How To Declutter & Downsize Into A Tiny Home (With Style)

Downsizing and decluttering your tiny home

Downsizing to a tiny home requires some serious decluttering, but it doesn’t have to be daunting! Today we’re looking at how to sort your wants from needs and enjoy the benefits of clutter-free tiny living.

Decluttering and downsizing is one of the hardest parts of any move.

If you’re looking to make the switch to a tiny home, it’s even trickier. While the minimalist life is appealing to many, we’ve all become accustomed to living in excess, which makes it difficult to recognise what we can and can’t live without.

After all, to live in a tiny house means to live minimally. If you’re serious about adopting a minimalist lifestyle, prepare to declutter like you’ve never decluttered before. As designers of small spaces for life, work, or play, we know a thing or two about maximising the use of every square meter.

So whether you’re looking to live a life off-the-grid, downsizing for retirement, or simply mid-move and need a helping hand, today we’re going to be exploring some tips, tricks, and ideas for smoothly transitioning to a more minimalist lifestyle.

Wait, so what is downsizing?

Downsizing is the seemingly simple, often overwhelming process of reducing your belongings, though it isn’t just limited to your possessions. You can downsize a lot of things, such as your lifestyle, your wardrobe, or even your home!

1. Determine what you will need and where it will go

The best place to start is to consider what you really need in your new home.

By studying the layout and design, you can determine what to keep and where it will go.

Tiny houses have all the functions of a traditional home, only on a much smaller scale. The layout typically includes a kitchen, lounge, bathroom, and one or two bedrooms, but, unlike traditional living, these spaces only afford the necessities. With minimal floor space and storage, simplicity is key.

For every item you keep, make sure it will have somewhere to live in your new home. Whether it belongs on the floor, the walls, or in a cupboard, everything you keep should have a place. The better you plan ahead, the more successful you will be at decluttering.

Here’s An Idea: Unsure if you’ll be able to fit your large life into a little space? Consider renting an Airbnb tiny house for a week or two and see how you go!

2. Declutter one room at a time

Decluttering is one of those jobs where it pays to finish what you start.

Work through your home one room at a time, finishing it before starting on the next. The purpose of completing each room one by one is that it’s easier to see the impact that your decluttering is having, making the whole process much more rewarding.

The room-by-room approach gives you a series of achievable goals, rather than leaving you feeling like there’s no method to your decluttering madness.

3. Choose function over fashion

It doesn’t take long to see that much of what we have in our homes is there to fill space.

Once the space-hoggers are gone, the whole decluttering process gets easier.

While tiny houses are certainly stylish, it pays to prioritise function and ensure you have all that you need in your little abode before adding your special touch. The function over fashion philosophy can be adopted in every room of the house to give you a base set of useful items, from furniture to clothing.

4. Create ‘to keep’ and ‘to throw’ piles

Sorting your possessions by category is a method thrust into the spotlight in recent years by Marie Kondo. While we’re not going to start talking about “sparking joy”, the category method is an efficient way to minimise clutter. The idea is to create piles of the same items - clothing, kitchenware, books and linen - and one-by-one sorting into ‘to keep’ and ‘to throw’ piles.

Categorising clutter reduces multiples, minimising them to the point that you’re left with what you love.

Here’s An Idea: Struggling to get things underway? Start with the items you’re excited to get rid of. Everyone has those things sitting around their house taking up space they can’t wait to see the back of!

5. Don’t get hung up on sentimentality

It’s easy to assign a sentimental value to everything we own.

However, unless your home is filled with unique heirlooms, it’s unlikely that everything you consider to be sentimental actually is sentimental. We often associate objects with memories, making it hard to throw them away, even when they’re no longer useful.

When we assign sentimental value to an object, we acknowledge that the object has an emotional hold over us. Our need to avoid a feeling of loss leads us to placing this label on items that serve no purpose.

Sentimentality is a psychological hurdle that you need to overcome in order to downsize and declutter.

Here’s what to remember:

  • Throwing away physical objects will not delete your memories
  • Only keep items if they genuinely evoke happiness
  • You can transfer photos, videos, and letters to digital form
  • Stay focused on the future, don’t dwell on the past

Reap the benefits of a clutter-free life in a tiny home

Decluttering may seem difficult, but it's a therapeutic and rewarding exercise once you get past the psychological roadblocks. In no time at all, you could be living a minimalist life in a tiny house, free from the stress of excess clutter and high mortgage payments.

Looking for more big ideas about small spaces? Take a look at our other posts and be sure to check back later as we continue to explore the spaces where everyday Kiwis live, work, and play!