decluttering, downsizing, highlight, rightsizing, stuffocation
Comments 17

Downsizing for Beginners

It seems like we spend our whole lives upsizing – bigger houses, bigger cars and bigger responsibilities – until one day we realise it’s time to downsize. Perhaps because the kids are gone, or we realise we no longer need, want or can manage that big house and all of the stuff that goes with it. But what about choosing not to upsize in the first place?

There’s no denying our houses are getting bigger. The average size of a NZ house in the 1970s was just 107m2. Kids shared bedrooms and everyone shared one bathroom and one living space. Today it’s not uncommon for new houses in this part of the world to be 200-250m2 – that’s a whopping 90m2 per person.

Buy stuff. Keep it. Buy more stuff. Keep that, too. Buy more space.

If the size of our houses is increasing, then it follows that the amount of stuff we own is also increasing.

A study in the US of 32 dual-income, middle class families highlights just how much we clutter our lives with stuff. Here are just a few of their findings:

  • There are 2,000+ items on display in just 3 rooms of the average house
  • Children in the U.S. get an average of 70 new toys each year
  • 75% of garages no longer have cars parked in them – because they are used for storage.

Each and every item we put in our house costs money to buy. And the space we put that stuff in also costs money to buy. Buying more space (a bigger house) so that we can buy more stuff just seems crazy.

We’re not downsizing. We’re just not upsizing.

So we’ve decided we aren’t going to make room for our stuff by making our house bigger. Instead we are going to reduce the amount of stuff we have and use smart, space-saving ideas to create room inside the 120m2 house we already have.

And here’s the plan:

Step One: Declutter. Over the next 30 days we’re going to get rid of all the stuff we no longer want or need. And by get rid,

31 Days to a Clutter Free Life :

I don’t mean put under the house where we usually disappear things to. I mean off the property and, if possible, on to a new home.

It’ll mean long, hard negotiations with the voice in my head that tells me that box of buttons, pile of slightly worn towels or all those serving platters will one day come in handy. So I need rules – and I found some at the Living Well Spending Less website. In a nutshell they are:

  • Everything must have a home
  • Everything must have a purpose
  • Everything must be in good working order
  • Everything must have a label (ok, maybe not that one….)
  • If it needs to go, get it out fast!

Step Two: Makeover. We’ll go through room by room to see how we can use each space in a smarter way – using some of the ideas that I’ve already started to gather on these Pinterest boards. If you have any ideas you’d like to contribute, let me know!

So that’s downsizing in two simple steps. Sounds easy, right?


  1. I love this idea Polly! We have a very small two bedroom, one bathroom unit with what seems like an overwhelming amount of STUFF. I’m determined to get rid of the things we don’t need and make better use of our space, so will be following your journey closely!


  2. Hi Polly, saw your link on the NZBloggers FB page.

    Culling the stuff you don’t need feels GREAT. My house feels cluttered but my husband and I (and a rabbit) share a 1 bedroom 60m2 flat. It doesn’t take much stuff to make it feel full! Lack of wardrobe/drawers is a a real downer, I wish I had more than 3 drawers. It’s really not enough.

    We recently bought towels for the first time ever. All our towels were gifts or hand me downs. I thought it was funny that we’re aged 30 and 36 and never bought towels before. Anyway, we got the new towels and we’re still using the old ones because the new ones are “too new”. I need to do something about it because we don’t have the storage space for crappy old towels.

    There is a lot of stuff I simply will not buy because it’s not worth the clutter. I find it’s better to borrow things that aren’t used all that often than buy and store it. Hopefully others feel the same way too.


    • Yes it’s really mindblowing to think about the money I’ve spent on stuff over the years, but exciting to know I’ll now be spending it on experiences instead!


  3. Annamarie says

    Totally agree, look forward to hearing all about it. Might just start myself 🙂


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  9. Edna says

    How did you decluttering go Polly? I have been doing our house since mid last year, slowly but surely, and still slowly but surely.


    • It’s a long process isn’t it! What I thought I could do in 30 days has now been almost 6 months. I’ve carted carloads of ‘stuff’ to charity shops and school fairs and still don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface! So yes, slowly but surely is definitely how it’s going around here as well. Keep me posted on your efforts!


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