1. Life & Culture

Design recipes: the art of downsizing

These days, for many homeowners, bigger isn't always better. Many Americans are opting for minimalism and smaller homes over mega mansions and extravagance. Whether you prefer a small, cozy home over a larger, more cavernous one, are an empty nester or just prefer to live a more minimal lifestyle, downsizing is a current trend not only in real estate, but also in home decor.

How to downsize?

Downsizing can mean anything from living surrounded by fewer things to living in a smaller dwelling. Regardless, the approach is the same: Focus on what matters to you most. In many instances people purchase larger homes in which they are only using a part of it. Unused spare bedrooms, empty rooms and underused sections of a home, some may consider wasted space. Downsizing means eliminating waste and paring down.

Where to begin

One of the best starting points in downsizing relates to asking yourself what you need and what matters the most to you.

The following checklist may help as well.

Purge! Begin by getting rid of the excess.

Identify. Identify your favorite things, items you are not willing to sell or give away.

Separate. Separate items you wish to donate or sell from those you wish to keep and store.

Plan. In the case of downsizing from a larger space to a smaller one, preplanning is key. Most homeowners make the mistake of believing their smaller space is larger than it is. The result? Transferring too many items from their current home to their new residence.

In planning your downsized space, be sure to decide specifically how you wish to have all spaces within your residence function, carefully select the appropriate pieces and plan on paper how you wish your space to look and feel.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at