The Goods

Moving to a smaller space? Here's how to downsize stress-free and in style

Steven shares his best design tips for making the most of your new-but-smaller kingdom.

The hardest part of preparing to move into a smaller space is undoubtedly deciding what to toss and what to keep. In fact, the tortuous process of sifting through all the trinkets and keepsakes you've accumulated throughout the years is enough to make it feel like the move isn't even worth it. But, never fear! There are a few incredibly easy things you can do help ease the pain.

First, when assessing whether or not to keep an object, ask yourself these questions with the help of the easy-to-remember acronym "R-E-D-U-C-E."

Relevance — Does it hold any sentimental or monetary value?

Edit — Did you use it this year? No? Get rid of it!

De-clutter — Will it physically fit in the space?

Useful — Does it serve more than one purpose?

Change — Do you have the time to alter, fix, change it into something you want?

Eliminate — recycle, reuse, donate anything that you don't need.

It's best to start this process at least three months prior to moving. During this time, you might want to create a floor plan to help visualize different options. Try doing this with the help of a design student willing to work for cheap if you find it to be too daunting. Begin with the basement or garage, as those places are likely where you're storing a lot of things that you don't use anymore or won't need in your new space.

But once you've eliminated some belongings that were weighing you down, how should you make the most of your new-but-tinier kingdom? Here are some design secrets to help with that. 

Make it monochromatic

Going monochrome with your space is one of the easiest things to do while downsizing. When everything is in shades of cream, grey, brown and white, you can make any combination of furniture work in virtually every room! Consider painting pieces that you already have to make them match rest of your belongings. But, if you don't want to give up on your love of colour, opt for a bold accent piece to complete the look.

You can also add extra interest and texture by layering rugs. This smaller rug from Alexanian is grounded with a sisal broadloom piece that you can have custom cut to fit your space perfectly.

Add vertical storage

Consolidating our favourite collectibles and memories is one of the hardest things to do, so making use of vertical storage becomes truly essential. In fact, photographs, magazines and books are the most common sources of unorganized clutter, and they're practically begging for sleek ways to be stored. Try using a bookshelf that can be customized to the unique needs of your home, like the Billy Bookcase from Ikea. You can even add extensions to maximize height or construct shelving across the top of the sofa for a cozy, built-in look. Keep everything you want on display perched on open shelves, and install little doors to hide objects that may look cluttered!

Include double-duty furniture

Gone are the days of homes packed with a kitchen table and dining table. Instead, choose a small round table that can fit in the living room for your morning coffee or a quaint dinner for two or four. Pull out your laptop and this space doubles as a desk, too! You can even keep two chairs by the table, and add the extras to bedrooms as accent pieces that can be pulled out when company comes.

Splurge on tailored pieces

If you are going to invest in new furniture, look for pieces that use real estate where you need it — do not sacrifice space for bulky furniture! The best tailored piece to invest in is definitely a sofa. For example, the tailored arm on this one helps to maximize seating space. Sofas with large, scrolled arms are not the right choice for small spaces.

Incorporate flexible seating

When we downsize, it is usually because our kids have moved out and moved on. At some point the family grows again, significant others, kids and grandkids all visit, so having extra seating available when the house is brimming with friends and loved ones is very important. Try incorporating an ottoman that can serve as a seat when it's not acting as a table or a set of smaller stools that can slide under other furniture for easy storage. Swivel chairs add extra flexibility to a tiny space as well, especially when transitioning between vegging in front of the TV to entertaining guests — it just takes a quick spin and suddenly your television doesn't have to be the focal point of your living space!

Resource guide:


Zilli Home Interiors 

Art Interiors 

  • Artwork


  • Small rug

S&C Collection

  • Swivel chairs
  • Side table
  • Dining chairs
  • Dining table

Pier 1

  • Ottoman