The Upside of Downsizing: All the Cool People are Doing It

I did it. My clients are doing it. Why, just last month, a darling, older couple from Mercer Island did it. Downsizing is the new upsizing, and all the cool people are doing it. Once you pack, you never go back!


Many have spent years believing the acquisition and maintenance of LOTS of BIG things equals SUCCESS! This is weird logic because generally, the bigger “show” I see a man put on, I figure the smaller the “props,”… but hey, that’s just me

Take for instance the time I peeked into my ex’s garage for the first time. He had over twenty boxes marked “Christmas.” He explained that while growing up, each of his kids had their own Christmas tree, plus the regular tree. Well, isn’t that special. Your family couldn’t share one Christmas tree? By the way, the last time I checked, your kids are in their thirties – let it go, sweetie. In his Christmas boxes were the usual plethora of ornaments and such, but then I came across seven, super-creepy “Santa Angels,” each standing about three feet tall and with the vacant stare of a Death Eater. After the final count, that would make 1.4 “Santa Angels” per family member, .08 trees per family member, and approximately sixty-six ornaments per family member. I suppose he figured if one of something is good, then multiples must be fan-friggin-tastic! This was not only applicable to holiday décor, but also to kitchen gadgets, tools, linens, office supplies, and more – proving my aforementioned “inverse relationship theory” correct. Besides, excess baggage is always a turn-off.


Secondly and more importantly, we need to consider our footprint. Let’s all walk more gently upon our planet and minimize our negative impact upon the environment. We can all get by with much less than we think. ‘Nuff said.


In helping my design clients who have either downsized or de-cluttered, I’ve encountered three approaches to the process:

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Practical: Practical people are the most logical and fun to work with. They have the easiest time downsizing. Consider your space and what you actually have room for. Get rid of duplicates. Be ruthless! Make “yes” and “no”piles (no “maybes”). Donate!


Psychological: Sentimental people who attach emotions to the process of transition are the norm and only need firm encouragement. Once in the thick of it, they’re empowered to let it go and embrace the new! Feelings of grief and sadness are real, but temporary. Stay connected to friends and family, and talk about your feelings. Letting go may seem like a betrayal, but decluttering, simplifying, organizing, and buying new and more “right-sized” furniture and accessories is as exciting, thrilling, salacious, and decadent as a trip to Vegas. Seriously.


Pathological: Let us refer to my scientific graphic representation, so that we may clearly understand the pathological approach to downsizing:


On the flip side, there’s FREEDOM. Once you move past the fear, whether it be the fear of downsizing because of the old, negative associations of downsizing or fear of letting go, you will find a sense of expansiveness, balance, and peace. You will feel supremely liberated! In addition to your improved psychological well-being, think of what you’ll do with the oodles of extra time and money you’ve saved. Why, you might even give your designer a bonus!


Doc1As a former Manhattanite, we didn’t call it downsizing because that would suggest we had a choice. I’ve spent most of my life living comfortably in smaller spaces. Though I hadn’t given it much thought, I have always shopped for furnishings and apparel more consciously, perhaps even more responsibly, as a result of having a limited amount of space to scurry home to. Never mind if it “sparked joy” – sparking joy wasn’t the only qualifier, the real motivating question was, “Did I have space for it?!”


Part of living responsibly with respect for ourselves, neighbors, wildlife, and environment is taking only what is needed. Using more than necessary goes against the laws of nature, and doesn’t equate to success or happiness. Call it downsizing, right-sizing, or crazy, but I guarantee: You can go small and stand tall!


For more information about my interior design services or about the Modern Air Head collection, please email me at, follow me on Facebook or on Instagram

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Denise Stoughton


Shannon Morgan

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Terri Kaminski

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