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Don't Downgrade When You Downsize Your Senior Housing

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seniors movingNo guide to retirement living is complete without a few tips to maximize your living space. Although moving into a senior living community or a smaller home is often a positive experience, downsizing does present certain challenges. A cozy new home without massive upkeep problems is something many seniors appreciate, but it can be difficult to know what to keep and how to organize.

With that in mind, let's talk about how to get the most out of a smaller space.

Double up to Save on Space

Using objects with dual functions is one of the easiest and most effective ways to create space in your living area. A sleeper sofa or a futon serves as a living room centerpiece and provides sleeping quarters for your guests. An attractive ottoman with storage capacity makes the room aesthetically pleasing while giving you extra space to keep daily-use objects. It also serves as a table in a pinch, making it one of the most useful pieces of furniture you can own. Collapsible chairs and tables are also invaluable items that allow you to accommodate guests in a comfortable fashion.

In short: the more multi-purpose items you have, the better.

Reduce clutter

This sounds like a no-brainer— who doesn't want to reduce clutter? It's one of the first suggestions you'll read in any standard guide to retirement living. We suggest you take things a step further, however, by aggressively eliminating unneeded items.

It's easy to throw away things we don't really need or want, so if there isn't a little bit of pain involved, you might not be going far enough. A streamlined, clutter-free home looks and feels roomier and more comfortable. That means it's important to take a calculated and dispassionate inventory of your possessions.

If an item is preventing you from living in a well-designed, clutter-free home, is it really worth keeping? Would you be better served donating that item to charity?

Packing and storing

Once you've cut down the clutter, packing away all of your out of season clothes and home decorations is essential. Doing so frees up plenty of added space from objects that currently serve no functional purpose. You don’t even need a spare armoire, clear plastic bins in the closet can store your wardrobe until next season.

Things are looking up

Let's say you have a ceiling that reaches twelve feet and bookshelves that are six feet tall. What's the problem? Wasted vertical space. When you're downsizing, every inch has value. Buying taller furniture provides you with critical storage space— and helps the room feel more open and roomy. Vertical space is commonly under-utilized, so it's important to "go tall" if you want to get all you can out of your new home.

Taking the wheel

Portability comes in very handy when it comes to maximizing space. Wheeled tables, chairs and desks allow you to easily change the configuration of your living space as circumstances require. Obviously we can't put everything on wheels, but a few pieces of mobile furniture can create extra space on demand.

Using your walls

Taking advantage of wall space is another great way to free up significant floor space. Hanging your television on the wall (or buying a wall-mounted television) is one of the best things you can do to add more room— especially if you’ve been using a large, space-eating entertainment center.

Shelves are your friend

In a smaller home, shelf space reigns supreme. Use them to add storage room and to beautify a room. Adding shelves is one of the easiest solutions to home overcrowding, so take full advantage.

Any good guide to retirement living should emphasize one thing: Downsizing doesn't mean downgrading. A smaller home is an opportunity to simplify your life, avoid major upkeep issues and learn a whole new way to decorate.

Take advantage of these simple suggestions and your new home will feel and look cozy, charming and comfortable.

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Bryan Reynolds
June 19, 2014
Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

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