loo rolls and rolled up fresh towels and in bedrooms for extra jerseys and colourful T-shirts or for kid’s soft toys;
- Floating shelves - these work especially well in corners in living areas where they will not be in the way or in small rooms like the bathroom above the toilet cistern.
Take Advantage of Vertical Space.
- Hang a pot rack on the kitchen wall - for frequently used items like pans and sieves and also mount hooks to the backsplash to keep cooking utensils handy;
- Think thin and tall – buy shelving that is tall and narrow rather than short and wide, which will also add visual variation and interest;
- Create a vertical herb garden - enhance your spice collection with a stunning vertical herb garden, which also serves to spruce up a dull space;
- Slim rolling shelves on wheels – are perfect for that space on the side of your refrigerator, or between your dishwasher and the wall.
Put your doors to work
- Behind the door - fill a plastic multi-pocket shoe organiser with the cleaning supplies that are cluttering up your kitchen sink and counters and hang it behind the kitchen door;
- Install a floating box shelf above a bedroom or bathroom door – handy to store rolled up fresh towels and bathroom toiletries you don’t often use or extra jerseys and books;
- Build deep shelves in the wasted space around a doorway – if the door position allows for it, it’s a great way to add a lot of shelf space for books, nick knacks and even small plants;
- Hanging hamper – your dirty laundry basket doesn’t need to take up a square metre of floor space if you hang a fabric hamper on the back of your bedroom door.
- Bookshelves aren’t just for books – they are also perfect for storing attractive baskets filled with things like office supplies, spare toiletries, stationary etc;
- Bins and baskets - storing belongings in decorative bins and baskets is one of the most affordable and most aesthetically pleasing ways to save space as they can be placed almost anywhere, including entryways, kitchens, closets, bedrooms, bathrooms and pantries.
Other nifty tricks
- Maximise your drawer storage with modular drawer organisers - you already know they work well in the kitchen so utilise them in the bedroom for small items like hair ties, make up, loose stationary items and other small bits and bobs;
- Limit Your Appliances - do you really need an electric can opener, a bread maker or a toaster oven? Scaling down on appliances, especially kitchen gadgets you seldom or never use can free up loads of space;
- Make the most of an alcove - lay a narrow bookcase on its side with cushions on top to create a bench for seating and put open-topped woven baskets into each section for storage;
- Suspend the bike – bicycles take up a lot of room, especially if they have to be kept in your home and best way to save space is to use a hanging or wall-mounted rack.
Sometimes, however, the space into which you’re moving is simply too small to fit everything, no matter how creative you are, or you may be unable to make too many changes or be unwilling to spend too much money if your move is temporary.
“Renting a storage unit can be the ideal solution if you cannot bear to part with items that you can’t squeeze into your new smaller space,” says Cilliers.
“You can then access your belongings whenever you need them and you know that they will be safe and will not get damaged in any way.”