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Downsize with style and ease

When downsizing you'll lose space, but there's no need to cut back on comfort or style in your new home. Move My Home asked three experts in decor, design and de-cluttering for their best advice when moving to smaller living quarters...

Moving can be very emotional. Di McKenzie of Interiors Intoto in Mosman believes it's vital to be aware of the emotional aspects of the downsizing experience.

"Often the emotion can be overlooked, but we're dealing with homes, not just houses, and you don't want to make the transition to a new place any harder," Ms. McKenzie says.

"Environment matters. It's one thing to see your existing space all boxed up, but it's another to move into a new home and have that feeling of confusion when you have to start again, particularly with the elderly."

Di's clients include empty-nesters, people moving from a house to an apartment and older people moving into a retirement village.

"It's important to deal with the person who's downsizing - not their family members. They know what's important to them and they'll identify what they'd like to take. A move is always emotional because people become attached to their environment, no matter the age, and they've all got precious belongings.

The elderly tend to keep treasured items such as wedding presents or items bought on holidays because it reminds them of happy times.

It can be devastating moving from a 4 or 5 bedroom house to an apartment, and it's coming up more and more with the wave of baby boomers. Boxing up their kids' bedrooms can be very emotional.

They can't let go of trophies the kids won when they were six. Those things are sometimes more important to parents than to the kids who are now 25 and on their grand world tour - they're not concerned about their bedrooms."

Moves triggered by family breakup can be particularly painful, but Di thinks friends and family can help ease the transition.

"Where people decide they can't live together any longer and are moving to separate homes, it's important that they walk into a space that has some homely touch - a bowl of fruit or some beer for a bloke - something that will make him pause and take in his new space and realise that this is a new beginning, and that there's a touch of humanity there already.

These are all things that people who care about them can help with."

Di advises movers to check available space at their new place before moving belongings.

"That seem pretty logical, but often people are in a hurry, and they just take everything and plan to sort it out later. If moving to an apartment, you won't have additional storage space, so you must be very sure that what you're taking fits or you'll have nowhere to put it.

Without proper planning it can be a disaster for the customer and the removalists, who may have nowhere to put it all if there's no storage room; and that starts you off on the wrong foot in your new home."

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