Downsize and live well with less

If you are thinking about downsizing or just want to live a simplier life, check out these tips in today's Home Inspirations column.

Wrenda Goodwyn • Home Inspirations • Fort Myers News-Press • March 2, 2013


Whether it is to your dream vacation home, a condo, an apartment or maybe staying in your current home but living with less, many homeowners are freeing themselves of huge homes and possessions to live a life with less. Many find it liberating. Goodbye McMansions. There will be time to travel. Relax and not have to think about maintenance issues. Less for some, means more. But it can be overwhelming and emotional.

Unless you plan ahead.

Seagrass five-piece sectional is from Pottery Barn's small spaces line.

Transform smaller spaces with a thoughtful plan

So you have decided to sell your home and have found a smaller space and want to turn it into a jewel box with everything you have always desired but could not afford in a large home.

Don't show up at your new and smaller home with all of your furniture and other possessions from your large home assuming that you can squeeze them into the smaller space. It will not work and you will be very unhappy!

It takes a lot of thoughtful consideration way before moving day.

Lauri Ward, professional New York City decorator and founder of Use What You Have, Inc. is an expert at making small spaces elegant and functional. She is also the author of Downsizing Your Home with Style. She says that "downsizing is about living more simply and calmly, making that choice in advance and living it in the future. It is about leading a richer life by having less.

"The more you plan, the easier it will be. Become familiar with what you've got as well as with the home that you will be moving into and that starts the moment have access to the new space."

Pottery Barn bench provides spacious cubbies for storage.

Downsizing tips

So, whether you are planning to sell everything you own to travel the country in an Airstream or if you just want to unload some of the baggage that you have been moving around from home to home...consider these tips:

• Focus on comfort and luxury. With a smaller space, you can afford to make everything count. Granite countertops, new hardware, dramatic lighting (think about that chandelier that you have always wanted). Solid wood doors. Crown molding (less space makes it affordable). Wood floors (wide plans make the room more spacious.

Extending kitchen table from Pottery Barn allows table to be placed against wall to save space.

• Keep the space open and tranquil with use of color, built-ins and fixtures.

• Keep it comfortable and simple.

• Decide what you can't live without.

• Edit everything else.

• A good rule: if you have had it for 10 years, it is likely time to say goodbye (unless it is an antique). Think of this as a new start. Replace the old sofa. Or at least indulge in new upholstery.

• Recycle everything that you delete.

• Divide into three boxes: keep/sell/donate.

• A small space does not mean small furniture. Decorators tend to concentrate on fewer pieces in the room that work together and add flair to the room.

• Ditto for artwork. Because you have less space does not mean that it should be miniature.

• To save space, use sofas and chairs without arms.

• Pottery Barn, West Elm, Ballard Designs are examples of retailers with a line of furnishing specifically for small spaces.

An oversized floor mirror from West Elm makes small spaces seem larger and lighter.

• In the kitchen, take advantage of a table that can be expanded for entertianing and then made smaller and put against a wall to save space.

• Measure your new rooms and evaluate the furniture in your current home. Be realistic. Some pieces will likely not fit. Sketch out a layout. Think about storage.

•  Fabric is essential to small spaces. It softens the rooms with beautiful textures and makes them feel finished. Think about ceiling to floor panels for windows and doors. And with small spaces, you should have something at every window or door. 

• Color is everything in a smaller space. In a larger home it may work to have different colors in your rooms. In a small space it is best to go softer and neutral with accent walls. The color palette needs to be carried through the entire home. Calm and restful.

And if you don't plan to downsize but would like to stay in your current home with less, these tips work for everyone in any size home. Just be sure to keep what you love. It's what makes your house a home.

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Her column, Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail For more decorating tips and photos, visit