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How to downsize your house

Internationally, the trend is to declutter the house. No longer is a decorative, big home better. Everyone wants to live smaller and smarter, writes Neha Sharma.

india Updated: Apr 24, 2009 20:27 IST

Internationally, the trend is to declutter the house and do away with all things fancy. No longer is a decorative, big home better. Everyone wants to live smaller and smarter.

Advocates of this pared-down philosophy range from empty nesters and seniors who want less maintenance to folks of all ages who want to reduce expenses in a sour economy.

In response, interior designers are offering services that help downsizers decide which items will fit in their new homes and which they should eliminate.

Dump it!
Décor stylist Swati Pandya Sood says that this is an indirect way of clearing out the house and getting rid of things people pile up either because of emotional attachment or lack of time. “I would suggest having a floor lamp, an Italian four-seater sofa, a coffee table and a plasma screen on the wall. Do away with heavy sculptures, crystal and bone china accessories, Persian carpets and duvet covers, that also require high maintenance,” says Sood. She also maintains that old bicycles lying under the staircase, ceiling fans and old refrigerators should definitely be chucked out.

As far as large, decorative items are concerned, interior designers are of the opinion that things like chandeliers and huge sculptures, which eat up a lot of space in the house, can be bartered for more utilitarian items like a home bar or a game table in the dining area.

No emotions please!
For those attached emotionally to some objects in the house, interior designers have a solution — closed storage. Lipika Sud, chairperson, Institute of Indian Interior Designers, says, “One can have unit cabinets, box beds and even use headboards of beds as boxes.” Sud suggests clubbing areas. “There’s no need to have a separate bar area. You can just have a table top with a shelf that doubles up as a bar and a breakfast counter.

Tips for smaller spaces:

Thinking of downsizing? Here are 8 tips on how to cope with smaller spaces from Lauri Ward, author of Downsizing Your Home with Style: Living Well in a Smaller Space:

1 Paint colour: Rooms should have a single paint colour to make them look larger.
2 Window treatments: Avoid heavy, elaborate curtains. Keep the window coverings close to the colour of the walls. To make a small room appear larger, go for plain linen or sheer panels.
3 Flooring: Avoid using too many area rugs that break up the space in homes. Leave all the floors bare except for one rug in the living room to anchor the conversation area.
4 Unclutter: Take everything off the floor that’s not furniture. This means removing sports equipment and stacks of newspapers and magazines.
5 Seating: Add additional seating with armless chairs or put matching ottomans on casters under the coffee table.
6 Storage: Put trunks or baskets under leggy tables to add storage.
7 Walls: Avoid hanging too much art on the walls. Leave one wall bare in each room to allow the eye to rest.