Last week I helped a client begin the process of redecorating and decluttering her family room.  She is an empty nester who would like to update and declutter her home.  This client knows she and her husband would like to stay in their current home until they are no longer physically able to do so.  We walked through the space she wanted to tackle and talked a lot about possibilities for her room.

If you are interested in decluttering/redecorating to age in place (I prefer the term “live in place”), there are many questions you can ask yourself (and your significant other) to make your newly designed room(s) be the right space for YOU. 

Begin by looking at rooms in your home or a friend’s home that make you feel comfortable and happy.  Another option is to look at or for inspiration.  The client I was working with loves her new bathroom.  I asked her what she likes best…the cheerful color, the lightness (white trim and tile), the lack of clutter, comfort.  Each person will have his/her own ideas about what space feels most appealing.  The key is to figure out exactly what those characteristics are.  Once you have some ideas, jot those thoughts down.

Next, ask yourself what activities do you do in that room?  Is it where you watch TV, pay bills, do puzzles, birdwatch, entertain?  Have you considered doing some of those activities in other spaces?  Would it be more convenient to pay your bills in the kitchen where most of your office supplies are?  Would you have more space to do your puzzles in the dining room?  One of the most common problems with clutter is that too often we do not have designated spaces for ourselves.  For example, we pay our bills in three different locations.  When that happens, we spread things out, become disorganized.  Suddenly we don’t remember where we left the light bill!  Think about the area you are revamping and carve out space for the activities that are best done in that room. 

At this point you are ready to do a floor plan.  List out each item that used to be in that room.  Use cut out pieces to fit a to-scale plan of your room.  Should you move your sofa to better accommodate viewing the TV?  Now that you will do your puzzles in the dining room, you can create a space for two chairs and a table to birdwatch.  Add back in only the items that fit your activities for that room…furniture and lighting.  The other items that used to be in that room should only be put back in if they fit your original criteria from when you started this process…color, lightness, lack of clutter and comfort.  The items you are left with should find a designated home in another part of your house or should be donated/sold. 

Your last step in this process may involve hiring a painter or purchasing some new items to give your room the overall look you desire.  You may find reorganizing and decluttering is enough for now.  You may also find that you now want to tackle the next room of your house! 

Decluttering and downsizing should be a process of letting go of the things that don’t fit the vision of what you want and need your home to look like.  Each room in your home should make you feel happy and comfortable.  Ready to start?  Get your notepad and start dreaming about the space you want!