Turning 60 and Downsizing

Should you downsize now that you’re 60? 

Moving from a larger home to a small one takes a big adjustment and requires a lifestyle change.  Downsizing may not be your choice (it’s not mine, even after turning 60), so don’t worry if you still are happy having your extra space. But for the lifestyle changers ready to live in a smaller home, perhaps, you are over the big house hassles of cleaning, dusting, and maintenance and don’t need all that space. If that’s you, tips for moving into a tiny house, RV, or a smaller home could be of help. Consider the following recommendations (including kitchen ideas) to lighten stress-causing dilemmas of downsizing.

There’s no room for all my books!

If you’re a book lover like me, then that means you could open your own library. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but too many books will add too much weight to a tiny home or RV.

I lived in an RV for years, so downsizing to a tiny house or even something smaller is not on my wish list. My family and I lived the RV lifestyle and got to see most of America. It had its benefits, and I’m thankful for that time of our lives. It was educational, and we met many people along the journey. People were often curious about our camper lifestyle. To them, it was like going camping. We, however, considered our camper “home”. Wherever we parked was home – sometimes for a week, other times for a month or two. As far as books, we loved them and made it a point to visit libraries and bookstores as often as possible.

The longest my family and I ever camped out at a Barnes & Noble for SEVEN hours in Kansas. We desperately needed a break from the long-haul travel across several states, so we read books, ate snacks, drank coffee, and purchased more books for on the road.

The RV lifestyle gave me a great appreciation for duct tape. But any repairs required on an RV due to overloading can only take so much duct tape. Eventually, sooner than later, repairs need to be done correctly.

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Considering switching from a house to an RV? Remember to do walkthroughs and walkarounds. Make a list of everything that needs attention, whether it be a small or big thing. Let go of items you could get by without – like books. If you don’t think they would make a difference, stack a bunch of books in a box and see if they feel light or heavy to you. “An over-loaded RV … is one of the primary causes of motorhome accidents.”

I recommend:
  • donating books to your community library or friends and family.
  • selling books at a yard sale.
  • keeping your favorite books.
  • visiting a library or bookstore when you want to surround yourself with a multitude of books.

You may have room for all of your books in a smaller home if it has built-in bookshelves. My husband and I moved into a different home the end of 2017. There are no built-ins, and I still have not opened all the boxes of books. I don’t have anywhere to put them, and I’ve already donated a ton of them. It’s looking like more donations are soon to happen.

Now there is one set of books I have the hardest time letting go of – cookbooks. I enjoy cooking the recipes, reading the food histories, collecting different types of cookbooks, and I favor several over the others. But giving them away? Not what I want to do. Yet, I actually managed to donate some of my collection, cookbooks I seldom looked at.

Where am I going to put my picture albums? 

A friend was telling me about the new house she and her husband moved into. Although they didn’t downsize, the house isn’t equipped with the same storage space as their former home. She said, “I haven’t even opened the boxes with my picture albums yet because I don’t have anywhere to put them.” This can be a dilemma. You don’t want to destroy photos of loving memories of family, friends, and fun times. What is the solution to this?

I recommend:
  • Give photo albums of your children (when they were babies, growing up, etc.) to them. Why wait until you’re gone? If you really want to see them, visit the children and spend some time looking through the picture albums.
  • Add over-the-door shelves specifically for your picture albums. During holidays, take down the particular seasonal pictures. Place the albums on coffee or end tables so the children, grandchildren, relatives, and friends can enjoy them.
  • Store in a box to fit underneath a bed if you want them out of the way but are not ready to hand over to the kids yet.

But I don’t want to get rid of all my kitchen stuff!

I know the feeling!! There is one room in the house that I love – the kitchen. Think about how many hours are spent in the kitchen. When we get up in the mornings, we gravitate to the kitchen. Some kitchens have a breakfast table or bar with bar stools. Kitchens are for preparing food, cooking it, eating it, cleaning the dishes, making coffee, munching on snacks, sitting at the table for a meal or to play a game, and entertaining.

When we moved into our current house, we realized right away that the kitchen is way too small for our liking. We have an old bookcase (that I originally found in the dump pile at the other house when we purchased it), and it fits perfectly in the small pantry.

Cabinets, Shelves, and Counter Space

Some friends gave us a water dispenser that came with a small wooden cabinet that has a drawer and door with two shelves. It’s in the corner of our new dining room. Then I went to Home Depot and bought a small metal shelving unit that will fit just right in the pantry for more storage space. My daughter has a stackable two-tier basket underneath her kitchen sink that I have been looking for. It is a perfect solution for under-sink organization in the kitchen. Finally, I found it on Amazon and have ordered it. 

Counter space is one of my must-haves, and it’s one of the didn’t-and-don’t-haves in our RVs and cottages. Lack of counter space means you have to improvise. When our last RV was built, we requested a movable shelf at the end of our kitchen counter. We could pop it up or let it down with a bracket.

I recommend:
  • Pull-out pantries – They work great in a tiny house kitchen, RV, or any kitchen. I loved the one we had in the RV.
  • Counter extension – see ours below in the photo
  • Shelves – Build your own or buy them at your local hardware store. Add shelves above the kitchen door, inside your pantry, change out your cabinets to add shelving for a farmhouse look, and look for little spaces to add mini shelving as well. Every little space counts when organizing a tiny space.
  • Baskets – I love PattyCakesPantry.com’s article on organizing a small fridge and freezer.
  • Wall storage:

Think of wall space in your kitchen where you can store kitchen utensils, cups, or lids to pots and pans. Though I’m not downsizing, our country cottage came with a tiny kitchen which means I’m having to be very creative in organizing my many kitchen supplies. I’ve been looking for the ideal spot for my cottage cup rack. It’s going up next on the wall to store the tons of cups my husband and I have collected in our travels…

cup racks
Custom Cup Rack, Kitchen Southern Hospitality

This is the countertop extension added in our custom RV:

Take a trip to Lowe’s, Home Depot, thrift store, or a vintage shop and look for cabinets, shelves, and other home items to help you organize. Tell me your thoughts or share your own tiny kitchen organization tips in the comment section.

1 Comment

  1. One thing about downsizing when you’re older…I’ve seen some tiny houses that work great as long as you’re fit and able to move about without a walker or a wheelchair, but once you need to use one of those devices, the tiny house might be too small. I’m with you. I’m not downsizing. I also have a book collection, too.

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